Friday, January 6, 2017


               CO2 or Fiber? Which laser is “better”? The new fiber laser technology has caught fire since its recent release into the laser cutting market just a few years ago and has really gotten everyone’s attention. With almost all lasers being CO2 prior to this release, the fiber laser has already taken a massive chunk out of the CO2 market in the recent 5 – 7 years it has been around.

                For a customer who is in the market for a laser, how do they determine which is a better fit for them? Most customers would most likely fall into one of these two categories:

·         This is my first laser purchase and am new to the laser cutting industry.
·         I already have a CO2 laser but am currently looking to upgrade.

In either scenario, the questions to ask yourself would be:

·         What type and how thick is the material we will be cutting?
·         How much production do we have for the machine?

Here are a few pros and cons to having a CO2 and Fiber laser:

CO2 Pros:
·         Initial Investment - You can get into a used CO2 machine at a fraction of the cost of a new Fiber.
·         Availability - Finding a quality, used, CO2 machine will be far easier and much more economical.
·         Thicker Material - CO2 lasers for the most part will outperform cutting thicker material in anything 1/2” and above.

CO2 Cons:

·         Operating Costs - When comparing a new CO2 to a new Fiber, the CO2 machines will consume far more power than the fiber.  There are many more consumables (lenses, optics, etc.) with a CO2 compared to the fiber.
·         Blowers and Vacuum Pumps - Used CO2 resonators will need to have the turbo blower, vacuum pump and optics replaced.  The timing of this is different for each mfg.

Fiber Laser Pros:

·         Speed - Fiber lasers can cut thinner material up to 400% faster than a CO2 Laser.
·         Reflective material - No Problem! You can cut Aluminum, copper, and Brass with ease.
·         Operating Costs - No need to worry about Consumables, Gases, Optics, and Mirrors because a Fiber Laser doesn’t require them. This translates into Low maintenance cost.
·         Lower Maintenance/Rebuild Costs - CO2 average maintenance is every 12k-48k hours (depending on machine) and can run about $12k-$50k (depending on machine). With a Fiber Laser it’s close to 100,000 hours and at a fraction of the cost.
·         Power Consumption - The power usage for a Fiber Laser is about half of what you would expect from a CO2.
Fiber Laser Cons:

·         Initial Investment – There are very few used fiber machines available and if you find on the price will still be quite high.  A new Fiber Laser is $400K and up depending on the brand, sheet size and power supply size.   
·         Newer Technology - Beware the first-generation Fiber optics due to the fact the technology was new and there were still many issues being worked out.
In conclusion, determining which type of laser is the better fit will depend heavily on what stage you are in as a laser cutting facility.  A start up may be better off finding a 10 – 15-year-old CO2 machine whereas the shop with lots of production and internal laser knowledge/experience may be able to justify a new Fiber Laser.  The harder decision will be for the shops who already have a CO2 laser and are looking to upgrade.  Our recommendation would be that if you looking to go new, go with a fiber and not a CO2.  The CO2 will probably be the better option only if you are looking to go used. 

                Hope this helped. For any questions on any new or used laser options, feel free to give us a call at the office anytime at 714-545-0940.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Confidence in Buying

          It isn’t easy buying something that you have never physically felt or seen, let alone trusting someone you have never even spoken to in the past. For all you know, you could be speaking to someone in a different part of the world representing a machine they found through a quick Google search. So how can you possibly find the confidence in buying something, especially in the used machinery industry where a machine can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars?
          The first thing you may want to verify is that the machine is indeed real and for sale. Believe it or not, there have been several cases where buyers have been scammed by scam artists who claim to be dealers with a bogus website and email address. If you cannot get someone one the phone to speak with you, that person is not worth doing business with.
          Once you get that verified, the next thing you will want to do is confirm the machines condition. The most common and recommended way to do this would be to have the customer go in themselves or send someone they trust to go in for a physical inspection. Often times they will be accompanied by a service tech that can go through the machine with them while they are on-site. This would ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding condition and expectations to what they are buying.  
          However, it is very common to be in a situation where either the customer is too far geographically or where traveling just doesn’t fit the schedule; in which case, other measurements would have to be taken to go about inspecting. The most common solution would be to have the working dealer appoint you a certified tech local to that area. The service tech would then go in and report back with a detailed service report as well as a video of the machine in operation. If you would rather hire your own personnel to go in, that would work just as well too. One thing to keep in mind is, that even when you are buying something ‘As-Is-Where-Is’, it is always in your best interest to have someone take a look at it anyway prior completing the transaction.

          The key points to take from all this is: 1) verify the machine is real and for sale 2) physically go in yourselves or with your service tech to do the inspection, and 3) if you cannot be there, have your working dealer set you up with a tech local to that area or hire someone you feel you can trust to do the inspection for you. We, here at Manufacturing Solutions, are here to help so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call us. 


Thursday, May 1, 2014

What Does the 30 Day MDNA Warranty Mean?

