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Sheet metal components …

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Sheet metal components manufactured in April 2014

Whenever I wonder around our factory I see sheet metal work projects that take my eye. Here we have 3 typical projects that we have manufactured in April 2014. Whether the parts are CNC punched or laser cut they can be folded on one of our 6 CNC press brakes. We take on projects from samples for new sheet metal designs, small repeating batches of parts right up to regular volume production an kanban call offs. Please take a look at past blog posts and our sheet metal gallery pages to see the range of parts that we manufacture for our customers in the UK and Europe.

If you have a sheet metal project that you want us to take a look at please just call us on 01489 577786 or send an email with your drawings to sales@vandf.co.uk


Laser cutting mild steel chassis components

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Laser cutting mild steel

Trumpf 3030 3KW fiber laser cutter cutting mild steel light fitting chassis gear trays, look below for the laser cutting program and final parts.


Fast Tube by Casper

Laser cutting control of nest

The information needed to drive the laser cutting head over the metal sheet surface is all produced away from the laser cutting machine. We use Radan sheet metal software to draft out each part to the correct size with all its internal and external profile details. We then fill the sheet with these parts in order to get the best possible use of the sheet metal, saving material costs and laser cutting time. The final laser cutting nest is then saved onto our company computer network ready for the time when the components are needed. The laser cutter setter only has to call down the correct program nest, select the correct cutting head nozzle and then cut the material. Even the correct assist gas needed at the head, whether it’s nitrogen, oxygen or compressed air is embedded into the CNC program data making setting the laser cutter very easy.

Laser cut completed sheet

If you click on the image here of the laser cut sheet to get a enhanced view you will see that we have used a technique called common line cutting to butt to parts together reducing the amount of sheet needed, laser cutting time, gas and electricity. There also a good view of the parts nested together . Radan sheet metal software is very good at rotating parts with irregular external profiles to find the best fit on the sheet to improve the sheet metal component yield. The laser cut parts can easily be lifted by hand from the sheet metal nest with the scrap skeleton being simply folded up and put in the scrap bin ready for recycling.

Finished laser cut components

The final mild steel components can be sent direct to our CNC bending section without the need for any edge deburing as the surface cut on these mild steel parts cut with oxygen is perfect. Any surface oxidisation will be removed from these gear trays by the zinc plating treatment they go through before finally being sent to the customer.

For more information on cutting sheet metal work with a fibre laser cutter or how we get the best from a metal sheet with Radan software please just give our friendly engineering team a call on 01489 577786 for more help with your sheet metal work project.


Using a CNC punch press to produce sheet metal work

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Using a Trumpf CNC punch press

Here’s a great image of our Trumpf 3000R CNC hydraulic punch press punching out some stainless steel chassis components used in a piece of electrical equipment. The punch press has been programmed to produce the parts in the sheet (nest) using Radan sheet metal software. Each part has been created as a 3D model in the software and unfolded automatically with all the bend allowances taken care of based around the material type and thickness. The individual part have then had tooling allocated to its holes and external profile based on the use of a standard library of tooling. The tooled part has then been copied over the whole 2000mm x 1000mm sheet to produce the best fit and therefore the most economical use of the material, which is really important with expensive materials such as stainless steel. You can see from the image here that 3 components at the end f the sheet have been turned at 90 degrees to the rest to completely use up the sheet, a feature that the Trumpf CNC punch presses can do really easily with their single head being able to rotate through 360 degrees. The Radan CAD/CAM software takes care of all the X/Y positions, angles, corrects tools and sheet clamping for the whole nest. We just have to put the sheet metal in and take out the finished components with the scrap skeleton at the end of the machine production cycle.

