Technology developments on display at EuroBlech 2014 continue to deliver efficiencies that help metal fabricators stay competitive.
EuroBlech 2014, the 23rd International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition, wrapped up on 25 October in Hannover, Germany, after five exhibition days. A total of 59 600 trade visitors attended the sheet metalworking show, viewing exhibits from 1 573 companies from 38 countries. This year 38 percent of the total attendance came from outside of Germany, compared to 34 percent at the 2012 event. Most visitors from outside Germany were from the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Czech Republic, Spain, UK, Belgium and the USA. The show’s total net floor space was 86 500m².
The busy atmosphere at the show reflected the overall positive outlook of the sheet metalworking sector. New bending, welding, and laser technology on display at the world’s largest metal fabricating and forming tradeshow will help manufacturers in their pursuit of achieving higher levels of production efficiency in the future.
The exhibition survey shows that companies assess the current business climate as more favourable than two years ago. Approaching new markets was the main aim for the exhibitors at this year’s exhibition, and EuroBlech 2014 was more international than the previous exhibition.
Fiber laser cutting for sheet metal made its worldwide debut at EuroBlech back in 2008, so it makes sense that next-generation technology made its 2014 debut there as well.
“We are seeing a clear trend to use higher power lasers for cutting applications,” said IPG Photonics founder and CEO Valentin Gapontsev in a recent investor conference call.
“At EuroBlech, some OEM customers demonstrated cutting systems using IPG’s 8 kilowatt fiber lasers. One of our customers has promised a demonstration of a 12 kilowatt fiber cutter at the Fabtech show in November 2014.”
Cutting market growth
Gapontsev cites market research suggesting that there is plenty of headroom for IPG to expand into. “From worldwide sales of over 7,500 units of high-power laser cutting machines expected in 2014, the share of fiber cutters doesn’t exceed 30 per cent,” he explained.
By 2020, that share is expected to have grown to between 60 and 80 percent of an anticipated 12 000 units. If correct, it would represent a near-quadrupling of fiber laser unit shipments by the end of the decade – with the added benefit of the demand for higher powers.
“These results demonstrate our fiber lasers’ continued penetration of large-scale applications, our ability to capitalise on growing demand for several key applications, as well as the leverage we have in our operating model,” said Gapontsev.
Alternate power source for laser cutting
Amada, working in conjunction with JDSU, introduced a direct-diode laser (DDL) that cuts with 2 kW of power. It was incorporated into a laser cutting machine called the ExC.
The DDL power source, which differs from fiber lasers in that it doesn’t need an “active” fiber to assist in the creation of the laser light, has been used in the sheet processing industry for welding and heat-treating applications, but not for cutting because the quality of the light was not good enough. However, Amada and JDSU have worked together to develop a DDL beam that is suitable for cutting.
The cutting capabilities indicate a drastic improvement over traditional CO2 laser cutting technology. According to Amada the real benefit for the technology is its energy efficiency. The DDL’s wall plug efficiency—or the optical power from electricity consumed—is around 40 to 45 percent. That is more than quadruple that of CO2 technology and almost 10 percent greater than fiber laser technology. The electrical requirement for the ExC machine running at the show was only 18 kVA. The new laser technology probably won’t be commercialised until later in 2015.
More focus on the bending process
With lasers cutting metal parts at incredible speeds these days, fabricators have had to put more focus on the bending process to keep up with the laser cutting machines. Early advancements in bending automation centered on robotic arms that performed the actual material handling and bending, but the focus lately has been on tooling changes, which quietly eat up a good part of any press brake operator’s day.
Salvagnini introduced a new twist on press brake tooling management. Instead of maintaining a storage area on the side or in the rear of the press brake, the B3’s tooling is stored within the press brake itself, and it adjusts the positioning of the tools according to the next job.
Electric-powered press brakes have been more widely available in recent years as fabricators have looked for more energy-efficient, quicker, and more precise bending machines. One of the forerunners in this equipment segment, SafanDarley, presented its new take on the technology for the first time at EuroBlech.
The company’s newest generation of electric brakes employs a servo-electric drive with a double-pulley system. The new press brakes have a C-frame, a narrower press beam, and the ability to deliver greater tonnage per inch than previous generations. The brake is available with up to a 300 ton capacity.
