Tube lasers are incredible pieces of machinery. They’re fast, precise, and can handle a wide range of materials, including round, square or rectangular tubes, flat stock, I-beam, angle iron, extrusions, and more. However, these machines can be costly and unjustifiable if you don’t have the volume to keep it running all day. Those looking for a cost-effective machine that can process tubes and other long materials should look to the FlexCNC (Long bed vertical machining center), an affordable tube laser alternative.
Tube Laser Benefits
First, let’s discuss the benefits of a tube laser.
•Versatile – Tube lasers can be used for more than simple vertical cuts. These machines can handle several processes such as angle cutting, slotting, marking, notching, beveling, and hole cutting.
•Speed – Tube lasers are incredibly fast. There is no other machine that can match the processing rate of a laser.
•Ability to Cut Any Contour – Tube lasers can quickly cut any contour regardless of how intricate it is.
•No Tool Changes – Tube lasers require no additional tools, saving time and money.
•Limited Material Handling – A tube laser system has an automatic tube loader that receives a bundle of raw material, separates individual tubes, and delivers them to the rotary chuck.
While a tube laser provides the user with many benefits, it still has drawbacks, including price, versatility, material restrictions, and dimensional restrictions. The FlexCNC, on the other hand, is an affordable alternative that can do just about anything a tube laser can do with greater versatility.
The Tube Laser Alternative Solution
What makes the FlexCNC a viable option when looking for an affordable tube laser alternative?
• Price – Tube lasers are costly and only make sense for businesses that need high-volume production. The FlexCNC is much more affordable and can be up to 10 times less expensive. With a starting price of $145,995, the FlexCNC comes in at a much lower cost than some of the more popular tube laser brands.
• Maximum Diameter Limitations – Tube lasers have a maximum diameter allowance. Some models have a maximum diameter of only 6″ while other models can handle over 20″, but as the maximum diameter goes up, so does the price. FlexCNC handles diameters larger than what’s currently available on the market. Additionally, the machine is customizable to fit the required diameter needed for the job.
• Material Thickness Limitations – Tube lasers are limited in the thickness of material it can cut through. The majority of machines on the market can only cut through a maximum thickness of under a half-inch. Tube lasers with higher-powered kW lasers can handle more, but those are more costly. Because the FlexCNC is a CNC machine, tooling is the only limitation when it comes to material thickness.
• Restricted Versatility – Tube lasers are versatile for long and lean profiles, but that’s just about it. The FlexCNC, however, can process the same profiles and more. If you need to machine plates, weldments, or large diameter pipes, the FlexCNC can handle it.
What Can the FlexCNC Do?
The FlexCNC can do just about everything a tube laser can do and more. It can drill, mill, tap, and bevel all in one setup. The optional 4th-axis reduces material handling time by indexing the material to reach every side of the pipe or tube. The FlexCNC is also more versatile. Let’s say a company machines square tube, but they also machine large plates. They could utilize the same machine to process both parts simultaneously using Pendulum Mode. Pendulum Mode is beneficial because it allows the spindle to run continuously. The square tube could be set up at one end of the bed, and the large plate could be set up at the other end of the bed. While the machine is processing the square tube, and an operator can fixture up the next piece of sheet and vice versa. Read more about Pendulum Mode here. Additionally, the FlexCNC offers extended bed sizes to meet the needs of the customer. The machine beds start at 10ft. but are customizable to reach 80ft. in length.
Customer Success Story
Flex Machine Tools is there to provide a cost-effective solution for processing pipes and tubes when a tube laser is out of the question. Felker Bros. Corp out of Marshfield, Wisconsin, turned to FlexCNC when they were looking for a faster solution to process stainless steel pipes. While a tube laser would have fit their needs, it was far too costly for their workload, and a plasma machine didn’t provide the needed quality. The FlexCNC allowed Felker Bros. to eliminate manual processing, saving time, increasing their productivity and accuracy while staying on budget. Read the whole story here.
Is FlexCNC the fastest option? Maybe not, but when it comes to price and versatility, you can’t beat what the FlexCNC offers. If you’re looking for a tube or pipe processing machine that won’t break the bank, contact us or give us a call at 800-837-2503 for more information on the FlexCNC.