Automated cutting technology provider Lectra used its annual automotive conference (March 7-8) to unveil the latest version of its Versalis automated leather cutting machine. Launched in 2011, this system, and accompanying LeatherSuite software, has gone through a number of iterations. The 2019 version promises better productivity, improved yield and enhanced cutting quality, among other benefits. Antoine Mercier, director of product management for leather, introduced Versalis 2019 during a presentation on the afternoon of the first day of the conference. He described it as an evolution of the technology, saying: “Evolution is part of Lectra’s DNA”.

The new system is available in three configurations, depending on the size of the part that needs to be cut. The options are one, two of three cutting heads, with improved throughput offering respective productivity gains of 2%, 10% and 17%. This is achieved in a variety of ways, including by eliminating Y-clipping and through the use of adaptive cutting windows. In terms of yield, Lectra has said Versalis 2019 offers a 1% improvement. This is driven by nesting improvements and by new rotation nesting strategies. Cutting quality has been improved with the addition of a larger pressure foot, which is said to reduce wrinkles, reducing the need for recuts.

Lectra has also updated the accompanying LeatherSuite software, which is now on to its seventh version. Mr Mercier said the update has resulted in a “significant performance improvement”. It includes an improved connection interface, which means the technology can be better integrated into a customer’s existing system. In order to reduce downtime when using the technology, Lectra has made a number of hardware and software updates, many based on feedback from customers using the previous version of Versalis. Among the most interesting features comes during the offloading stage, when the hides are marked up by a projector, which makes it easier for the operator to remove individual pieces and organise them according to colour-coded categories based on size.

Delegates at the conference were given the opportunity to see Versalis 2019 in action, with Mr Mercier and a number of other Lectra employees on hand to explain the different stages of using it. Lectra has said the system is already available for order, with delivery expected in June 2019. The new features of Versalis 2019 and of LeatherSuite V7 can be integrated into existing models, which the company has said allows customers to experience all the benefits of the improvements.