There is no question that the TRUMPF laser cell cuts through thick and thin with equal ease. It demonstrated this very impressively during recent months at LICOS Trucktec GmbH in the town of Markdorf, not far from Lake Constance. The cell is equipped with a two-kilowatt TruDisk laser and has been more than satisfactory when cutting mild steel 6.5 millimeters thick. It is just as good when cutting delicate structures. And now the 3D laser cell—even though it is quite modest in size—shows that it is great for welding, too.
LICOS Trucktec manufactures unique water pump clutches for trucks. In recognition of this design, the firm was awarded the Innovation Prize by the state of Baden-Württemberg. “Our clutch makes it possible to regulate the speed of the water pump to meet the engine’s needs, bringing about a one percent fuel savings. And on average that works out to 500 liters per vehicle per year,” explains Franz Biegert, plant manager and supply chain head at LICOS. Demand among both domestic and foreign truck builders is strong. The company now turns out about 120,000 units per year. Their manufacture demands quality and safety, of course, but trouble-free processes are of decisive importance.
It seems as though the TruLaser Cell 3000 was built to meet these needs. The system was installed at the end of 2011 and has held up even under the most extreme conditions. “Our water pump clutches have logged zero PPM for field failures! That’s a great achievement and demonstrates the system’s process reliability,” Biegert explains. This background and the machine’s flexibility have made him a believer. “The first few months convinced us of the laser cell’s superior cutting performance. Now we are also using it to weld our water pump clutch,” he explains.
The specific geometry of the product requires that it be manufactured in two stages. In the past, LICOS welded the two rotating parts on a TruLaser 7040 made by TRUMPF. “That worked just fine, but we had to transfer the parts from one line to another,” Franz Biegert explains. “The TruLaser Cell, despite its tall profile, is extremely compact, with a footprint of barely 16 square meters. That includes the peripheral components such as the vapor exhaust and the beam source itself. This makes it possible to simply place it between the lathes and makes for a decisive simplification in the process flow.”
Precision cutting, 3D cutting, and welding. That is all possible without time-consuming retooling. The TruLaser Cell 3000 has many talents. The system’s flexibility lets it work differing batch sizes, component designs, and materials. Depending on the application, the company may choose the TruFiber, TruDisk, TruDiode or TruPulse solid-state laser, with up to eight kilowatts of output. “The quality of the edge produced with the solid-state laser, even when cutting thicker materials, is just as good as with the CO2 laser,” Franz Biegert emphasizes.
The TruLaser Cell 3000 also shows its strengths whenever part geometries change frequently. The variable beam formation feature makes it possible to automatically match the focal diameter and focal position to a variety of metal alloys and thicknesses. “With the dual-lens zoom optics, and using parameters defined in the TRUMPF technology tables, the focus spot can be expanded to four times the fiber diameter. And that can be done without manual intervention,” explains Thomas Kirchhoff, product manager at TRUMPF.
The modular workpiece table can be fitted with a cutting support, a clamping plate or a rotary axis, and can quickly and easily be adjusted to any required part. The system can be adapted to suit every component in just a few steps. But Franz Biegert is planning to take the system one step further. “Following our positive experiences with cutting and welding using the TruLaser Cell 3000, we are now planning to introduce automation equipment so that we can run the machine around the clock,” he explains. He has no doubts that the machine will be able to handle the load.