Categories
Laser Cutting

Introduction to Laser Cutting for Heavy Metals

Many industries use lasers for many different purposes. Today, we’re focusing on using a laser cutting machine on heavy metals.

On metals such as aluminum plates, stainless steel, and steel, the laser cutting process is highly accurate. Laser cutting machines yield excellent cut quality, have a very small kerf width, and smaller heat-affected zones, making it possible to cut very intricate shapes and small holes.

What is “laser cutting?” Laser cutting is used for various metal and non-metal materials, including plastic, wood, gemstone, glass, and paper. The word “LASER” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

What most don’t know – or understand – is how light can cut through metal. We’ll answer a few of our most asked questions today!

Glenn Metalcraft Inc. (GMI) continually improves, adds, and upgrades its equipment, including our laser cutting machine, to expand our offerings to customers. Contact us for information about our laser cutting for heavy metals.

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How Does Laser Cutting Metal Work?

Laser cutting machines are part of a non-contact, thermal-based fabrication process suitable for metal and non-metal materials.

Laser cutting employs an extremely-focused, high-powered laser beam to cut the material into intricate shapes or designs. This process is suitable for an extensive range of materials, including metals, plastics, woods, gemstones, glass, and paper. It produces intricate, precise, and complex pieces, mostly without custom-designed finishing or tooling.

Laser cutting machines can produce parts with accuracy, precision, and high-quality edge finishes. They do so (generally) with less material contamination, physical damage, and waste than with other conventional cutting processes, such as mechanical cutting.

While laser cutting machines demonstrate advantages over conventional cutting processes, some industrial or manufacturing applications can be somewhat problematic, such as cutting reflective material or any pieces requiring custom finishing or machining work.

On a CNC laser cutting machine, the laser cutting head is moved over the metal plate or piece in the desired part’s shape, thus cutting the design out of the metal. In a laser cutting machine, a capacitive height control system maintains a very accurate distance between the end of the laser’s nozzle and the metal piece.

This exact distance is important when figuring out how a laser cutting machine works. It determines where the focal point exists, relative to the metal’s surface.

A laser cut’s quality can be affected by raising or lowering the focal point from just above the metal’s surface, at the surface, or just below the surface.

With parameters controlled properly, laser cutting is a stable, reliable, and very accurate cutting process.

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What Materials Can Be Cut With A Laser Cutting Machine?

A laser cutting machine is wonderful at cutting many different materials.

This list of choice materials includes:

  • Wood
  • Gemstones, such as diamonds
  • Titanium, stainless steel, steel, aluminum, and a range of others
  • Reflective metals, such as silver, copper, and aluminum
  • Glass
  • Plastic, silicon, and other non-metallic materials

Whatever the metal is you work with and whatever the industrial or manufacturing application, a laser cutting machine will be up for the task.

Can A Laser Really Cut Through Metal?

Short answer: Absolutely!

Industrial laser cutting machines can cut most metals. Laser cutters and plasma cutters are often used for this purpose.

Lasers capable of cutting through the thickest, even steel, plates are high-powered CO2 lasers. Metals such as stainless steel and aluminum can be cut with a laser when using compressed gas technology.

What Are The Benefits Of Laser Cutting?

Compared to other types of traditional industrial cutting methods, laser cutting offers several advantages.

These advantages include:

Greater precision and accuracy

Laser cutting machines cut a wide range of patterns and designs with increased precision compared to traditional metal cutting methods. Since laser cutting machines can be CNC-controlled, they can repeatedly produce complex and intricate parts to high tolerances. Thanks to this precision, slits with a width as small as 0.1mm can be achieved.

Higher quality cuts and edges

Laser cutting produces extremely high-quality cuts and edges on its pieces. These generally do not require further cleaning, treating, or finishing, decreasing the need for additional finishing processes.

Narrower kerf widths and less material distortion

The focused laser beam allows for narrower kerf widths, and the localized heating allows for minimal thermal input to the metal piece.

The smaller kerf widths minimize the amount of wasted material removed.

The low thermal input minimizes the heat-affected zones (HAZs). This, in turn, decreases the extent of thermal distortion.

The non-contact nature of laser cutting machines also decreases the risk of mechanical (or thermal) distortion, especially for thin or very flexible or thin materials, and reduces the risk of material contamination.

Less material contamination and waste

Owing to the smaller heat-affected zones, tighter tolerances, narrower kerf widths, and lesser degrees of material distortion, the operator can arrange the laser-cut pieces closely on the metal. This closeness reduces the amount of material wastage, leading to lower material costs over time.

Greater operator safety and quieter operating

Other advantages of laser cutting machines include a massively decreased risk of operator injury and much quieter operations.

The entire laser cutting process uses little to no mechanical components and occurs within its enclosure, resulting in less operator injury risk. The operator also has total control with the beam intensity, heat output, and duration when undertaking a laser cutting process, making this a highly reliable and safe operation.

As there is less noise produced by laser cutting machines, noise pollution lessens, and the overall workplace environment is also improved.

