Contributing to Machine Availability
As fiber laser cutting machines have become more prevalent, the hidden benefits of using fiber lasers have also become more evident. Maintenance tasks that that would normally consume several hours per month on a CO2 laser have disappeared from the routine maintenance of the fiber laser. Consumable costs such as mirrors, lasing gases and beam delivery bellows have also disappeared. Overall the operating costs have been cut in half, but also the maintenance time has also been significantly reduced, adding to additional productivity time. So not only do you gain with the productivity speeds of the fiber, you are also spending less time on maintenance which in turn also adds to your overall machine availability and productivity capabilities.
Eliminating Maintenance Tasks
While everyone knows that a fiber laser does not use mirrors for beam generation or beam delivery purposes, the time it used to take to clean, replace and re-align these optics has been replaced with additional machine availability time. Beam delivery systems such as bellow systems are no longer required so there is no longer time spent on checking or replacing these systems as well. Beam alignments are not necessary as the beam is delivered via a fiber optic. Nozzle alignments are also not necessary as the cutting head and focal length are fixed. Another maintenance task that has been eliminated is the need for changing the vacuum pump oil and filter, as these components do not exist in a fiber laser. With the elimination of these maintenance tasks, the fiber laser has more machine availability for additional production time.
One of the real hidden benefits is in the operation of the fiber laser machine itself. As I speak to the operators they tell me about how much more consistent their cutting is over time. Parameters hardly need adjustment and really this is from the difference in material quality. Since there is no short term degradation of the fiber as compared to the mirror based optics of the CO2, there are less adjustments that an operator must do to maintain edge quality over time. Since beam alignments and beam path purge do not exist, this is also another reason for the parameters to remain consistent over time. Another hidden benefit is in the start-up and shut-down of the laser itself. The fiber laser is ready to cut as soon as the system is turned on. There is no waiting time for the laser to generate a vacuum, cycle the gases and warm up the optics prior to operating at full power. Just as quickly as you can turn on a light switch is as fast as the fiber laser can be switched on and will be ready to cut at full power.
Justifying the Technology
When justifying fiber laser technology, don’t forget to also include the hidden benefits. Fiber laser technology is not only faster and more economical to operate but they are also less maintenance intensive and provide for even more machine availability and productivity.
By Frank Arteaga, Head of Product Marketing, NAFTA Region
Bystronic Inc., Elgin, IL – Voice.firstname.lastname@example.org