From a four-chuck system to the true 3D cutting head, the 3D FABRI GEAR and FG-220 DDL transform operations one tap at a time.
The 3D FABRI GEAR line was introduced in 1999 and since then Mazak has continued to advance their 3D laser-cutting technology.
The FABRI GEAR III comes in two sizes the FABRI GEAR 220 and FABRI GEAR 400 both featuring a six-axis laser available as a 2.5kW or a 4kW. The length of the material is the same but the FABRI GEAR 400 processed rounds up to 16 in. where the 220 is 8.6 in round capabilities.
Mazak has engineered a proprietary 3D cutting head that maximizes flexibility and the range of movement which expands the range of applications possible. User defined cut angles are useful for weld prep and getting the highest accuracy for easy fit-up assemblies.
While the FABRI GEAR isn’t the only tube laser on the market, its chucking systems’ engineering stands out. The FABRI GEAR’s four-chuck system allows full control of raw material and finished parts throughout the process.
“Most tube lasers on the market only utilize a two-chuck stems. A four-chuck system is especially important when making long, large and heavy finished parts,” Explains Tyler Van Wyhe, Mazak applications engineer.
The four-chuck design is ideal for processing structural materials such as I beam, H beam, angle iron, c channel, HSS, along with other user defined materials.
Common with structural materials is inconsistent shapes like it being bowed, twisted or misshapen which makes the four-chuck system vital.
“Being able to keep full control of the materials helps with this,” says Van Wyhe. “Other features, like the self-centering of the opening and closing of the chucked, tube supports to keep the material in line and machine functions to find the center of the material before cutting, all help us to make very precise parts.”
Van Wyhe says it is crucial to have the FABRI GEAR work and function as a full system. Mazak leverages automation to load, material, cut parts, tap, chamfer holes and unload finished parts all with little to no wait time from simultaneous operations.
“Some customers are surprised to see how technology like the FABRI GEAR can improve part of their process compared to what they currently do,” Van Wyhe says. “Better yet, there are many times that it can improve the part and process as well as the assembly of the entire product line.”
This was the case for Thermo Energy Systems, the Canadian based company that serves the greenhouse market. Originally Thermo was using mechanical dies and punches making it a multi-step operation. “The bottom line is that there could be three or more processes involved with making finished parts which takes a lot of time, says Van Wyhe. “With each station, there is another potential for error. Having the ‘all-in-one’ process saves a number of hours and offers a better chance of making consistently accurate parts.”
“There are times when a customer looks at a part and only see how they’ve always made it,” Van Wyhe continues. “They don’t even realize that if things like a slot and tab design were added, it might eliminate errors all the way though to assembly. Other customers discover that their parts could be produced in a way that removes the need for clamps or fixtures, allowing welders to spend more time welding and less time setting up.”
Thermo Energy also experienced this with the implementation of their FABRI GEAR. Dave Loewen of Thermo Energy stated, “The FABRI GEAR’s flexibility has allowed us to think of any design and we are able to create it." Loewen further explained, "Because the FABRI GEAR is so precise, we have less to worry about during the assembly and installation process". ThermoEnergy has been able to make their tube and pipe process a one man job, cutting the processing by two-thirds.
The FABRI GEAR incredibly unique with built in tapping, up to 6 different taps, and the six-axis head allowing for 3D geometry from beveled and mitered end cuts to countersink holes.
Other notable features include a measuring system that automatically measures material length through a sensor and another sensor in the cutting area that measures the material and compensates for distortions.
“FABRI GEAR is used in many industries, Van Wyhe says, “not only to make parts for buildings and infrastructure, but also to make the machines that are used on the construction sites to do these jobs. From cranes and boom lifts to scissor lifts and fork trucks, this equipment has many parts that are or could be made from tube or other structural shapes, such as angle iron and C-channel that can be processed on the FABRI GEAR.”
Not only has Mazak been an innovator in 3D laser cutting but also in laser generators, direct-diode laser (DDL). Mazak’s next generation of the FABRI GEAR machine now utilizes DDL technology in the FG-220 DDL. This laser source delivers high performance and reliability over CO2, fiber and other solid-state laser generation systems.
The Mazak DDL generator offers 45 percent more energy efficiency compared to previous laser sources. It also allows for higher energy absorption rates and increased power density. Comparing the modes, or beam diameter, the DDL has a 40 percent increase in power density over fiber. This is thanks to a smaller beam diameter that is able to offer more intense light, which ultimately increases cutting speed.
The smaller beam diameter also creates a reduced heat-affected zone, in part because the DDL beam is a 10th the size of a CO2 beam and because its cutting speeds are faster. Both of these beam characteristics result in less heat needed to cut the material and less time that the edge of the material is being touched by the laser’s extreme heat.