Dynamic duo win AILU Young UK Engineer Prize
Usually won by a single individual, the 2009 Prize is shared by two members of a team working to integrate a laser and beam delivery optics supplied by thinklaser into a new MTT Technology Selective Laser Melting (SLM) machine. The team was formed as a partnership between the two companies and the 2009 Prize winners are Philip Harris (thinklaser) and Wes Brooks (seconded to the MTT team from Liverpool University).
Stewart Williams presenting Wes Brooks and Phil Harris with the 2009 Young UK Engineer Prize
"The role of thinklaser was to develop the optical module (beam delivery and manipulation) and laser source," said thinklaser MD and AILU member, Adrian Norton. "After a very short development period we were asked to design, build and prove that we could support the project through to production manufacturing," he added.
Design Engineer Philip Harris (left), who has a BEng(Hons) degree in Aerospace Engineering, started work at thinklaser in 2004 with responsibilities for the design and build of their laser marking machines. The design he submitted to MTT addressed a wide range of requirements and included a fibre laser, galvo delivery optics, beam diameter manipulation and water cooling of the optics for increased lifetime.
At the time Wes Brooks (below) was asked by MTT to join the development team, he was working on a PhD at Liverpool University using MTT’s SLM equipment. His work in the team has been to manage and sequence of coding for real time control and monitoring of the optical system; and for the control of the drives and collection of data from the sensors and user. This included manipulation of the build image, the slicing protocol and the handshaking between thinklaser software (for laser control) and the overall process control. Wes' knowledge of process application was extremely important for this work. He now works for MTT full time on process development.
"Though part of a larger engineering team, the individual work of the two prize winners was paramount to the project's success," said Adrian, in proposing them for the Prize.
In late 2008 the first MTT beta system was placed in a research facility for evaluation and further development input. Initial results and comments have been very positive. The programme for production is expected to commence in the second part of 2009.
"It is important that the work of young engineers is acknowledged. Sometimes we forget to give them the credit they deserve," said Adrian.
The presentation plaques celebrating the 2009 Young Engineering Prizes