May 2014: Versatile Press Tooling
- Bandsaw Blunders – How they Cut Blade Life
- Move Past Your ERP Fears – It is No Longer What You Think
- Wavelength Dependency in High Power Laser Cutting
- How Automated Plasma Cutting Grew Up
- FAST, FLEXIBLE & FRIENDLY - Developing a Cost Efficient Tooling Package for Today’s Job Shop
- Focus on Payback, Return on Investment When Seeking Welding Equipment Acquisition
When we sat down to write this article we set out to identify a handful of sawing mistakes, and we came up with almost 60. And for each problem, there are as many as ten causes. Mistakes are common and predictable, but they’re also preventable; with the economy recovering and factories coming back to life, this is no time for slip-ups. So let’s sink our teeth into the top five sawing mistakes that waste material, time and destroy blades.
Saws are very much like the people who use them; they don’t react well to heat, shock, abrasion, stress or tension. Here are some tips and advice to extend blade life, make better cuts and improve productivity.
For a lot of small manufacturers, including fabricators like you, the idea of enterprise resource planning or “ERP” is scary. Even understanding what the word “resource” refers to could be intimidating – after all, it could mean a million different things. Some of you may be more familiar with ERP but see it as a technology that’s meant only for larger companies. And you’re right, traditionally ERP solutions were designed primarily for large manufacturers and required extensive customization, which often leads to a very high price tag. You believe that ERP solutions are too complex, expensive and difficult to deploy. In other words, ERP is something very much out of the question for you. But now the competitive landscape is shifting and you’re being told you must embrace ERP and other technology to survive – to improve your bottom lines and to improve customer satisfaction. So, what do you do?
Laser cutting and welding have been around for more than 30 years. Within those three decades there has never been a greater variety of high power laser types and wavelengths to choose from than there is today. There are many considerations when choosing the right laser for any given application. However, one of the most fundamental questions that must be asked and answered is “what type of laser is best suited for the application?”
Manufacturers and users alike are realizing what, in retrospect, may seem obvious – there is no such thing as a universal laser. This article will examine the application fields of high power, high brightness 10.6 and 1 micron laser 3D cutting, and will provide general guidelines for selecting the laser that is best suited for each application. Processing speed and edge quality serve as the key criteria.
Plasma cutting made rapid advances over a period of 20 years or so (see FAB Shop Feb. 2014, “The Entrepreneur Who Believed in Plasma”), but it hasn’t been an easy road. The systems we have today, which produce accurate cuts with low distortion and cleaner edges, are the hard-won product of technical development and plain hard work.
Trial-and-error methods and repeated adjustments were typical for plasma in the early days. However, even with the system properly adjusted and optimized, the low cutting speeds and heat produced in the plasma creation process allowed the metal to distort and warp. The solution for this problem was to liquid cool the steel, one method being a water table that allows the operator to submerge the steel. And there are also torches capable of cutting under water.
Purchasing a new press brake can be a pretty daunting task. You’ll have a lot of important decisions to make regarding such things as the length of the machine, the tonnage capacity, the distance between the side frames, the open height and the stroke length. And after you’ve finally selected the press brake that you want, you’ll have to decide which tooling system you’re going to use in your new machine.
Of course, the last thing that you’re going to want to do is to spend a small fortune on a long list of punches and dies. And you shouldn’t have to. So, how can you get tooling for your new machine that provides maximum accuracy, is fast to set up, is flexible in meeting the majority of your needs, provides high quality parts that consistently meet and exceed your customers’ expectations and is friendly to your budget?
Continuous improvement efforts, including lean manufacturing, Six Sigma and 5S, are ways for manufacturing and high-volume fabrication operations to become (and remain) profitable and competitive. Welding systems featuring digital control technologies can help. Digital control technologies can increase welding throughput and quality, reduce costs for inspection and rework, lower cycle times and even help overcome a shortage of qualified welding personnel. When business projects compete for the same pool of capital investment dollars, however, it can be a challenge for welding engineers, welding production supervisors or operations managers to make their requests for new welding equipment stand out from other requests. It’s helpful to learn the “financial language” of the people responsible for making purchasing decisions. Doing so makes it easier to convey the benefits that welding technology upgrades can provide for the welding operation and the entire manufacturing process. A good first step is to establish a baseline to measure improvement before moving to the capital approval process. That baseline helps show the potential performance improvement possible with digital welding technologies.