Have you ever wanted to know the differences between a
router and a laser? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both technologies? These and
other questions will be answered today during our customer visit at Werner + Plank.
I am Stefanie Pretzl and we may now interview Mr. Plank, the managing director of the successful
lighting and metal technology manufacturer. Mr. Plank, would you please briefly
introduceyour company to us. Gladly. We are one of the leading manufacturers of illuminated
advertising equipment throughout Europe. Our 155employees' daily task is to produce.
specific customer requests. Advertising, lettering, everything that is needed in the illuminated advertising industry.
In our second division we make housings for well-known machine builders. For the processing
of acrylic we use two milling machines as well as a Trotec SP3000 laser cutter.
What prompted you to introduce the cutting of acrylic with the with the laser? Until 2016, we got along
very well with the milling machines. As of 2016 our production volume grew very high by 120%
and we then said, okay what canwe can do to meet the customer requirements for the products,
and then I just came up with the Trotec SP3000 because it can offer a lot of solutions
that a milling machine can't really cover. Competitiveness, stable processes
were of course the main focus here, because the costs are also internationally
comparable. And if you look at our portfolio now, we can also offer much more
in terms of products that every market needs. Our reseller has thanked us with orders.
So milling is primarily about controlling the tools, of course.
The milling quality is elementary,whether the tool cuts. The employee, as you can see,
has to make sure before the milling process thatall tools cut, have no defect,
the tool life is still there, and depending on the milling process, there are several tools that have
to be pre-set back here. It is elementary, that the tools really have a sharpness and
cut accordingly. Then, depending onwhich parameters we cut, of course, the
machine needs to be adjusted. If a workpiece is milled, where here on the vacuum table a
certain minimum size of 5 x 5 cm is undercut, we then also have to leave webs. Thus,
the preparation takes here already a few minutes, but is really necessary that you also
produce quality. Then, of course, when everything is controlled, we have to put the material
on the machine and fix it and activate the vacuum table so that the workpiece is clamped.
The preparation of the machine took three minutes and now the actual
milling process begins on the 10 mm thick acrylic. From these we will we will now mill 10 letters.
The process looks like this: the letters are now milled into the material to a depth of 5 mm.
The depth of 5 mm - more, unfortunately, with the milling machine is not possible. All letters are milled
once with a 5 mm plunge depth. In the second operation we go almost completely through the material. That is
another good 4 mm, but then we still leave bars so that it does not slip. Then a tool
change is performed. We getthe smallest possible cutter to cut the very small
corners free. After this operationthe letter is actually driven off again completely
with the polishing cutter. All ten letters must be processed a fourth time. Then
actually the letter is milled in the rough, but a clear edge is not possible even with the
best diamond router. Then we go out to the shop and manually remove the ridges
or form the corners as well, and then we use an oxygen-acetylene flame to give.
the edge a clear sanding. This is a thermaltreatment process,
whereby the acrylic is made to shine. And then actually the first process here is completed. What do you
have to pay closer attention to and prepare for the laser process? We don't actually have any.
preparation time for the laser process. The machine is always in Standby mode.
In comparison to the router you can start immediately with the laser. In processing, when I
compare both technologies, laser processing is easier - there isthere is no tool that has to be checked
in advance; it is simply cut up to 10 mmin one pass; also
we save approx. 50% of the processing time with laser technology.
And what advantages does laser cuttingnow bring with it exactly? If you look at the cutting,
especially in our job with the 10 mmacrylic, we can already say that in addition to
the cutting speed, which is only approx.50% compared to milling, the table placing,
material consumption and nesting also make a difference. Here you can see
that I have to keep about these distances when milling.And when laser cutting I can actually go up to 4 mm
closer together in the gap dimension. From our experience we can say that we save
25% material over the year, because we can do the placing of the material on the work table
much more efficient. There really isn't any preparation for the laser- I don't need to check
tools or service life. Sowith laser processing, the job starts right away with placing the material,
and as we have just seen,the process is actually done in one pass.
The laser is so powerful, you can also cutreally sharp-edged corner radii, radius 0
is possible. And from our experiencewe save about 50% of the processing time.
However, what must also be taken into account areother components. The milling cutter has its raison d'tre
when it comes to manufacturing components with grooves for full acrylic letters,
stuff milling; in our industry we speak of profile 5 or profile 5S. There are of course
ifs and buts, pros and cons, but when I look purely at theplexiglass lasers for circuit boards, for jobs
where there is a mass behind it, it clearly has an advantage. However, we couldn't do our tasks in
that sense without our laser technology. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Plank
for his comprehensive insight. We hope thatthe technology comparison between milling and laser
provides you with a good basis for decidingfor your production, and if you have any
further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us personally.personally at any time.