An integral part of the expansive BLM GROUP family of Lasertube systems, the laser cutting systems for large diameter tubes, both fiber and CO2, are characterized by several basic structural differences compared to their counterparts for smaller diameter.
The main ones are the tube handling system with three powerful spindles, two head and one tail, capable of easily handling much larger and heavier tubes, and a 3D laser cutting head moved by five numerically controlled axes allowing the possibility of moving along the entire tube to process both ends as well as the central part.
Particularly noteworthy among the Lasertube systems for large diameter tubes is the LT14 FIBER, for cutting tubes up to 355 mm (14”) diameter, equipped with a 3D laser cutting head and a fully electric automatic loading and unloading system.
LT14 FIBER Lasertube system.
The advantages of the LT14 FIBER
Laser cutting of large diameter, thick-walled tubular sections provides considerable advantages in terms of cost per part and quality of the results compared to other technologies.
Multiple operations, such as cutting to size, deburring, punching and/or stamping, piercing, and stock removal jobs on work center can be replaced by a single laser cutting operation. With a favorable impact even on the OEE indicator.
Laser cutting, unlike plasma and oxyfuel technologies, provides a much better surface finish, a thinner and more precise cut, no burrs and reduction of the heat-affected zone.
The results obtained are precise and repeatable, processed to required tolerances, and do not require adjustments at a later time as is the case with abrasive instruments.
Multiple operations, such as cutting to size, deburring, punching and/or stamping, piercing, and stock removal jobs on work center can be replaced by a single laser cutting operation.
The advantages of LT14 FIBER include elimination of mechanical deformations typical of traditional operations, such as punching, blanking, etc., the ability to process large or small batches as well as single parts flexibly, and the elimination of tool changes or adjustments.
This all leads to a drastic reduction in system maintenance costs.
When machining tubes made of high-strength steels or alloys, the absence of the tool and the associated problems of wear and durability has the great advantage of offering the same quality and cutting speed regardless of the hardness of the material.
Fiber laser technology also makes it possible to cut large diameter pipes and profiles made of stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and high-strength alloys making it an ideal solution in the manufacture of industrial vehicles, such as trucks, agricultural machinery, or excavating equipment.
The machine processes from the initial tube to the finished product without semi-finished products to be handled or stocked.
How the LT14 FIBER works
LT14 FIBER is a fully automatic Lasertube system, from loading of the tube or section to unloading of the finished part. It can be equipped with a fiber laser from 3 kW up to 5 kW and cuts any geometry of tube up to 355 mm (14”) diameter.
The work process is fully automatic.
Loading of tubes and profiles
Tubes and profiles are loaded by the compact, automatic chain loading device. Extensions (12.5 m or 16.5 m in length) can be added to the standard unloading system (which is up to 8.5 m long).
Tubes and profiles with different shapes and sizes can be arranged in sequence on the chain loader.
Tubes and profiles of different shapes and sizes can be arranged in sequence on the chain loader without requiring any adjustment or additional equipment and without any fixed positions.
The working line is equipped with a dual protection barrier system to allow loading of the next tube without interrupting the cutting cycle, to the advantage of productivity and feeding ease.
Handling and cutting
The tube or profile is transferred from the loading system to the through spindles. , The all-electric and automatic set-up technology protects lightweight tubes from crushing and ensures heavier tubes are secure during the cutting process.
The position of the spindles during laser cutting is managed automatically to minimize bar movements. The two through spindles have two functions: feeding and gripping the tube. In this way, the workpiece is always secured during processing to produce more accurate cutting results.
The 3D cutting head is controlled by five high-speed CNC axes. The freedom of movement allows any style of joint to be cut, such as orthogonal, inclined cuts and chamfers, to facilitate assembly and welding operations.
The cutting head moves along the entire 8.5 meter "X" axis. This provides the freedom to cut the tube at the two ends or in middle maintaining the highest position tolerances between the various jobs.
Finished part unloading
The cutting head works along the entire length of the tube, so the workpiece is correctly positioned for unloading.
As with loading, the dual barrier protection system means that the part can be unloaded without interrupting the cutting process, to the benefit of reducing cycle time and increasing productivity.
Long parts are ejected from the handling carriages at a programmable height along the entire length. This makes it possible to collect parts according to length or type and facilitate subsequent operations.
