What is a Laser Job Shop?
We define a laser job shop as ‘any commercial organisation that uses industrial lasers and complementary techniques for profit.‘ Membership of AILU automatically entitles such
laser users to free membership of the Job Shop Group.
The Job Shop Special Interest Group
We believe that making a success of running a laser job shop is more of a challenge than ever and the growth of the laser job shop group (established in 1999) to its current level of over 80 members has clearly demonstrated that there is a need and much to be gained from the group’s activities.
Mark Millar, Essex Laser
Job Shop Committee Chair
Job Shop Member Quotes
"The Association has much to offer any company involved in laser profiling technology" says JS SIG founder member David Lindsey . “For the membership costs each year, AILU represents excellent value for money,” Mr Lindsey advocates. “I personally sit on the Jobshop sub-committee and find it an invaluable resource for the sharing of ideas and networking but as is the case with many industry associations, it would be even more effective if we could increase membership levels. As a result of an AILU gas survey, a little brow- beating and threats to move supplier we managed a saving of £80,000 over a twelve month period."
“Visits to other AILU Job Shops have allowed us to implement some simple organisational and layout changes to the way we operate”
Neil Main, Micrometric Ltd.
“Our Electricity Survey highlighted that 2 members spending the same monthly amount on electricity had an 11% difference in overall cost per unit – highlighting a potential annual saving of almost £20,000”
John Powell, Laser Expertise Ltd.
“The annual AILU Breakdown Response Survey allows us to hold the laser suppliers to account for their level of customer support. Pressure from AILU Job Shops has resulted in positive improvements from the suppliers.”
Mark Millar, Essex Laser Ltd.
Benefits of membership include:
We run at least one informal business meeting a year for group members and invited guests, with key presentations on topics of common concern and interest.
We offer a Job Shop Forum on the web site for posting questions and answers plus a free over the phone consultancy service.
Sales leads from our web-based Products and Services Directory are automatically forwarded to all job shop members.
We conduct at least two surveys a year on commercial value to laser job shops. These surveys are free to participate in, and only participants receive the survey results, with total anonymity. Recent topics have included gas, electricity and breakdown satisfaction.
Jobshop SIG Committee Members
|Jonathan Horne||Laser Process Ltd|
|John Powell||Laser Expertise Ltd|
|Neil Main||Micrometric Ltd|
|Phil Carr||Carrs Welding Technologies Ltd|
|Cirrus Laser Ltd|
|Mark Hannon||Midtherm Laser Ltd|
|Mark Millar||Essex Laser Job Shop Ltd|
|Jamie Sharp||Laser Engineering UK Ltd|
Chair's Message by Mark Millar
From AILU's The Laser User magazine (February 2020).
CAN YOU HAVE TOO MUCH POWER?
As this is a laser-based association, of course I am referring here to laser power, specifically flat bed laser cutting machines. As I risk opening an enormous can of worms and the wrath of the laser OEMs, I was recently approached about a 15 kW flat bed fibre laser for sale and they hinted that a 20 kW may soon be available too. This got me thinking, can a laser have too much power and what will the limits be?
I ask this question because in the past there has been a relentless march towards more power to help increase the thickness of material that can be laser cut, and to increase the speed. Whilst the increased power has brought both of these elements, surely at some point we will reach a limit of how much power a laser can produce... however I am wondering whether we are likely to reach the limit of how much power we actually need well before that.
Whilst manufactures are keen to sell these ever more powerful laser cutting machines to us Job Shops, there is a problem. There is a niche for laser cutting, a window of material thicknesses for which lasers are ideal for cutting, specifically for metal. Other processes, such as high-definition (HD) plasma cutting machines, are getting better at cutting thinner materials which means they are increasingly competing for the same markets. Plus a HD plasma cutting machine is going to be a fraction of the price of a high-powered laser. There is then the obvious argument of quality of cut, which is fair, but heavier duty applications usually require less accuracy, or CNC post-machining is required anyway as neither cutting process is accurate enough.
Therefore it must be speed that us Job Shop users are chasing. 10 kW flat bed laser fibre machines have been available for a while now and whilst they deliver blistering speed, you can bet that any extra power comes at a cost, so how fast are these machines going to need to be to make it worthwhile? Of course there will always be someone out there crying out specifically for a very high power laser cutting machine, but the rule used to be that Job Shops needed the most powerful lasers for ultimate speed and flexibility when it comes to material thicknesses. Whilst we all want increasingly faster machines, at some point we must reach a limit of what is physically possible, what is actually useful and the balance of cost versus reward on ever more powerful machines.
Perhaps, like for many other products such as cars, computers and mobile phones, technology will continue to advance and we will always be pursuing that higher power machine. However, we buy these products for reasons beyond just their pure functionally. Laser cutting machines on the other hand are needed purely to perform a function so will we reach a requirement limit before a technological limit? I think we might, but probably not for a little while yet.