Bystronic unveiled its Xpert 40 electric press brake. One feature is the storage for press brake tooling both within the operator’s reach and on the side of the brake. Another feature is the brake’s extra bottom weight. This acts as a counterbalance to the typically top-heavy portion of the press brake. This is especially important for those fabricators interested in moving the small press brake around the shop floor with a forklift.
Bystronic also introduced ByOptimizer a new online service that creates maximally optimised cutting plans for laser cutting.
New in bending technology on the Trumpf stand this year was the introduction of the MagicShoe and the TruBend Series 5000. The MagicShoe is a work shoe fitted with smart sensors. This makes it easy for the operator to move around and initiate the stroke wherever they are standing at the machine. Dragging and relocating foot pedals becomes a thing of the past, and the space in front of the machine remains clear.
Durma presented several new machines with new designs and livery. The fiber laser HDFS 3015 has a cutting table located on the long side of the machine, which according to the company provides a faster switching time. The workspace is 3000 x 1500mm. Durma also unveiled for the first time a DLC 160 punching and shearing line for punching, marking and shearing angle iron up to 160 x 160 x 9mm with a maximum punch diameter of 32mm as standard.
Durma’s new ADS 30175 press brake operates with lower noise, higher speed and lower power consumption. A new servo electric punch and a tube laser for cutting pipes up to six metres and equipped with a 2kW fiber laser, up to 170mm diameter also premiered.
Ermaksan showed their Fibermak EFB LM 4000 with a bed size of 3 x1,5 in combination with a tower server that has three pallets and a new press brake Falcon 3100mm x175 tons, a new low-cost machine. Additionally Ermaksan presented a new EVO II servo hydraulic press and the new ECO plasma cutting machine. Both new machines consume significantly less power, enabling companies to achieve strong savings on energy bills.
Intelligent manufacturing cell
Throughout the last decade, it became clear that we have an increased problem finding skilled workers. Automation is the answer to that. Attracting huge attention on the Salvagnini stand was the FlexCell, a solution designed to increase the capabilities of workshops organised in cells, by combining a panel bender and a press-brake. The Salvagnini OPS-FlexCell software optimises the production processes according to the bends to be made.
Product manager Pierandrea Bello: “Our concept with a combination of bending and brake center transcends the traditional production organisation for cells that are normally pretty inflexible. In general such cells are therefore configured according to the product to be made.
In FlexCell’s case, Salvagnini has instead made flexibility the system’s cornerstone, offering a cell that is innovative, broadening production horizons, while also introducing a management system that helps take its efficiency to a whole new level and make it even simpler to use.”
The cell consisted of a L5 fiberlaser cutting system in a version enhanced with automated loading-unloading and part separation, which automatically routes parts to the cell for processing, a P1 electric panel bender combined with the E3 electric press brake.
Salvagnini also introduced for the first time a P2lean panel bender and a B3 press brake fitted with an automatic bending tool setting device.
The highlight on the Trumpf stand was the new design and programming software, TruTops Boost. Numerous new machines were introduced including the TruMatic 6000 fiber, TruLaser 5030 fiber and the TruPunch 5000. Trumpf also showed new features and combinations on already established products. For instance the TruDiode 3006, in combination with the welding cell TruLaser Robot 5020. The laser system, thanks to its low investment and operating costs, offers an attractive way to make a debut in the world of laser welding. The special advantage of the diode direct laser is its relatively high efficiency level – as much as 40 percent, according to Trumpf.
Prima Power displayed a new-generation FMS with integrated punching, shearing and bending and a new integrated punching / shearing cell Shear Brilliance. In Prima Power’s laser range they exhibited the Laser Next, a new 3D laser system for the automotive industry and the new version of the Platino® Fiber laser cutting machine with improved performance criteria and the Laserdyne 430BD for precision laser cutting, welding and drilling of 2D and 3D parts.
For information on MicroStep’s and Messer Cutting Systems; highlights see further on.
18 companies were selected for their innovative achievements the MM Maschinenmarkt and Blechnet Awards.
