Customized CNC technology is helping a laser-cutting machine manufacturer to speed product development and bring its products to new markets. Using special hardware and software designed by control system developer NUM, the machine builder developed a high-precision laser cutter that is capable of producing very small or very large parts from sheet metal, with feed rates of up to 60 meters per minute. This new machine will mark Favor Laser’s entry into the high-performance end of the market, which the Taiwanese company intends to enter soon using a novel combination of performance and highly aggressive pricing that will reduce the costs of these machines by some 20 percent.

Until now, Favor Laser (which also has sales and manufacturing in Shanghai) has concentrated on producing low-cost laser cutters, offering machines to suit different sheet metal fabricating requirements. These include small batch manufacturing, precision cutting of small parts, and high-volume production of larger parts.

In 2010, Favor Laser decided to expand its product range by developing a high-performance, multi-capability laser-cutting machine for the international market, which is currently dominated by a small number of Swiss, German, and Japanese manufacturers. Favor’s initial research indicated that by combining its laser-cutting technology with value-engineered hardware and advanced CNC software, it would be able to produce a machine that would match the performance of the market leaders — but at significantly lower cost.

All Favor Laser machines are based on a novel flying-optics system, wherein the metal sheet being cut is supported on a stationary table and the cutting head that directs the laser beam is moved horizontally above the surface of the sheet.

This approach has several important advantages over machines that move the workpiece beneath a static laser beam. The cutting head has a low and constant mass that achieves fast, precision positioning. By contrast, systems that require moving the workpiece – which changes mass throughout the cutting process – are slower, and make it more difficult for standard motion control systems to maintain cutting accuracy.

Another advantage is that the latter type of systems often demand complex, and expensive motion control technologies to maintain cutting accuracy.

As well as improving machine throughput and productivity, when cutting thin material the faster cutting speed of flying-optic laser cutters helps to prevent heat build-up that potentially deforms the workpiece.