Fiber Laser cutting technology such as the Salvagnini L5 (featured in our October 2013 blog post) employed by Estes represents a significant leap in technology, productivity and quality in the laser cutting industry. As with many new technologies, it was not without its own learning curve, but with industry support and the strong knowledge base and experience of Estes personnel, Estes successfully mitigated pains quickly.
All but one pain that is—cosmetically critical vinyl coated stainless product. The Fiber Laser cut the vinyl and stainless steel very well, but the problem was with the ability to find the right vinyl and laser program recipe that would allow the vinyl to remain adhered to the substrate while under the stresses of the high, focused pressure of the assist gas applied during the cutting process. The resulting problems created by vinyl that came loose during the cutting cycle included cases where the bubbled vinyl would attach to the cutting head causing stoppage and yield loss as well as wrinkled vinyl that could cause forming marks later in the process. Improvement was needed, and quickly.
A cross-functional Estes team, with the support of two material suppliers, set out to identify the best vinyl and laser program recipe combination to fully harness the efficiency and quality capabilities of the machine. After testing five different vinyl materials from four different vendors utilizing five different recipe variations, Estes was successful in identifying a recipe that could successfully cut any of three different vinyl materials without loss of adhesion.
Estes’ commitment to continual improvement and waste reduction, in addition to its strong employee and partner commitment and knowledge base, has now allowed the full impact of the Fiber Laser technology advancement to be applied. With greater efficiencies and improved quality performance, Estes stands ready to handle all cosmetically critical stainless steel cutting needs.