African Fusion talks to Sean Moriarty, South African sales director for Koike, about the successful implementation of its Deltatec plasma/oxy-fuel combination cutting system installed at Laser Junction.
The Koike Deltatec 4500 CNC cutting system chosen by Laser Junction.
The worldwide Koike Group was founded in 1918 as a family run business with its head office in Tokyo Japan. Today it has global subsidiaries across Europe, the US, China and Korea. “Koike manufactures high-quality metal cutting, welding and positioning equipment. We have over 90 years of experience and serve steel service centres, heavy equipment manufacturers, general fabrication shops, power generation plants, shipyards, offshore pipe and vessel fabricators, as well educational institutes all over the world,” Moriarty tells African Fusion. “The company employs around 1 200 people globally and generates revenues of €500-million every year,” he adds.
“Koike is an OEM manufacturer for a wide range of CNC cutting machines, covering all common technologies: laser, plasma, oxy-fuel and water jet. We also manufacture gas cutting torches, gas couplings, nozzles in addition an extensive range of portable cutting and welding units for straight, bevel, pipe, H-beam cutting and welding applications,” says Moriarty.
Koike have been operating in South Africa for a number of years now through their local distributor Retecon. “Historically, laser cutting was often preferred in South Africa, because of the accuracy and cut quality of laser compared to conventional air plasma or oxy-fuel cutting systems.”
“With the developments in technology, high-definition plasma cut quality has improved dramatically over the years, and high-definition plasma cut parts now meet the required standards for the majority of steel construction, engineering and fabrication uses. What is clear in industry today is a large capital investment in a laser machine is not always necessary when a high-definition plasma machine, at a third of the investment cost, is suitable for most jobs.
“However, many factors come into the equation when one is deciding on a cutting system. We at Koike and Retecon will gladly advise plus recommend and offer the right cutting solution for our customer’s needs,” he adds.
“Each process has its niche in terms of thickness. Oxy-fuel can be used for carbon steels on anything from 3.0 mm all the way to 300 mm plus, while modern mechanised plasma systems are most economical and accurate in the 3.0 mm to 40 mm range. Plasma cutting of plate thicknesses above 40 mm is possible, but at lower quality with increased consumable costs and gas consumption. Lasers have their niche for high-accuracy, high-quality, high-speed cutting in the 0.8 to 16 mm range, while water jet cutting, a non-thermal process, can achieve the highest accuracy and quality on all types of materials and thicknesses including woods and plastics – but it is extremely slow compared to other processes.”
Laser Junction’s new cutting system
Laser Junction, established in 1995 in Red Hill, Durban, has established itself as a market leader in the sheet metal industry, specialising in plasma cutting, laser cutting, punch bending and steel fabrication. The company, one of the largest of its kind in South Africa, is currently relocating to a new 10 000 m2 premises at Dube TradePort, the new Industrial Development Zone at King Shaka International Airport in KwaZulu-Natal.
Laser Junction has been a loyal client of Retecon for over six years, and, to meet the need for a cost-effective cutting solution for thicker section material, decided to complement its fleet of machinery with a combined plasma and oxy-fuel installation.
The Koike Deltatec 4500 CNC cutting system was chosen, a machine with a 4.5 m beam width on a 14 m rail length, giving an effective cutting area of 3×12 m. For cutting, the machine has one Hypertherm HPR260XD auto gas control high-definition plasma cutting system, combined with two fully automated Koike K-FIT oxy-fuel cutting torches, all under the control of Koike’s Katana-ADV CNC controller.
“These controllers incorporate all of the software for controlling the cutting path of the torches, along with the electrical, flame and gas controls for the cutting process being employed. When plasma cutting, for example, Hypertherm’s True Hole® technology enables high-quality, bolt-ready holes in a 1:1 ratio to plate thicknesses of between 5.0 mm and 25 mm on mild steel material. This is testament to the quality, accuracy and process speed of the Koike machine in combination with Hypertherm’s XD plasma systems,” Moriarty points out.
He highlights the Portal Frame Compensation (PFC) system feature. The saddles of the Deltatec have a built-in system that enables the gantry to expand with the heat from the cutting processes, while maintaining a constant clearance between the rack and pinion on both sides of the drive system. This ensures a smoother cut surface and less wear on the rack and pinion systems.
At start-up, the machine will automatically measure and calibrate the portal’s squareness using two sensors – the actual portal position will be compared with the initial CNC settings when the machine was assembled. The Katana controller will show an on-screen message that warns the operator if the portal is out of spec and readjustment is required.
Other features Moriarty points out are the SmartLift torch carriages together with Smartflow gas distribution, for both plasma and oxy-fuel, incorporated in the Deltatec 4500. The plasma torch, which requires very accurate height control for high definition cutting accuracy, is fitted with a magnetic torch holder for collision protection and maintenance-free ac slide motor with a precision linear guidance system. The oxy-fuel torches with heat protection use electronically controlled proportional valves with capacitive height sensing including an automatic pre-heat and ignition system. In addition:
- A spot laser pointer enables easy manual plate alignment and referencing between cuts.
- An E-cabinet air conditioning system maintains the temperature of the control cabinet at the ideal operating temperature in ambient temperatures ranging from -10 °C to +55 °C.
- A voltage stabiliser compensates for fluctuation of between +10% and -30% from 230 V.
- A network cable connects the Katana controller to a local area network (LAN). “Should any faults develop on the Laser Junction’s machine, Koike Europe can log in via Team Viewer, diagnose the fault condition and talk local technicians through a resolution procedure,” Moriarty explains.
Also supplied with the turnkey installation at Laser Junction is the SigmaNest nesting software, which was originally developed in South Africa by Mecad Systems. This allows optimisation of material usage and productivity. “While the software is globally supported, because of the local expertise in this area, Laser Junction’s SigmaNest system will be directly supported by Mecad in South Africa,” Moriarty says.
The cutting table itself is a Herr PlasVent exhaust-type table with a modular construction. Exhaust channels run in the longitudinal direction in separate 515 mm transverse sections. “Each of the channels has an exhaust flap, which is automatically opened when cutting in that section. This enables fume extraction in the areas where it is needed, making the extraction process more efficient and reducing the fan power required.
“For Laser Junction, this cutting system significantly extends the company’s cutting capability. As well as laser services on plate thicknesses up to 20 mm, the Koike system offers high definition, cost-effective plasma cutting on plate of up to 40 mm, plus the added flexibility and value of cutting plate of over 150 mm using oxy-fuel,” Moriarty confirms.
“In addition, the company benefits from local service and support from Retecon and from Koike in Holland, the OEM of the system. Koike are cutting specialists. The solutions they offer are not limited to a single technology and combination system such as Laser Junction’s Deltatec plasma/oxy-fuel system, are not only cost effective, they can significantly enhance a company’s offering, while optimising productivity,” Moriarty concludes.