             The Machinery Dealers National Association (MDNA) is an industry group made up of Machinery and Equipment Dealers from around the world.  It was created in order to give its members a platform to support, educate and inform one another about changes in the industry, advancements in technology and equipment as well as a forum to meet and network with each other.  Through this 'network' most dealers know each other or know someone who knows a particular individual.  This can be extremely advantageous when a buyer of equipment is trying to find out more about dealer or company's reputation.  In today's fast moving market place it is not uncommon for someone to buy a machine they have never seen from a dealer they have never met.  Due to that I always encourage buyers to check with a dealer they know about one they don't.

            Most dealers that we know and come into contact with pride themselves on being thorough and do their best to know the running condition and functionality of the machines they buy and sell.  There are occasions, however, when an issue is missed during an inspection.  If this is the case, a reputable dealer will usually work with the buyer to resolve the issue unless that machine was sold "as is, where is" or in the case of an inspection, "as inspected".  When not sold under these parameters a machine may be sold with a "30 Day MDNA Repair/Return Privilege"; this is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "30 Day Warranty".  It was designed in order to protect a buyer from an unscrupulous seller or from the gross misrepresentation of a machine or its condition.  The actual verbiage from the MDNA is below:

                *Accept within 30 days from shipment any machinery and equipment sold with return privilege, freight prepaid, for refund of the purchase price if proven mechanically unsatisfactory; or repair at dealer's option.

            I have found that many times someone has bought a machine with this condition applied to the sale who thinks that the selling dealer is supposed to cover anything that breaks on the machine within the first 30 days - this is not the case.  In actuality it gives the buyer up to 30 days in which to determine whether or not the machine that bought is as represented; if it is not, the selling dealer can fix whatever needs to be repaired in order to get the machine to the condition as represented or take the machine back for a refund.  This repair/return option is the seller's (not the buyer's) and the buyer is responsible to pay the freight back to the dealer's warehouse or location that they designate.  In theory, I believe that in most cases a buyer should know if a machine is in the condition it was represented to be within 2 - 3 days after putting power to it and getting it into production.

            In summary, this mechanism should give most buyers a certain level of comfort but the best way to purchase used equipment is to have it inspected by you, one of your team or a service tech that you know and trust.  As always, if you have any questions regarding the above or we can help you in any way please give us a call!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Moving and Relocating Machinery and Equipment

The equipment used in today’s manufacturing environments is usually computerized, sophisticated and expensive.  It is extremely important to make certain the equipment is properly disconnected, prepped and blocked prior to shipping.  If this is not done correctly it can cost you thousands, or in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.  In a worst case scenario, the damage can be so bad as to be a total loss that has to be scrapped.

CNC Equipment is made up of turrets, tables and head stocks that all travel on ways and ball screws; in most situations these are so perfectly fitted that a 500 lb. turret can be easily moved by hand with a turn of the ballscrew.  Due to this fact it is imperative to secure the axes prior to shipping – if you do not, you may end up with a table or turret that and slams from one end of the machine to the other as it travels down the road on the back of a truck for 2,000 miles.  This can damage, bearings, ballscrews, motors and castings.

Spending a few hundred dollars on the front end to make certain a machine is properly prepped may save you tens or hundreds of times that on the back end.  Below is a checklist that we like to use to make certain that a machine will show up in the same condition it left:

·         All coolant has to be drained prior to loading.  If not your trucker will not (and cannot) take it over the road.
·         The machine axes should be blocked.  In the best situation you will have the original shipping brackets from the manufacturer; if not a tech will sometimes be able to fabricate something.  If this is not possible the most common methods that we see is the use of wood blocks, zip ties and/or nylon straps.  The key is to find a good sturdy way of securing the tables, headstock and turrets on the equipment.
**Whenever blocking a spindle DO NOT put the block directly under the spindle bearings, this puts undue pressure on the bearings and can damage or destroy them.
·         We recommend placing cardboard or bubble wrap in front of the CRT and control panel for protection and then shrink wrapping in place.  Whenever possible, it is advisable to shrink wrap the entire machine to protect it from tarp damage (the nicer and newer the machine the more important this step may be)
·         Box up all manuals, books, keys, spare parts and additional tooling together so that it is in one place and travels together with the machine.
·         Only ship CNC machinery on Air-Ride Trailers!!!  This is a must.
·         Confirm that your trucking company will be tarping the machinery.  There is usually a $75 - $150 tarping charge but it is money well spent. 
**We had a friend that shipped a 5 axis router from Washington State to Minnesota in the dead of winter.  The trucker did not tarp the machine and turned a $150,000 ‘state of the art’ piece of equipment into a $2500 pile of scrap metal.  

If you have any questions on the above or we can assist you in any way please do not hesitate to contact us.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mechanical vs. Hydraulic Shears

The shear is one of the most fundamental machines in nearly every machine shop, designed specifically to effectively and efficiently cut material, both thick and thin in a quick and timely manner. Like scissors, or any other shearing tool, the metal shear is comprised of two blades; one on the lower end that is attached firmly on the stationary table, and one on the upper end that is attached to the moving ram. This ram can either be driven in several ways, but the two most commonly used are either mechanical or hydraulic.

