Robots are widely regarded as irreplaceable when it comes to welding preparation and bevel cutting on already cut parts. However, MicroStep has designed an alternative, which has seriously shaken the robotics industry in this regard. This innovative technology is called ABP – Additional Beveling Process and it allows very precise additional beveling with the use of our CNC cutting machines.

Weld preparation is a standard procedure for cutting parts in many areas of the fabrication industry. Manufacturers of machinery and fabricators for power plants, turbines, pumps, mining equipment and structural fabrication and others, often work with heavy gauge steel. It is technologically impossible to cut these thick parts in-situ with bevel cutting, as the chosen technology is limited to the thickness it can cut. When in-situ bevel cutting is done, it can lead to a significant wastage of material.

Weld Preparation | MicroStep South Africa

Alternatives to Conventional Bevel Cutting

In the case of heavy gauge thicknesses, the preparation of bevelled parts has traditionally been a two-stage process. First, the desired contour is cut with a conventional cutting machine with a straight head, for example: by plasma or oxyfuel. The cut part is then moved to another workplace, where it is processed by a robot, a quickie or manual process, which will bevel to the contour in preparation for a subsequent welding process.

The MicroStep Group identified an opportunity in the market and based on past experiences in bevel cutting and process control, developed a technology that includes laser part scanning along with software tools that enable the programming of additional beveling on parts. The process is called ABP – Additional beveling process. When it comes to efficiency and quality the ABP process has proven in various situations to be superior to the standard two-stage process.

Additional beveling process ABP — weld edge preparation on pre cut parts

Weld Preparation | MicroStep South Africa

ABP: A laser scanner that opens up new possibilities

To allow a MicroStep machine to implement the additional beveling function, the machine must be equipped with one of MicroStep’s bevel cutting heads and an additional laser scanner unit. The unit is attached to the bevel head. The process is applied as follows: first, a 2D drawing of the pre-cut part is imported into the AsperWin MicroStep CAM software®. The machine operator defines the bevels required in the easy-to-use AsperWin interface. The system generates an additional bevel cutting program. To find the exact position of the part on the cutting table, the machine will use the ABP scanner. During the scanning process, the actual contour of the part is compared to its ideal drawing shape and if small differences are detected (a real part is almost never completely accurate), the system will align the cutting program with the actual shape to achieve the most accurate cutting results, possible. Once the starting point is verified, the cutting process begins. The system can make bevel cuts in V, Y, X and K (so for K and X cuts the part must be rotated and scanned again after the first phase of the cut is completed). Obviously, the technology allows scanning and processing parts manufactured with completely different technologies; for example, thick parts cut with oxyfuel can then be beveled with plasma, or pre-cut plasma parts can be cut with ABP on a fiberlaser. Thanks to MicroStep’s unified concept of bevel cutting equipment and easy configuration through patented ACTG® technology, the ABP process is fast, reliable and easily applicable to all cutting technologies: plasma, laser, oxyfuel and waterjet.

The new process provides significant advantages

Compared to the additional processing of pre-cut parts with a robot, ABP technology offers several clear advantages: the entire process (additional cutting 2D and beveling) can be done with the same machine: this saves production space and handling time. In addition, the cost of adding a laser scanner to a MicroStep cutting machine is significantly less than investing in a dedicated and separate robotic workplace. Also, the cutting results that can be achieved with a CNC high- definition plasma cutting machine, or fiberlaser, oxyfuel or waterjet cutting machine are far more accurate due to the increased rigidity and dynamics of the cutting machine.

Programming time is much faster than robotic programming.

Also, arbitrary shapes that have no CAD drawing, can be scanned in and with any given CAD programme, be re-drawn and in so doing, generate a very speedy and reliable DXF.

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