Multi-Axis Laser Offers Increased Flexibility

New machine technology arriving soon

Many customer specifications require custom bending along with laser cutting to create features, or shapes, on the surface. We have several machines to help us deliver these types of projects, and will soon be augmenting this capability with the BLM LT-FREE, a five-axis, fiber optic laser cutting machine.

Using robotic part manipulation, this equipment offers more flexibility for cutting pre-bent tubes, hydroformed pieces, tube assemblies and flat or stamped plates. With greater control and speed, jobs can be completed in one cycle, saving manufacturing time by increasing the efficiency of the laser-cutting process.

How it works
A bent tube is normally cut in two different areas and, in this scenario, the robot is the star of the show. With the BLM LT-FREE integrated robot, the tube is automatically moved or repositioned, improving accuracy and consistency. The robot orients the bent tube under the cutting head to make the desired cut and will position itself to the programmed coordinates, resulting in high precision and a significant reduction in cycle time.

Additionally, this particular equipment takes advantage of a sophisticated human-machine interface (HMI), allowing the operator to see the part in 3D and easily move or rotate the part on screen.

Impact in the shop
In many cases, 3D laser cutting can get the job done in one work cycle; therefore, secondary operations such as trimming, machining or de-burring can be eliminated or minimized. This helps to reduce production time and free up the operator, allowing him or her to focus attention on other, more value-added tasks while the part is in process.

Other benefits include reduction of costs by eliminating the additional tooling and other supplies needed for secondary operations. There’s also a safety factor: if additional operations are minimized, there is a lower risk of inadvertent accidents. 

Looking forward
Overall, this advanced laser cutting technology strengthens our ability to meet customer demand for projects that require custom formed and cut tube and pipe. Parts can be processed with greater precision and speed and checked off in one work cycle. We’re always excited to bring new machine technology into our plant and think this will further our ability to anticipate and meet market demand. Please join us soon to see the equipment in action.

This blog was authored by Paul Krickeberg, President & CEO, Sharpe Products. Paul can be reached at