Matrix Metalcraft’s (Clinton Twp., MI; www.matrixmetalcraft.com) recent acquisition of a high-performance 5-axis VZ1 Mitsubishi Laser cutting system with pallet changer (from MC Machinery Systems; www.mitsubishi-world.com) provides a significant piece of the foundation on which the company plans to boost its output while providing another resource for manufacturers looking for high-capacity laser cutting of large parts. Five-axis laser technology is not new to Matrix; the company has utilized the process for several years to manufacture structural vehicle fender brackets and mixing tubes for diesel engines, along with other smaller parts.
The new laser and its larger cutting parameters—122-in. X-axis, 87-in. Y-axis, and 33-in. Z-axis—can accommodate full quarter panels, aircraft engine housings, complete fender systems and larger pieces for final trim die validation. The company has already received a contract for validation of final trim die parameters for the rear quarter panel for the ’09 Ford F-150, a piece that it would not have been able to do on a smaller machine it already had. “We are going to trim that piece using the new VZ1 and see if it fits the fixture so that modifications can be made before they cut the final trim dies. This will eliminate the need for the construction of second stage dies for this particular part, which saves money and time. This new machine will open up the door for these larger components, which we hope will mean more business,” says Ryan Willette, sales director at Matrix.
Willette says what makes Matrix’s cutting system unique is the dual pallet changer capability: “This is the first VZ1 in North America with dual pallet changers.” The pallets enable Matrix to accommodate multiple jobs with minimal downtime—once one job is complete, the other pallet slides into place and the process begins anew. Matrix expects the new system to help it break into the manufacturing of larger, more complex parts for niche vehicles—those with volumes of a few thousand. The company already makes smaller parts for some low volume vehicles, including the right-hand driver version of the Cadillac SRX. “That’s where we see great opportunity to grow our automotive business,” Willette says.—KMK