‘State of the art’ fibre laser investment

State of the art fibre laser investment

Derbyshire sub-contractor opts for Durma machine with bevel head and tube-cutting capability

Derbyshire-based Knoxford Fabrications Ltd, a precision sheet metal fabricator and general sheet metal-work sub-contractor, bought a Durma HD-F 3015 4kW six-axis fibre laser cutting machine following a visit to the Axe & Status (www.axestatus.com) stand at this year’s MACH 2018 show. In fact, the company was so impressed with the machine being demonstrated that it bought the laser directly off the stand.

A leading Turkish manufacturer, Durma is well established in the fibre laser market, with over 800 machines sold around the world to date. This latest UK purchase immediately followed the first installation of this particular model type, made earlier this year at Rochesterbased Kaler Engineering (see Machinery Market 21 June).

Knoxford Fabrications is part of Knoxford Ltd, which incorporates Portable Floormaker — a manufacturer of a range of equipment for the hospitality industry world-wide that includes portable dance floors, staging and bars. Knoxford Fabrications has grown from a small fabrication department set up to manufacture storage trollies for Portable Floormaker to a successful stand-alone business.

Knoxford Ltd is owned by a Chicago businessman who was the distributor of the Portable Floormaker products in the USA. In 2009, Knoxford ran into difficulties and went into administration; but having invested a lot of money in marketing Knoxford’s Portable Floormaker products in the USA, the businessman decided to buy the company’s assets and IP and keep it going.

In 2010, he bought a second-hand CO2 laser, which has underpinned Knoxford Fabrication’s success over the past eight years. However, earlier this year, the company decided to replace this ageing machine, as it was considered to be too slow and uncompetitive.

Replacement machine

The sourcing of a replacement was influenced by a large Durma AD-R 40220 press brake that was bought from Axe & Status in 2016 so that Knoxford Fabrications could undertake larger signage work; the success of that machine, together with the service and support provided by Axe & Status, meant that the company had no hesitation specifying a Durma fibre laser from Axe & Status, which has been the exclusive UK distributor for Durma since 2002.

The new machine soon proved to be much quicker and more cost-effective to run than the old CO2 machine, giving the company the potential to attract new and more-varied work. In addition to supplying the new Durma fibre laser, Axe & Status also found a buyer for Knoxford Fabrications’ old CO2 machine.

General manager Eric Swithenbank said: “We have the ability to produce anything from staircases to point-of-sale displays, and signage to storage trollies; in fact, we can fabricate almost anything a customer requires. We offer design and engineering advice supported by ‘state of the art’ sheet metal-manufacturing equipment and metal-working services — all under one roof. We have Solidworks 3-D CAD and can handle any job from inception through to delivery. We made the decision to buy the new fibre laser because we needed a machine that was more-competitive than our CO2 one and would put us on more than a par with the service offered by other companies in the local area.”

The Durma machine features an IPG 4kW fibre laser source (with chiller), a 3,060 ¥ 1,530mm table, axis speeds of 100m/min (with an acceleration of 20m/sec2), and high-precision rack-and-pinion drives that give an accuracy of ±0.3mm. The Precitec Procutter cutting head has an auto-focus 6in lens and a bevelling capability, while a tube and box-cutting device (normally associated with higher-cost fibre lasers) accommodates tube up to 400mm in diameter and box sections up to 250 ¥ 250mm. Meanwhile, a shuttle table allows for automatic pallet changing, and there is a motorised transfer conveyor for removing ‘slugs’ from the machine. Control is via a Siemens SL840D that offers an automatic nesting facility (via Lantek Expert Cut 11 software).

Competitive edge

Mr Swithenbank said: “An advantage of this particular machine is that it has a six-axis bevel head, as well as the tube and box cutting capability. This specification clinched the sale for us at MACH, as we do a lot of this kind of work. Few companies in our local area can offer tube and box cutting on their lasers, so this gives us a real competitive edge.”

He continued: “The Durma laser particularly suited our needs, as Knoxford Fabrications has developed a new range of security fencing, which has been well received by the market. The uprights between the fence panels are made of box section and feature many holes, including elongated ones; and because these are now laser-cut in the one setting, both accuracy and finish are perfect.”

Stainless steel, aluminium and mild steel — in thicknesses ranging from 3 to 8mm — are the main materials that Knoxford Fabrications cuts on the fibre laser, although the company has the option to cut thicker metal with the 4kW fibre laser: the maximum thickness it can cut is 10mm aluminium, 12mm stainless steel and 20mm mild steel; it can also cut brass and copper — plus bevels and countersinks.

An extra benefit of the Durma fibre laser is that the American owner can monitor his investment in real time: the machine has two CCTV cameras that monitor its operations and can be accessed 24hr a day on-line from anywhere in the world with Internet access.

In conclusion, Mr Swithenbank said: “The service we have received from Axe & Status and Durma has been excellent. For example, my operations manager was on holiday the week that training took place on the machine in our factory, so Durma arranged for him to later fly out to Turkey and receive training at its headquarters. We are currently talking to Axe & Status about buying a new guillotine shear and are happy to specify Durma — where possible — for any machinery we need.”

Knoxford Fabrications is a member of Made in the Midlands; and while most of its business comes from the East Midlands, it also has customers throughout the UK. It also has a powder coating facility, two spray booths, a 6m box oven, and five welding bays for MIG and TIG. 

Reproduced from Machinery Market – 27th Spetember 2018