Doing Under the Hood stories is usually a fun enterprise, and this one is no exception. As we moved through the capabilities of the AMADA BREVIS, there was a sort of cumulative appreciation of everything AMADA put into a relatively small package.
One of the purposes of BREVIS, after all, is to give a solution that provides prototyping to production, and does so in a very small footprint. Machine size is a challenge for shops that are getting busier but feel “landlocked” by a floor crowded with machines and material.
BREVIS may be a small-footprint solution, but it comes with many things you expect from a full-size laser cutter:
- The ability to cut 4 x 8’ sheets;
- The ability to cut mild steel, stainless, and aluminum up to ½”;
- A 3kW laser source;
- Cutting on the Z axis;
- An automatic nozzle cleaner;
- Loading and unloading using two doors and a slide-out cutting table; and
- A camera-based system for ad hoc nesting and using remnants.
There are more things and we’ll explore them but first, let’s get an introduction to the BREVIS. Our tour guide today is Andrew Vitaljic, who works in the company’s Los Angeles Technical Center where this Under the Hood was filmed (as was as an earlier Under the Hood on AMADA’s HRB 1003 ATC press brake with automatic tool changer).
Let’s take a look at opening the BREVIS and how it can handle material, from small and thin to an entire 4 x 8 sheet weighing up to 350 lbs. (The 4 x 8 sheet fits into the machine and is cut into two sheets before processing the second half of the sheet.) Vitaljic shows us the way:
We get right into BREVIS’ laser cutting features usually found in bigger cutters. In this example, we need a part. We have run this part in the past, so we call it up and it comes onto the screen of the AMNC 3i controller complete with a visualization from the CAD drawing, as well as the cutting characteristics we want to use. We have some remnant sheet metal, so we’ll use that to create the part. Because the BREVIS uses the i-Camera System (ICAS), you can use on-screen augmented reality to place the part and rotate and move it as if you were controlling it on a smart phone. ICAS take a picture of the material inside the cabin, and you can place the part anywhere you like, as long as it fits. You can also add a part—or several—to make the most out of the material at hand.
In this example, we have the target piece lying partially on top of another small sheet. It will work fine, and Vitaljic will tell us why as we move through this example:
In this next video, we change the nozzle to the most appropriate nozzle for the job. Afterward, it’s time to cut the parts, and we make the cut. Note that the company’s ENSIS laser technology really does monitor the Z axis by constantly checking the height of the cutting head above the material. That’s why it’s possible to cut a piece of material leaning on another piece. Vitaljic shows us how it all works and then makes the cut:
One other important feature of AMADA’s ENSIS laser technology which is included with BREVIS is the concept of “flash cut.” Suppose you have a series of geometric shapes that need to be cut. You’ll often see this in the back of a computer cabinet where ventilation is needed, or concentric arcs cut out over a speaker on a stereo system, or a series of hexagons. BREVIS can cut large fields of these successive and sometimes interlocking shapes by cutting them in a line in one direction, then coming back across 90 degrees (in the case of a square or rectangle). The only thing you do then is watch all the little shapes fall off of the part. Virtually any simple, repeatable shape can be cut in this manner.
It works by switching the laser on and off during its motion across the part. There is no series of pierces, then making a circle or square (or hexagon, as you’ll see in the video), then moving on to the next shape, and repeating that process ad infinitum. Instead, it’s treated as a field of cuts that when added together remove the waste material and you are left with the intended grid.
Let’s see how it happens in this interesting video:
In our next video, Vitaljic shows us the finished part. You can look at the part and imagine the cutting head moving in somewhat of a straight line, briefly going off of that line to make part of a cut, then continuing the process as it continues down its generally straight path.
What got us to that point? What system settings are behind such a cut? How do we access this type of information and edit it? As it turns out, whether the information was pre-programmed offline, or perhaps if the operator inserted a function or setting, we can access all of it through the AMNC 3i controller, and change anything we need to change. Here is as good look at the part we cut in the previous video, followed by a dive into control settings:
Sometimes you need to check or replace items on the cutting head. It’s an easy process to access the optics—the lens and protective glass guards—by unscrewing the assembly from the cutting head of the laser. Once that’s finished, the optics come out easily for cleaning or replacement. They go back just as easily. Here’s how it works:
Now, it’s time to show how the lens is cleaned. It’s the same optics removal process. We are cleaning this time without acetone, although that is normally used as a cleaning and drying agent. Once the lens is cleaned, it is replaced immediately. We have one more thing to do after we replace the optics module, and that is do a “tape shot” (you’ll see what that is) to ensure concentricity after we’ve replaced the lens and the nozzle. This procedure must be done any time the lens is removed and replaced.
Vitaljic leads us in this part of the journey:
We’ll end our exploration of the AMADA BREVIS by using one of its special capabilities: cutting on the Z axis. The BREVIS can cut material that is raised up to 200 mm (almost eight inches). Using Z axis cutting can help in a few ways:
- You can laser cut on formed parts to improve shop efficiency, potentially avoiding a bottleneck;
- You can cut close to an existing bend (if done before bending, there is a high likelihood of deformation); and
- You can save parts otherwise scrapped—for instance, if a laser-cut hole is too small and is already formed, you can still “edit” the cut into a larger one.
The process is interesting. You set the “home” coordinates with a separate head controller. After that has been established, the system merely reads what’s in the controller, and the action happens just as if it were on a flat sheet. Showing us how it’s done, Vitaljic narrates it for us:
Coupled with a small press brake, the BREVIS makes a great cutting solution for smaller-sized projects as well as a valid and fast prototyping machine. Its small footprint carries many features found only in its bigger brethren, minimizing processing and changeover times.
More information: https://www.amada.com/media/digital-b/brevis-1212-aj/html5/?pn=1