The cut and thrust of flatbed cutting

The Bullmer Premiumcut single ply cutter with inkjet printer
The Bullmer Premiumcut single ply cutter with inkjet printer

In a Q&A session, Composites in Manufacturing hears from leading flatbed cutting machine specialists, Assyst Bullmer to see how the company stays at the forefront of a competitive industry.

Bullmer says it is constantly striving for new innovations and improvements. Recently, the company introduced its latest development in automatic cutting: the Procut R90 cutting machine.

This multiple cutter can cut material whilst it is being advanced down the table. Traditional cutters will usually advance the material down the bed and once in position, begin cutting. Bullmer’s state-of-the-art cutting machine eliminates this process, allowing for a more constant workflow and speeding up the cutting process by cutting the material whilst it is being moved down the conveyor.

Q) Firstly, what are the types of demands placed on your company by today’s customers?

Customers are looking for a machine which is competitively priced whilst providing the high levels of performance and quality. Our machines are positioned just so. We are proud to provide the highest quality of machine in terms of build and expertise whilst ensuring that we remain in touch with our customers’ expectations in terms of price.

In our market, the aftersales support is key as many manufacturing processes rely on our cutters to ensure the workflow of the production line. It’s therefore a key element that we provide the best engineering support to our customers, whether it be over the phone, remotely logging onto the machine, or physically being onsite.

Q) What is driving flatbed cutting machine technology?

When looking for an automated cutting solution, our customers want to minimise waste and move away from labour intensive manual cutting. They are also looking for a quality machine that they can rely on, and one that will allow them to increase capacity, cut their pieces quickly and accurately - helping them achieve high outputs and enabling them to drive their business forward.

Q) Tell me something about the flatbed cutter machines you supply?

Our machines cut carbon fibre prepreg, glass fibre, Kevlar and honeycomb. We use OptiTex software which allows our customers to create, digitise and import their patterns. They can then insert these shapes and the algorithm will find the most efficient nest. In some cases, customers have saved up to 20% when compared to more traditional methods of cutting. One key element of our CAD software is that once you purchase it, the software is yours - there is no licensing fee or annual payments to be made.

In terms of after-sales support and machine training provisions, we provide after sales support from our offices in West Yorkshire. We have a team of engineers who travel to customers sites across the UK and Ireland, our engineers will also conduct any cutter or CAD training that is required.

Q) Do you get involved in supplying automated roll feeding of material equipment to the machine’s bed?

We have a wide variety of unwinding devices available and the choice of which product to go for depends on several factors, such as material characteristics, i.e. material stretch, how slippery the material is, and material weight and thickness. All these variables mean that customers rely on our expertise and experience to recommend a product to suit their needs.

We have fully-automated material handling systems, such as the Transroll system, which will automatically select the required material from a rack of ten and then queue the next job.

Q) Finally, what differentiates your company from the competition?

We pride ourselves on the service and expertise our customers have come to rely upon. We are working extensively with companies like Solvay to develop fully-automated production lines with the use of robotics to pick and place cut pieces from the cutter to speed up the production of carbon fibre components even further.

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