AMF’s Tube Laser Changes Everyday Job Shop Work
A day in the life of AMF’s amazing job shop fabrication includes this complex stainless-steel test chamber which will be shipping to Seattle, Washington where our customer will be doing small explosion tests inside of it.
The test stand was fabricated with an intricate skeleton of 2” x 4” x .25” stainless steel rectangular tube (some visible in the picture) welded and assembled inside the .25” stainless steel skin on the exterior of the stand. The tube fabrication is nearly hidden from the customer but an important part of the assembly because it provides the structural strength to withstand the explosion tests performed inside the enclosure.
This is a typical job for AMF and makes great use of our Tube Laser technology because of several factors as follows:
1) Saw cutting 2” x 4” x .25” stainless steel rectangular tubing is a very slow process for any saw. It is also an inaccurate, sloppy process when it comes to tube manufacturing. The saw cut will create an enormous burr and likely not be very square.
Slow saw cutting is one factor but deburring and dealing with out-of-square cuts creates more manufacturing waste downstream during the welding and assembly processes.
Tube laser cutting, on the other hand, generates very square and accurate cuts with almost no burr. Those factors alone will speed up the welding process by as much as 30%!
2) Many of the tube sections in this assembly also require small holes to allow pneumatic and electric lines to chase through the inside of the tube.
Those holes were cut on the tube laser, avoiding the incredibly slow and inaccurate process of hand marking and drilling the parts. Drilling a 1.0” diameter hole through .25” thick stainless-steel tube wall could, depending on a company’s equipment, take as long as 15 minutes per hole.
Cutting that same hole on the tube laser took 30 seconds—that is over 15 times faster and, again, the hole is perfectly placed which eliminates quality hassles and waste downstream.
3) Tube section are cut and etched by the tube laser so the welding team downstream knows where each piece fits, eliminating hand measuring and old school fit-up techniques prevalent in any weld assembly fit-up process.
In this example, AMF’s tube laser actually etched the rectangle-shaped line so the welder could set his tube right on the mark. This is, again, a good real-world example of every day work that people may not understand (unless you are in the business).
Fit-up is tedious work and suspect to quality errors—with the tube laser these problems nearly vanish.
Ultimately, the customer in this example has no idea that AMF is using a tube laser to make their project a giant success. In all honestly, they probably don’t care but what they do love is that their test stands look and function perfectly; they do care that it delivered on time, and they do care that our price was very competitive!
So while they may not know our manufacturing processes, sheet metal process and tube fabrication processes, they do know how happy they feel when this test stand delivers!
Manufacturing tube or sheet metal takes both craftsmanship and technology—we give it our all to have both.
What is a Tube Laser?
Tube lasers are starting to come online now with regularity.
These are very big, very complex and very expensive machines—hence they have not hit the manufacturing market with the same force tradition flat sheet lasers did in the past.
So, what is a tube laser?
Tube Lasers are setup to laser cut light structural shapes which would include the following:
Custom Shaped Extrusions
Tube Lasers vary in size but the machines, generally, are meant to handle typical 20-24’ lengths of these before mentioned shapes and sizes.
In addition, most machines are designed with auto-loaders or semi-auto-loaders which allow the machine to move bundles of material through the laser cutting process extremely fast.
Typical tube lasers will cut tube from 1” OD up to about 8” OD. Larger tube lasers can cut materials up to 14” OD.
The complexity of the machine is hard to describe in writing but try to imagine these big machines grabbing a piece of tube, moving the tube laterally (left to right), spinning the tube rotationally (around and around) and also cutting the tube at multiple angles.
Even more, imagine the rigorous programming that is involved when trying to cut round, verses square, verse angle, verses channel shapes.
Most would consider these tube lasers as 5-Axis laser cutting machines—watch them work and you will see that there is a bunch going on simultaneously.
Needless to say with all this complexity the end result is amazing to watch.
Any potential customer that is using traditional methods of saw cutting, coping, drilling, milling or iron-working, should really consider what a tube laser might do to help them gain efficiency.
AMF’s rule of thumb is that if any piece of light structural material requires two of the above processes, like saw cutting and saw mitering, or saw cutting and drilling, then there is way more efficiency to be gained with the tube laser.
Even further, if a person has a job that required anything beside just a straight saw cut, they should be using a tube laser. That includes miter-cuts, holes, slots, taps or even high precision straight cuts—the tube laser will easily out pace traditional methods.
Of course, these machines are expensive and take up a very large foot print so not everyone is willing to make that investment. AMF works with many fab shops that do not have the space or capital necessary to purchase their own machine.
Typical lead times for AMF’s tube laser are 3-5 days—these machines crank through material at an amazingly fast pace!
Many people are tentative to outsource labor and materials from their own shops—this reluctance stems from dozens of reasons: fear of losing work, fear of losing control of the job, fear of long lead times, fear of change.
