Old wine in new bottles, or vice versa.

Author:Lorincz, Jim
Position:At Large in the Shop - New machinery on display at Fabtech

My New Year's resolution is to make a list of things-to-do that I actually do.

Here's a start...clearing up old business, which means writing all the stories that I thought were worthwhile and haven't written yet. Or, as in the following, reporting on some developments seen late last year at Fabtech.

I suppose "hot" doesn't really apply to the waterjet machining process, but developments and machines were moving fast at Fabtech. Flow International's Dynamic Waterjet with Active Tolerance Control pushed cutting speeds up 50 to 400 percent on its WMC series machines. Key is software that automatically--according to sophisticated mathematical algorithms--tilts the nozzle to position the cutting head so parts are cut without taper. The bend in the cutting stream is eliminated. All the user has to do is enter the material type, thickness and desired cut quality into the control. Flow sold three machines by the second day of the show.

Lasers are cutting thicker materials faster with W.A. Whitney's, PlateLaser 6000 machine. The unit has incorporated a PRC 6kW laser with its rapid pierce and pierce-on-the fly capabilities to cut mild steel up to 1[1/4]" thick and stainless steel to 1" thick. Piercing to initiate the cut is done neatly and quickly in less than 1 second with the machine's rapid pierce feature.

One of the newer entries to the North American market in turret presses is coming from Taiwan's Tailift Co. It has sold a number of machines in China--said to be the hottest market for turret punch presses in the world. Tailift has introduced both hydraulic models (HPS 1500/HPS 2500) and mechanical turret punch presses (the CP 1250, 1500 and 2500) models at prices that range from the mid-to-high $200,000 range.

Since Fabtech is a punching, lasing, and cutting kind of show, flat part measurement took a major step forward with the introduction of the Trumpf Qualifier (TQ) model light/laser-based measuring machines. A user can measure punched, formed and laser-cut sheet metal parts and do reverse engineering since the Qualifier can detect the contour of a part and convert the data back into a CAD file. Measuring areas are 4' x 8' (TQ 2500--$120,000) and 4' x4' (TQ 1250--$90,000).

Virtek Laser Systems followed up on the success of its LaserQC and new QuickInspec flat-part inspection systems with the first showing of its prototype Laser Expert system. It is a work-in-progress and is being designed to integrate laser inspection of all the processes...

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