Hydraulic shears are driven by a motor and pump that has oil pumped into various hydraulic valves and cylinders that ultimately allow the ram to move. The hydraulic system allows for more operator control, as you can adjust the speed and stroke of the machine to cut accordingly, depending on size and thickness of the material. Also, since the blade on hydraulic shears is driven by the two cylinders on each side of the ram, operators are given a bigger advantage for rake adjustment. By increasing the rake angles of the blades, thicker material can be handled and the capacity of the shear can be effectively increased.

Mechanical shears on the other hand are driven by an eccentric, which is triggered by a flywheel clutch combination. This system allows the machine to be more rigid and have a faster ram cycle than the hydraulic machine. However, unlike the hydraulic shears, the mechanical shears offer less operator control and overload protection as they typically cycle all the way through. This type of shear is more advantageous in shops doing higher production and consistently cutting similar parts.

In summation, whether you go with a mechanical or hydraulic shear will ultimately be on preference.  However, if you are a shop looking for high production and speed, it is probably best you look into a mechanical machine. From what we have noticed, a hydraulic ¼” x 10’ shear seems to be the most commonly desired machine – you should be able to find one for around $20 – $25k, whereas a later model mechanical shear might cost you a bit more money. If we could assist in your search, or help answer any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us.

Friday, January 31, 2014

‘Warranties’ or ‘Guarantees’ When Buying Used Machinery

When buying used machinery from a reputable dealer of equipment there a few terms of the sale regarding the ‘Warranties’ or ‘Guarantees’, that are worth discussing.  You want to make certain that the dealer is clear with you and you fully understand each other’s expectations in regard to this aspect of the sale/purchase.  Essentially you are defining who is responsible for what cost and expenses should there be a problem.  Below are the most common ways in which we see machinery sold:

  1.  “Sold as is, Where is” – this implies that the machine tool is sold on site with no guarantees or warranties.  In this instance it is always best to confirm as much about the machine tool as possible as ALL the risk regarding condition and operation of the machine are on the buyer.
  2. “Sold with a Startup Guarantee” – the machine is being represented to work and function properly when it is set into place at the buyer’s facility.  The selling dealer is stating that if there is a problem with the machine he will take care of having it fixed properly.  I would recommend language that states machine is represented to be ‘fully functional and operational”.
  3.  “Sold with a Return Privilege” – buyer can send the machine back if it is found to be mechanically unsatisfactory.  In this instance the machine needs to have a problem in order to have a dealer take it back; they will not take a machine back because the job went away or you found a better deal on a similar machine.
  4.  “Sold with a 30 Day MDNA Repair/Return Guarantee” – this is available when buying from an MDNA dealer.  This was created by the MDNA in order to give a buyer some recourse should they feel a machine they bought was misrepresented.  With this particular guarantee, if a machine is found to be unsatisfactory (not working as promised) the selling dealer can repair it or take it back and give the buyer a full refund of his purchase price.  One caveat is that before the money is refunded, the buyer has to ship the machine tool back to the seller.

Some points to remember in purchasing used equipment are:
  • Know who you are dealing with; the guarantee is only as good as the company or individual behind it.  If you are buying something from someone you have not dealt with before ask about them from someone you have.  A good and trustworthy machine tool dealer will be happy to help you even when you are not making a purchase from them.
  • Be as clear as possible in your expectations of the transaction and make sure you understand the seller’s as well.  Get as much of that in writing (either via email or on the invoice) as possible. 

Good luck and if we can assist you with clarification on any of the above please do not hesitate to contact us.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Machinery Inspections

The best way to purchase a used piece of machinery is to see it under power and in use.  This is not always possible due the fact that many times it has been moved from the facility where it was making parts and into storage somewhere.  If you are working with a reputable dealer they will typically offer you two solutions to this problem:
  1. They will arrange to hook up the machine to power and to run it in order to demonstrate that it is fully functional and in good working condition.  This will tell you 90% of what you need to know about a machine’s condition.  You can check spindle runout, backlash compensation and listen to all of the axes for thrust bearing issues (listen to these in full rapid mode).
  2. They will guarantee the machine to be in good operating condition and fully functional.  This is the case many times when a machine has multiple parts and is too costly to hookup (ie. a laser or waterjet).  This arrangement is fine as long as you know that you are dealing with a reputable dealer.  The guarantee is only as good as the dealer making it!

A word of warning on buying machinery that has been pushed into the corner of a shop and not run for months or years – DO NOT buy it unless you are purchasing it at a substantial reduction off market price.  In my experience whenever I have purchased a machine that “was running a couple months ago” there have always been problems in getting that machine up and running.  From missing boards to lost parameters there will be unforeseen costs that you will incur in putting the equipment back into production.

Please feel free to call us at anytime if you have questions regarding any of the above.  We are always happy to help….free of charge and with no strings attached.  714-545-0940