In 2011, Laser Specialists purchased a 5-kW CO2 Rapido in order to process thick, heavy-wall tubing, which led to more work, and a desire to add even more cutting technology. 

3D Cutting of Hot Stamped Parts

Prima-Power-Laser-Next-Control“By 2015, we continued to grow and came across more production opportunities, and were cutting a lot of hydroformed tubing,” Jon says, “but we really needed to increase our cutting speed. I carefully studied the hot stamping industry, and identified the Prima Power Laser Next as a 3D fiber laser cutting machine geared to meet the hot forming niche. As a job shop, we took a different approach. We decided to adopt that same equipment to handle not only our production opportunities but our prototype work as well.” 

During the last 10 yr., the performance of Prima Power 3D laser machines for automotive applications has been growing steadily, according to Prima Power officials, owing, they say, to a dramatic reduction of cycle times offered by the technology. For example, productivity on a typical benchmark component (B-pillar) was raised by 25% via the Laser Next. In other words, officials note, four Laser Next systems produce as much as five previous-model laser cutting machines. 

In addition, the machine’s high-precision, dynamic turntable with servo motor and absolute encoder is designed to ensure high reliability, safety and ergonomics. 

And, Laser Next provides a space-efficient layout both for stand-alone and multi-machine configuration. This is important for Laser Specialists due to its purchase of multiple machines. The compactness of installation, says Jon, enables the install of more machines, with as many as three units next to each other and using the same magnetic scrap conveyor, with no need for excavation.

After a 2015 purchase, Laser Specialists bought its second Laser Next in 2016 and its third in 2017. The company also purchased the Prima Power 2D Platino Fiber and Laser Genius in 2017. 

Focal Positioning Control, present in Prima Power machines, provides the opportunity for even greater productivity.

“We can run two jobs simultaneously,” explains Nick, “and can cut different thicknesses simultaneously. By using the Focal Positioning Control we can do this without a manual adjustment.” 

Big Plans/Big Expansion

To facilitate its growth, in late 2022 Laser Specialists took occupancy of a 100,000-sq.-ft. building in Washington Township, a short distance from its current 45,000-sq.-ft. two-building location in Fraser. Then in early 2023, Laser Specialists added three new Laser Next machines to the new facility, which also houses a tube laser cutting machine. 

“We needed to separate the lower-volume jobs from the higher-volume jobs because they require different skill sets,” says Jon. “At the Fraser location, we have just one loading dock. We needed to separate our prototype and low-volume jobs from the high- volume production. The Washington Township facility, with its five loading docks, allows us to do this. We also will be implementing some load/unload automation on the Laser Next cells.

“An increase in hydroforming and hot stamping are driving the need for laser cutting,” he concludes. “And, some of the lower-volume-production electric-vehicle programs will justify the need for laser cutting to eliminate the need for hard tooling.”  MF

Information for this article provided by Prima Power North America, Inc., Arlington Heights, IL;

Industry-Related Terms: Forming, LASER, Prototype, Run, Scrap
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Prima Power North America, Inc.

Technologies: Cutting


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