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1999 - Maurice Gates

Maurice Gates being presented with his Award

The AILU AWARD for 1999
went to
Maurice Gates
founder of Micrometric Techniques Ltd in Lincoln.
for outstanding contributions to the industrial use of lasers in the UK

The presentation was made by the AILU President, Professor Bill Steen, at the members’ meeting at Loughborough University on 15 September.

Presenting the award, which this year was sponsored by Rofin-Sinar Laser, Professor Steen reviewed Maurice’s pioneering work in the application of lasers, from his early work at AEI on the laser machining of graphite electrodes for power vacuum tubes (1976) to the establishment of Micrometric Techniques Ltd, Lincoln, in 1981.

Professor Steen concluded with a review of the laser activities at Micrometrics.
“Micrometric Techniques Ltd is today one of the leading laser specialist companies for laser cutting, welding and marking, particularly of small precision parts. The company is known as an innovator of new techniques with pulsed laser welding and cutting, allowing a precision unobtainable by most laser job shops. Perhaps the biggest contribution Maurice’s innovation has brought to the use of lasers in industry is the combination manufacture of components using lasers, mechanical machining and electric discharge machining. Maurice will probably deny having invented anything but it was his firm which engineered ideas into practical processes.”

In accepting the award,” said Maurice “I see it not only as a recognition of my own efforts, but also for the successes made at Micrometrics by my colleagues.”

“Although there has been much progress in the use of lasers in the processing and manufacture of sheet metal work, there is still some way to go to convince industry of the benefits and merits of lasers in the more technically demanding areas of fine part manufacture, prototype production and tooling,” he concluded.

Maurice started his career with AEI working on cathode ray tubes and was the manager whose team first introduced laser in 1973 for machining graphite electrodes for power tubes, one of the very early applications of laser. The process is still in use at EEV and has expanded to other companies.

Maurice was awarded the MBE for his services to industry and to applied technology in 1987 and received an Honourary Doctorate from De Monfort University in 1997. He sits on the CBI's National Technology and Innovation Committee, the Steering Group for 'Make it with Lasers', the Industrial Advisory Panel for the University of Hull, and ITEC, a former DTI initiative for IT training. He is a founder member of AILU and served as a committee member during its first three years.

The design of the 1999 AILU trophy illustrates some of the possibilities on offer by thinking ‘laser’ at the design stage. The text and AILU logo, laser marked by Rofin-Sinar, ‘float’ in the centre of an otherwise clear thick glass block, while the three thin stainless steel supporting fingers, laser cut by Micrometric Techniques of Lincoln, have 'egg box' slots included so that they link together into a self-jigging and rigid structure.

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