During the past few years the industry has seen some incredible productivity gains in the laser cutting arena. Solid-state fiber and disk lasers are starting to dominate the FABTECH® show, and companies are beginning to tout the technology not just for thin sheet cutting, but for plate cutting as well, sometimes up to 1 in. Linear drives move cutting heads between cuts at eye-popping accelerations—measured in Gs. Seeing some of these machines running at full speed (especially in thin material) can be a jaw-dropping experience.
Then there’s forming, and then welding. If you think about it, the fastest laser in the world looks great, but if overall manufacturing time doesn’t change, the operation doesn’t produce more parts in less time. Jobs that require just laser cutting can be offloaded and shipped in record time. But most parts at contract fabricators require forming and welding—two classic bottlenecks in metal fabrication.
So how does a shop free these constraints?