A suite of Fanuc automation solutions has proven essential to the delivery of an industrial-scale laser cutting cell commissioned by the UK Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC). Built by systems integrator Cyan Tech Systems , the demonstration cell consists of a 12m x 4m cutting table and, from Fanuc UK, a six-axis robot, a computer numerical control (CNC) system for the flat table and the laser, all contained within a laser safe enclosure.

Fanuc was the clear choice for automation partner on this project. “Our decision to work with Fanuc was primarily based on the fact that they could offer a comprehensive automation solution that included both robot and laser technology,” says Grant . Copson , Cyan project coordinator Tech .

Visiting manufacturers what is possible within automated laser cutting. There is great scope for the cell to be used in the aerospace and automotive industries, or any industry that requires large scale pre-cut profiles. The construction sector could also benefit from cells of this size, particularly for precision cutting of profile sections for prefabricated buildings.

The cutting table and robot are housed within a large enclosure measuring 15.5m x 9m, but the space requirements go even further. The cutting table slides an additional 13m ensuring that if an operator wants to load a 12m x 4m product, they have adequate access to do so, even if this requires the use of a crane or forklift.

The laser cutting bed is designed to handle flat plates, while the Fanuc M-20iB robot is used to cut tubular sections. The robot’s six axes are mounted on a track in the floor and are driven synchronously with a seventh Fanuc axis, allowing it to move up and down the pipe being cut. The integrated laser is versatile enough to be applied to both tubular and flat metal and can be adjusted to suit different types of materials.

Ray Timberlake , sales manager for industrial automation products at Fanuc UK, points out that industrial machines of this type have traditionally been entrusted to plasma cutters, but in this application fiber laser equipment was the only possible solution to achieve precision. . “The quality of the finished product is more important than speed when choosing a laser cutting method,” he says.

Capable of handling payloads of 25 kg, the Fanuc M-20iB robot was chosen for its high precision and range of up to 2 m. There are cameras inside the facility to monitor production for quality and safety. Additionally, the enclosure is laser tight to protect against scattering of laser beams, with interlocked protective doors to ensure no access while the laser is operating.

When the MTC commissioned Cyan Tec built the cell and specified its size and capabilities, the Cyan team Tec quickly enlisted the help of Fanuc UK, with whom it enjoys a productive partnership.

“Fanuc has extensive experience in industrial automation and provided us with excellent technical support throughout the project,” says Copson . “The fact that Fanuc has a local base in Coventry also helped us because it made communication and logistics easier.”

The laser cutting cell is currently on display at the MTC, where visitors can see it in action and appreciate its potential for a variety of industrial applications.

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