Tube Lasers vs Machining Centers
Tube lasers do battle with tradition fabrication methods very well!
Sawing, deburring, coping, mitering, drilling are common fabrication processes, but one might question how tube lasers stack up against the likes of traditional machining centers.
The answer—very well.
Frankly, the main issue when comparing a tube laser to a machine center is tolerance.
Dedicated tube lasers are very good at holding tolerances in the +/- .01 range.
The question potential tube laser customers should ask is what kind of tolerance is really required on my part.
Engineers are generally good at designing fabricated parts at +/- .01 and machined parts at +/- .005 (or less) but many times those tolerances are more a result of the engineer’s drawing template then the part requirement. Drawing templates are infamous for creating unnecessarily expensive, high-toleranced, parts.
Many of our customers save significant money by simply asking the engineer if the tolerances can be modified for certain parts that could be done on a tube laser which results in a substantial savings.
This drawing is a good example. Saw cutting, machining to size and then tapping…verses stacking a 20’ length of tube into a tube laser and letting the machine go to work. In this example, because of the tolerance allocation, the tube laser will essentially replace three work centers and, obviously, will be much faster—both in processing time and material handling time.
Dedicated Tube Lasers are leading edge technology that save people money. Find out more by contact AMF at 801.392.9494 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can Tube Lasers Cut C Channel?
The answer is, again, a resounding YES!
Just like Tube and Angle, Channel can be sliced, diced, notched, mitered, slotted, hole-patterned and cut with obscure shapes.
These type of cuts, because of the Tube Laser’s ability to rotate the channel, combined with a 5-Axis beam head, can happen in the web or on the legs of the channel.
AMF boasts a fully loaded 60’ Tube Laser with cutting capacity to handle round tubing up to 8.6” and square or rectangular tubing up to 6”x6” square.
AMF’s machine will load and off load lengths of tubing up to 25 feet.
Finally, with 4000W of laser power, AMF’s tube laser can blast through steel wall up to .75” thick all the while holding tolerance in the +/- .01 range.
AMF can cut steel, stainless steel and aluminum channel.
Our goal is to make fabrication easier than it has ever been. We work for other fab shops, OEM’s, contractors and any customer that has a CAD file and a Purchase Order.
Does a Tube Laser cut Angle Iron?
The answer is, yes, yes & yes.
People are often surprised when we tell them that our 60’, 5 Axis Tube Laser will cut angle—steel angle, stainless angle & aluminum angle!
TUBE LASERS cut angle with ease.
Here is where IT GETS BETTER—Tube Laser technology can cut angle with the following additive features:
- Irregular Shaped Ends
Here is where IT GETS [MORE BETTER]—Tube Laser technology saves huge amounts of processing time!
Only one setup—avoiding:
– Saw cutting
– Hand Measuring
– Fixture Setup
– Prick Punching
- Parts can be cut with beveled edges, ready for welding.
- Parts are cut so accurately that fit up and welding are 30-50% faster.
Tube Laser cutting is new technology and many people are still in the dark about what this machine can accomplish.
Tube Laser in Live Action
Tube Laser in Action
Engineers are getting the idea of how to utilize dedicated tube laser technology. The parts and assemblies partially shown below are a wonderful example of how tube lasering can change engineering, design and assembly.
Engineers should consider that 5 Axis cutting capacity, combined with the machines ability to handle 25’ lengths of material are completely possible. Those are game changing ideas when assemblies are considered.
All said, these engineers have designed:
1) Faster cutting
2) More accurate cutting
3) Elimination of multiple material handling steps
4) Elimination of heavy deburring
5) Perfect fit up
6) Significantly decreased fit and welding time.
7) A better part for less money.
AMF invites engineers to call or email and discuss what is possible with 5 axis tube lasering—it is a game changer!
Take Advantage of a Powerful, Dedicated, 60 Foot, 5-Axis Tube Laser
Take Advantage of Dedicated, Big-Time, 5 Axis Tube Laser Technology
AMF has a fully functional 60’, 5-Axis Tube Laser that wants to EAT work for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snacks!
SERIOUSLY, stop and think about EACH of the following questions:
1) Do you have any long lengths of Angle, Channel, Round, Rectangular or Square Tube that get cut regularly?
