Developments - 02.21.2019
Datum Alloys Continues to Innovate
By Ian John: Today, I would like to go into a bit more detail about how Datum Alloys innovates on the existing processes and technology in our industry.
Just like any company, we are very careful with what we do to make sure that our innovations are done correctly and by the most qualified individuals, making us the best in the business. At the same time, however, giving our partners and clients an understanding of what we do, and why we do it, helps foster confidence in our business, and trust that we know what we’re talking about.
It started when we wanted to address the challenge of cutting large format parts directly from the coil. We recognized that nobody is currently laser-cutting thing foil parts (at less than 0.50mm) directly from mill-width coil. The main challenge with this idea is figuring out how to manage the web or coil and keep it flat in order to maintain laser focus. Individual sheets can be supported on a bed, but a coil cannot.
We worked closely with machine integrators, motion control manufacturers and laser system manufacturers to figure out the best way to accomplish this. A process which has exceeded 18 months from beginning to the current commissioning stage and provides no shortage of hurdles and issues to resolve. At the same time, because we are eager to share our new technology with the world, we have been fulfilling orders with some clients using the new process. This allows us to prove the technology at the same time it is being finalized.
In the end, we have our own proprietary technology, developed in-house, which can maintain web and coil flatness and our laser focus. Our unique integrated sheeting facility is capable of post-laser processing together with auto-stacking, saving time, energy, and money for our clients.
So, what does this mean? We now have a 700mm x 700mm laser processing window, plus the ability to index any coil forward for longer sheets for cutting. Our initial focus with this new technology is on processing Datum’s core product of stainless steel in the range of 0.02mm to 0.50mm thickness (in other words, we are making the great things we already do, even better), but the technology has been tested on other products, and we are able, and already, working on additional materials.
But, as with any technology, there are limits to what it can do. The question is, then, what is our limit? We have yet to determine the ultimate accuracy of the machine, but current tests suggest that we can operate at below 10 microns (0.001mm).
The only way to figure out what’s possible, is to try!