The purchase of a new fiber laser is not an insignificant one, yet companies will often overlook the relatively inexpensive cost of appropriate computer-aided design (CAD)/computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and nesting software that could get significantly better performance out of their investment. This article presents techniques that can squeeze more performance out of a computer numerically controlled (CNC) laser machine.
CAD/CAM and nesting software may have either been supplied alongside a machine or a company may have sourced a system to drive multiple brands and cutting types. Either way, companies may not necessarily be getting the best performance out of their machines.
A component starts life in CAD, perhaps either as a single entity or part of a more-complex assembly. Next, it needs to go through the CAM process, with cutting technology applied based on the CNC machine to be used, followed by the creation of a nest of one or more components. It is during these two processes that advanced technologies can be applied to reduce run time and wear on the machine, as well as improve the quality of the finished part.
Common cutting is one of the most common ways to improve efficiency. This is the process of eliminating the skeleton between parts, separating them instead with a single cut. Not only can this save material and consumables, it can also significantly reduce the machine runtime. However, when performing common cutting, there are other considerations to take into account, such as sheet stability on machines with a fixed head and intelligent cutting of notches at the adjacent component edges.