2) Do you have any lengths of angle, channel or tube or custom extrusion that get cut with one holes, slots, complex miters or angles?
3) Do you think stack cutting with a saw can beat the speed of a dedicated tube laser?
4) Have you considered the time wasted on fitting parts for weld that do not fit together perfectly?
5) Have you considered the time wasted on filling uneven gaps with weld?
6) Have you considered the time wasted on chamfering edges for weld prep?
7) Have you considered the time wasted on deburring saw cut angle, channel or tube?
8) Have you considered the time wasted on moving parts from work station to work station (saw, debur, drill)?
9) Have you considered the time wasted in queuing and stacking materials at multiple work stations?
10) Did you know our tube laser can tap holes?
11) Did you know our tube laser can cut up to 8.66” Round and 6×6 Square?
SERIOUSLY, contact us to discuss these questions and you will be shocked about how dedicated tube laser 5 Axis technology can save you BIG money and VOLUMES of time.
Leading Indicators, Lagging Indicators & Your Nephew’s Wedding
When a specific job is completed and labor hours are reported—the most obvious first question is usually about labor hours: were they over or under the estimated prediction?
Truth is, at this point, other than knowing, it doesn’t really matter. The job is complete and the infamous colloquialism (which I really despise) comes careening out, “It is what it is!” This is the very definition of a—Lagging Indicator!
In other words, what’s done is done and nothing can be changed to correct the outcome.
Lagging Indicators are all around us—your children’s school grades, your month’s end bank statement, even your damnable weight on those ever-lying bathroom scales. We obviously need or want the information but like your bulging waist-line-predicament when grabbing an old pair of dress pants for your nephew’s wedding, once the day arrives, there ain’t much your gonna do about it!
Much more positive, however, is the wildly undiscovered benefits of Leading Indicators. When done right, leading indicators are a nearly fool proof way of heading off the dreaded let down of “It is what it is.”
For example, if your nephew’s wedding is logged for three month’s time, the smart attendee will start measuring his calorie consumption every day to make sure he is not heading across the gaining-weight line. What other leading indicators could he use? It is obvious—exercise, or calories burned, food macros, sleep, perhaps even stress levels.
All these metrics become very early indicators as to how much one will weigh the night of the wedding.
Weight maintenance may be easy to predict. However, in metal fabrication, it can take work hard to find the right leading indicators to promote jobs being completed in less hours than they were estimated. Machines like tube lasers and flat lasers can be measured for what we call, beam-on-time. In other words, how much time is the machine actually running verses sitting idle waiting for material, setups or other starters.
Other things might be measured like incorrect programming, human error, tooling issues, etc.
The whole idea is to get a handle on what leading indicators are best suited to drive the lagging results your company wants and expects. When those leading indicators are rigorously measured and reported the lagging indicators are usually no surprise.
All Metals Fabrication takes the business of metal fabrication seriously. We want to drive process improvement at every corner of the business because the ultimate leading indictor is happy customers. Happy customers mean repeat work and repeat work means staying in business for a long time.
Finally, I have to say it: It is not what it is—it is what we make it!
Best of luck at your next wedding!
What Is A Dedicated 5-Axis Tube Laser?
We get this question often—what exactly is a 5-Axis Tube Laser? How is that different from a rotary attachment on a tradition flat sheet laser?
Lets start here…laser technology has been around for many years and really started to grab ahold in the mid-nineties. The cutting technology was, by any measure, transformative in the metal industry and now it would seem nearly impossible to operate a modern shop without laser cutting technology.
Adaptions have been made over the years and laser cutting technology has improved.
One of those adaptions, among many, has been to add tube cutting capacity on flat sheet lasers. This can be useful but it requires large setup times as the machines have to be broken down to change from flat sheet cutting to tube cutting.
Setup becomes a huge cost when the machines are forced to changeover from flat sheet to tube and visa versa.
In addition, lead times are often very long for potential customers as most shops want to, naturally, wait until they accumulate several tube cutting jobs before breaking down the flat machine to do all the tube work together.
Setup costs and long lead times are a significant setback for transforming a sheet machine to tube machine but there is more.
