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Revolution in industrial cutting

Source:KATHRYN GERARDINO-ELAGIO, International Metalworking News for Asia June 2017

Date Published:6/13/2017 03:06:38 PM

“It’s More Than Just a Revolution in Plasma. It’s a Revolution in Industrial Cutting.” 

This is the message Hypetherm Asia Pacific aims to convey to the press and their channel partners present during the recent "Meet the New Plasma Media Event" in Singapore.

Plasma cutting systems have been used to cut metal for over 50 years and provide numerous advantages over other cutting methods. But despite the fact that plasma cutting systems have been used in industrial applications for many years, some people are still unaware of its benefits and how it can be an essential productivity enhancing tool.

Among the tell-tale signs that Hypetherm is betting its future on helping shape the world is the launch of XPR300TM and EDGE® Connect. Philip Parker, Product Marketing Manager of Hypetherm Mechanised Plasma Systems Team, and Nathan Pascarella, Product Marketing Manager of Hypetherm Automation flew all the way from New Hampshire, USA to help introduce XPR300 and EDGE Connect CNC, and to leverage these next-generation technologies through discussions and presentations.

XPR300

Philip talked about most significant advance in mechanised plasma cutting with the introduction of an entirely new class of plasma called X-Definition™. This new plasma is available for the first time in a 300 amp plasma system called the XPR300

He emphasised, “The XPR300 has unmatched performance and unbeatable operating cost.” Philip said the X-Definition class plasma combines engineering advances and refined high definition plasma processes to deliver unmatched plasma cut quality on mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminium. Laboratory testing shows ISO-9013 Range 2 cut quality on thin mild steel and extended ISO Range 3 cuts on thicker metals. To reach this point Hypertherm engineers had to develop a number of new patent-pending processes like Vented Water Injection™ (VWI) and plasma dampening, and new vent-to-shield technologies. The end result is squarer cut edges, markedly less angularity, and excellent surface finish on non-ferrous metals like aluminium and stainless steel.

“The arrival of X-Definition Plasma and our new XPR300 is a huge step forward in the capabilities of plasma technology,” said Philip. “The combination of faster cut speeds, unparalleled cut quality, intuitive features, and automatic system monitoring make it our most advanced and productive plasma yet. It really opens up a wide range of opportunities for companies by providing cut quality and consistency that may make it suitable for applications which have previously been associated with laser, but with the much lower initial investment costs associated with plasma,” he added.

Despite being Hypertherm’s most advanced system yet, the XPR300 is easy to use. Sensors in the power supply deliver refined diagnostic codes and significantly enhanced system monitoring information. This reduces troubleshooting time and provides proactive data to improve overall system optimisation and uptime. Additionally, the system is designed with fewer consoles and connections so operators can spend less time setting-up and more time cutting.

For example, an EasyConnect™ feature allows operators to quickly plug the torch lead into the torch connect console without the use of tools, while a patent pending QuickLock™ electrode delivers easy quarter turn tightening to further reduce setup time. Another new design feature is a quick change torch that enables an operator to rapidly change torches with just one hand. All consoles feature advanced autogas capability allowing operators to select and implement cutting jobs directly from the CNC, along with Wi-Fi in the power supply to enable system, or even multiple system, monitoring from afar.

EDGE Connect CNC

According to Nathan, the EDGE Connect is the latest CNC designed and built by Hypetherm. This exciting new product combines ease of use and reliability features into the three new hardware configurations powered by Phoenix® software, the EDGE Connect provides end users with the performance features they need and channel partners with flexibility for installation and integration.

“Our customers wanted greater functionality integrated into their cutting machines coupled with our embedded expertise. EDGE Connect delivers that through our new software applications running on this new hardware platform,” he said.

Nathan added, “The EDGE Connect offers greater flexibility for machine operators with ProNest CNC, a feature that allows SureCut outcomes to be programmed quickly and efficiently from the touchscreen interface. It is a great complement to our offline CAM software, providing a solution when offline CAM programming might not be available.”

Cutting machine customisation is further enhanced by quick and easy set up through an EtherCAT communication platform and custom software configuration that allows for up to 12 axes through an online configurator. The hardware platform is the foundation and software selections enable any EDGE Connect to be set for various cutting applications. Furthermore, cutting machine manufacturers can develop their own operator consoles and auxiliary programs using the Soft Op Con API and PLC Connect.

Creativity and innovation

One of the more interesting takeaways during the media event is Israel Gonzales, Regional Director, Hypetherm Asia Pacific sharing about the company’s vision. He said, “Hypetherm’s vision is to be the agent of innovation in industrial cutting operations globally, working together as a company of owners to make positive change, create shared value and bring out the full potential of every associate.”

The company aims to be recognised beyond plasma, metal, 2D, and cutting systems & consumables. They want to be known as a company that provide the full value stream, including upstream and downstream; not just products and not just at time of sale, rather a trusted adviser and service partner over the full product/customer life cycle.

Israel believes that “The Human Touch Matters!” The company’s overall objectives are: high performance, access and fast delivery, reduce operating costs, high uptime, optimise total cutting value stream, provide training, make purchasing easy, keep me informed, and objective advice on technology.

“Quantify the relative importance of each of the nine services crucial to the customer experience, and understand the relative size of the gap between what the end user desires and what is actually being delivered by Hypetherm and our partners, today on a global scale,” he said.

Finally, Lester Lee, Regional Marketing Manager, Hypetherm Asia Pacific, shared two strategies for creating competitive advantage: 1) Cost Leadership- a cost leader is where the company has decided to create the cheapest product on the market. This strategy requires the product to be commoditised and take advantage of the economies of large scale. 2) Differentiation- The differentiation strategy is where we decide to choose a certain attribute of our business offering to focus on. In order to make this strategy work you have to select an attribute that a big enough section of the market care about enough in order to pay a premium price for your product. 

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