Keywords: energy consumption, laser cutting, machine design, environmental impact, sustainable manufacturing, sustainability, sheet metal processing, machine tools
Energy related environmental impact reduction opportunities in machine design: case study of a laser cutting machine
Energy consumption is responsible for a substantial part of the environmental impact generated by industrial production (Gutowski et al., 2006). Currently, minimising the energy consumption is hardly a priority for many machine designers, since they concentrate primarily on improving functionality, accuracy and safety. Nevertheless, alternative machine designs with improved energy consumption are emerging. This paper investigates the case of a laser cutting machine as common sheet metal processing machine tool. This paper verifies the potential for energy improvement by means of a case study. The analysis covers both the energy consumption during productive and non-productive time. Energy consumption improvement opportunities are identified. For this purpose a conventional CO2 laser-cutting machine was investigated and compared with a possible fibre laser based machine configuration. The analysis shows that the CO2 laser source and the chiller unit are the largest energy consumers during productive time. During non-productive time, 12% of the yearly energy consumption is required to keep the chiller and other components active. For the alternative machine configuration it is assumed that no energy is needed during off-mode. The same scenario saves 16.6 MWh during productive time because of the improved efficiency of a fibre laser source.