Flat sheet lasers can only cut on two or three axis which works sufficiently in some cases, particularly with square tube, but is very limiting when cutting round tube or when one wants to cut a bevel (say for pre-welding conditions). Bevel cutting requires 5-Axis cutting where the head or nozzle of the laser can actually swivel and/or tilt at an angle not perpendicular to the surface of the metal.
Finally, saw-cutting pieces to length is also a limiting, non-value-added process required for nearly all sheet lasers which usually have beds that are 10-12 feet long. That means that each piece of tube not only has to be saw cut but also loaded one at a time into the machine for cutting.
Can flat sheet lasers cut tube, yes…but examining the benefits of a dedicated tube laser over a flat sheet laser is worth considering.
First, as originally mentioned, there are relatively NO setup times involved. Dedicated tube lasers are ready to go without changeover or machine modification. As jobs progress through the tube laser machine, programmers and machine operators are loading new programs into the machine while the current job in the system is still cutting.
What that means is significantly reduced lead times and setup costs.
Second, dedicated tube lasers are designed to cut long lengths of tube. In AMF’s case, the machine will handle 25’ lengths of tubing.
This, again, significantly reduces setup times. No hand loading, on-and-off, small lengths of tube into a flat laser modified for tube cutting. Dedicated tube lasers grab an entire 24’ length of tube and feed the piece through the system until all the pieces are cut from the entire length (handled only once).
Third, 5-Axis capacity, as mentioned above, allows for copping and bevel cutting (cutting that is not perpendicular or normal to the surface). This is A BIG DEAL down stream when the parts move from cutting to fitup and welding.
Many studies show that welding efficiencies are increased by as much as 50% with tube parts that are cut precisely with ready-weld bevels and perfect intersections.
5-Axis cutting also allows AMF to cut items like Angle, Channel and Custom Extrusion—none of that is possible on a flat sheet laser.
Dedicated, 5-Axis tube laser cutting is on the frontier of fabrication. Most Industrial Engineers have only begun to understand how this technology can change design and engineering. Parts that were impossible before or very expensive in a traditional machining center (mill or lathe), can now be fabricated at very affordable prices.
Take the time to consider how a Dedicated Tube Laser could really transform your work—better prices, better lead times, better downstream fabrication, better design.
Check out or online video of tube lasering on our website and You Tube channel.
Winning Business Partnerships in 2019
2018 was a solid year for most companies although certainly not without challenges. In the metal industry, we were severely and negatively impacted by government-imposed tariffs on steel & metal imports. Politics seem to find a way into all our lives whether we want it or not (most of us not!)
Tariffs impacted both cost and supply—many typical material units were hard to find and even out of stock.
Despite some of those frustrations, and quotes that literally had a one-day life span, AMF was blessed with both great customers and great, hardworking employees.
2019 looks to be another good year by all indicators, even against some of the negative economic head winds being reported by the national media.
One of AMF’s main goals this year is to reach out to our customers like never before with negotiated win-win deals.
We humbly submit that there is too much wasted & non-value-added time used on the old-fashioned quoting system so deeply entrenched in the traditional market supply chain.
How often do you find yourself saving ten dollars but losing a week of production time?
Time often has more value than a few percentage tics and two weeks of wasted RFQ time.
This can change!
AMF’s promise is to deliver great, quality parts on time and for a price that allows both AMF and our customers to make money.
AMF has been putting these practices to the test over the last several years and found many-more-than-expected relationships where our customers simply give us a price and PO which we agree to fulfill.
The deal takes trust on both sides!
It is a little scary at first (for everyone), but, when it works, enormous amounts of time and energy are saved and directed toward fulfillment instead of the old RFQ dance.
In essence, for the accountant types, wasted overhead money is transferred into direct COGS money…even better, wasted time is eliminated.
These types of partnerships allow buyers to spend more time on very elastic goods and services (where real money can be saved), and sellers to spend more time on fulfillment service (where real money can be saved).
Obviously, this only works if both parties are committed to each other’s success!
In conclusion, we started this article on tariffs and politics—where we can be sure almost NO PERSON is committed to another party’s success. Gladly, we are finishing on trusted business relationships where there are still many people that can see practical Game Theory in action where EVERY PERSON can win.
