1) What benefits does 5-axis laser cutting offer?

With 5-axis laser cutting, the tool is the laser beam – way thinner than any traditional tool. This gives the possibility to design any geometry while eliminating complexity.

Automakers are increasing use of high-strength steel (HSS) or steel and exotic material (UHSS), especially with electrical vehicles (EVs). Lasers can cut with the same efficiency in any material, eliminating stocks of specific tools for each material. And laser beams don’t wear; cutting quality is the same even after thousands of cuts.

2) What component types can automakers improve with this capability?

Hydroformed parts are perfect for laser cutting: the flexibility and sharpness of the laser suit those ultra-complex shapes. Robotic integration for parts handling and laser-cutting repositioning makes it possible to manage the part, completing the cutting cycle in a single operation. With hydroformed parts, laser cutting reduces scrap and cuts more parts from a single pipe.

Traditional processes can create stresses or deformations on components: burrs with milling and sawing, or deformation with punching. And, the quality worsens after any cut as the tool wears.

3) What types of systems are available?

The LT-FREE complete family of machines offers various configurations for different features – optimized loading, robotic flexibility, compact fixed-table operations – depending on application requirements.

LT-FREE HIGH FLEX offers maximum flexibility and high productivity. Two stations (split cabin) each include an indexing table and robot for parts handling/repositioning.

LT-FREE ONE FLEX supports a wide range of applications. Its compact layout and fixed table accommodate up to 3m-length parts. Its robot manages parts handling and repositioning, and it includes a smart tube management system.

LT-FREE PIECE VALUE for high-volume applications, the compact layout and rotary table maximize productivity.

LT-FREE ENTRY LEVEL offers value, a small footprint, and easy management.

4) How difficult is it to learn how to use BLM LT-FREE systems?

BLM’s ArtCut 5-axis CAM software allows users to program the machine offline using a 3D model and clicking on the geometries to be cut. ArtCut simulation ensures the program is good prior to part processing. BLM’s tube-processing experience allows additional functions, such as adding extra length to the pipe end.

The human-machine interface (HMI) eliminates complex machine programming and the need for laser machining expertise. From the 3D preview of the part, users can move any geometry with one click or add micro joints if necessary. A comprehensive database includes cutting parameters for any cutting application.

5) What software features ease system use?

Active Tools features put laser technology know-how inside the machine:

  • Active Speed automatically optimizes parameters at actual speed without operator input
  • Active Piercing improves piercing efficiency; increases quality, reliability
  • Active Focus changes laser focus for each geometry; simplifies complex part management
  • Active Grippers adds input/output (I/O) options, active tool management for high-accuracy applications
  • Active Restart allows LT-FREE to restart after any stop position; minimizes part waste, maximizes efficiency

For more info: https://www.blmgroup.com