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Steel service center uses CNC flame cutters.

Steel service center uses CNC flame cutters

A steel service center in Commerce City, CO, is enhancing its performance in a highly competitive marketplace with computer-controlled flame-cutting equipment (see front cover, this issue) manufactured by Colorado-based ESAB North America Inc.

While many steel service centers feel they can't afford the kind of high-tech equipment used by large, high-volume manufacturers, Gate City Steel's Commerce City Operations Manager Jeff Jones says his company feels they can't afford not to have it. The ESAB Heath machines he purchased for his company are designed specifically for the needs of the steel service center, which produces relatively small production runs of a wide variety of parts for a diverse group of customers.

"We didn't have to pay for the features we don't need,' he points out, "but we got the things we do need.'

The Commerce City plant is one of ten Gate City Steel full-service steel warehouse and fabrication centers in the western US. At the Colorado location, most of the customers are in the computer, construction, electronics, and machine industries. Cutting jobs are usually 1/4 to 1 carbon-steel plate.

Almost two years ago, after losing business because of excessive downtime with another machine, the company decided to invest in new equipment. Jones recommended the MCD 1010 shape cutter, electronic tracer, and Compu-Path, their programmable shape-cutting control, all manufactured by ESAB's Heath Gas Cutting Div.

He says the equipment performance has met the firm's expectations. Since the equipment was installed, there have been only 2 1/2 hr of downtime, and a total expenditure of only $290 on maintenance.

Compu-Path, Heath's programmable shape-cutting control, is utilized for many of the plant's jobs that involve repetitive cutting of standard shapes such as squares, circles, rings, gussets, and strips. The operator simply inputs the dimensions into the computer, a process which takes only seconds.

The machine cuts up to 999 rows automatically, handling all functions including kerf compensation, lead-in and lead-out, and corner slow down. No template drawing is required, reducing cutting time considerably. The timesaving factor is even more dramatic when cutting with Compu-Path as compared with machining the same part. According to Jones, "A part that could take 30 hr to machine can be cut in 3 hr.' Compu-Path also has the ability to withstand heavy workloads. Because it is enclosed, it can withstand contamination by carbon particulates, a problem that plagues many tape machines when they are used to cut steel plate.

Heath's digital electronic tracer is used when jobs require the production of irregular and nonstandard shapes. There are no moving parts in the tracing head, so there are no parts that can break down. Forward offset, electronic kerf compensation, and directional control are all calculated automatically by use of knobs on the control panel.

Operators at Gate City Steel also cite the tracer's illuminated tracing pattern as one of its most convenient features. It shows them exactly where they are on the template drawing.

Gate City Steel management has been so impressed with the Heath cutting machines' productivity and reliability that they have placed the same equipment in their Albuquerque plant. According to Jones, "From the box to on-line production took about two days.'

For further information, circle E5.

Photo: Using three of the MCD's six torches and the computer-based shape-cutting control, operator Gary Law cuts 30 rings from each plate.

Photo: The automation provided by Compu-Path not only eliminates the need for a template drawing, but also reduces cutting time for each plate by several hours.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Gate City Steel
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jan 1, 1984
Words:587
Previous Article:Process troubleshooting: FEA moves out on the plant floor.
Next Article:High-tech expectations.
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