Here is to a great 2019 and the hope that we can all be game winners this year!
When the Quality of Fabrication Really Counts
In recent weeks an All Metals Fabrication (AMF) employee had the opportunity to travel to Peru where he hiked the Salkantay Trail on the way to the world famous Machu Picchu. The hike was marked by an unexpected landslide which forced his trekking team to cross a large river.
The large river basin from side to side spanned some 300 feet with canyon walls that were nearly vertical. Walking down the trail, the hiking team found a local farmer who had a single metal cable pulled across the river canyon, approximately 200 feet in the air.
For a small fee the farmer would transport the trekking team across the river in his makeshift cart, cable and pulley system.
The deep mountains and rough terrain of Peru are spectacular, but as one might guess, the traditional testing, engineering and requirements stringently applied in places like the US are not readily apparent on a small Peruvian farm.
Through translation, broken English, broken Spanish and many assurances from the farmer, the team decided to use the metal cart and pulley system to cross the treacherous river.
The trekking team considered the obvious questions about safety, knowing that if the cart or cable failed it was likely certain death. Will the welds hold together on this cart? Is the metal in good condition? Is the metal cable securely fastened? Is the metal cable secure in the cemented structures? All of these were discussion points before the decision was made to go.
Happily, everyone passed over the river safely and the smiling farmer made a good amount of money for his service.
AMF takes these exact questions very seriously as we fabricate parts that HAVE TO WORK! Every day we fabricate parts for roller coasters, transportation vehicles, ski lifts, play ground equipment, railing, guarding, conveyors, automation, paneling, etc.
We track our materials from their origin, we have established weld certificates and processes (WPS and PQRs), we have check points and quality assurance documentation all aimed at delivering components that have passed our fabrication and safety standards so you don’t have to worry if your theme park ride is safe. Because we all know hikes and rides are much better when you can do them more than once!
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How to Move Continuous Improvement Past Flavor-of-the-Month Status
Continuous Improvement is one of those corporate buzzwords that most of us have often heard but few of us have experienced—at least not longer than a flavor-of-the-month initiative.
Many companies, including those in the metal industry, recognize the value but the tough part is trying to execute on Continuous Improvement until it actually becomes part of the fiber and sinew of the organization.
AMF determined a couple of years ago—after a few false starts—to drive this concept into the soul of our company. The jury is still out as to whether we have accomplished that extreme goal but there is no doubt that Continuous Improvement has pierced the armor of our company culture and is heading toward the heart.
How have we accomplished this cultural implementation? Perhaps the biggest key was starting from the bottom (where the good ideas really germinate) and working up.
Some of the key implementation strategies have been as follows:
- Create a cross-functional Continuous Improvement Committee that meets weekly, which does not mean every other week, every week when things are not busy, every week when every person can attend or every week when everyone is in the mood. It means every week no matter what!
Consistency is perhaps THE biggest key and right behind it is having a cross-functional team, consisting of shop and management, that has the autonomy to debate, discuss, agree and disagree about ideas and concepts.
- Recognize that small improvements are worthy of consideration—even simple suggestion like brooms, fixing small leaks or changing very minor work processes are very important. Those tiny improvements add up over time. They build upon each other. Small suggestions often lead to bigger breakthroughs (things that cannot be seen until someone takes the time to notice the impact of a small change.)
- Every suggestion, no matter how small, big, or brilliant (or even not brilliant) needs to be recognized and acknowledged. Without recognizing each suggestion, the Continuous Improvement concept turns into an old-fashioned idea box (that never gets checked and therefore never get stuffed with ideas.)
- Create an easy way for employees to submit ideas—particularly right at the moment the idea strikes them. We have implemented a CI Hotline where employees can use their smartphones to snap a picture and then text the idea the moment it happens.
- Finally, all the ideas, improvements, implementations, etc. need to be communicated inside the company in a major way. We spend resources marketing to our customers—our people need the same. AMF has set up internal Walls of Fame that we update consistently to communicate how improvements are being made and implemented.
The bottom line is we are trying to create more value for our customers and employees by getting better every day. Continuously Improving a metal fabrication company, like any other, is best accomplished by valuing what every employee might suggest, even from the smallest corner of the business.