Vink Products in Katwijk has replaced four plasma cutting machines with one laser cutting machine with an automatic loading system. Three plasma tables have already been sold, one machine has been left standing for a while, just to be sure. But the first months with the new cutting process went so well that the last plasma table could be gone soon. “We should have done this 10 years earlier,” says general manager Rob van Duijn.

This article was previously published in full on the website [Dutch only].

Vink Products is a manufacturer of metal air ducts and air technical components, such as outdoor air vents and roof caps. These are all produced in-house. The rectangular, round and oval air ducts are produced in different types of metal: galvanized steel, aluminum, stainless steel and bare steel. Vink processes this material in various sheet thicknesses ranging from 0.75 to 5 mm.

A-brand laser cutting machine

The standard utility ductwork was always cut on the four plasma tables. But Vink also makes industrial air ducts and the cutting work for this was often outsourced. However, with the growth of the company, it was time for a new development. Vink actually only processes thin sheet, which made investing in a laser cutting machine interesting. It was clear to Van Duijn that this had to be an A-brand laser cutting machine.

He was faced with the choice between a young used or a new machine. He ended up at Laser & Bending Machines in Zwijndecht. This company, owned by Nathan van der Hoeven, specializes in used laser cutting machines and press brakes and was able to supply Vink Products with a Bystronic Bysprint fiber 4020 with a 6 kW laser source; only 2 years old and with only 5000 cutting hours on the counter. “That was very interesting for us. Nathan’s way of thinking, working and guiding gave me a lot of confidence,” says Van Duijn, who wanted to go one step further than just a laser cutting machine. In order to use the machine as efficiently as possible and to cut a lot of material, he wanted to equip it with automation. Bystronic has taken care of this. A ByTrans Extended 4020 is coupled to the newly used laser, an intelligent solution for loading and unloading the machine.

Many advantages

The entire cutting system was commissioned in mid-January and it is a success. “This investment brings us many benefits in terms of quality, efficiency and energy consumption,” says Van Duijn. First of all, he mentions the leap in quality for the customer. Laser cutting provides a better cutting edge than with plasma and there is no more plasma deposits on the plate material. This is important, because quality requirements are also increasing in the air duct business. The channels must look good and can be processed further without any problems.

Vink himself has made an improvement in efficiency. The four plasma tables needed a lot of space, which can now be used differently because the laser takes up less space. There is also an operational cost saving. One operator now does the work at the laser instead of three at the plasma tables. It is no longer necessary to outsource cutting for plate and maintenance has also become less. Not only do four plasma machines no longer need to be maintained, the pollution from the seaming machines that were next to them has also disappeared. And the sheet metal can now be coded better, which benefits traceability and subsequent operations.

Less waste

A nice side effect is also – especially with the current material prices – that the waste percentage has decreased. Vink cuts about fifty article types, all in varying sizes. These are now optimally nested in the BySoft software from Bystronic. And finally, energy consumption has decreased. Just the fact that the dust removal units at the plasma cutting machines have disappeared makes a huge difference.

All in all, Rob van Duijn speaks of a very good investment, with which Vink Products has taken a major step in the automation of the cutting process. The next step will not be long in coming: a robot for sorting the cut parts.