Many companies use laser cut components in the manufacture of their products, and the obvious starting point when prototyping or stepping up towards volume manufacturing is the use of a local subcontractor for laser cutting. The flexibility and affordability of a subcontract service can match with the varying needs of companies unfamiliar with laser cutting. With a prevalence of job shops offering fast turnaround and high-quality sub-contract services, why would you consider bringing laser cutting in-house?
When Just-in-time becomes Just-too-late
As product volumes increase, or order quantities fluctuate it can become more difficult to manage external suppliers and the option to bring the laser cutting requirement in-house is usually considered at this point. Having a compact and efficient flatbed laser cutting machine, like the recently-introduced Hyperion 3GF standard system from Cyan Tec Systems, means that parts can be produced within minutes when the need for urgent response arises. Sometimes the time taken to contact suppliers and book space in their production schedule, can lead to delays from a day to a week. When parts are on the critical path (and perhaps require post-cutting operations like welding or anodising), a delay waiting for a supplier to respond can be circumvented by having the laser cutting machine and the material to cut available in your factory. Delivery time pressure and the need to satisfy un-predictable customer demand can be minimised by taking control of laser cutting and having the resource available “on tap”.
When Stock Isn’t an Option and Variety is Needed
Some companies use the flexibility of laser cutting to personalise production, or to cope with a huge variety of spare parts. Making to order rather than making for stock is always going to be more efficient from a stock control point of view. The difficulty of forecasting can be overcome if a flexible laser cutting machine is available. Designs can be held in software (or customised in CAD) and transferred to the laser cutter in minutes. The cutting time with modern fibre laser cutting machines is short, especially on material less than 6 mm thick (which accounts for the lion’s share of the laser cutting requirements in most general industries).
When Volume Reaches Tipping Point
Monthly spend with sub-contract laser cutting job shops clearly increases with volume. As new products incorporating laser cutting gain acceptance in the market and the volume of laser cutting work outsourced increases, there comes a point when the monthly spend on laser cutting exceeds the cost of the monthly lease of a laser cutting machine. At this point, many manufacturers decide to take the decision to bring their laser cutting in-house.
The Cyan Tec Solution
Cyan Tec Systems worked with several clients to develop unique solutions for cutting sheet sizes up to around 2 m x 1 m using a dedicated fibre laser cutting system that occupies well under half the floor space of a conventional flatbed system. Using fibre laser technology, the system is efficient (giving up to 5 times the output of a conventional CO2 laser cutting machine per kW of supply). In addition, the coupling efficiency of the fibre laser wavelength works extremely well with reflective materials like stainless steel, copper and aluminium, many of which are more difficult or impossible to cut with a CO2 flatbed system. The Hyperion 3GF from Cyan Tec benefits from a standard design with the flexibility of customisation to add additional features or bespoke tooling.
Cyan Tec Systems has experience of integrating lasers for cutting, welding, marking, engraving, etching or ablation. Experience with lasers from all the major laser source suppliers allows Cyan Tec to offer expert advice on the most appropriate solution for laser processing. Cyan Tec also offers systems for paint spraying, assembly, test and many other applications. Standard and bespoke systems are offered with a full service from design through manufacture, a large installed base worldwide is supported by a dedicated team of engineers.