Stainless Steel Fabricator Upgrades to Fiber Laser Technology

Custom Kitchen Fabricator invests in a Mazak fiber laser-cutting machine for their custom stainless steel fabrication services.  

Custom Kitchen Fabricator (CKF), based out of Venus, Texas, is a custom stainless steel manufacturer with commercial and residential clients. From hot dog carts to outdoor kitchens and even custom build sinks, CKF can work from your specifications or help you with your own drawings. Their motto is, “if you want it in stainless, we can do it,” and they can, with over 25 years of custom fabricating experience.  

Diversifying to Single Process Equipment

CKF was looking ahead and wanted to move to the next level of custom fabricating. Along with the limited skill workers coming up in the fabrication industry, CKF wanted a more capable machine with higher throughput. Jimmy LeBeau, President and Owner of Custom Kitchen Fabricator, stated, "To make up for the difficulty of finding skilled workers, we realized that we had to diversify the type of equipment that we were using.” These factors lead them to search for technology that fits their custom fabrication needs.

Custom Kitchen Fabricator was considering a CNC punch and other fabricating technologies but discovered fiber laser machines. “Compared to a plasma cutter, a waterjet or even an older style laser cutter, a fiber laser requires less maintenance, cuts faster and offers longer running times,” explained LeBeau. With the laser’s high-speed cutting and no tooling, they realized it was a better solution.

CKF was previously shearing everything. The shear had many limitations since it can only cut right angles. If there was something beyond a right angle, it was a multi-step process. CKF would need to do a second step by using a notcher or a single hole punch for any additional metal cutting features.

CKF works primarily with stainless steel starting at 14 gauge and up to 3/8”. With that in mind, the OPTIPLEX CHAMPION 3015 FIBER fits the bill for their fabricating needs. “It was the right machine for the right price and it did what we were looking for,” explained LeBeau. The features, benefits, and cost of the OPTIPLEX CHAMPION FIBER were the perfect fit for CKF.

Since Custom Kitchen Fabricator works primarily with stainless steel, the OPTIPLEX CHAMPION 3015 FIBER 3kW is ideal due to the limited change in materials for consistent setup on the machine. This economical production machine is optimal for low material variation environments. This Mazak OPTIPLEX CHAMPION 3015 FIBER laser machine is designed for thinner gauge material as it is available in 2kW and 3kW generator configurations.

Faster with Fiber Laser-cutting 

Since implementing their new fiber laser-cutting machine, CKF has been able to utilize material sheets more effectively by having all the parts nested at one time on one sheet. The laser-cut parts have a premiere, smooth edge quality which has eliminated the need to do a secondary process of grinding. CKF is now also able to etch directly on the sheet metal material which was not possible before. This new capability helps advance their press brake bending by laser etching lines during cutting. LeBeau explains, “When the press brake operators can rely on the bend lines that have been etched into the sheet metal, the fit-up for the welders is much better.” Custom Kitchen Fabricator also uses the Mazak laser's capability to etch their logo onto their parts for added branding. 

Previously with their shear, CKF would have a week of cutting parts to be ready for assembly. Now, with the laser, CKF is able to do all of the cutting in less than a day. “Time is money and it saves us both,” explained LeBeau. The OPTIPLEX CHAMPION 3015 FIBER allows for faster production, advanced parts geometry and also better material utilization with less scrap.

CKF is new to laser technology and has been able to learn the laser machine’s capabilities through Mazak’s hands-on training and attentive service team. “I’ve been pretty impressed with the customer service,” LeBeau says. “If we have a problem or don’t understand something, Mazak walks us through it over the phone. ... It’s been a learning experience for all of us, and it’s been really great.”

By eliminating their multi-step process and implementing their Mazak fiber laser, Custom Kitchen Fabricator has improved their fabricating processes along with saving time and money.

Full article was written by Abbe Miller and published in the July/August issue of Shop Floor Lasers. 

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About Mazak Optonics Corporation

Mazak Optonics Corporation is a major supplier of laser-cutting systems, offering 50 laser models and leading the industry in the implementation of emerging laser technologies. The company’s 50,000 sq. ft. North American Headquarters are located in Elgin, Illinois, and feature a 30,000 sq. ft. laser technology center housing up to 18 machines for demonstrations and training. Mazak Optonics is part of Yamazaki Mazak Corporation (Oguchi, Japan), the global leader for the manufacture of machine tools and systems for the precision machining of metal parts, including CNC turning centers, horizontal and vertical machining centers, Multi-Tasking machining centers, turnkey cells and software solutions. The North American Headquarters for Yamazaki Mazak are located in Florence, Kentucky. For more information on Mazak Optonics’ products and solutions, visit www.mazakoptonics.com, email sales@mazaklaser.com or call 847.252.4500.