Laser Cutting Hot-Stamped Steel

TRUMPF has increased the performance of its TruLaser Cell 8030 for handling 3D cutting of advanced high-strength steels.

Related Suppliers

Given the proliferation of hot-stamped components such as B-pillars and roof rails, TRUMPF (us.trumpf.com) has taken its TruLaser Cell 8030, which it introduced in 2010, when the number of parts being laser cut was comparatively limited, and has created a second generation machine to address today’s needs.

There are essentially three areas where there are notable changes: 1. The laser unit; 2. The material handling; 3. The peripherals.

As for the first, the TruLaser Cell 8030 is equipped with a diode-pumped TruDisk 2000. This provides 2-kW of power and a beam quality of 2 mm•mrad, a doubling of the previous-generation laser. According to TRUMPF’s Frank Geyer, product manager, Laser Systems, this disk laser can productively handle many 3D cutting applications. Geyer explains that if users are looking for high edge quality, then the speed of the cutting is related to the ability to reorient the head in order to follow the 3D contours of the part. What’s more, he points out, “A small hole, for example, is not cut at full speed; it’s cut at fairly low speed if you want high edge quality.”

That said, the TruLaser Cell 8030 is also available with the TruDisk 3001 and 4001, 3- and 4-kW, disk lasers, both of which provide a beam quality of 4 mm•mrad.

The unit, which requires less than 538-ft2 of floor space, gains productivity through a dynamic rotational changer and a rotary index table, which facilitate quick load/unload and setup operations. Geyer says there are cases where the cutting time required (e.g., a B-pillar) is such that the operator can be ahead of the machine in terms of load/unload. However, there are many instances where the material handling time for the operator is such that he’s behind the machine, which is where the new rotary table comes into play. (There is also an optional robot interface available to assist the operator.)

The TruLaser Cell has a work envelope of 118 in. X, 51 in. Y and 23.6 in. Z, so it can accommodate both single parts as well as fixtured multiples.

There are other features of the unit that are worth noting. For example, there is ObserveLine, a visual slug detection system. This is an optical system that can quickly determine—as in 135 milliseconds—whether circles of all diameters cut from the part have fallen away. What happens is that the laser emits a short pulse after the geometry is cut and if the slug hasn’t fallen, light is reflected back through the fiber. That’s detected by a sensor and the control is notified so that remedial action can be taken.

There is a runtime display on the front of the machine that allows the operator to readily see the amount of processing time remaining for the part being cut, as well as information about the overall production order. This, Geyer explains, helps the operator and shift supervisors to keep the cutting operations on track.

According to Geyer, there are from 8 to 10 hot-stamped parts on a vehicle today, parts that require laser cutting. He says that number will go to 15 and above in the foreseeable future. Which explains why TRUMPF has upped the capabilities of the TruLaser Cell 8030.