Amada won an award for their Ensis-3015AJ fiber laser cutting machine. The Ensis 3015 AJ utilises a highly innovative resonator to automatically and precisely adjust the diameter of the laser beam. This unique feature enables continuous processing of thin-to-thick materials by a single machine and no lens change or additional setup is required. As a result, the Ensis 3015 AJ provides fabricators with a full range of cutting capabilities in materials up to 25mm thick.
Trumpf took honours for their product “TruTops Boost”, a new software solution that merges into a single system all the steps needed to generate sheet metal manufacturing programs. This includes everything from part design and data import to nesting and even writing NC programs for cutting, punching and bending. Trumpf also received an award for their laser machine TruMatic 6000 fiber.
Bystronic won an award for their ByJet Flex waterjet cutting system. The machine is designed as a flexible modular system that allows users to equip their waterjet cutting system according to their individual requirements. Thanks to the possibility of exchanging the cutting head, both 2D and 3D applications are possible on the ByJet Flex. In addition, the ByJet Flex is based on a modular water basin system. This allows the machine’s cutting range to be extended from 2 by 3 meters up to a working area of 10 by 3 meters.
Other award winners included Abacus for their spinning machine Premo 600, CoastOne for a press brake with a spindle drive, Passport stamping technology for a new multi-tool tool, Wila for the tool changer E2M (Easy to Move), Honors Engineering for a multi-tool for steel, aluminium and copper alloys, Feintool for it’s fine blanking press XFT 1500 speed, Schuler for it’s stamping press MSC-2000, Carl Cloos for its solution Spare Matic, a new fully automated welding tip and gas nozzle changer, Kasto for its range of bandsaws, Remmert for its Basic Tower storage system, Fronius with AccuPocet 150/400, the world’s first-ever portable MMA welding unit to run on lithium-ion batteries, and Simufact with Simufact.welding simulation software.
EuroBlech 2016 will take place from 25 – 29 October 2016 in Hannover, Germany.
Information on EuroBlech is available at www.euroblech.com and on the Blech events at www.blechevents.com.
Graham Rome and Hans-Peter Neth, both of Retecon Machine Tools
Hans-Peter Neth – MD of Retecon Machine Tools
The excitement of this large exhibition is never ending. The pace at which all manufacturers are developing, upgrading and exhibiting their latest technologies is stimulating and incredible.
Trumpf once again demonstrated why they are one of the leaders in sheetmetal machinery.
Their laser cutting machines with up to 8 kW in either “Fiber” or CO2 design are the largest and fastest for cutting thick plate. Together with their advanced programming system TruTops they perform at incredible speeds in various metals.
The new punching machine TruPunch 5000 series and bending centres, TruBend 3000 series, either as stand alone or as a flexible cell with automation ensure the highest productivity.
Ficep further developed their structural machinery for plate as well as beam lines. The Gemini plate machine is now available with an increased drilling/milling facility, 3D plasma head, marking and oxyfuel torches. The beam drilling lines have an additional axis, allowing hole patterns to be drilled without beam movement, thereby increasing productivity and accuracy.
Furthermore the angle lines are now available with either drill or punching units and additional cropping stations allowing special profiles for the tower industry as well as construction industry.
Brian Rose, Leon Freese and Gerrie Mulder, all from Steelbank
Rüdiger Uhlitz and Sebastian Dörmbach, both of Neuenkamp with Rob Barclay of Ideal Trading in the centre
Rob Barclay – Ideal Trading, the agents for Neuenkamp in South Africa
EuroBlech 2014 was an event that I looked forward to from the time I made the decision to attend which was February 2014. One has to appreciate the size of this exhibition which covers 85 000 square meters in eight halls (a rugby field is only 10 080 square meters). There were 1505 exhibitors from 39 countries.
The 2014 exhibition was the fourth EuroBlech that I have attended, my first being in 1988 then again in 1996 and 2008. There have been tremendous advances made since 1988, especially in the punching and laser technology and today nothing runs without a computer.
In 1988 slitting steel without shims to set the knife clearances was unheard of. We now have shimless slitter tooling with up to half a micron thickness tolerance that runs with a software program. I would highly recommend to anyone involved in the sheet metal industry to make an effort to attend Euroblech 2016. Just get a lot of walking exercise before you leave.