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What Industries Come To GMI For Laser Cutting Heavy Metals?

Many industries take advantage of our laser cutting services for their metal projects.

These industries include:

  • Automotive (including e-mobility),
  • Aerospace,
  • Electronics,
  • Semiconductor, and
  • Medical.

Glenn Metalcraft Inc. (GMI) continually improves, adds, and upgrades its equipment, including our laser cutting machine, to expand our offerings to customers. Contact us for information about our laser cutting for heavy metals.

Categories
Welding

Introduction to Robotic Welding

From the first time a caveman made a tool, humans’ daily lives changed from manufacturing. Take a look at everything around you right now.

Production and manufacturing are responsible for all you see that does not exist in nature. From the chairs we sit in at our desks to the cars we drive, robotic welding has touched many of these items.

At GMI, we’ve invested heavily in our robotic welding automation equipment and our personnel for several years. From handling heavy parts to improving our speed and safety rates to welding as consistently and efficiently as possible, our automation team has continued to impact our customer base. Contact us for information about our robotic welding services.

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Manufacturing Through The Ages

Originally, items were made by hand by individuals. Then in later centuries, by craftsmen in their small shops. Once the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century, production moved out of those small shops and began in large factories.

When Eli Whitney invented the mechanized assembly line in 1797, manufacturing took off! Eli Whitney is the founder of the concept of interchangeable parts, which significantly increased the manufacturing process. Now, products could be manufactured in a continuous fashion versus assembled one-by-one.

One of the key processes in manufacturing metal items is welding. Welding is the process of joining two pieces of metal using heat and pressure. Welding has been around since the man’s early days. Egyptians developed pressure welding techniques as far back as 3000 B.C.

It wasn’t until the 1860s that Henry Wilde, using the electric sources available, patented the first form of electric welding.

The early- to mid-twentieth century was concerned with developing new, different, more advanced welding processes such as metal spinning. This time gave birth to arc welding, flux-cored welding, electron beam welding, and others.

While the process of welding puts humans in hazardous environments with extreme heat and toxic fumes, this application is necessary for manufacturing. For decades humans were put in danger at factories to meet manufacturing demands.

Then, in 1962, everything changed again. Enter robotics.

That year, General Motors started using the first industrial robot in their automobile factory – the ANIMATE, developed by George Devol and Joseph Engelberger. The ANIMATE performed spot welding on automobiles on the assembly line.

During the 1960s and 1970s, other robot manufacturers like FANUC, KUKA, and Motoman came on the scene. It did take some time before robotics became mainstream in the manufacturing industry.

Not until the 1980s did Robotic welding accelerate. It was then other automotive companies followed G.M.’s lead and started using robots for welding. Finally, industries began to understand the advantages of robotic welding, and the industry only grew from there.

By 2005, over 60,000 robotic welding machines were working throughout North America, mainly in the U.S. While some companies may have scoffed at the high price tag on automation, costs are decreasing as more and more companies switch to robotic welding automation.

With man’s fascination with metals and manufacturing, it is easy to see why robotic welding is the way of the future. It has offered significant advantages in the manufacturing industry for several reasons.

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Advantages Of Robotic Welding

You can segment the automated welding and cutting market into very specific categories. With this, our robots have gotten faster, stronger, reliable, easier to program, and cost-effective.

Robot welders create high-quality, precise welds. They also boost productivity on an assembly line. These robots save manufacturers money through:

  • labor costs because of their speed,
  • their ability to work without breaks,
  • and their reduction in errors.

Also, they raise any shop’s safety level by getting human workers out of hazardous welding environments, away from the extreme heat and the toxic fumes.

Robotic Welding Jobs 

While welders are no longer in danger, robots still need humans to program and function. And while manual welding may become less popular, humans will always be an important part of the welding and manufacturing process.

The titles may have changed slightly, but the humans who work with welding robots have many positions to fill:

  • Assembly Robotics Engineer
  • Robotic Weld Team Member
  • Robotic Technician
  • Robotics Engineer
  • Applications Engineer
  • Applications Technician
  • …and more!

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Robots Answering The Need

Manufacturing production is experiencing its sharpest increase since June 2012. As such, the awareness and usage of robotic automation have reached new heights. Manufacturers are taking advantage of the economic climate by investing in capital equipment to increase quality and productivity.

Driven by the increase in demand and labor shortages, manufacturers are looking to reduce time to market and the costs associated with production. This void, along with more affordable and capable robots, has fueled a greater level of intensity within the manufacturing sector for buying robots.

As a result, robotic automation has soared in recent years.

One of the main uses of robots in robotic welding is to increase efficiency, productivity, and, most importantly, safety in manufacturing. Welding is a tricky business because it is always associated with heat, flames, smoke, and radiation. It is a good idea to use robots for these dangerous tasks.

Robotic welding came into existence nearly a quarter of a century ago. Robotic automation is useful in various manufacturing industries. To take an example from everyday life, check with your car manufacturer to see how it was produced—likely using an assembly line technique using robots with long spider-like arms quickly moving and joining parts together to create your vehicle.

