American Metal Fab’s Cutting-Edge Journey: Mastering Laser/Punch Combo for Metal Fabrication

As explored in the article “Cutting’s Current State: The Laser/Punch Combo in Metal Fabricating” on The Fabricator, American Metal Fab has remained at the forefront of sheet metal fabrication by skillfully embracing the laser/punch combo technique.

Over the decades, lasers have been the driving force transforming sheet metal fabrication. Initially, merely possessing a laser cutting machine distinguished an operation. Automation, followed by lights-out automation, marked significant milestones. The evolution continued with the shift from CO₂ to fiber lasers and the integration of more sophisticated automation and autonomous cutting, wherein the machine learns and refines its performance.

Advancements have surged ahead, manipulating the fiber laser beam to enhance cut edge quality and eliminate the need for laborious deburring. The rapid pace of change in the industry can be dizzying.

In this special 50th year of The FABRICATOR, a deep dive into the cutting department’s dynamics is underway. The current state of cutting-edge technology, particularly the laser/punch combo, is being scrutinized through the perspectives of diverse successful fabricators, each catering to unique customer needs in varying markets.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that technology serves as the engine while the customer mix steers the ship. The route each fabricator takes is distinct, shaped by their customer blend and specific requirements.

Ometek, a major contract fabrication entity near Columbus, Ohio, exemplifies this evolution. While questions lingered about the punch press’s relevance in the face of fiber lasers, Ometek ingeniously integrated the punch press with the laser to form a cohesive punch/laser combo. This combination, supported by automated loading, unloading, and part handling, has now become a central facet of Ometek’s cutting strategy.

Ometek’s journey started with manual processes in the 1990s and progressively embraced CO₂ lasers in the 2000s. The allure of minimal setup time and flexible nesting for superior material utilization propelled their shift. This adaptation was instrumental in addressing the evolving demands of customers who preferred smaller-quantity deliveries.

Click here to learn more about American Metal Fab’s innovative approaches in metal fabrication.

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