FANUC supplied an industrial-scale laser cutting cell ordered by the UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) using a range of automated systems. The demonstration cell includes a 12 m x 4 m cutting table, a six-axis robot, a computer numerical control (CNC) system for the flatbed table and laser, all housed in a laser safe enclosure. Because of its ability to provide a complete automation solution encompassing not only the robot, but also the laser and motion system, FANUC was the obvious choice as the automation partner on this project.
MTC especially requested that the system be built to scale to industry standards. It can be used for the precise cutting of profile parts for prefabricated structures in the construction industry, aerospace industry and automotive industry. Although the cutting table and robot are housed in a large 15.5 x 9 meter cage, the space requirements are much larger. Even if a crane or forklift is needed to load a 12 x 4-meter product, an operator will still have access to do so thanks to the extra 13 meters of sliding of the cutting table.
MTC made a special request that the system be built to scale to industry standards. It can be used for precise cutting of profile parts for prefabricated structures in the construction, aerospace and automotive industries. Although the cutting table and robot are housed in a large 15.5 x 9 meter cage, the space requirements are much larger. Even if a crane or forklift is needed to load a 12 x 4 meter product, an operator will still have access to do so thanks to the extra 13 meters of sliding of the cutting table.
While the FANUC M-20iB robot is used for cutting tubular parts, the laser cutting bed is made for handling flat plates. The robot can move up and down the tube being cut thanks to its six axes, installed on a floor rail and controlled simultaneously with a seventh FANUC axis. According to Ray Timberlake, FANUC UK Factory Automation Product Sales Manager, the only method of achieving this accuracy was fiber laser technology. With a range of up to 2 meters, the FANUC M-20iB robot was chosen for its high accuracy. The container is laser-resistant to prevent laser beam scattering, and has cameras inside to monitor production for quality and safety. Protective doors are interlocked to prevent entry while the laser is running.
MTC contracted Cyan Tec to build a cell, and the Cyan Tec team enlisted the help of FANUC UK. Cyan Tec values the variety and reliability of automation solutions offered by FANUC UK, an important integration partner. The success of the cooperation also depends on FANUC UK’s strong after-sales support service, which offers a fast reaction to any queries 24 hours a day, anywhere in the country.
Everyone involved had to respond to this installation with amazing operational efficiency. An internal change had to be made at MTC to create space for a cell of this size, and Cyan Tec’s workshop served as the site for the construction of the entire installation. The size of the cage itself and the complexity of designing safeguards on that scale, Grant Copson continues, were the biggest challenges. Thanks to Cyan Tec’s experience in using these technologies, the automation itself was not so difficult.
While Cyan Tec developed its own control software for the entire cell, FANUC supplied its 21.5-inch iH Pro human machine interface (HMI) panel, motors and drives to operate the flatbed CNC system. FANUC also supplied the beam switch, which directs the laser beam to the robot or flatbed, and the 30ib series controls, which regulate axis and machine operations. Once the design was finalized, FANUC introduced its 0iFL line of laser-compatible controllers, which serve the same purpose and are much less expensive. This important demonstration cell serves as an ideal illustration of what is feasible in the field of automated laser cutting for manufacturers.
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