Cutting high-thickness metal sheets is a basic manufacturing process common to a wide range of industrial sectors, from heavy carpentry to ship-building. Laser-cutting technology ought, in theory, to have significant advantages over traditional cutting processes, among them high cutting speed, no tool wear and a reduction in the transfer of energy to the piece of metal being cut. Yet despite the fact that commercial laser-cutting systems have been on the market for a decade, their use has not become widespread.
The problem lies in the extreme sensitivity of the process to external disturbances and in the difficulties in controlling and tuning the variables of the laser-cutting process. These make it difficult to predict and model the cutting trajectory that the laser beam should follow. Even very slight changes in the metal’s chemical composition can halt the cutting process, bringing production to a standstill. Consequently the process has to be constantly monitored and adjusted by human operators.
The three partners of project E! 1784 EUROLASER PUBLICS have devised a commercial solution in the form of a fully automated, high power laser-cutting robot which is capable of continuously cutting metals up to 20mm thick in 2D and 3D. A key innovation in the process is to simulate the cut first, to guarantee accuracy. The system enables manufacturers to dispense with human supervision as sensors automatically recognise and correct any anomalies in the cutting process.
Julie Sors | alfa
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