Sheffield-based The Laser Cutting Co (TLCC — www.lasercutting.co.uk
), which offers high-quality sub-contract laser cutting services, has taken delivery of a new Trumpf TruLaser Tube 7000 from Luton-based Trumpf Ltd (www.trumpf.com
) as part of a five-year plan to boost capacity and achieve further growth.
Moreover, with TLCC already producing flat sheet-metal ventilator parts as part of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the new machine is helping the company bid competitively for tube-based parts needed for the same purpose.
Established in 1976, TLCC is capable of cutting round and square tube, structural open sections, beams, and flat/bent metal components to customers throughout the UK. Under the same roof, the company can also provide bending, welding and sub-assembly services, backed by a large partner network of sub-contractors offering a variety of services.
The success of this 35-employee, family-run business is underpinned by continuous investment in the latest technology. So, with one of the company’s laser tube cutters approaching the end of its serviceable life, the search began for a suitable replacement.
Director Charlie Day said: “We are heavily focused on processing innovative tube design, so this investment in the Trumpf TruLaser Tube 7000 will further enhance our capability and capacity in this area. Although we are a sub-contractor, our customer slogan is ‘your partner in production’, where we can add considerable value at the design stage. The Trumpf machine will support our efforts in this area, particularly with six-axis 3-D cutting and the flow drill and tapping attachment.”50% cost savings
Smart Design Production is the value-added aspect of TLCC’s business, an initiative that has seen the company deliver production cost savings for customers of up to 50% in some instances. Although laser tube cutting can replace conventional machining processes such as drilling, sawing and milling, it is also now possible to perform threading operations in-cycle, replacing weak and time-consuming fixings such as nuts or rivets.
In the first machining step, the flow drill produces an extrusion that is followed by the cutting of a heavy-duty thread. Sensors monitor the process and alert the operator if a tool breaks, for example.
Advantages such as the flow drill will provide a competitive edge in many regards, not least when trying to win work required by the healthcare sector as it looks to boost capacity due to coronavirus.
Mr Day continued: “Ultimately, having the Trumpf TruLaser Tube 7000 in place is helping us bid competitively for work that will benefit the Covid-19 effort. Among the tube-based work we are hoping to capture includes medical apparatus and racking systems. Such items are essential if the NHS is to avoid becoming overwhelmed. A lot of this work appears to be in preparation for a potential second peak.”
TLCC is also waiting to hear back on bids for emergency bed parts required for the pop-up NHS Nightingale hospitals. Mr Day points out that having to bid for such work based on the company’s older tube laser would make it far less competitive.
He added: “Investment in the Trumpf machine is helping us have a seat at the table for these new healthcare components. As well as providing cost savings, the introduction of the new machine brings a higher level of flexibility in an ever-changing environment. It will also see lead times reduce dramatically. The market is very competitive and lead times are vital, as is quality. Our parts need to be on time and correct, every time.”
Not only is TLCC accredited to ISO9001, but to BS EN 1090-1:2009/A1:2011 for the thermal cutting/profiling of steel and aluminium components. By conforming to the European Union (EU) standard, the company is able to provide CE-ready laser cut tube, box section and sheet parts for steel structures in execution class EXC1 1 up to EXC 3.
Mr Day explained: “By replacing machinery on a regular basis we stay at the forefront of the sector, keeping up with the latest technology advances. The flow drill and tapping attachment is something that our customers have been requesting.
“With so many different materials and sections coming through the company, we also wanted to maximise the length of part that could be offloaded. So, with the TruLaser Tube we took the unloading unit option to offload parts up to 6.5m long.”
Typical materials set to be processed on the Trumpf TruLaser Tube 7000 will include stainless steel, mild steel and aluminium, across 24/7 production operations.
Before ordering the new machine, which is capable of cutting tubes and open section up to 254mm diameter, TLCC was invited to Trumpf’s headquarters in Stuttgart to see it in action. The company even had the opportunity to cut some of its long-running customer components.
Mr Day concluded: “The machine did everything we needed it to, and more; it was an easy decision. In particular, the flow drill and tapping attachment will be a powerful addition to our list of capabilities. At present, these operations are performed separately, so having it as an integral process will save on throughput time.
“The actual tube cutting times will be faster than the machine it is replacing, while our capacity in terms of length, diameter and thickness is also increased. The Trumpf TruLaser Tube 7000 is an upgrade in every sense of the word.”
Ultimately, continuous investment in the latest technologies, combined with the company’s extensive expertise, enables TLCC to give its customers a highly competitive advantage, both in the current challenging trading arena, and in the future, when normality slowly begins to return.