Roberto Leoni of Heli Engineering with Michael Torres
Derrick and Henk van Niekerk of Ultra Lock
Luis Torres of CML Machine Tools with Francesca Mesini of Euromac
Vaughn Hanwith-Horden of F&H Machine Tools with Gavin Poplak of General Profiling
Vaughn Hanwith-Horden – MD of F&H Machine Tools
On the surface it seems these exhibitions are getting smaller, with less exhibitors and visitors. If you read the press releases from the organisers the shows are getting bigger with higher attendance. Is this real or are there are more exhibitors, smaller stands with more of the same? There seem to be more manufacturers making the same product with smaller production and fewer overheads. The perception is that business is booming. My belief is that the ability to manufacture a good product is becoming easier and easier and the smaller manufacturers are exhibiting on smaller and more simple stands with no frills.
Technology moves on and gets cheaper. Once again we saw technology on display that five years ago was available from a select few, and is now available as almost open technology. Fiber laser is a case in point. Central European manufacturers dominated the area but seem to have lost the edge. Far Eastern manufacturers are building products at two-thirds the price with exactly the same power sources and controllers, using the same processing cores and very similar software. Manufacturers from Turkey are also doing something similar with prices substantially cheaper than their competitors in central Europe.
Bending equipment technology, press brakes in particular, is getting cheaper. In the past it was not possible to get a machine with angle sensing, material thickness measurement, multiple axis towers on the back of the machines and spring back compensation, to name a few, from China or the Mediterranean manufacturers. Today it is old hat. Bending software with all the functions we hardly use, is now offered by all the “alternative” manufacturers. It works and is efficient. Electrically driven machines with belt drives or ball screws, with low electrical consumption and no hydraulics and working at extremely fast speeds, are available from all the markets today.
Cutting is cutting, bending is bending and when you look at a price differential that adds up to hundreds of thousands or millions of ZAR one starts to wonder who is shafting who. Consider the components. Most racks, linear guides, cabling, optical fibers, beam control optics, drives, invertors etc. can only be sourced from a few manufacturers. It seems to me that all the manufacturers, European and those from the East, are sourcing from the same suppliers. So what exactly are you paying for? It seems we are all blinded by the fact that to have a quality product one needs to buy from Europe or Japan. Is it the huge factories with clean white facades, massive R&D budgets or is it the marketing that gives us the feeling we are special and should we be paying the higher price that will cover the cost of a very nice holiday home someone, for the benefit of a name? Or is it the shame of saying I bought a Chinese or Taiwanese machine?
Many of the larger manufacturers see this open technology as a risk. The cheaper machines are becoming as fast and reliable, so they are moving to develop their own laser sources, software and peripheral equipment to create the perception of better quality and efficiency. I believe this will result in more of the same at double the cost.
The cost of making a capital investment in South Africa today is huge. The fear of making a mistake and buying a product that may leave you in the lurch with no backup seems to be a hymn sung by too many people. Many users who have bought from the big suppliers have found to their dismay that size creates an underlying arrogance and the customer comes first credo is lost. Unfortunately there are also fly-by-night machine tool dealers that for the price of an air ticket can become an agent for a good product from China and destroy its good name with bad service. The price of a good technician today, with experience, is high. Keeping up the training is expensive. When the time comes look at the local dealer, see if they have the capacity to keep the equipment up and running, and also look at the hidden cost of maintenance and spare parts. The costs of sustaining the big facades, costly R&D and massive marketing budgets come from somewhere. Open technology is cheap. Proprietary technology costs.
When the time comes and people start buying these Far East products and improve the footprint of these manufacturers in this country, there will be many people feeling the pinch and competing with machinery as good as, if not better than, the equipment from Europe and at two thirds the price, the costs will drop. One of the factors driving the price of components from the Far East is the price of the machinery being used in manufacture, a huge part of the initial investment. Labour and materials come later. They are using the machines we are scared of.
EuroBlech 2014 was an eye opener, especially from the technology point of view. The choice of alternative manufacturers and products available is huge and growing. Local manufacturers need to look around and ask themselves: What are we paying for? This is my perception of the industry currently and what we should avoid going forward.
Ben Steenkamp of Fabrinox
Ben Steenkamp – Director, Fabrinox
I could see a big development in technology, not only in machines, but also software. There was a huge focus on complete automation and employee efficiencies. I am really excited about the new software to assist programmers on the laser and bending machines from Trumpf, TruTops Boost and cannot wait for it to be released.
