Fabricator automates tube cutting to drive productivity
The company and products
Natural Structures fabricates “fun and excitement,” producing aquatic recreation products such as children’s water slides and splash parks. Located in Baker City, Oregon, the company produces projects for clients throughout the United States and Canada, and also serves a growing international market.
As Natural Structures’ business grew, they found that many of their new clients were demanding tighter tolerance requirements especially when tube cutting. Rather than a sixteenth of an inch, they needed to go down to a few thousandths of an inch on a repeatable basis. Co-owners Jodie and Ted Hausotter knew this meant eliminating hand cutting of round pipe and becoming more efficient and productive.
Working through a local machinery reseller, the company evaluated their cut process options and eventually settled on plasma due to its combination of speed and cut quality over a range of material types and thicknesses. They chose a high precision plasma table with both flat plate and rotary axis tube cutting capabilities. This table, incorporating Hypertherm’s EDGE® Connect CNC and HyPerformance® HPR400XD® plasma system, is programmed with Hypertherm CAM software using ProNest® for plate nesting and Rotary Tube Pro™ for automated pipe and tube cutting. “If you want to create production quantities of tube parts, Rotary Tube Pro enables it,” explained Production Supervisor, Percy Dickerson, “we use it all the time.”
Since implementing the new system, Natural Structures has experienced a significant improvement in their ability to process plate, tube, and pipe jobs, at a higher level of detail than was previously possible. Jodie says, “We can now process work faster and to tighter tolerances, and the Rotary Tube Pro software makes it easy to program tube jobs with intersections, delivering great fit-up.”
Percy adds, “We have a lot of uses for Rotary Tube Pro, including plasma etching for layout marks. Now, one fitter can keep up with three welders, which is pretty significant.” He says that True Hole® technology has also added a significant boost to productivity. “We used to use an ironworker to punch holes then finish them with a small hand grinder. But by using the automated True Hole® process available via the software, the bolts just drop right into the holes.”