By Cassandra Balentine
Part 2 of 2
Laser cutting devices offer the wide format print market many benefits, including sharpness and versatility. While these solutions are designed to serve a range of industries, print service providers look to laser cutters as an alternative to traditional router knives and oscillating tools.
In part one of this two-part article on laser cutting systems we review the advantages and limitations of these devices. In part two, we offer highlights from products available on the market.
Coherent offers the META family of CO2 laser machines, which the company describes as a flexible set of systems used by artists, job shops, OEMs, aerospace/defense, single proprietorships, and medical device manufacturers to provide a range of products with custom design features.
Available in three power levels, including 250W, 400W, and 1,000W, Robert W. Boyes, senior product line manager, laser machine tools, Coherent, says this family of machines is aligned to the cutting needs of the customer while leveraging commonality in manufacturing.
META products provide flexibility for both organic and metal cutting on the same machines, which Boyes points out as a “major enabler for its customers.”
The devices also support the ability to raster engrave and cut a variety of materials, which range from films to .25-inch mild steel.
The maximum width for the META family is four inches. List prices range from $100,000 to $300,000, depending on power levels and selected options. Products are sold through a combination of direct and indirect sales and service channels based on geography.
Epilog’s newest product is the Fusion M2 dual-source laser system with the eView Camera Module. The M2 allows users to combine two laser sources, CO2 and fiber, to perform a variety of applications.
James Stanaway, director of marketing, Epilog, says the addition of the eView Camera Module is especially exciting for signage as it allows users to cut all kinds of pre-printed graphics—whether on paper, fabric, or acrylic—with laser precision. “The eView makes cutting printed graphics easy and produces precise results from anywhere on the table. There is no need to line up your graphics to the top-left corner of the machine, or even align it to the X and Y axes. Users add registration marks to the graphic and the cameras detect exactly where to cut,” he explains.
Additional features of the Fusion M2 include standard high-resolution optics, flame-polished edge cuts, a motorized table, joystick controls, and superior chassis strength.
The Fusion M2 offers a 32×20-inch engraving/cutting table. Devices are sold through a global network of distributors.
Developed on the basis of GCC LaserPro’s accumulated technology with new powerful motion system, the GCC LaserPro T500 is capable of 3D engraving quality and cutting at high speeds. The device’s 200W laser tube allows users to deliver clear and fine cuts.
According to Joan Kang, product manager, GCC, the CO2 laser tube is the most critical component of the laser engraver. GCC LaserPro features Synrad CO2 lasers that are built in the U.S. with advanced laser technology. “The laser product is proven to be the most reliable brand with tens of thousands of installations all over the world.”
Additionally, the LaserPro T500 features a high torque and high-speed AC serve monitor to ensure long motor lifetime and high precision, a control system and rigid motion system that allows users to create vector scribing quality at high speeds, an optional AAS contour cutting device, and the ability to cut and engrave on the same machine.
The LaserPro T500 offers a maximum cutting width of 51×35 inches and is available at a list price of $60,999 to $83,899 USD.
Kern Laser Systems
Kern offers the HSE Laser System, the company’s turnkey laser cutting and engraving system. Table sizes range from 52×25 to 80×120 inches. The company can install lasers from 40 to 400W on any size table. Metal cutting and rotary options are available.
The system is now available with k-vision, an optical registration system that automatically aligns a cutting file to the printed material. “This decreases setup time and chance for alignment error,” says Derek Kern, president of sales, Kern.
The widest system is stock is 80 inches, however, Kern says the company has made systems as wide as 96 inches.
The systems start at $39,995.
MCT offers its Versa-Tech laser/cutter/router system, which comes in a 63-inch width cutting bed as well as 78- and 126-inch widths. A vision system gives the ability to cut jobs that are longer than the table.
Steve Aranoff, VP sales and marketing, MCT, says the Versa-Tech is the only solution that includes full roll or board handling automation and the proper conveyor belt for cutting with all the different tools using a patent-pending convertible conveyor architecture. “From a performance standpoint, the system is competitive with the high-end products in the market, as well as being significantly faster than the entry-level products,” he claims.
The company plans to introduce a new vision system this Fall that Aranoff says has the “capability of dramatically changing the way in which cut-to-print registration is completed, speeding up the set up process for jobs and achieving higher accuracy on flexible materials.”
Prices start at $135,000 for a full solution, depending on tooling, automation, and table size.
MCT sells direct in the U.S. and Mexico plus Latin America. The company has an exclusive distributor, Cansel, in Canada and distribution relationships with ACS in the Western U.S.
The MultiCam 2000 Laser is an all-steel, stress-relieved frame designed to ensure structural integrity. Featuring a CO2 laser, it produces power outputs up to 1,000W. Its laser beam components are specifically designed for higher tolerance requirements and ease of use. Integrated forklift tubes provide easy machine positioning and increased machine rigidity. A moving gantry features dual-side, brushless digital AC servo drives.
The system is ideal for vector cutting, raster engraving, nameplates, sign making, control panels, displays, polished-edge acrylic, and sheet-metal fabrication.
Trotec Laser, Inc.
Trotec provides a range of laser cutting solutions. The SP1500 is a 59×49-inch machine that combines productivity with low-maintenance costs. Featuring a CO2 laser and power of up to 400W, the SP1500 is a laser cutting and engraving machine ideal for demanding cutting applications.
The SP1500 is suitable to cut a range of substrates including acrylic, glass, plastic, textiles, film, foil, leather, rubber, wood, foam, paper, and stone.
Universal Laser Systems, Inc. (ULS)
ULS’ laser material processing solution provides sign builders with the ability to produce high-detail signage with a variety of materials. The company’s non-contact cutting and engraving solutions are versatile and easy to use, offering the ability to cut dimensional letters, image cutouts, ADA and Braille signage, and point of purchase displays.
Additionally, ULS’ Camera Registration features a camera mounted inside the laser system that locates and determines the exact positions of registration marks on printed materials. Software adjusts the predefined cut path to fit the material.
Vision Engraving & Routing Systems
Vision offers a range of CO2 and YAG laser engraver system. Galvo driven, the devices include automated part feeders but can also be created from the ground up with the manufacturer to create a system that meets the customer’s needs. The laser engraving systems range in power from 30 to 500W.
Vytek Laser Systems
Vytek offers a range of laser cutting and engraving solutions, including the L-Star series. The L-Star laser engraving cutting system offers a variety of options and sizes to meet the needs of modern production shops. The range is large enough to handle big jobs but compact enough to fit into small environments.
The L-Star supports plastic fabrication, point of purchase, metal cutting, memorials and stone fabrication, and commercial builders.
Print providers and sign makers looking for an alternative to traditional router knives and oscillating tools have the option to look into laser systems. These devices are designed to provide a versatile option for cutting and engraving a range of materials with impeccable precision.
Oct2015, Digital Output DOLC1510