There is a big battle between the different manufacturers on the laser and bending front and everyone is really investing a lot of money in upgrading the systems to achieve a better product. Waterjet cutting has also been improved tremendously and one should think of which machine is the correct one for a specific application. Waterjet or laser cannot replace each other, but will compliment your service offering. All the latest developments also point out that we as industry should invest in training and that there is a huge opportunity for young people. Although a lot can be automatically manufactured, humans must do the final assembly. A German customer once said to me “you should not use technology to replace the lack of your employee’s skills.”
Willie and Ciska Jones of Jones Masjiene with Ben TerreBlanche of SigmaTek
Hershel Ismail and Luis Fernandes, both of Schuurman Lasercut with Garth Haigh of First Cut in the centre
Henri Zermatten of Manrepco with Tony Windt of TWR Steel
Pieta Labuschagne of Alutip, Andrew Poole of First Cut and Bertus Kritzinger of Trailord
Pieta Labuschagne – General Manager of Alutip
EuroBlech 2014 was quite a big show! I’m a first timer to the show and was impressed with all that was on display. I’m used to small cubicles with pamphlets, not with actual demonstrations.
Alutip is in the process of expanding and for this reason it was the right show to be at. We recently acquired a new Bystronic Xpert 150ton/3100mm bender to satisfy our need for the bending of all our smaller parts. It was good to realise that we indeed made the right choice! Bystronic’s stand was huge with all their different types of benders on display and they even had a little baby 40ton/1m machine on display.
Bystronic had a 6kW fibre laser on the stand that is capable of cutting 30mm aluminium. This might not sound too impressive until you hold the hot sample in your hand and see the two 2mm holes right through the 30mm aluminium material! The norm is that one cannot cut a hole with a diameter smaller than the material thickness.
Another very impressive offering was on the Amada stand. On the cutting side they had punching machines and lasers with stacking equipment in operation. The benders have robotic bend assist (arm), auto tool changers, scanning and measurement equipment all integrated in a cell. The parts were photographed, picked up by the robotic arm with suckers, bent, turned, bent again and even step bent to make a half round shape. The whole setup is designed to be able to do hundreds of parts per day with no human intervention!
What was impressive on the welding side is that they did robotic welding (the same box shape part as bent above) with a fibre laser as the power source, which is impressive! In Alutip’s line of business, material handling is a huge challenge due to the plate sizes we use (7.5m x 2m in 6mm and 8mm thickness). It was interesting to see all the different equipment available to store and handle such big plates.
A number of smaller equipment was also on display. This included for instance induction heaters, drills, aluminium cutting, grinding technology and friction welding equipment. The exciting thing is that most of the exhibitors are represented in South Africa.
All and all, it was a well-organised, well equipped and well planned show, capable of showcasing all the types of tools and machinery to equip oneself to deliver a product of higher quality in a shorter period of time with less human effort.
Eva Stejskalová of MicroStep with Ludwig Oellermann of MicroStep South Africa
Ludwig Oellermann, MD of MicroStep South Africa
MicroStep’s main focus this year was on multi-functionality, automation and highly efficient specialised systems for the processing of tubes and profiles, sheet metal and dished ends.
In addition to the rapid integration of relevant innovations by our suppliers, we continuously implement the results of our own research into our products, always with the aim of optimising the entire technology-based production process.
One of the main features of our stand included the MG series, which is the top of the range product amongst the MicroStep® cutting systems. It is built for permanent use in the industry and meets the highest demands on precision, performance and usability. The MG series can be configured with a variety of technologies including 2D cutting, bevel cutting, tube and section processing, dished ends, drilling, tapping, countersinking and technologies for labelling and scanning.
A new radical innovation added to the MG cutting system is that it is now possible that subsequent weld preparations can be attached to already cut components. This new, patented technology called ABP® (Additional Bevelling Process) can be used on the cutting system in combination with a laser scanner. The investment costs compared to the conventional method for the subsequent chamfering are extremely small. In addition, the quality and precision is much better due to the higher stability of the overall cutting system.
The MasterCut Eco is now further improved with innovations and additional features.
