Hi-Tech Metals gets cutting edge technology

Now one of New Zealand’s leading laser cutting companies with the introduction of the 12kw Bystronic fiber laser.

The Hi-Tech Metals warehouse is spacious and tidy. Racking is neatly stacked down the centre and an array of machines line the walls.

Filling one side of the room is something that looks at first to be out of place. A new colour scheme to a largely red and black layout. To the uneducated eye it appears a bit like a high-speed bullet train. It’s not though, it’s their latest piece of high-tech equipment – the 12 kilowatt ByStar 3015 Fiber Laser from Bystronic.

Edan and Michelle Newell have run Hi-Tech Metals for almost 15 years now and previously have only purchased machines under the Amada brand. However, with technology developing at rapid speeds, the high-powered piece of technology is the very best on the market.

Last year, the pair travelled to Switzerland and took a tour of the Bystronic factory. Impressed by what they saw, the philosophies of the company and the workmanship, they decided that to keep ahead of the game they would need to buy something new to the market that no-one else had.

With this, they became the proud owners of the first ever 12kw Bystronic laser machine in New Zealand.

“We have a massive loyalty and a great history with our previous supplier but the laser cutting technology is evolving so quickly. Top manufacturers are getting out of phase as they leapfrog each other and timing is now so important when purchasing new equipment,” says Edan.

“Even just a few years ago, technology was developing at a much slower pace. A machine would last a good few years in a company before needing to be upgraded.

“Power is taking leaps and bounds,” he says. “For the first five or six-years of fiber laser technology, a range of companies only produced 4-5 kw fiber lasers and they stayed like that for so long. Then all of a sudden they’ve jumped up to 6kw, 8kw, 10kw, 12kw and even 16 and 20 with talk of 30kw machines. The development side of the industry is just intensifying so much.”

“Some suppliers will rush machines into production and others will take their time. Because of the short time frames and the leaps in technology, they are getting out of sync with each other. What is impressive this month is surpassed by another next month.”

For this reason, Edan and Michelle wanted to get the latest and most powerful laser cutter available so that Hi-Tech could provide faster cutting speeds and offer superior cut quality in the thicker market.

Auckland has an array of laser cutting companies now and last year there was a noticeable number of impressive machines arriving into Auckland. Companies were investing in the new 8-10 kw laser cutters and Edan and Michelle knew that following what others had done just wouldn’t ‘cut’ it.

“There was no point getting another 8-10 kw laser cutter and competing on that level. For us, ever since we started, we have always been fortunate enough to purchase the latest technology.”

It was a big step for the company to branch out to another brand and Edan says the transition has had a steep learning curve.

“Brand loyalty had to step aside for timing and the desire to stay on top at that point in time, rather than waiting for the next best thing. There are some great sheetmetal companies in Auckland and some really smart people. They are all putting in good machines which means that there is an influx of laser cutters coming into Auckland. This new 12kw machine is all about power. It’s harder to compete against 8 and 10kw machines with a 5 or a 6kw. You need to be right up there and buying the exact same machine that other people have doesn’t give you that necessary edge in what is a tight market.”

As well as being significantly more powerful, the new machine is also a new series with a brand-new cutting head which Edan expects to increase production by 20% over the older models.

It has also allowed them to take on new clients and new jobs that they previously couldn’t do.

“That’s another key part of why we bought this machine. We were traditionally a sheet metal company specialising in 5mm and below. While we could process thicker material up to 16mm we were never that efficient at it. We didn’t buy our old machines to get into the plate business. We never wanted to cut 25mm but now you can buy a machine that’s fast, has made a big improvement in the thinner market but also has huge capabilities in the thicker market too.

“Now we can do jobs we’ve never been able to look at before which gives us the opportunity to service both ends of the market – customers who require thicker parts cut accurately.”

The machine also allows for ‘lights out’ manufacturing. This automation of the Bystronic ByTrans Extended gives the machine another competitive edge over other companies as the ByTrans can take a pallet of material and process it without needing an operator to be there.

This in turn reduces overhead costs and increases overall processing times which mean Hi-Tech Metals can offer faster turn arounds and more competitive prices.

The advantages of this new 12kw machine will only open up more opportunities for this company that already operates smart. Offering quality laser cut components now up to 25mm, coupled with the most accurate of folded components will keep Hi-Tech Metals ahead of the game.

“We’ve never been one to follow what other people have done. We have always aspired to be different to all the others.” And the new ByStar 12kw does just that.