tions, there is a lower chance that inconsistent parts
are presented to the laser welder.
The fixture built to hold the part guarantees the
consistent placement of the weld seams, and any
lack of angle or improper blank development will be
offset by the zero point in the middle of the component. As for the end bits that are welded on, no
inconsistencies can exist in the length of the part as
the ends aren’t being formed at all.
Other costs associated with bending decrease.
In the first example, there were four bends for the
entire part—the same number as there are now—so
while no cost savings result in that regard, think
about tool setups on the brake. It’s not uncommon
for a bent component to be just one size variation
of a whole family of similarly shaped parts. Assume
that this part has two variations, one 20 in. long and
the other 30 in long.
With traditional production, each part would
need its own specific tool setup because the final
two bends are length-dependent. With the new
design, you can add in a length of tooling to accom-
modate the longest possible variation and simply
leave it in the machine (see Figure 5). Since you’re
dealing with an open profile, there’s absolutely no
need to change the tool setup. With modern clamp-
ing systems and automatic tool loaders, this process
has become easy and reliable, but not as easy, reli-
able, or inexpensive as not having to swap tooling
out at all.
Laser welding allows a part to be put together in
so many different ways. Its influence on production
costs can be the most substantial, something that
is unfortunately often overlooked when shops are
considering capital equipment purchases. We’ve
only scratched the surface of what this technology
can offer to sheet metal manufacturers, both large
Brett Thompson is sales engineer-TruLaser at
TRUMPF Inc., 860-255-6000, www.trumpf.com.