The MasterCut Eco is a powerhouse that numerous customers already rely on, on a daily basis in many production areas. Designed for small and medium-sized companies in the metal industry, the compact and rugged CNC cutting system is packaged with a plasma power source and a powerful TEKA – filter system. The system is fitted with low maintenance and strong drive AC drives. Five different formats are now available with sizes of 3 x 1.5 up to 6 x 2 meters.
As of 2015 the system can also be equipped with an optional bevel cutting head that will deliver clean and precise bevel cuts up to 45°. This includes an automatic calibration system that will significantly improve the precision and dimensional stability of the cutting process and make tedious mechanical adjustments entirely superfluous.
The brand new ProfileCut series is a highly efficient solution for processing of tubes and profiles. Through the generous working surface, profiles can be easily edited to 1000mm height and 12 000mm length. Besides the common carrier forms – I, H, U, L, T – round tubes or square profiles can also be processed. The new 120° rotator enables complete machining of profiles without an additional rotational axis in the editing area. The ProfileCut, with the help of the standard laser scanner can also determine the exact position and shape of a profile. Material side deviations from the ideal shape are detected automatically and are efficiently compensated for.
In a large open cargo with heavy profiles the system can easily and securely be driven into the processing zone. This saves time as the profiles do not need to be stretched or otherwise prepared for processing.
The ProfileCut series can flexibly be adapted to individual production requirements. The system can be equipped with a drilling support for the precise placement of holes, cuts and threads, and labelling technologies for labelling of finished beam sections can also be integrated. In addition to the processing area for profiles and supports, the cutting machine can also be equipped with a cutting table for sheet metal working. This gives the flexibility in the manufacturing process and saves the purchase of a further cutting or drilling system.
For maximum productivity, the editing process can be completely automated including delivery of the profile to be machined, determination of position and compensation for any differences in shape using laser scanners, fast and precise cutting of profiles, automatic discharge of the finished support pieces and a seamless connection to the warehouse management and the “Micro Step Production Management – mpm®” software.
Roberto Costantino of Prima Power with Malcolm Moriarty of Talmac
Malcolm Moriarty – Talmac Machine Tools
Having had the privilege of attending several EuroBlech and EMO exhibitions in Hannover, Germany over the years it makes you wonder how much more machine tools can improve. When I first attended this show some years ago for the first time, you were overwhelmed by the size of the show and by the amount of quality machines on display. Having just attended EuroBlech 2014 nothing has changed. One thing is certain, the industry is not standing still.
On my early trips it was like visiting the bush for the first time. You tend to only look out for the big five missing out on so much more by ignoring the smaller creatures of the bush. The same goes for machine tools. There is so much finer detail that makes all the equipment so unique and dedicated to specific applications and products.
Machine tools are evolving not only by becoming bigger and faster but also in the intricate componentry such as integrated axis, software becoming user friendly and more powerful, moving away from hydraulics to electric motors, fibre lasers able to cut faster and thicker, punching machines punching at 1500 strokes a minute, automated handling of material and material flow becoming important due to the cost of space and labour. The machine tool builders are now looking at time saving where every second counts, and at designing and building machines with the least human intervention as possible. All of this could be seen at EuroBlech 2014.
Prima Power, one of the leading builders of laser cutting and punching machines and systems, is moving rapidly with the introduction of new technologies in these areas. This was demonstrated at EuroBlech 2014 with the company showcasing a PSBB (punching, shearing, buffing and bending) line that was producing an office drawer system at extremely high speed with the least personnel and very little scrap. The latest 5kW Palatino Fiber laser that was on display included a compact server for handling blanks and processed sheets. The loading and offloading of material also ran at high speeds with little human intervention.
It’s encouraging to see the number of South African customers that make the time and effort to visit this exhibition and how many invest in equipment after visiting the show. It’s also encouraging to be part of and see the networking that takes place during the show, many of whom meet each other for the first time and then start business relationships even though they are competitors.
EuroBlech also provides the opportunity to see concepts and ideas, and it is healthy to see how many customers that visit EuroBlech, implement these ideas in their factories in South Africa. EuroBlech will always be one of my favourite exhibitions and I will certainly continue visiting Hannover for many more years to come.
