Carbon gantry for highly dynamic fiber laser cutting

MicroStep's MSF machine series offers a broad range of application and automation possibilities. The use of a carbon composite gantry allows to increase the system's productivity significantly – in certain cases by up to 25 percent more.

The portfolio of fiber laser cutting machines from MicroStep includes a wide array of solutions, from simple machines to complex cutting centers with various work area sizes, different technologies and automation options. The machines from the MSF model range are equipped with state-of-the-art laser sources and cutting heads, efficient zone extraction, safety cabins, and safety features compliant with latest safety standards. Thanks to their modular nature, they can be delivered as turnkey solutions, ranging from small workshop machines to large-scale machines with working lengths exceeding 20 meters.

Carbon Gantry for Enhanced Dynamics

The use of composite materials in the construction of laser machines allows to improve their dynamic capabilities while maintaining high cutting precision. The properties of the composite material – one-third the weight compared to steel with the same or better stiffness as a steel beam, good vibration dampening, and lower thermal expansion – enable the full replacement of steel beams with carbon ones in the construction of gantry-type machines, effectively reducing the overall weight of a gantry by tens of percent – in case of MicroStep MSF laser machines, this translates to roughly a 40% weight reduction.

Pic. 1: Carbon gantry of the MSF Pro X machine by MicroStep

Furthermore, improved stiffness and, above all, vibration dampening capabilities significantly increase the performance and dynamics of the machine's motion system without transmitting forced vibrations to the cutting contour. Under a horizontal acceleration load of 3g, the composite beam experiences a 30% lower deformation compared to a steel beam, with the deflection of the laser head nozzle being the same for both steel and composite beams under the same load. In other words, machines with a carbon gantry can safely achieve higher accelerations, thus significantly reducing the overall cutting program execution time. The lower overall gantry weight also leads to increased durability of the stressed components of the motion system, resulting in reduced maintenance costs.

Pic. 2: High-speed, on-the-fly cutting with MicroStep's DynaFly technology

Enhancing Cutting Efficiency

Thanks to the stiffness of composite gantries, the motion system can achieve not only higher acceleration but also significantly higher acceleration jerk (the rate at which acceleration rises to its maximum), all while maintaining the same high quality of cut edges. This means that machines can change the direction of movement more rapidly, thus cutting complex contour shapes at a faster pace. Moreover, due to the reduced weight of the gantries, the machines can achieve up to 10% higher traverse speeds. When you factor in all these elements, for moderately complex cutting programs, this can result in roughly a 15% to 25% increase in cutting productivity, which is a highly favorable outcome. The larger the customer's production volume, the more advantageous this becomes.

Pic. 3: Machine with a carbon gantry in motion

Application of Carbon Gantries

The construction of MicroStep machines and cutting heads, in conjunction with the load limits of the carbon gantries used, currently allows for the implementation of this solution on machines with working widths of up to 2 meters, equipped with a single straight cutting tool station. This is an additional option available in the machine lineup – the same type of machine can also be supplied with a steel gantry. It finds its application in high-production operations, often in combination with automation of material loading and unloading, as well as automated machine production management through central software applications for order processing and stock control, aiming to make the operation of work cells as efficient as possible. MicroStep provides these applications as part of its digital platform, CyberFab.

Pic. 4: MSF Pro X sized 6 x 2 m with a carbon gantry and a 6 kW laser source featuring beam shaping technology. The machine is equipped with an automatic loading and unloading system with two material loading/unloading positions, which are also software-automated through the CyberFab Manager software package by MicroStep

Multifunctional MSF Pro

The carbon gantry is just one of the configuration options within the modular product line of MSF Pro – an option designed for high-speed straight cutting. However, MSF Pro machines offer true multifunctionality, including bevel cutting, marking (using various methods, including laser and inkjet marking), drilling, countersinking, tapping, and various automation possibilities. With automatic shuttle tables of up to 16 x 3 meters, these machines provide exceptional capabilities for processing metals, such as beveling long parts with variable angles or additional beveling of thicker parts that were pre-cut using a straight tool (MicroStep's patented ABP technology).

Furthermore, they allow the combination of multiple cutting heads and the use of different technologies on a single gantry, which can be automatically switched within a single cutting plan. To enhance efficiency, MSF Pro is equipped with automatic laser heads, gas consoles, automatic nozzle cleaning, beam centricity tracking, height sensor calibration, and the option for automatic nozzle exchange. Currently, they are available in with laser powers up to 20 kW.

Pic. 5: An automatic nozzle exchange station with 8 positions

Moreover, MSF Pro machines can be equipped with systems like MSLoad, MSTower, MSLoop, and MSSort, offering a wide range of material loading, unloading, sorting, and automatic storage options. All of MicroStep's laser automation solutions can be adapted to meet the specific material flow requirements of customers and integrated with smart factory solutions.

Pic. 6: Fully automatic laser cutting cell: MSF Pro machine of a 4 x 2 m work area with an 8 kW laser source featuring beam shaping technology, an automatic loading/unloading system, and an automatic tower storage with 10 positions

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