Leading the way with innovative laser micro-cutting procedures
Steec has been a leading laser micro-cutting specialist for over 30 years and regularly confronts new technical problems. Since each individual project represents a challenge, we place all of our expertise at the service of customers' needs. With this practical case you will see an example of how we use our sense of innovation and laser micro-cutting expertise to achieve objectives. This project involved an immense learning curve.
A laser micro-cutting project presenting new challenges
One of Steec's most recent projects turned out to be filled with new technical challenges. As part of a research and development project, a customer needed to have a new type of tool made for them.
It was the specifications of these tools which represented a genuine challenge. They needed:
• to be drilled over 160,000 times;
• take the form of two thin strips, each less than 10cm long (the exact length had yet to be defined);
• the holes needed to be 0.2mm in diameter.
The complexity of such a part meant that Steec would have to confront many major issues:
• How to drill such a small surface more than 160,000 times?
• How to guarantee machining durability standards?
• How can a procedure be implemented to produce the tools within the specified time?
A cutting edge research and development phase
We therefore initiated a research and development study to find the answers to these questions. We also needed to find suitable solutions for meeting the customer's work quality, cost and timing requirements. This phase was completed over 4 stages:
• The technical study: normally it takes 3 to 4 seconds to drill a hole using laser micro-cutting. This was too long considering the number of holes to be drilled. By adjusting the drilling parameters, with customer approval, we were able to reduce the drilling times to meet the objective.
• Define the advanced settings: we completed a series of tests on the laser micro-cutting machine to maintain a drilling time of one second per hole for the whole of the part. Since we did not yet know the exact length of the strip to be drilled, it was also necessary to program the machine such that it could relocate itself in relation to the part.
• Initial trials: we completed a laser micro-cutting procedure on a narrow strip following this new approved procedure. The resulting sample allowed the customer to approve the procedure and authorise the final design phase.
• Production of the final prototype: a final prototype was produced following the same drilling procedure used for the sample. Our customer was then able to test the tools on their own production machine to assess its strength and reliability. After this the industrial production phase for the part was launched.
Many lessons learnt
The complexity of this project allowed us to test our laser micro-cutting expertise to the full. We were able to successfully complete this project thanks to our 35 years of laser micro-cutting experience and our constant will to meet your most demanding requirements:
• Technical advice: beyond laser micro-cutting and R&D, our primary mission is to provide our customers with advice on how to choose from the available possibilities. In this case, adjusting the drilling procedure to increase the machining speed was the chosen solution.
• Setting: faced with the project's constraints, our laser micro-cutting machine setting expertise allowed us to meet the customer's demands. Programming the machining speed, the autonomous step-by-step control of the drilling and using long-cycle machining processes allowed us to meet the objectives.