Antonella Galuppini of Faccin with Francesco Tallarico of Talmac
Byron Gueffroy and Robbert van Rijssen, both of Durma South Africa
Mathys Besselaar of Retecon with Johan Kriel of LK Plating Services
Johan Kriel, Director of LK Plating Services
This was my first visit to the EuroBlech show. I went there to specifically look at laser technology and eccentric presses. I was pleasantly surprised by all the laser machine exhibitors on show as I only knew about five manufacturers beforehand.
I was able to ask a lot of technical questions from the exhibitors and was exposed to technology, machinery and software that I did not know existed. I was surprised to see how technology can interact with industrial machinery and what the advantages are.
There was an opportunity to interact with other South African business owners who gave me helpful and beneficial advice about laser cutters, to share ideas and to make some valuable business contacts.
Yes, I arrived safely back home but without my suitcase, which arrived 24hours later. I enjoyed the experience and will definitely be back in 2016.
Tony and Andrew Broekhuisen of Aluminium Trading
Karel Wilmot, Jacques Strauss and Jurgen Lecki, all of Retecon
Lee and Craig Johnson of Multi Tanks
Ingo Göller and Gudrun Witt of Messer Cutting Systems with Maurice Mawson of Messer Eutectic South Africa
Maurice Mawson – Joint Managing Director of Messer Eutectic South Africa
Messer Cutting Systems displayed for the very first time in Europe their new “FiberBlade” fibre laser system. The FibreBlade is a newly developed fibre laser cutting system specifically for sheet materials from 1 to 25mm thick. Available with either 2, 3 or 4 kW resonators and glass fibre beam guidance, the FiberBlade includes an innovative and yet simple laser beam technology. This allows users to profit from low maintenance costs together with the resulting low cutting costs. In many cases the initial capital investment costs can be amortised even without the machine being fully loaded.
The basic machine concept of the FiberBlade is based on the tried and tested flatbed guidance machine with a movable pallet exchanger table and a 2-axis cutting gantry. The fibre cable of the laser resonator is simply carried within the energy services drag chain. The plate pallets are exchanged fully automatically in a shuttle table arrangement. Cutting areas of the FiberBlade are 1.5m x 3m or 2m x 4m or 2m x 6m, and the fibre laser is up to three times more efficient than a CO2 laser.
Through its unique design, the FiberBlade has relatively low energy consumption. The cutting performance per kilowatt is significantly higher than with CO2 Lasers, as the shorter wavelength of the fibre laser is absorbed more efficiently by the material being cut. Additionally the efficiency of the FiberBlade laser is around 30% and is thus three times more efficient than with conventional CO2 lasers.
A further advantage of the FiberBlade is the extremely low setting up and maintenance costs. Fibre lasers operate with continuous glass fibres without deflection mirrors and gas purging. What is more, there are no moving parts in the laser resonator itself and the lifetime of the emitter diodes can be over 50 000 hours.
In addition to the FiberBlade Messer Cutting Systems also exhibited their “workhorse” MultiTherm plasma cutting machine with the “Fine Focus” plasma system. This machine is well known in the South African “cut to size” industry. Exhibited were the latest software upgrades as well as a new generation torch height control system for faster floor to floor processing times, as well as better fault finding diagnostics. All of which are designed to increase production efficiency and reduce costly downtime.
A full range of the Messer Oxy-gas equipment was also on display, everything from the smallest gas welding torch the MiniTherm to the Essen hand cutting torch. The Essen torch is designed to be one of Messer’s most robust hand cutting torches and has already found its place in the very arduous South African industrial conditions. To complement the gas cutting and welding equipment a full range of industrial light and heavy duty gas regulators was also shown.
The exhibition was very successful for Messer Cutting Systems who received a number of large orders for machines directly as a result of customers attending the EuroBlech 2014 exhibition.
Aylwin Stephenson of Press Dynamik with Rick Ferreira of Amada Johannesburg
Rick Ferreira – MD of Amada Johannesburg
EuroBlech 2014 was a combination of refining existing technologies and proposing new innovating technologies to the sheetmetal market in general. Most manufacturers seemed to place importance on ergonomics and ease of use of machinery controllers. What I noticed on all the major manufacturers exhibits is an all out attack on the full market segments. In the past you would have certain machinery brands focusing on either the higher or lower end of the market. Now it’s a full go at the whole sector.
