MDL (acronym of Marcello Diego Lavorazioni) of Capriano del
Colle located in the province of Brescia is a company that has been
specialised in commercialising steel products since 1989, with
special regard to contract tube processing. In recent years this
sector has increasingly evolved from the simple cutting-to-length
to the supply of quality semi-finished products including the
manufacture of assembled structures, thanks to the cooperation of a
specialised partner. As a result, MDL proposes itself as a supplier
of actual finished products that it manufactures with the knowledge
of who has analysed the multiple potentials and opportunities
offered by tube processing in terms of project and structure
optimisation. A tubular structure assures many advantages compared
to a structure designed by mixing tube and bent steel sheet, both
in terms of coupling and sturdiness, not to mention production time
and associated costs.
"MDL is certainly the answer to the requirements of all those companies that require complex services in the filed of steel product processing, with special reference to tube transformation" explains Marcello Zanini, who runs the company together with his brother Diego. "We supply semi-finished tubes to any sector and our activities also include welding or bending of tubes as well as the manufacture of drawn tubes, round, square or rectangular welded tubes with burrs on the two sides. The services offered also feature internal and external washing, customised drilling and processing of round, oval or square tubes or simply the cutting-to- length of tubes and bars".
The equipment installed at MDL facilities includes six ADIGE automatic sawing machines, but above all it is the laser tube cutting technology that characterises the activity. The first laser tube installed over more than three years was associated with the innovative LT722 ADIGE system in 2008.
"Both in terms of plant type and ease of programming I can state that ADIGE represents the state of the art from a technological point of view" says Marcello Zanini. "In our first experience with laser tube we privileged the cut potential in terms of maximum processable dimensions up to a diameter of 250 mm. On the other hand, with ADIGE's LT722 we process up to a maximum of 150 mm; a range which covers approximately 90% of our production. "In hindsight", the initial choice of large diameters has been more restrictive than proactive. It is true that where large workpieces are cut, the small ones can be processed as well, but from the point of view of system performances, by nature they are not comparable. Certainly, today, with two systems available and a third one coming up, equipped with fibre laser to cut highly reflecting materials, we are in a position to cover a very large portion of market demands".
"Perhaps we have made the right choice to invert investments considering that the majority of the work regards the medium-small tube; but that's ok. The in-field experience has allowed us to focus on what we really needed and to correct the course" explains again Zanini. "In fact, by purchasing the ADIGE system we have privileged other aspects that we knew were of fundamental importance, such as the programming ease which, in the majority of cases, means the possibility of carrying out complex cuts as well. The standard database of the LT722 cutting parameters is extremely complete and articulated to the point that in the vast majority of cases we can immediately carry out an optimum cut".
Due to its nature, MDL addresses various sectors: automobile, water-sanitary, heating, furniture, components and drapes. The company is a job shop and as such it spans the most different of fields although, in recent years the manufacture of structures for solar panel systems and couches for beauty shops and centres has been taking on a leading role. "Following the crisis of the last two years, we have been obliged to considerably extend our operating range to cover new sectors in order to recover that 20% business turnover that we had lost" explains Zanini. "It has not been easy, but we have been able to count on a sound partner: the ADIGE LT722 laser cutting system that is one of a kind in terms of performance and timing. Among other things, the almost total reliability.
The LT722 combines productivity with the utmost cutting accuracy on any type of tube section, which is of fundamental importance for coupling, considering the structures being manufactured.
"I think that we have been lucky to purchase this laser tube system before the crisis" continues Zanini. "It has allowed us to make up for desertions that have occurred in the most traditional sectors, and to acquire new customers and new application fields. Above all, however, it has allowed us to recover important trade names that we had lost due to rather long response times and to the excessive hourly cost with only one laser tube available, that, moreover, is more performing on larger diameters. Due to the inherent characteristics of the LT722 and to the availability of two laser cutting systems, today we have acquired such a flexibility as to reach a production close to the justin- time, with a lower hourly cost than before. We wanted to become flexible also in the laser cutting field as we have always been in the blade cutting field thanks to the six ADIGE automatic sawing machines.
I talked about luck because although it may seem a farsighted decision taken at the right moment, I am sincere in telling you that it is not the case. We needed and we decided to take this step, but when it was planned I never imagined what would have happened in such a short time. I considered it a strategic investment that was important for MDL, but never thought of it as the company safety net. However, this was the right choice because if I had realised about the crisis that was about to hit the economy, I would have certainly waited and perhaps we would have ended up like several other companies."
"Flexibility is mainly generated by the ARTUBE programming software that is extremely userfriendly and direct, but also by the operating software of the LT722 system allowing rather fast production changes and therefore machine downtimes that are considerably reduced" Zanini adds.
Of the quantity of material processed by MDL over a period of a year, 60% is distributed among the sawing machines and the remaining 40% among the two laser tubes; these percentages witness the importance and strategic role of investing in a technology that is as productive and flexible as laser cutting. This fact is further confirmed by economic evaluations considering that the business turnover produced by the laser is by now predominant compared to that generated by the sawing machines. Costs are soon worked out considering an hourly price of 30 Euros for blade cutting as compared to 80 Euros per hour of laser cutting.
"There is also the advantage that with the laser, the semifinished product is a finished product ready for assembly while the sawing machine allows just the cut-to-length involving the need for deburring and recovering the workpieces" Zanini concludes.
"Furthermore, I admit that from time to time I have some simple and particularly urgent cutto- length operations carried out by the laser machine because the LT722 produces twice as much compared to a sawing machine as there is no blade changing and therefore no down times. Not to mention the cut quality that has no deburring and accuracy problems. Not by chance, we are replacing two sawing machines with a new LT FIBER laser tube system with fibre source that we believe will allow us to open up new and important horizons in the field of copper and brass tube cutting.