David Soyka gets enlightened on how Mazak’s innovative line of 2D and 3D laser cutting systems help structural steel, metal fabrication, and construction customers make the cut.
To say that your company is on the “cutting edge” of technology is pretty much a cliché. It’s what companies like to say in their marketing materials. But in the case of Mazak Optonics, it happens to be literally true on several levels.
One, they are on the cutting edge of technology. Two, the technology they provide is for the purpose of making precise cuts in metal.
Mazak Optonics Corporation is a leading supplier of laser-cutting systems, offering some 50 models that employ emerging laser technologies to make precise cuts in machining metal. As an operating unit of Yamazaki Mazak Corporation, Mazak Optonics brings an added edge to this specialized technology.
“Yamazaki, a Japanese corporation founded in 1919 and headquartered in Oguchi, is a global leader for the manufacture of machine tools and systems for the precision machining of metal parts, including CNC turning centers, horizontal and vertical machining centers, multi-tasking machining centers, turnkey cells and software solutions,” says Marc Lobit, marketing manager. “They have a long track record of success in building very rugged, very reliable, heavy-duty machining tools. That’s a heritage we apply to our laser cutting systems and is something our customers appreciate. Typically these systems last 8 to 10 years, but we have machines still in operation after 20 years.”
He is quick to add, however, “Even though the machine might remain functional for over 20 years, generally you’d want to take advantage of advances in new technology and better throughput long before that.”
The latest example of, yes, Mazak’s “cutting-edge” technology is the new 4KW model OPTIPLEX 3015 Fiber machine, capable of cuts accurate up to 0.750 inches. “Traditionally, lasers are CO2-based, meaning the mirrors used to amplify the light beams contain this gas,” Lobit explains. “The new fiber design is, for one thing, more environmentally-friendly. The OPTIPLEX 3015 provides a 100 percent reduction in laser and optical path gases compared to conventional laser processing. It also offers an 80 percent reduction in oscillator and chiller electrical power consumption.”
Moreover, fiber optics work at greater speeds than CO2 counterparts. “Fiber-based lasers significantly reduces operating costs for applications involving cutting thin and highly reflective materials such as aluminum and stainless steel with greater accuracy. Primary markets are the medical, aerospace, architectural components, food processing, and HVAC industries,” Lobit notes. “The OPTIPLEX 3015 also easily integrates into our automation systems and complement’s Mazak’s extensive line of CO2 lasers.”
That automation capability is another key competitive differentiator for Mazak, the first manufacturer to introduce laser cutting machines into a flexile manufacturing cell system. Essentially, Mazak incorporates automated materials handling capabilities featuring touchscreen operation and automated setup with the laser cutting machine to allow for limited user intervention and unattended operation. This not only reduces labor costs, but improves throughout and minimizes downtime. According to the May 2013 The Fabricator, “The wider the variation in materials and thicknesses, the greater the economic advantage gains with automated setup…[one job shop] cut the annual production volume in 3,287 hours as compared to 4,170 hours.”
Mazak’s EMC (Extensible Manufacturing Cell) laser cutting automation system is modular, allowing for easy modification as fabrication needs change. It is expandable up to four machines and has a standard one-inch plate capacity. The system provides the capability to increase loading speed, improve consistency and productivity without adding people. The Mazak Compact Manufacturing Cell includes a compact 10 pallet stocker and optional sorting station for the OPTIPLEX 3015. It has a one-inch material, 2,200-lb. plate capacity.
Mazak Optonics maintains an inventory of products, but the machines themselves are manufactured by its parent company in Japan at its ISO 14001-certified plant.
Mazak Optonics is currently gearing up for the November FABTECH show in Chicago, the largest metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing exhibition in North America. “Mazak is a recognized leading brand in the industry,” Lobit explains. “This event is one of our chief opportunities to really show off the brand and our capabilities. We usually see a big surge in interest after doing FABTECH.”
He adds, “While the manufacturing sector as a whole has slowly been recovering, the particular segment we serve, metal fabrication, has historically always been a little bit behind the curve. I’d say we’re about a year behind where everyone else is in terms of economic recovery. However, we’re definitely in a better position than we were a year ago and we’re expecting steady sales as we continue in 2014.”