One operation, no scrap: six-axis tube laser helps keep manufacturer on the cutting edge.

Author:Kettler, Rick
Position:Laser strategies

With well over 50 years of experience as a Milwaukee metal component manufacturer and OEM supplier, R&B Wagner Inc. has always maintained its philosophy of innovation and service to the customer, with an emphasis on quick delivery.

As the company's business evolved, it became increasingly difficult to compete on tube projects where volumes were relatively low and holes were required. This often resulted in a choice between an expensive fixture and an expensive hand layout in the machining area. The more shapes and sizes of holes that were required, the less likely the quote would be acceptable to the customer.


Additionally, it became apparent that as the fabrication side of the business became more sophisticated, the time to cope the joints, fit up the various parts, and complete the weldments was taking up extensive resources and time. Meanwhile, customer requirements for precision were increasing daily while their cost expectations were decreasing.

After studying various approaches and alternatives and matching these up with the culture and skills of R&B Wagner, the company decided a tube laser could address all of these issues by:

* Reducing, or eliminating, fabricator setup.

* Improving and automating the placement of multiple holes in a variety of pipe and tube shapes, sizes and materials.

* Introducing the latest manufacturing technology to the current product line.

* Providing a new service to Wagner customers.

The choice

Wagner chose a Mazak Fabrigear 300, six-axis tube laser, a machine that provided the company with a large range of materials, thicknesses, shapes and size capabilities befitting an operation that produces many types of products.

A typical example of a laser application is the production of posts for cable railing systems. Depending upon the design, schedule 40 or schedule 80 pipe--type 304, stainless--is pierced with 12 sets of holes, spaced every 3" to provide guideways for stringing 3/16" stainless steel cable in a hand railing system.

When the railing turns down a staircase and the centerlines of a pair of holes are no longer opposite one another, the axis of the holes tilts at the same angle as the stairway slope and the spacing of adjacent hole sets must be adjusted. There is a different spacing for each different slope of staircase.

In the past, these holes were machined into saw-cut pieces and hand-coped on a mill or...

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