Do you process XXL sheets measuring 10 m long and more with thicknesses up to 30 mm? Sheets of that size are extremely difficult to process and take a lot of space, both in storage and during the cutting process. Is there a better way  to process them in a smooth and efficient manner?

Simultaneous processing of XXL sheets

Enter Taurus, LVD’s aptly named large-format laser cutting machine with a 3-m wide closed gantry travelling over an easily-accessible table of 10 up to 42 meters in length. This configuration allows the operator to load or unload sheets or even clean the table on idle sections of the bed while the machine is busy processing a sheet next to it. Downtime is therefore kept to an absolute minimum. Additional options contribute to Taurus’ amazing efficiency and performance, including the automatic nozzle changer with a capacity to hold up to 30 nozzles for continued autonomous operation and the state-of-the-art bevel head which can be tilted to a maximum of 45° in all directions, a cost-effective way to prepare material for subsequent welding operations or to create geometrical shapes.

What are the latest trends and challenges in XXL processing? 

When it comes to XXL processing, larger sheet capacity and versatility of both profiling and bending capabilities are key to increased flexibility, shorter processing times and ultimately lower cost per part. In LVD, we notice globally a growing interest in larger press brakes and fibre laser cutting machines. 

Historically, traditional thermal cutting processes like oxyfuel or plasma have been the technology of choice for cutting large-format sheet metal. Fibre lasers continue to increase in power and efficiency, together with the need for more complex and accurate parts. This makes the XXL fibre laser a strong choice for a growing number of large cutting applications. 

To stay ahead of the competition in XXL processing today, the market trends and demand is to process larger parts in a wider variety of materials and thicknesses with increased part complexity and accuracy. There is also a demand to add more value to the part with additional features such as bevel cutting. 

The challenges ahead include the need to process larger and more complex parts, the processing of thicker materials with increased part accuracy, the need to add more value - for instance bevelling - and ensuring optimal accessibility to the process area for optimal flow. LVD's introduction of the Taurus reimagines the capabilities of XXL laser cutting, introducing a modular design fibre laser cutting system with enhanced functionality and features to increase flexibility, efficiency, material flow and processing speeds. 

Why does a modular design add extra flexibility? 

Taurus is available with bed sizes from 10 to 42 metres. This modularity allows you to choose the most suitable length depending on the available space in your workshop or a desired number of larger sheets if you like to place one after the other on the cutting table. 

Here you see an example where you can load three 12 metre sheets. This flexibility will lead to increased productivity. The typical bottleneck in this type of XXL production is the time it takes your operators to load big sheets and unload large finished parts with the help of overhead cranes. This Taurus gives you the ability to unload and load on 90% of the available cutting area while the machine keeps cutting. 

On Taurus, we can expand the boundaries with bevel cutting. 

On the Taurus, customers can opt for an optional bevel cutting head. This will allow you to make welding preparations, chamfering, and cut holes for countersunk bolts. In order to guarantee part accuracy, incorporating two extra axes – so five in total - we went a step further and made use of direct drive motors for the bevel head. 

Without any transmission or the use of driving belts, we can now achieve the highest possible accuracy in bevel cutting. Whether you plan to cut holes for countersunk bolts, or you want to give the edge the right angle for an optimal welding preparation, the bevel head on the Taurus will take care of it and keep you from having to manipulate those large and heavy parts and switch to another machine for additional operations. This is a huge cost saving in these competitive times.

Before we start cutting, I would like to explain a bit more about the Taurus. Unlike other XXL fibre laser cutting machines, Taurus doesn’t need a huge safety cover that hides half of the cutting area. As a customer, you have optimal access for unloading and loading while the machine is cutting, leading to higher flexibility and increased productivity. On the same footprint, you can not only cut half the machine length, like a shuttle bed machine, but also longer parts, or if needed, parts twice as long. To keep machine dynamics high, we decided not to have the laser move with the gantry. The fibre laser saws, the chiller and the electrical cabinet are positioned stationary on the left side or next to the filter unit at the end. 

You will notice we added an extra screen next to the Taurus user interface, where we monitor images from two IP cameras inside the machine. 

Taurus is extremely dynamic for a machine of this size and weight. High-level safety devices have been added in order to avoid accidents during loading and unloading. These give a warning so you can step away in time or bring the gantry to a full stop in case someone ignores the warning.

Not only operators are protectors. Scanners also protect our towers from collision with, for instance, a sheet someone accidentally left on the overhead crane or with the hook of the overhead crane if it’s hanging too low. 

To keep the fibre laser beam escaping the protective cover, we shield the gap between cutting table and cover with multiple special protective curtains on both ends.

A generous revolving door right next to the control gives good access to the cutting head and nozzle changer. For full access to the 3.3 metre wide cutting area, you can unlock the front cover and drive the gantry away. This allows cleaning inside and the necessary maintenance in a comfortable way. 

On XXL cutting machines, operators often need to step on the tables to assist during loading and unloading. Wide and solid stairs across the full machine width give safe access to the cutting table. 

As standard, the Taurus is equipped with a cutting head for straight cutting with a 200 mm stroke. The optional head for bevel cutting has a 300 mm stroke to allow cutting under 45 degrees in all directions. 

For straight cutting, parts up to a width of 3200 mm can be cut. Due to the high-power level and the high intensity of the fibre laser beam, we were forced to limit the stroke on bevel cutting 45 degrees towards the outside to 2600 mm in order to prevent overheating or damage to the fume extraction and machine frames. 

A turret design nozzle changer moves together with the gantry to keep the distance to the cutting head small. This turret can hold 30 nozzles for straight cutting. 

A machine with optional bevel cutting head can hold two types of nozzles, 15 standard ones for straight cutting and 15 sharp ones suitable for bevel cutting. Every nozzle changer features an integrated camera that checks nozzle alignment, size and condition. 

Cutting thick steel generates a lot of smoke. In order to guarantee efficient fume extraction, an optimal downwards airflow is needed. Fumes are conveniently evacuated through the left and right machine frame. 

As mentioned earlier in the virtual tech session, Taurus is a modular laser cutting system available with a bed size from 10 to 42 metres. Here you see some examples of possible sheet layouts. On a shuttle bed machine you are limited to two separate 8 m parts at a time. On a Taurus of the same length, you can also cut parts twice that long. 

This Taurus can handle two sheets of 12 by 3 metres. Even three 12 by 3 metre sheets fit the cutting table of our longest model. 

The offline programming software allows you to define the type of bevel cutting or welding preparation. Most common are the so-called V, Y, and X cut. We do have an optional plugin available for SolidWorks, Solid Edge and Inventor. This allows you to export the part, including bevel information, to your programming software with just one mouse click.

Discover how the Taurus laser cuts XXL sheets in a highly efficient manner

Watch this webinar to see how Taurus cuts and bevels large sheets at great speed and with high precision while an operator has access to other sections of the lengthy table for handling and cleaning activities.