Drives and control for Chinese laser cutting machine

Drives and control for Chinese laser cutting machine
Marginal Column

November 2017


Han’s Laser has been equipping its machines with drive technology from Rexroth for many years. The engineers have now also opted for IndraMotion MTX control technology from Rexroth for its new laser cutting machine. It even protects the Chinese company from counterfeit products.

For approximately four centuries, the Han dynasty ruled the Chinese Empire. These times are long gone, however the name of this influential royal family still lives on: the so-called Han Chinese are the largest population group in China today. China’s leading manufacturer of laser machines has therefore named itself Han’s Laser. The company, which was founded in 1996, is situated in the million-strong metropolis of Shenzhen, located to the north of Hong Kong, and employs some 8,000 people. The production portfolio includes more than 200 different models of laser marking, laser welding and laser cutting machines, all of which are used in a wide variety of industries, from automotive suppliers to computer and toy manufacturers. The requirements are the same everywhere: The machines need to work in a fast, precise and reliable manner. A new high-end laser cutting machine, which can cut virtually any shape into different metals, does just that.

Drives for five axes

With regard to drive technology, the engineers at Hans Laser quickly realized which solutions should be used: IndraDrive systems and IndraDyn servo motors. Managing Director Chen Yan explains: “We have been working with Rexroth drives since 2005, and we have had very good experiences.” In the laser cutting machine, the drives power five axes, which precisely move the head of the solid-state laser over the sheet metal being machined. Yet drive technology is only as good as its control technology. “The control is essentially the machine’s brain. We knew that Rexroth also has expertise when it comes to CNC control. We decided on a solution from Rexroth for the laser cutting machine because the cooperation has always been excellent,” says Yan.

The requirements for the control of laser technologies are slightly different from those for traditional metal-cutting CNC machine tools used for turning, milling or grinding. Yuan Jiang, National Sales Manager at Rexroth China, explains: “In terms of laser cutting machines, there are a number of special features, such as automatic height control, laser power control, or the so-called retrace function. This is when the machining head moves back along the contour that the laser has already cut into the sheet metal.” This maneuver is necessary when the laser restarts after stopping. “Such functions are not needed for metal-cutting machines.”

Fast and precise

With IndraMotion MTX, Rexroth has developed a CNC platform that can be integrated into many different CNC machine tools as well as laser cutting machines. The modular design of the hardware and software makes it all possible. “We have specially adapted the control functions to the demanding tasks of laser technology,” says Jiang. Han’s Laser is equally convinced: “The quick reaction times and the optimum speed guidance fit the requirements of our machine perfectly,” according to Yan. The machines performance clearly demonstrates this: The laser cuts up to 200 meters into sheet metal per minute. And with perfect reliability: The machine is designed for 24-hour operations and therefore ideal for mass production. A further advantage is the minimum amount of maintenance.

Protection from counterfeiting

Those who are successful naturally attract copycats. That’s why it was important to Han’s Laser to be able to integrate its own software and make it not so easy to copy. “We’ve built up a lot of expertise and we naturally want to protect it. We also wanted to have open interfaces so that our programmers can quickly respond to individual customer requests. Open technology was therefore very important to us so that we can always access the control core,” says Yan. The Open Core Interface software technology allows direct access to drive and control functions with high-level language-based applications, as well. The integration of a company’s own software into Rexroth’s systems is therefore very simple. “Through individual programming we can implement new customer demands faster than the competition for example and that’s something that nobody can copy,” Yan states with emphasis. He is pleased with the outcome. “With regard to the laser cutting machine we are impressed not only in terms of the technology, but Rexroth’s consulting expertise has helped us tremendously with the development.”

Han’s Laser employs some 8,000 people and the production portfolio includes more than 200 different models of laser marking, laser welding and laser cutting machines. Magnifier

Han’s Laser employs some 8,000 people and the production portfolio includes more than 200 different models of laser marking, laser welding and laser cutting machines.