Laser die manufacturing is a complex process and is based on harmonious synchronisation and a merger of a number of technologies and processes. The most apparent of these technological aspects is the laser itself.
The idea for lasers has been around for almost a century since Einstein established the theoretical possibility for the device in 1917. Still it was the 1950’s before practical experiments in producing lasers began. The progress of lasers was held up for two decades by legal wrangling over patent rights. As a result it was not until the 1970’s that lasers began to see widespread use in a diverse range of industries.
For die cutting and die manufacturing, lasers bring a range of benefits and efficiencies. One of the most important is the relatively straightforward integration of CAD technology with laser cutting devices. Using similar technology to regular tooling machinery, computer aided designs can be easily transposed into the laser cutting equipment to provide a laser cut dieboard quickly, efficiently and accurately.
The laser strength can be varied and “pulsing” is a key feature that has particular relevance in die manufacture. The speed at which the laser runs a cut can also be easily varied. In combination with pulsing this can deliver a greater variety of results to suit a particular end use / application.
The two main die types manufactured using lasers are rotary dies and flatbed dies. But stripping tools and other lasered components / subassemblies are also produced in house at Truform using our 2kw and 2.5kw slab laser systems.
Flatbed dies are used in the manufacture of both Folding Carton and Corrugated Cases while Rotary dies are uses primarily in the manufacture of high volume corrugated cases. Rotary dies, while more complex and hence more expensive to manufacture, can run at higher speeds than flatbed dies and hence return on investment can be higher.
While both types of die are manufactured in principally the same way, not all diemakers do both. At Truform we manufacture both Flat and Rotary dies.
Rule processing and fitting the knives into the rotary die is typically the more involved part of the process. It requires a skilled craftsmen and women to build a die but some of the skills are transferable between flat and rotary dies.
At Truform, we cross-train between the 2 so as to facilitate flexibility within our organisation and support our customers as best we can.