Typical CNC punched sheet metal work

I have included a closer look at the stainless steel chassis component that was being punch above. It’s a great example of using a range of CNC punch press tooling to create an outer profile with chamfered corners, 90 degree corners, straight edges and notches with cuts under and over 90 degrees. All this is managed with just a few simple tools rotated through different angles in the machines punching head, you could say the heart of a Trumpf CNC punch press. The rectangular holes have been produced by using several overlapping hits with the same tool, a technique that can be used to produce any sizes hole when a single hit standard tool is not available on the tooling library. This helps to reduce the need for new tools, keeping the cost of new part development down and speeds up tool changes on short production runs. The Trumpf punch press is particularly good at this nibbling action with its strong single head being part of the machines frame there is virtually no side loading of kicking on the tooling punch and die helping to protect the tools providing long tool life for us and a better component for you.

CNC punched aluminium lighting reflector aluminium

This is a more unusual use of a CNC punch press. We have punched out of a 2000mm x 1250mm sheet of special lighting reflector material a pattern or nest of reflector blanks. The blanks are only held in with a 0.1mm tag left unpunched at the corners of the component. The component can easily be broken out of the sheet by shaking it on a table. The blanks will then be folded up to create quite a complex lighting reflector used in a small wall wash lighting fitting with LED lighting. The material has already been anodised and carries a protective peelable plastic film. We leave this film in place so that the cutting fluids used when CNC punching do not stain the lighting reflector surface. The plastic film also helps to protect the surface when the component is being bent and then in the customers factory when being assembled.

For more information on CNC punching and CNC punch press tooling please follow the link.


Laser cutting 5mm mild steel rings

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Laser cutting 5mm mild steel rings

We have been using our brand new Trumpf 3030 3KW fibre laser for just a few months now on cutting sheet metal components. We first started by converting some repeat jobs over from our 2 Trumpf CNC punch presses that we were confident with and already knew what could be achieved by CNC punching. We then moved onto laser cutting sheet metal components that we would have spent more time deburring if they had been CNC punched. We have even laser cut holes into mild steel tubes that we would have drilled before, all with great success. We had never CNC punched 5mm thick mild steel before and certainly not circular disks. When this job came up it was a great opportunity to experiment with the fibre laser machine and see what could be achieved by us. The Trumpf laser just flew through this work in no time at all and we were all very impressed with the finished results.

Trumpf laser control

The control of the laser cutting machines head is achieved using our Radan sheet metal software system. The parts can be drawn out in the same way as CNC punching and we can use past part symbols and easily convert them for laser cutting. The most efficient use of material is calculated instantly using this software and then the cutting nest is saved to our network server. The machine setter can call down the correct file when they are ready to laser cut the parts needed. They can amend size slightly to calibrate the cut from job to job and save the data for future batches. They can also create small programs on the fly to use up off cuts of material from other jobs helping to increase the overall efficiency of using the laser cutter in the manufacturing system.

Laser cut mild steel rings

This image shows the parts as they came off of the laser cutter. The edge finish around all the holes, the inner and outer profiles was good enough to need no further processing before they were sent off to be powder coated.

To see a video of the rings being laser cut please follow the link to plant web page.

If you would like to know more about this machine and the type of work that it can cut or perhaps you have a manufacturing project you would like us to quote for please call us on 01489 577786 or send us an email.


Laser cutting 5mm thick mild steel rings – Video

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Laser cutting 5mm thick mild steel rings

We have been using our new Trumpf 3030 3KW fibre laser for a few months now on sheet metal work. We started by simple moving some jobs over from our CNC punch presses that we were confident with and knew what could be achieved by CNC punching. We then tried out laser cutting sheet metal parts that we would have spent more time deburring if they had been CNC punched. We even laser cut holes into mild steel tubes that we would have drilled before, all with success. We had never CNC punched 5mm mild steel and certainly not circular disks so when this job came up it was a great chance to experiment with the machine and see what could be achieved. The Trumpf laser just ate up this work in no time at all and we were all very impressed.


Fast Tube by Casper

We are driving this new machine with the same Radan sheet metal CAD/CAM software that we already use for our CNC punch presses so we can easily more jobs from one machine to another to create spare capacity when needed for the odd rush job.

We are now looking forward to expanding the range of parts we can cut in thickness and material type. If you would like to know more about this machine and the type of work that it can cut or perhaps you have a manufacturing project you would like us to quote for please call us on 01489 577786 or send us an email.