Automation Feeds 3rd Generation of Lasers

A Wisconsin fabricator has placed a 3rd set of Mitsubishi lasers within the same dual automated line, the first time this has been done in the US.  Robbins Mfg. of Fall River originally  installed their Mitsubishi “MSC-3” system (material tower, with four powered nest carts) in 2004 with two Mitsubishi 4kw CO2 lasers.  Five years later these machines were replaced with a set of 6kw CO2’s.  And now they have been swapped out for a pair of Mits 4kw fibers.  Robbins story was outlined in a recent edition of the magazine Shop Floor Lasers.

Many venders follow a “one and done” formula when it comes to laser automation; if you want to upgrade to a new laser you’ll likely need to buy new automation as well.  This is problematic for several reasons.  There is the additional expense for a new system.  And if you are looking to sell the old one you won’t get much; most dealers junk the automation when buying a used laser.  And if the automation can’t be separated from the laser watch out; such an integrated cell can actually have a lower used market value than a manually operated shuttle table laser.  That’s because most used buyers don’t want the added expense of installing the automation.

So how does Mitsubishi avoid these issues?

  1. Mitsubishi automation is not integrated to the laser.  Install the laser, add automation down the road, and what you end up with is identical to a turn-key system.
  2. Mitsubishi automation is built to last.  The sheet unload/reload capacity may be more than you need, but you’ll appreciate the durability.
  3. Mitsubishi automation is fast.  The tack times of Robbins 2004 production line are still some of the fastest around, proven by the fact that its keeping up with two fibers.
  4. New models are designed to be compatible with old automation.  Basically any automation built from late 2003 to the present can be integrated to a brand new laser.  This is rare.
  5. The retrofit process is fast.  In the case of Robbins last laser swap less than a week.
  6. Mitsubishi supplies the automation, built in Japan along with the lasers.  This is not always the case, with many jumping from one 3rd party automation supplier to the next.

Due to its longevity, some customers will buy the automation while taking out a 3rd party lease on the lasers.  This allows them to turn over the laser at the end of the lease term and benefit from new laser technology, all within the original automation investment.  This contrasts with the old, “run it until its dead” philosophy of laser ownership.

Click here to read the entire article about Robbins Mfg.’s system, and their transition to fiber lasers in this line.

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