Thermal Cutting for Steel Sections

Thermal cutting is used in structural steel fabrication to precisely create bolt holes, copes, blocks, haunches, cut offs and more complex features. Advanced thermal cutting machines can use robotic arm’s, either anthropomorphic or cartesian combined with a plasma/oxy torch to accurately cut the full range of shapes required in structural steel sections.





Robotic Plasma/Oxy-Fuel System for the Complete Processing of Structural Steel.

One Single System with just one operator to cut bolt holes, copes, blocks, cut off and more...

The Ficep Robot Model FRC with Laser Scanning has Proven to be up to 60% Faster than robots that have to Mechanically Probe for Each Cut!

Ficep first introduced the utilisation of a robot for plasma cutting of structural shapes over 20 years ago. Since the very beginning the design featured a Cartesian Robot in conjunction with a PlasmaTorch/Oxy-Torch to perform the generation of:

  • Bolt holes
  • Copes
  • Blocks
  • Haunches
  • Cut off
  • Complex routines

Cartesian Versus Articulating Robots

The Ficep robotic system has always centered on a Cartesian design rather than an articulating robot, Today we are introducing the first anthropormorphic robot.

In comparison to other suppliers we can provide felxibility in the choice of coping line required. There are different advantages to both systems.

  • An anthropomorphic robot has to employ typically seven axes' of simultaneous movement to accomplish structural burning operations. Today the technology alows more flexibility in cutting large box section, for example, where the corner radius can be completed in one cycle. 
  • Since the Ficep Cartesian robot's movements are greatly simplified all the hoses and cables that are required to support the torches are enclosed in the robotic arm so they are not exposed to damage from abrasive plasma dust, UV and sparks.
  • The simplified robotic movements reduce cable whip and fatigue.where the Ficep Cartesian system accomplishes all movement with as few as two axes of simultaneous action.

Ficep's FRC Robot Unique Features

  • Laser scanning of the entire profile to be cut in seconds eliminates the need to probe at the start of each hole or cut.
  • Automatic tool changer from plasma to oxy-fuel in 1-2 seconds makes the use of both torches practical on the same section to be processed for maximum productivity.
  • Ability to process all four sides of a structural tube as standard.
  • The six-axis capability of the robot gives full beveling on both the flanges and the web.
  • The oxy-fuel torch generates the optimum solution for getting close to the flange for requirements such as rat holes.
  • Automatic rotation of mitered parts in a nest to achieve common line cutting of miters.
  • Comprehensive 3-D nesting software that combines the cut on the trailing end of one part with the cut on the leading end of the next section in a nest. This eliminates the number of starts and stops to extend consumable life and reduces cut time to the minimum.

For a marginal additional cost a CNC drill can be added to the robot so you can achieve the additional versatility of drilling (better hole quality on deeper holes, enhanced speed/efficiency and greater flexibility of locating web holes close to the flange, for example), scribing, tapping, milling, countersinking and counter boring. This can all be accomplished in roughly the same footprint and with the same operator and material handling system!

Close Coupled Drilling and Robotic Coping System

A close-coupled (tandem) drill and robotic coping system is used in steel fabrication to cut very thick steel, or to drill holes close to the flange. In these situations, a plasma torch cannot be used due to its diameter and maximum thickness capability. Robotic coping systems can integrate both an oxy-fuel and a plasma torch into the robot head when required.

The typical applications that a robot is requested to perform often can require burning of very thick material or locations in the web that are very close to the flange.

In these applications it is not possible to use a plasma torch because of the diameter of the torch body and the maximum thickness capability. For this reason the Ficep robotic coping systems come equipped with both an oxy-fuel and plasma torch integrated into the robot head with a change over time of just one second.

The robot is equipped with a laser scanner that in a matter of seconds surveys the actual profile surfaces so it is not necessary to probe with the torch for each start location.

  • The torch hose and cables are integrated into the arm of the robot to eliminate potential damage from sparks, plasma dust and cable whip.
  • The Cartesian robot design minimises the axis movement when compared to general purpose robots that generally have to engage all axis to achieve a thermally generated cut.

The drill/coper tandem system has many advantages such as:

  • Requires less than half the space of a conventional split system
  • Smaller capital investment
  • Single operator
  • The drill operator no longer waits for the coper operator or vice versa
  • Positioning of the coper after the drill eliminates the minimum length finished part that can be off loaded on the exit side of the system.
  • One common CNC control all of the functions of the coper and the drill automatically.
  • Full robotic programmable motion for weld prep in both flanges and the web
  • Ability to cut the bottom side of square tubes
  • Optimised routine copes the trailing end of one section, leading end of the next section and cuts the sections to length in one cycle
  • Low maintenance cost due to the utilization of a standard PC platform
  • The Ficep software eliminates the requirement for additional hardware such as third party axis control boards, PLC hardware and encoder switching boards
  • The Ficep Windows based control is provided with the proprietary Ficep software for remote diagnostics through an internet connection.
  • Full single and compound miter cutting so the flange cuts accurately align with the web miter angle.
  • Full integration of drilling, coping, end preparation, cut off and more!