The reality is most of these fears are unfounded. AMF is a great partner and will work tirelessly to make sure all of our customers get what they need to be successful.
We have the Tube Laser Challenge which you can find at https://www.allmetalsfab.com/tube-laser/ where we offer our customers 20% off of their first order.
Most are shocked by quick lead times, less than a week, and great prices which will save you money.
In the end, this tube laser technology will transform the industry just like the flat laser did in the nineties.
What is a tube laser—the best cutting technology on the market for tube, channel, angle and other structural elements.
Find out more by contacting us and don’t forget to ask for your 20% discount on your first order!
Welding that keeps the metal stuck together…
Welding can be as basic as a farmer, welding repairs on his tractor, or a sophisticated as a deep-sea diver, welding nuclear grade pipe connectors.
Obviously, not all welding is the same.
Metal fabrication job shops, in large part, segment themselves by the quality and type of welding they commit to do.
Like any expertise, welding has an enormous array of certifications, trainings, processes, types and specialties. Written Certifications, normally obtained by welding tests (actually testing a human welder on his/her welding skills), are a common way many shops demonstrate to their customers that they can meet specified quality levels. The term, “Certified Welder”, is probably most recognized welder description in the metal fabrication industry—sounds official, right.
The truth is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of various certifications based on types of metal, types of weld, positions of weld, etc., etc.
The idea of “Certification” is only a start to the welding process.
Other terms that are much more important include Welding Process Specifications (WPS), Welding Procedure Qualification Records (WPQR) and Certified Welding Inspectors (CWI’s).
There is a big difference between a shop that simply has “Certified Welders” and a shop that utilizes WPS’s, WPQR’s and CWI’s.
Simple welding repairs or processes, back to the tractor example, can be done quite well by traditional welding methods. However, if a the customer requires the technical documentation to guarantee precision welds—when welds really count and absolutely cannot fail—then they are better served to find a metal fabricator that has the documentation, processes—and inspection capacity—that will assure the parts will be welded correctly.
AMF utilizes in house Certified Weld Inspectors, along with WPS’s and PQR’s.
Just as important, AMF seeks to Continuously Improve our welding procedures and processes. We specialize in welding high-end steel, stainless steel and aluminum.
We are constantly adding to our catalog of Welding Procedure Specification and testing our welders to those specifications.
We invite you to learn more about what we do by visiting our website at www.allmetalsfab.com.
PS My Grandpa was a heck of a stick welder and fixed more of his farm equipment with second hand tools than I ever thought possible—loved the guy and everyone that puts on a hood and welds hot metal together!
What is Deburring?
This question has been asked enough in recent months that it might be worth exploring.
The best explanation might start with a story.
Many, many years ago we had an employee—we will call his name Frank for the purposes of this story—that was cleaning the metal drops, or remnants (the pieces left after cutting out specific shapes) from behind the shear (cutting machine).
(For those unfamiliar with fabrication think about cutting fabric with a pair of scissors…the scissors would be a shear of sorts and the pieces of fabric left outside the pattern would be the drop or remnants).
When a bunch of material is cut, there is often a large stack of remnants left behind the shear than need to be cleaned away. The material often falls into a scattered pattern and sometimes pieces get pinched or wedged into each other making it difficult to pull them out.
Frank was facing that exact situation. He was wearing gloves to protect his hands but one piece, on which he pulled, slid through his hand—the metal had a sharp edge from the shear cut. As the metal slid through his hands, it easily cut through his gloves and into his skin leaving him with a sever laceration that had to be stitched at the hospital.
The story illustrates how severe a burr can be on metal when it is sheared or saw cut. Those burrs, in many instances, are like razor blades. It happens when the shear blade or saw blade cuts through the metal and leaves a cut edge that is raised just-off the metal material.
Newer technology as decreased burrs. Laser cutting often leaves very little burr—but it does not eliminate it completely.
Many customers specifically call out burr removal on their part drawings.
At All Metals Fabrication, we have very concrete rules for deburring parts. We do not want our customers getting material that is sharp to handle.
Deburring can be accomplished by using sanding machines and tools. Most people are familiar with wood sanding (often to get rid of rough edges). The same applies to metal, although the equipment and sanding pads are quite different.
Deburring metal can be tricky, believe it or not. Too much deburring can lead to mis-configured parts. In addition, the wrong kind of deburring can eliminate the original burr only to add another burr.
Like any manufacturing, metal work has its own craftmanship rules. Eliminating burrs on metal may not compare to the craftmanship required to TIG weld or form metal parts just right, but, nevertheless, it is still and important element, as Frank might witness, to metal fabrication. It is a small detail that must be done right—and is worth the time and money to make sure it is right.
AMF has over 25 years of experience in the industry. We love to thrill our customers with accurate, burr free parts!
Wrap Around Templates Verses Tube Lasers in real life!
If you are still printing patterns to wrap around your structural tube (see picture) you should really consider the amazing benefits of a tube laser.
