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Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

(OP)
We are considering purchasing a laser and would greatly appreciate any input you all may have, as we are new to laser cutting.

What we will be cutting:  Mostly mild steel 1/2" or less (primarily 1/8" - 1/4"), with some stainless and aluminum, all under 3/16 (primarily 1/8" aluminum and 0.065" SS). Also quite a bit of T-1 steel, which I am told cuts as well as mild steel.

Work Load:  At this time, we won't be running even 2,000 hrs a year.  We expect to grow into this unit.

Physical Limitations:  We don't currently have an overhead crane that could service the laser, so would prefer to load via forktruck if practical.  Also, machinery footprint is an issue as we are a bit tight on space.

Experience Limitations:  While I have designed laser cut parts and purchased them for years, we have no in-house experience in using a laser at all.

The Current Contenders:

Mazak STX-48 Champion 1,300W

Amada Pulsar 1212NT 2,500W

Software:  We have Autocad LT and Solidworks 2005 in house, and any NC software we purchased would only be needed for the laser.  I would like efficient nesting, but would also like to avoid paying $20K for software.  Any suggestions here are appreciated.

According to the brochure specs, both of these hybrid lasers should be able to handle the work.  Both Amada and Mazak seem to have good reputations, but any feedback you can give me about experience with either machine or manufacturer would be great.  Amada seems to be asking about 30% more for its laser vs. the Mazak.   I'd be open to other mfrs as well.

We will be doing a fairly wide variety of work on this machine, probably typical of a laser job shop although most parts will be for in-house use (20-500 parts at a run, mixed parts on each plate, etc.).  A quick learning curve, ease of programing, and dependability are all desirable.

Any thoughts or recommendations you may have are greatly appreciated.  I need the voices of experience!

Thanks in advance,

MikeMech

RE: Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

I think both manufacturers make a very good product and both have advantages and disadvantages as well.

The Amada has Fanuc Control, Drives and Resonator which is RF Excited with more power than the Mazak's Panasonic DC Excited which would require a bit more maintenance in the long run and therefore cut the Stainless and Aluminum a bit faster.

The Mazak can handle more weight on its table given the fact the Amada Pulsar has a "ball-transfer" table but has the ability to reposition if needed whereas the Mazak table can only cut a 4x8 sheet or plate.  Also, the slugs (scrap) will fall easier on the Mazak. You will have to microjoint almost all the time on the Amada.

I have used both machines at the production level and both will do the job.  I would also look at the Mitsubishi hybrid as well.

As far as laser software I would look at Sigmanest for nesting and the ability to program for not only laser but punching, router, plasma, oxyfuel, etc.

Good Luck on your search

RE: Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

(OP)
msandoval:  thanks for the response, I appreciate your input.  

Amada told me today that their 2.5KW unit will in fact cut up to 3/4" mild steel but you have to slow the table traverse to 1/4 speed to avoid damage to the ballscrew.  The table balls would take more of a beating as well, and we would have to load smaller stock (3ft x 4ft or so), maybe on a fixture to spread the load out over the balls.  We would also have to provide clamp adapters to compensate for the clamps only accepting a max of 1/2" material.  

Have you had any experience with this?  It would be an advantage to us if it isn't totally impractical.  I don't understand why Amada doesn't modify the table to accept 3/4 material if the laser is capable of cutting it.

RE: Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

MikeMech,

The issue is with the table is weight, the inertia factor can cause damage to the ballscrews.  Yes, you should be able to cut up to 3/4", the Fanuc resonator loves thick plate. Heck, you can cut 1/2" HRS with 1500 Watts.  This machine has been around since the early 90's and was mainly designed as a sheetmetal laser, hence the reason for the Gemini (FO)Model.

The thickest I ever did on a 2000 Watts Pulsar was 5/8" but it was a struggle to clamp it.  Great machine nonetheless, reliable, resonator mounted on the frame, NT Control Capabilities.

e-mail me at beamout@gmail.com your contact info so we can chat about it if you wish.

 

RE: Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

Mitsubishi is the best all-around machine

RE: Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

  We have an Amada 1212 and it works great.  The ballscrews can cause problems with bigger and heavier material, but if you are running low hours it will last awhile. We cut only sheet on it,  we use our 3015FO for plate and thicker Stainless and Aluminum.

 As for software I think Sigmanest would be good.  I still have metalsofts fabriwin after 16 yrs. and it does cost a few $$.

RE: Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

I agree with msandoval.  We have an old 1212 from the late 90's and we only run up to 1/4" steel on it at 4x4 blank or less.  whe it come to thicker stuff we run it on our FO.
 

RE: Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

i agree with what everyone is saying and the machines you are looking at are very good. if you are going to run as a production facility and will be looking for speed have you considered looking at a Trumpf machine? very fast and very reliable with great support team. also from the gauge range you specified i would look at some of the new fiber lasers, they are making great strides. the average cost per hour to run a co2 laser with 3000kw is about 15 dollars an hour, a diode pumped fiber laser at 3000kw is about 2.50 to 3.00 an hour. nothing can compare to the cut speed either until you get around the 1/4" range then they are not as fast as co2. good luck in your search

RE: Buying a New Laser: Input Please!

I would look at some of the new fiber lasers too, but only with substantial eye protection. No one is talking about it but the fiber lasers are very dangerous when compared to CO2. If it wasn't for the danger, the fiber could be considered the holy grail of industrial lasers.

Chris Krug http://krugtech.com/

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