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Cyan Tec and Fanuc unveil large-scale robotic laser cutting cell

A view inside the laser cutting cell

System integrator Cyan Tec and automation supplier Fanuc have announced the completion of an industrial robotic laser cutting cell – a project commissioned by the UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) to showcase the possibilities of automated laser cutting.

Thanks to the cutting cell’s ability to create large-scale pre-cut profiles, the firms say it can be used in the aerospace and automotives industries, as well as for construction tasks such as the precision cutting of profile sections for prefabricated buildings.

The cutting cell was constructed at Cyan Tec’s workshop, commissioned there, then stripped apart, shipped, and reconstructed at the MTC.

It features a 12m x 4m cutting table and a six-axis robot, a computerised numerical control (CNC) system for the flatbed, and a laser, all contained within a laser-tight, interlocked enclosure measuring 15.5m x 9m. To give operators more loading space, the cutting table also slides out an additional 13m.

The laser cutting bed is designed to handle flat plate, while the robot, which can handle payloads of 25kg and reach up to two metres, is deployed to cut tubular sections. 

The robot’s axes are mounted on a floor track and driven synchronously with a Fanuc seventh axis, allowing it to move up and down the tube being cut. The integrated laser can be applied to both tubular and flat metal and regulated to suit different material types.

External view of the new cutting cell

Cyan Tec developed the control software (accessed through the HMI) while Fanuc provided its M-20iB robot, a 21.5-inch iH Pro human-machine interface (HMI) panel, and all the motors and drives to control the flatbed CNC system. 

Fanuc was also responsible for the 30ib series controls which manages both the axis and machine functions, and the beam switch, which directs the laser beam towards either the robot or the flatbed. 

“The MTC had to make internal alterations to accommodate a cell of this size,” said Ray Timberlake, Sales Manager at Fanuc UK.

Industrial cutting machines traditionally use plasma cutters, but in this case, the firm opted for fibre laser equipment to achieve the level of accuracy required.

“The choice of laser cutting is not so much about speed, but more about the quality of the finish that you achieve,” Timberlake added.

“The main challenge was the physical size of the cell,” explained Grant Copson, Project Coordinator at Cyan Tec, “as well as the detail of constructing guarding on that scale – ensuring it was safe and engineering a table that moves in and out automatically were paramount.”

Since finishing work on the cutting cell, Fanuc has also launched its 0iFL series of laser-compatible controllers, which the company says can effectively perform the same role in an even more cost-effective way.