Please consider the real hours used in the old-school pattern process:
1) Laying out the pattern
2) Printing the pattern
3) Laying the pattern on the tube or pipe and tracing it
4) Hand plasma cutting the pattern
5) Grinding the jagged cut
6) Grinding the weld prep groove
Depending on quantities, this old-school pattern process could be anywhere from .75 hours to 1.5 hours of work per a piece of pipe end.
At $65.00 per an hour, this little hand-cutting process is running you up to $98.00!
When the process is finally complete, the cut-out will be very imprecise and require even more tender-loving-care to make the assembly fit up correctly!
Compare that to using a tube laser.
Even at a higher hourly rate, programming and cutting will likely cost you around $55.00 per unit.
You are already saving time and money but now consider the welding.
The part will fit perfectly.
Bevels will already be in place.
All the pulling and warping and hammering and clamping will be nearly eliminated.
Using the tube laser will save you 50% per joint over your traditional methods.
If every coped and welded joint assembly cost you $200.00 per unit, you will be doing them for $100.00 per a joint assembly.
That is enough money to really consider the benefits of tube laser cutting over traditional methods.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or hop on our tube laser web site and take the tube laser challenge, https://www.allmetalsfab.com/tube-laser-cutting/take-the-challenge/.
You will be the smartest guy in the room for saving your company so much money!
Getting your Engineering Mind Wrapped Around Tube Laser Parts
One in a while, when we see something anew, we can have an aha moment—a paradigm shift of sorts.
These creatively engineered parts are all part of a fixture assembly that a clever engineer designed once he understood what kind of cutting a tube laser could do!
All of these would have been machined parts and expensive—now they are tube laser cut, even the channel, and done with relative ease.
Tube Laser allows for parts to have slots, miters, complex angles, etc. and all done at one work station with the fast cutting people have learned to appreciate from laser technology.
Contact us today and learn more!
Tube Laser vs Bundle Cut Sawing
Tube lasers, obviously, are limited to cutting one stick of tube (or angle or channel) at a time.
How does that stack up to saw cutting bundles of tube when comparing labor time?
The answer may be surprising.
Bundle cutting is very efficient, but it has draw backs. Here are a few the bundle cutting advocates should consider:
1) The time it takes to ‘assemble’ the bundle.
2) The time and expense that is encountered when bundle pieces disassemble or flay about causing the saw blade to break.
3) The time it takes to deal with pieces that are not cut exactly right because the bundle isn’t cooperating perfectly.
4) The time it takes to deburr all the parts (normally left with a rough burr).
5) Here is a big, big one that most people forget or fail to recognize…the time it takes to manage downstream fit and weld issues because the parts are not cut squarely or are out of tolerance.
Tube Laser technology has come a long way. We are not talking about a flat laser, meant to cut sheet metal, that has a tube cutting add on. We are talking about a dedicated sixty foot machine that is cycling through 20’ lengths of material in automated fashion.
If the tube is square and the parts have no holes, miters or angle cuts, bundle cutting may still win, particularly if there are very large quantities.
However, if you had any kind of miter or angle cut, or any kind of hole or slot, tube laser technology will prove significantly faster.
Here is why:
1) Tube Lasers eliminate the huge amounts of time consumed in multiple setups needed to saw, deburr, cope, fixture, drill.
2) Tube Lasers eliminate huge amounts of waste in material movement (from work center to work center).
3) Tube Lasers eliminate waste of space as piles of batch and queue parts can be removed from the shop floor.
4) Tube Lasers vastly improve the fit and weld time down stream because the parts are perfectly cut, +/- .01, which keeps fitters from struggling with alignment and welders from filling gaps (and fighting all the warping that comes from excess welding). This is a huge benefit!
Even more, parts can be laser cut to fit into each other with tabs and slots making it virtually impossible for down stream quality errors.
Even more, parts can be cut with etching, tabs and slots that make fixtures unnecessary.
Bundle cutting may still have a car in the race but only on the rare exception. The first notion of anything beside square cuts and the Tube Laser will easily win the race.
Call us or email for more information—the costs savings are real!
What kinds of Material & Shapes will Tube Lasers Cut?
Much like flat sheet lasers, Tube Laser’s can cut Steel, Stainless Steel and Aluminum.
AMF’s tube laser, a Mazak 3D 220 Fabri Gear, is also equipped with tapping capacity for threaded holes and seam detection so the machine can cut the material knowing where the seam lies inside the tube.
This extensive list of material types and shapes types gives AMF a wonderful amount of capacity.
AMF’s machine allows for 25.5 feet of infeed and 20.0 feet of outfeed.
It is capable of handling round shapes up to 8.66” OD and 6” x 6” Square.
With auto loading and dedicated work space, AMF’s tube laser is set to chunk through vast amounts of material.
The machine is hungry for work—give us a call to find out more about our great lead times and fantastic customer service.
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 email@example.com.