Will a robotic laser cutting system cut it? Find out what it can do before you decide
Although robotic laser cutting systems have advanced over the years, you should know exactly what one can do before you decide if it’s right for you. To find out whether you should choose robotics to laser-cut your parts, you first must consider several factors. Let us start it with what it is in a system.
Robotic Laser Cutting Systems
A typical robotic laser cutting system consists of a servo-controlled, multi-axis mechanical arm that has a laser cutting head mounted to the robot’s face plate. The cutting head has focusing optics for the laser light and often an integral height control mechanism.
An assist gas delivery package distributes a cutting gas, such as oxygen or nitrogen, to the cutting head. Most systems use a fiber laser generator, which can deliver the laser light to the robot cutting head through a fiber-optic cable.
Some systems use a fiber laser generator that delivers the laser light to the robotic cutting head through a mechanical flexible arrangement with mirrors at each joint. fiber lasers require a laser gas, either precharged and sealed or through a delivery system.
Why Use a Robot for Laser Cutting?
Features that can make robots attractive for laser cutting include flexibility, integration and automation, reusability, and return on investment (ROI).
1. Flexibility. With a minimum of six axes of freedom, robots can perform 3D cutting by reaching in and around tooling to cut required features into a part. Cut features can range from simple round holes to complex contours.
2. Integration and Automation. Robots typically have a small footprint. so small workcells can be designed that have one or several robots close to a part. Adding one or more robots to the same cell can increase future production. Often two robots can share one laser.
A robotic laser system also can be set up to perform multiple applications, such as cutting and welding, with the same laser and cutting head.
3. Reusability. Because the robot uses a flexible programming method, it can cut different parts within the same workcell or be moved to a new workcell.
4. ROI. The initial capital expenditure typically is higher for a robotic laser cutting system, but improved quality and elimination of multiple workstations can yield process and quality ROI values of two years or less for many systems.
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