Fiber laser machinery products have had a definite growth in manufacturing companies and it’s interesting to see the advances made by Eastern European and Asian companies in this sector. Automation of the full sheetmetal manufacturing process continues to advance with systems becoming easier, faster and more efficient. Major producers seemed to have placed emphasis on advance laser welding systems where ease of setup and use has taken a big step forward. On the whole EuroBlech is always exciting and fresh no matter how many times I attend the event.
David Milwidsky of Segals Metals
Frans Vilakazi and Larry Cohen, both of Branch Engineering
Markus Funk and Olivier Courvoisier, both of UTP with Kerstin Besemer and Sven Franke, both of Behringer
At and Jaco van der Merwe, both of Abel Equipment with Ali Okcal of Durmazlar in the centre
Rob Wicks of Laser Punch & Bend with Barry Page of Amada Johannesburg
Jens Hartig and Gareth Clark, both of Amada Johannesburg with Japie Breitenbach of Dale Automation
Charlie Taljaard and Erald Smith, both of Mac Brothers with Manus Potgieter of Potgieter Industrial Machinery
Erich Bauer of NCT Accessories
Karl Braun of Stainless Steel Designs with Keith Zeeman of Rails It
Etienne van Rensburg, Dean Findlay and Hannes Marlin, all of SPE
Sietse and Ketti Walma van der Molen of Budget Sheet Metal
Sietse Walma van der Molen – Director of Budget Sheet Metal
We were scheduled to leave with a group of 23 South Africans for Germany to visit the EuroBlech show, and thanks to Amada South Africa who made all the travel and hotel arrangements, when an e-mail arrived notifying us that our flights to Germany were cancelled due to a 24 hour Lufthansa pilots strike, and yes our flight’s scheduled departure was in that 24 hour gap. The travel agent frantically managed to arrange an alternative flight and fortunately we could depart for Germany for our first EuroBlech show, although it took somewhat longer getting there than had been scheduled.
Armed with comfortable shoes we headed for Messe Nord. We had been warned that this show, which is held every two years, is huge and the two and a half days we had planned to be there would barely be enough time to visit all the companies we needed to see.
By 12 o’clock on our first day we were hungry and tired after what felt like to us that we had been walking for ever and had been overdosed with information. We inspected the map of the show and realised that we had merely covered two thirds of the first hall, and there were a further seven to visit.
We found that most companies were friendly and equipped with at least one representative that spoke English, and keen to part with knowledge and advice about new techniques and trends in our field of engineering.
It was amazing to see the vast variety of specialised machinery available and from so many different countries, although we did notice that there was a very large Italian representation. Many companies that were at the show do have ties with South Africa through agents, and it was great to see that we are up to date with technology and machinery, even though South Africa is a relatively small market. The interest in our market was clear from the numerous prompt emails we received on our return from the companies we visited at the exhibition.
A fantastic experience was the reaction we received from everyone who smiled when we said we were from South Africa, as they all want to visit, as they perceive it to be a beautiful country. It is very encouraging that internationals recognise our country as being a good one and we should build on this.
We will definitely be going again in 2016!
The Secant Engineering team from left to right: Graham Kirby-Smith, Sipho Kunene, Wayne Thompson, Colin Kirby-Smith, Peter Ried and Gavin Baard
The new MasterCut Eco
Trumpf stand this year was the introduction of the MagicShoe – a work shoe fitted with smart sensors. This makes it easy for the operator to move around and initiate the stroke wherever they are standing at the machine. Dragging and relocating foot pedals becomes a thing of the past, and the space in front of the machine remains clear.
Durma’s new ADS 30175 press brake
Durma presented several new machines with new designs and livery including the fiber laser HDFS 3015. It has a cutting table located on the long side of the machine, which according to the company provides a faster switching time. The workspace is 3000 x 1500mm. Durma also unveiled for the first time a DLC 160 punching and shearing line for punching, marking and shearing angle iron up to 160 x 160 x 9mm with a maximum punch diameter of 32mm as standard.
Ermaksan showed their Fibermak EFB LM 4000 with a bed size of 3 x1,5 metres in combination with a tower server