Tools of the trade

Aug. 1, 2004
Companies gather at the biennial IMTS exhibition to showcase their wares

Companies gather at the biennial IMTS exhibition to showcase their wares

IMTS, the International Machine Tool Show, is the largest industrial exhibition in the Americas. IMTS 2004 takes place in the nation's largest exhibition complex: the Lakeside Center, North and South buildings, of McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. Scheduled for September 8-15, the exhibit will occupy more than 1.1 million square feet of net exhibit space. In fact, the entire show covers an area nearly equal to 21 NFL football fields.

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The show is held every even-numbered year in Chicago. According to exhibit coordinators, nearly $1 billion worth of metalworking equipment, materials, accessories, controls and components were on display at IMTS 2002. This is the only North American show that features industrial lasers, laser systems and related products. More than 70 laser-related companies will participate this year, most clustered in the fabricating and laser pavilions. ILS sent these companies a request for information on new products being exhibited at the show. The responses we received are highlighted below.

TRUMPF offers the HLF-4002 4kW disk laser.
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TRUMPF (Plymouth, MI) will highlight a new laser beam source, the TRUMPF TCF 1. This diffusion-cooled laser has 2kW output and features an annular arrangement of electrodes. Potential areas of application include laser material processing of non-metallic materials such as glass, plastic, wood and textiles. Its high beam quality of M2 = 1.1 makes it well suited to processing thin sheet metal. This company also is introducing its HLD 4002 4kW disk laser to the North American market. Four disks provide the power in the resonator of this prototype and result in a beam quality of 7 mm*mrad. This high beam quality is coupled to a fiber with a core diameter of 200 microns. From the company's Farmington, CT, division comes the new VectorMark impact (VMi) series. With a wavelength of 1064 nm (infrared), the laser is well suited for applications involving depth engraving, metal annealing and IC marking.

Bystronic software release 6.5 directly imports DXF, DWG and IGES file formats.
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The Byspeed 5200 laser cutting system from Bystronic Inc. (Hauppauge, NY) features Adaptive Radius Control (ARC) technology, which reportedly provides a time savings of 30 percent in part manufacturing. With a high output power of 5200 watts, users are offered optimal piercing and cutting performance and cut quality. Additionally, according to the manufacturer, the higher overall processing efficiency makes it possible to operate the laser cutting system with low production costs. ARC provides automatic optimization of the beam diameter for all sheet metal thicknesses and materials. The company also is showing the Bystronic software release 6.5, which offers direct import of DXF, DWG, and IGES file formats; faster programming with single or batch file conversions; automatic optimization of tool path and lead-in technologies; and more.

Over the past three years Coborn Engineering (Romford, Essex, UK) has developed a range of laser cutting machines, the latest of which is the LD2 incorporating a 20kW laser. This machine has been designed primarily to cut PCD and other similar hard materials such as tungsten carbide. According to the manufacturer, PCD discs can be cut at a rate in excess of 100mm per minute, which means that a 74mm disc can be cut into 5 x 6 mm rectangles in less than 20 minutes. The system consists of four units: the cutting enclosure, the control system, the laser generator, and the water chiller.

In its booth, Schmidt Marking Systems (Niles, IL) will display the MicroLaser laser marking system. The unit's compact design and diode-pumped Nd:YAG laser offer precise, non-contact marking on plastic, paper, glass, metal and ceramic at a rate of up to 150 characters per second. According to the company, this product's biggest advantage may be the 15,000 hours of virtually maintenance-free operation, with no laser lamps to change or reflectors to clean.

Schmidt offers the compact MicroLaser laser marking system.
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IMTS 2004 will mark the world premiere of Mazak's (Schaumberg, IL) HyperGear 2D laser cutting system, which incorporates more than 20 patented intelligent features. Automatic torch and nozzle changer plus automatic setup of focus lens position, nozzle-to-material distance and beam adjustments enable the ideal setup for every cutting application. A next-generation nanosecond PREview 640 PC control and hyperlinear drives enable the system to cut at high speeds with the precision to maintain perfect corners, tight dimensional accuracy and roundness on contours. The 4000W and 2500W can process from the thinnest painted galvanized steel to one-inch mild steel. Also new is the FabriGear-150, a 21-axis, automated rotary laser that can fabricate tube, pipe, and structural with the contours and bevels needed for tight fit ups on a variety of pipe joints and with other intersecting or adjoining pipes. The company also will demonstrate cutting on its triple-mode SG-U44. This compact production laser performs high-speed 2D processing of sheet metal and plate, 3D cutting of pre-formed parts and 3D rotary cutting of tube, pipe and structural.

RMI Laser Division (Lafayette, CO) has developed six compact, diode-pumped, solid-state laser systems: a 1064nm system at 5W and 15W, a 532nm system at 5W and 2W, a 2W 355nm system, and a 1W 266nm system. Based on YVO4 technology, the systems feature ultra-compact, fiber-coupled design, high peak power, high repetition of up to 100kHz, and digital I/O for ease of integration. The completely air-cooled systems are used for marking, scribing, trimming, micromachining, and fast prototyping.

Designed specifically for thin metal and non-metal processing, the XL series from PRC Laser (Landing, NJ) packs up to 1500 watts into a compact package. According to the company, this laser is especially attractive for users who want a 1000- or 1500-watt source at a price they would normally pay for a 500-watt sealed product. For cutting applications, the company's STS 5000 power source offers users the opportunity to meet future productivity demands by increasing cutting speeds as much as 300 percent in thin materials when compared to 3000- and 4000-watt sources.

Virtek's FOBA G10 provides advanced laser engraving.
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Virtek (Waterloo, ON) Features the G-Series laser engravng sytems, which incorporate FOBA's advanced laser engraving technology into an efficient, Class I environment.

Passat Inc. (Linthicum, MD) will demonstrate innovative technology for material processing of different kinds of materials. Application areas include the following: high-resolution surface and subsurface glass engraving and marking with up to 3400 dpi and 2600 dpi, respectively; precision drilling and cutting of different shapes of glass with the line of the cut as narrow as 7 µm in width and holes of 12 µm in diameter in plate 200 µm thick; precision cutting and drilling of refractory metal plates with typical line width and hole diameter of 20 µm; and silicon wafer marking with resolution up to 6000 dpi.

A motion, vision, and I/O system, the Automation 3200 from Aerotech Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) features a high-performance, software-only controller (NMotion SMC) that offers 32 axes of synchronized motion control. The current platform has been designed to be expandable to 62 axes of synchronized control. Work done on this platform will be portable to future releases.

SigmaTEK (Cincinnati, OH) will provide hands-on demonstrations of its SigmaNEST Version 6.0. This version has many advancements, including the latest advanced automation capabilities, improved sheet management, and an easy-to-use graphic user interface. Reportedly, this release includes breakthrough technology with features seen nowhere else in the industry.

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