Productivity and Profits ‘in the pipeline’: BLM’s versatile fibre laser technology makes tube fabrication faster and more cost-efficient
08 July 2016

First Cut, distributors of cutting consumables and capital equipment to the South African market, is very focused this year on introducing the benefits of innovative fibre laser technology and 3D laser cutting machines to the local tube industry.

The BLM Group, an Italy-based leader in tube cutting and bending technologies, has for decades focused on optimising the tube fabrication process, and the company’s LT8.10 ‘laser tube’ machine brings versatility of metal cutting to a new level. This is according to Andrew Poole, Managing Director at First Cut.

“As one of our key international principals, we are excited to have already introduced the wide-ranging advantages of BLM’s fibre laser cutting machines to a number of our customers in the steel industry. The machines provide a highly versatile cutting solution that is also significantly faster, cheaper to run and more accurate than conventional processing,” says Poole.

The fibre laser source in the BLM range of machines enables the user to cut tubes of any material type (including copper, brass, aluminium, stainless steel, zinc-coated steel, mild steel) from 12mm to 240mm in diameter. It also processes any conceivable shape of tube, as well as open profiles, with ease.

“BLM fibre laser machines can cut to length, drill any size hole or cut any shape geometry - all in a single machine,” says Neil Labuschagne, Technical Sales - Tube Division at First Cut. “Essentially they perform the same function as traditional tube processors, minus all the cumbersome steps, material handling between operations and additional labour.

“The fibre laser tube cutter’s ability to cut a wide variety of material types and thicknesses makes it a universal tool. Hard tooling is eliminated and replaced by a flexible beam. The end result is maximised production time with minimum waste.”

The 3D cutting functionality of the BLM LT range of fibre laser machines adds to the flexibility of the system, facilitating the easy tilt cutting of thick-walled steel for chamfers and weld preparations and for producing interlocking joints on tubes and beams on steel structures.

The ‘laser tube’ family of machines from BLM are all fully CNC-operated and automated for multiple functions; while also enabling the quick change-over between various functions and materials. Furthermore, importing of CAD drawings via BLM’s own software programme enables highly accurate and reliable production lines, with the added advantage of minimising waste.

With tubes an integral part of so many industries and structures, fibre laser cutting machines have wide applicability, notes Labuschagne.

“Tubes have particular relevance in the automotive components industry, but also in aeronautical, furniture, structural engineering and transport sectors – the options are endless. With a company like BLM, which is intensely focused on ongoing research and development (R&D) of fibre laser tube cutting, new technological parameters and design possibilities are being explored and developed all the time.”

Peace of mind for customers also comes in the form of after-sales service and support, thanks to First Cut’s localised industry knowledge and technical expertise.

“We have established an excellent relationship with BLM in order to provide our customers with the highest levels of service and support. Our own team of qualified technicians travel to Italy regularly for technology updates and training,” notes Labuschagne.

For Poole, the multiple advantages of fibre laser cutting equipment in the tube industry bring excellent long-term return on investment (ROI) to First Cut’s customers.

“In this challenging and capricious economic climate, customers are all seeking to reduce production time and costs. BLM’s fibre laser technology is more cost-effective to operate, reduces energy consumption and is substantially faster than conventional cutting methodologies – up to 40-50% faster. This makes it a compelling option for tube fabricators in South Africa,” he concludes.