A shift in the market has created a need for a new breed of laser-based equipment.
The pandemic, among other things, has changed manufacturing in unprecedented ways. Manufacturing companies can’t find candidates to fill open positions. Supply chains are in disarray. And material costs have increased significantly.
Meanwhile, interest in laser-based technologies have increased. Falling costs associated with the enabling technology has helped to fuel the growth of laser-based machine tools.
One U.S. company recognized the problems domestic manufacturers were facing and saw an opportunity to solve a problem. Vytek, a 30-year-old manufacturer of laser-based equipment, noticed that small to medium-sized companies increasingly were reaching out for help. These manufacturing companies faced real issues with being able to fabricate metal parts and assemblies. Economic realities made it difficult to be profitable and for some even to stay in business.
Vytek realized that a new generation of laser platforms was needed to help these manufacturing companies take control of their future. These companies found that bringing a laser system in house offered one of the greatest values in controlling manufacturing costs, while solving supplier delivery issues and offsetting the rise in material cost. In-house laser cutting capability also allowed for much faster product development, resulting in new products getting to market that much faster.
The traditional laser-based equipment had been geared around high production. The equipment is very expensive, which makes it difficult to near impossible for smaller companies to justify let alone afford. Additionally, it requires highly skilled labor to operate.
So, the goals were clear: The next-generation laser cutting platform needed to be small, but at the same time handle full-size sheets. It had to be affordable, but not cheap or lack performance. It had to be safe and meet all safety requirements, and it had to be easy to use and fit into a wide range of manufacturing environments. One thing was clear from the onset: Anything Vytek built needed to produce parts comparable in every way to traditional laser systems costing four times more. Accuracy, throughput, flexibility, and ease of use all needed to be hallmarks of this new generation laser system.
When Vytek started designing this new platform, it found the typical manufacturer could use such a system for as little as a few hours per day and with a moment’s notice across multiple shifts. Even more enlightening was the various ways that a manufacturer would use the laser cutting machine, routinely throwing different-sized jobs on the equipment and frequently changing materials. Manufacturers also had no time for offline programing, so the control interface had to be sophisticated enough to allow for rapid programing right at the machine. In addition, the control interface needed to be compatible with most design software, allowing for easy file exchange.
Traditional laser cutting machine designs simply didn’t work for these metal manufacturing companies. This market needed a hybrid concept. What made sense was providing a solution that offered rapid changeover while not using any more space than was necessary.
Manufacturers also needed to be able to easily upgrade the equipment in the future if circumstances dictated the investment. That’s why this new concept in laser cutting machines is designed so that automation such as material loaders and table exchangers, laser power upgrades, and even control system updates can be added affordably in the future.
These Vytek machines are the future of laser cutting: