The great social and economic changes due to the introduction of machine and power tools and large-scale industrial production began in 1760. Through the first 70 years of this century, the US was the industrial giant of the world. In 1960 the words “Made in Japan” was thought to be a joke. By 1980, those same words had become the standard for manufacturing. In 1985, U.S. manufacturing was in a deep laser scoring depression. Products were too costly, of poor quality and not innovative enough.
Now, again, America is ranked No. 1 in manufacturing (World Competitiveness Report, 1996).
America’s No. 1 standing is primarily due to the manufacturing revolution that has been under way since 1985. This quiet revolution is built on the unsurpassed innovative spirit of the American people. Innovation is one of the qualities upon which America is founded. American manufactures are the world’s leading innovators. The right combination of technology and people is a good foundation for any company. These technologies are leading to a major new phenomenon: mass customization, which is the ability to customize products literally in quantities as small as one, while producing them at mass-production speeds. Mass customization in the Information Age is replacing the mass-production model of the Industrial laser perforation Age.
The ultimate outcome will be simultaneous manufacturing. Here, even as the customer is giving the order, the product starts to be manufactured. It may seem like a fairy tale, but the time is fast approaching when a customer will stand at a retailers fitting room, download their personal measurements into a computer, choose the pattern and variety of material wanted for their clothing and before they leave the outlet their order is in production. Now that’s a truly empowered customer!
Over the past few years, there have been a number of articles written on lasers. Each author lists applications as it relates specifically to their area of expertise. However, what EdgeWISE Tools would like to do in this article is to stimulate you to visualize all the different ways you can use a laser to produce a variety of products. Let your imagination go. Don’t fear the unknown. Those that can see the future have the greatest opportunity to succeed beyond their wildest dreams. “Carpe Diem” – seize the moment!
Why use a Laser?
In 1985, thermal contact cutting tools were developed for roll feed plotters. The “Hot Tip” became the first large format cutting system introduced to the sign industry. This process became the corner stone that most plotter manufactures built on. Through evolution, the cutting hardware has changed and significant strides have been achieved. We have seen progressive steps taken to where technology is today.
Most old manufacturing technology uses contact cutting tools; where the tool actually contacts the surface, it is meant to cut. The cutting tools must be re-sharpened or replace often and as the tool wears out the quality is compromised. This antiquated method has become an additional source of income for the manufactures because they now get to market one or more consumable tools. Contact manufacturing with all its additional costs can now be replaced with a more economical solution.