Short parts can be collected by one or multiple metal belted conveyors for continuous unloading.
Extensions (of up to 12.5 m or 16.5 m in length) can be added to the standard unloading system (which is up to 8.5 m long).
Short parts can be collected by one or multiple metal belted conveyors to form a continuous unloading systemo.
Management and safety
LT14FIBER is a Class 1 CE marked laser system with laser-safe observation windows and fully-enclosed cutting area.
The safety-interlocked cutting area guarantees the strictest safety standards and the whole process is managed by a single operator who, using the network of interior cameras, can supervise the process entirely from the control panel.
The access doors on the loading and cutting areas allow access to the cutting head and the other internal components easily, safely and quickly.
Furthermore, with the complete automation of the entire workflow, the operator never has to handle the parts manually. The machine does everything by itself.
Active Tools are optional technical solutions developed to optimize the production process: making it faster, more efficient, and easier to operate even for less experienced operators.
LT14 FIBER uses the process technologies of the other Lasertube systems and integrates additional ones to optimize the processing of large diameter tubes and profiles and simplify system use.
Active Tools are optional technical solutions developed to optimize the production process, making it faster, more efficient, and easier to operator even for less experienced operators:
- Active Piercing: With this feature, the LT14 FIBER automatically detects the piercing of the material in the initial phase of cutting. This allows, first of all, a considerable increase in productivity on thicker materials, as well as greater piercing reliability and robustness on materials with inconsistent quality or thickness;
- Active Focus: With this feature, the LT14 FIBER automatically adjusts the focus according to the material and the thickness without the need for any specific programming. This makes it possible to perform jobs with both 2D and 3D cutting, piercing and marking always under optimal conditions, or to change material and thickness in a simple, dynamic and error-free manner;
- Active Mail: This function provides valuable help for maintenance management and serves to maximize system availability. Scheduled maintenance notifications are provided and it can send an e-mail containing an updated maintenance report;
- Active Marking: With this feature, the LT14 FIBER can engrave fixed texts or parametric information, such as batch number, date, etc., on the workpiece;
- Tap & Drill: This is an additional tapping and drilling device that includes an automatic tool magazine and tool integrity monitoring system. It can drill and tap threaded holes in sequence from M3 to M16 also using the Flow Drill device;
- Renishaw: The LT14 FIBER may be equipped with a Renishaw measuring system directly on the cutting head for centering the machining operations;
- Cross jet: This function speeds up piercing by blowing away the material melted by the laser;
- Common Angle: With this option, the LT14 FIBER can mirror cutting patterns on several faces in automatic mode, considerably increasing productivity;
- Tube cleaner device: This device removes cutting residues to keep the inner surface of the tubes clean.
Artube: laser tube cutting system programming software
Artube is the leading software package in the field of laser tube processing and the key element connecting the software and the lasertube system, which makes it easy, productive, flexible and efficient to use LT14 FIBER.
Artube can import CAD 3D files in STEP, IGES or IFC format, create optimal cutting paths and automatically generate the part program, considerably reducing programming time and eliminating potential sources of error.
IFC import of the new Forst brewery structure in Lagundo, BZ.
If 3D CAD files are not already available, Artube can be used to 3D-model the tube that you want to cut. With Artube, you can create individual pieces as well as frames and complex structures. The joints between multiple tubes are calculated automatically by the software. An extensive library of supports and joints is available.
Working in 3D greatly improves the ability to view final results. There are comprehensive "standard punch" and "end cut" libraries available at your fingertips to make programming fast and accurate.
With Artube, you can create individual pieces as well as frames and complex structures.
Parametric programming, default libraries that can be customized and saved, and special functions, such as "hook and slot" or "end cuts" can be stored in a library and recalled whenever necessary to make programming easy and quick.
Fewer competitors with LT14 FIBER
Ultimately, the LT14 FIBER is the ideal machine for the most complex structural projects, for making chassis and other components of industrial vehicles, but also for numerous applications in sectors such as oil & gas, energy, ship building, and hydraulic, especially in the cases in which the complexity of the shapes and joints to be made, on large-diameter tubes of any material, would be either not feasible or extremely expensive using traditional technologies.