A new laser-based research and development cell has been installed at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Ansty, West Midlands, to help keep British manufacturing at the forefront of assembly, fabrication and joining technologies.
At the heart of the system is Europe’s most powerful non-military laser, a 20kW rare earth Ytterbium fibre laser with a four-way beam switch, supplied by automation and laser specialists Tec Systems of Loughborough. They built the bespoke system in consultation with MTC’s specialist research teams and incorporated a high-performance data acquisition and control system based on a Mitsubishi Electric iQ-controller.
The iQ-controller controls the laser, a six-axis test piece handling robot and multiple points of distributed I/O over Profibus connections. It is integrated with a GOT touch screen HMI (Human Machine Interface), which displays comprehensive information on a large number of parameters such as welding gas flow, cutting gas flow, robot position, laser power, safety functions, etc.