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Integrated laser processing

Laserplus is an expert when it comes to tailor-made laser processing systems. Its unique tube cutting lines, for example, offer high speed, excellent quality, and a pleasant working environment for personnel. Customers can make significant material savings by using Laserplus systems.

Since its creation over 15 years ago, Laserplus has been pushing back the frontier of what lasers can do in manufacturing and where they can offer a competitive and technological advantage. Today’s Laserplus offers laser technology for cutting, welding, marking, and surface treatments for a wide range of materials.

The company’s core competence lies in the design and supply of integrated, flexible laser processing systems; and it acts both as an OEM system integrator and an independent service provider. Hands-on experience and process development input from these operations is very valuable. Working with the world’s leading laser source and component manufacturers ensures that Laserplus’ customers can benefit from the latest state-of-the-art know-how and maximum flexibility.

Customers cover a wide range of fields, from construction, component and appliance manufacturers to automotive manufacturers, defence contractors, electronics companies, and pulp and paper machinery producers.

Laserplus is a leading provider of tailor-made solutions for production processes where standard technologies are not enough. Solutions can include one or more laser-based functions, such as 2D and 3D laser welding, for cutting, marking, and surface treatment applications. Laserplus can seamlessly integrate these laser technologies with traditional machine tools, robot-assisted material handling, and data management systems – to provide solutions that improve process and product quality, and cut lead time, raw material usage, and space and personnel requirements.

Fuel cells, solar panels, and heat exchangers are all produced with the help of laser welding technology. Laserplus has developed a unique fixing method to enable the use of high-speed laser welding in these applications

Comprehensive solutions

Laserplus solutions include tube processing systems for cutting, welding, and marking round, square, and rectangular tubes; welding workstations for lightweight sheet metal structures, including largescale sandwich panels; circular welding workstations for filters and other products; Automated Specimen Manufacturing Systems (ASMS) for manufacturing specimens in stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminium; and marking systems employing fibre laser technology.

Tube processing systems can handle round, square, and rectangular tubes, and thanks to their ‘endless tube’ function offer excellent efficiency and major savings in materials. Proprietary control and data management software handles the entire production chain, and cutting, welding, marking, and nesting functions based on customers’ CAD input.

Laserplus’ panel welding workstations feature an innovative clamping system to ensure minimal distortion in the end-product, and the option of switching between two different process heads. Systems can be supplied either as production cells for use in a larger production plant or as independent facilities.

Specimen systems cover the entire manufacturing process from automatic test sheet loading to scrap removal, and are much faster, more precise, and cost-effective than manual methods. High repeatability in cutting tolerances ensures reliable tensile test results, while machine-readable laser marking means that every item can be easily traced.

Laserplus’ circular welding systems are very compact and designed with one main frame and an integrated control cabinet, which makes for easy installation and fast start-up. These systems are particularly well-suited for jobs such as automotive power train component welding and filter welding. A touch screen user interface means that production cycles, production history, and parameters can be monitored in real time.

Laserplus’ innovation of using two lasers simultaneously doubles cutting performance. Laser cutting is clean and silent, and signals a greener future for the metal industry.

Major new opportunities lie ahead

Things are continuing to develop in the metal industry. Flexible production control, material optimisation, and the pressure to reduce inventory levels are driving developments.

Saws are still being used to cut longitudinal materials such as tubes, but these low-cost workhorses lack many of the features needed today.

Laserplus has recently finalised development of a high-efficiency tube laser cutting system that highlights where things are going. Equipped with one or two lasers and able to handle tubes from 70 mm to 400 mm, starting from 12-metre or even 18-metre stock, its speed, flexibility, and the quality of its cuts are outstanding. As there is no need for manual finishing work, clear savings will be possible.

To ensure clean inner surfaces when working with stainless tubing, Laserplus has developed an integrated cooled flow catcher.

Laser technology offers fast cutting speeds, and the software that controls it makes it very flexible. Unmanned production is a standard alternative with Laserplus systems, as is the potential to minimise scrap percentages by  switching from 6-metre stock to 12-metre or even 18-metre tubing.

> Veli-Pekka Immonen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2009)