Halesowen based Crosland Cutters Limited, manufacturers of cutting formes for the cardboard and foam packaging markets, recently installed a second CNC laser-cutting system from Mechtronic Industries Limited, based around the ROFIN DC025 laser source supplied by Rofin-Baasel UK. Delivered, installed and commissioned on the day it arrived, the machine is very straightforward to use and also incredibly reliable. With improvements in laser power, accuracy and speed, the system provides higher throughput and with the addition of a fourth CNC rotary axis is capable of profiling a wider range of product variants.
Crosland Cutters was founded in 1972 and has built a solid reputation in supplying dieboards and gasket cutters to a range of industries including aerospace, automotive, retail point-of-sale and jigsaw puzzle manufacturers. The laser cutting machine purchased 15 years ago had reached full capacity. In order to capture a larger share of the market and to implement their ambitious expansion plans, Crosland Cutters decided they needed to purchase a second laser cutting system. Having previously bought their first laser cutter from Mechtronic Limited in 2000, they had been very happy with the reliability and low maintenance of the machine and ROFIN laser source combination. Simon Gilley of Crosland Cutters says “During 15 years of running the system in production, we have only required 2 call-outs from Mechtronic – when we have needed them, they have been on site to attend to the machine within hours of our call”
Customised laser cutting machines – an integrated approach
Mechtronic Industries, based in Doncaster, is a family firm with an outstanding reputation for skill and technology in CNC laser cutting systems. Machines are hand built to order and include a range of innovative features to enhance performance and reduce running costs. The front-end control system is extremely easy to use with a custom graphical interface, where the CNC path can be programmed and initiated. The machine includes an enhanced XY travel driven by helically cut rack-and-pinion gears which are laser-calibrated to improve precision and remove backlash errors leading to an accuracy significantly better than 25 microns.
Mechtronic has provided a bespoke closed loop air-to-water chiller which maintains the cooling water within 0.5 degrees of the set temperature. The chiller has no “hot gas bypass” which makes for higher efficiency than any standard laser chiller on the market. Mains electricity consumption is approximately one third of an equivalent standard chiller, and the improved control enhances the performance and reliability of the laser – and reduces the warm-up time from a winter ambient temperature to a stable water temperature within a few minutes. Internally, the system is closely monitored with sensors which display on a mimic panel on the front of the chiller and also the main operator input screen, to alert the user of any potential warning or fault in the cooling circuit.
Efficient and reliable laser source on board
Mounted at the rear of the machine is a third generation ROFIN DC Slab laser of 2.5 kW average power, 500 W more than the model supplied 15 years ago. In contrast with most traditional CO2 lasers, there is no need to continuously connect the laser to flowing gases – instead a pre-mix of gases in a compact cylinder is built-in within the laser head. Gas from the pre-mix bottle refreshes the chamber every 7 days (a marked improvement over the previous generation which had a 72 hour cycle). The ROFIN laser has no optics which need to be exchanged and features no pumps or blowers which are traditionally items requiring exchange and maintenance much more frequently.
Simon Gilley from Crosland states “The laser is serviced annually by ROFIN with a routine maintenance contract and we are very confident in the local team of laser engineers at Rofin-Baasel UK”.
Growing the business in the year ahead
On the back of the decision to increase laser cutting capacity, Crosland Cutters have taken on 2 apprentices and 3 permanent staff since the beginning of 2015. Not only are they more than doubling the potential capacity, but also they are now able to offer wooden rotary cutters up to 650 mm in diameter through laser cutting with the rotary axis on the new machine. Addressing new market sectors and improving capacity will allow the business to improve turnover and profitability, building up the usage of the new laser cutter during the first half of 2015.