At GMI, we’ve invested heavily in our robotic welding automation equipment and our personnel for several years. From handling heavy parts to improving our speed and safety rates to welding as consistently and efficiently as possible, our automation team has continued to impact our customer base. Contact us for information about our robotic welding services.

Categories
Metal Spinning

An Introduction To Metal Spinning

Metal spinning, sometimes called spin forming, has been around for centuries and can be traced back to an Egyptian Pharaoh’s tomb. Fascinating – but what is it? What the Egyptians accomplished with manually operated lathes, the Industrial Revolution motorized and gave birth to new possibilities.

Spinning, forming, turning… all names for precision heavy gauge metal spinning, and Glenn Metalcraft is the expert. Contact us about your OEM project today.

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What Is Metal Spinning?

The metalworking process known as “metal spinning” goes by many different names, such as spin forming, metal forming, metal turning, CNC metal spinning, or just “spinning.”

Metal spinning is a process whereby a sheet of metal, cut into a flat metal disc, or blank, is formed into different symmetrical rounded shapes through spinning it around a mandrel. A mandrel is a shaft or spindle in a spinning lathe or a CNC spinning metal lathe to form the metal disc’s desired metal parts.

The most common shapes produced from the metal spinning process are:

  • Conical (cone-shaped)
  • Dished
  • Domed
  • Cylindrical (lid-shaped)
  • Flanged; flanged and flued; or flanged, dished, and flued
  • Hemispherical (half of a sphere)
  • Parabolic (bell-shaped)
  • Semi-elliptical
  • Toroidal (donut-shaped)
  • Trumpeted
  • Venturi (hourglass-shaped)

We use many different porous metals to achieve these desired shapes through metal spinning. Common materials include steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and brass. High-strength and high-temperature alloys, such as Hastelloy and titanium, are also becoming more popular, creating more durable metal parts.

Metal spinning produces parts that touch almost every part of your life. We use these in roofing, commercial lighting, satellite dishes, cooking pots and pans, and even funeral urns.

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Alternatives To Metal Spinning

Alternatives to metal spinning include hydroforming, stamping, and deep drawn stamping.

While these alternatives can form many of the same shapes as metal spinning, the processes are very different. For starters, these other options all use different methods to craft the metal into the shapes using negative shapes.

Hydroforming uses high-pressure hydraulic fluid to press the metal into a negative form to achieve the desired metal parts.

Stamping and deep drawn stamping use forced pressure to create the shapes by pushing the metal disc into a negative space.

Metal spinning is the only one that uses “positive space” to craft the shape around a piece to achieve the desired result.

Advantages Of Metal Spinning

Metal spinning is one of the most cost-effective methods of forming metal shapes for small-volume and large-volume production. This cost-effectiveness is the highest reason that it’s so popular.

What other advantages does metal spinning offer over its alternatives?

Less machining and finishing needed to finish the job

Because of the high spinning rate needed to form the desired shape, less machining is needed after the part is formed with the CNC lathe. Metal parts finish smoother, and the need for these extra finishing tools is reduced.

Quicker set-up

Your company can also get set up for metal spinning much more quickly than the alternatives you’ve already read about. Because of this, lead times are reduced.

Maximum design flexibility and more versatility for changes

If you need a design change, it can be made much more quickly with the metal spinning process. This flexibility cuts out “downtime” for your project, should a change need to be made. This is also why metal spinning is perfect for prototyping and small-volume and large-volume production runs.

More uniform finished products

Metalworkers who create parts through the metal spinning process often cite that they have much more control over the finished product, including the finished piece’s thickness.

Less waste

Finally, because of how the metal is spun, waste is reduced. This also makes metal spinning much more eco-friendly than the other methods you have read about above. In some cases, you can even use recycled materials as the “blanks” for your metal parts.

Higher quality parts

Because of the process of metal spinning, parts are formed without any seams. This seamlessness means that these parts are less likely to “break apart” under high-stress conditions.

What Industries Benefit From Your Metal Spinning Process?

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Metal spinning parts touch almost every industry in the world.

Common industries, though, include:

  • Aeronautics and Aerospace
  • Agricultural & Farming Equipment
  • Appliances & Appliance Manufacturing
  • Architectural, Building, & Construction
  • Automotive
  • Bulk Solid Handling & Supply Chain Logistics
  • Chemical Processing
  • Commercial Lighting
  • Commercial Vehicles
  • Communications
  • Electrical
  • Energy
  • Food Processing
  • Food Service
  • HVAC, Air Filtration, & Air Handling
  • Industrial Machinery
  • Lighting
  • Marine
  • Material Handling
  • Medical
  • Pollution Control
  • Railroad
  • Recreational equipment
  • Refrigeration
  • Retail Fixtures
  • Roofing
  • Safety Products
  • Sanitation
  • Transportation
  • Welding

No matter what industry you are in, however, Glenn Metalcraft is the expert when it comes to precision heavy gauge metal spinning. Contact us about your OEM project today. We answer inquiries for RFPs/RFQs within 48 hours or 2 business days.