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."
“Membership of the AILU laser job shop group and participation in the surveys has helped our purchasing department save thousands of pounds”
Dr John Powell, Technical Director, Laser Expertise Ltd.
“Sharing information with other members has enabled us to cut materials we have never cut before so we are now able to reach markets that were previously inaccessible” Martin Cook, Managing Director, Cutting Technologies Ltd.
“In order to get the best out of your company, your employees and your suppliers you need to know what the rest of the industry is doing – The AILU surveys tell you exactly that” David Lindsey, Managing Director, Laser Process 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
|Laser Process Ltd|
|John Powell||Laser Expertise Ltd|
|Neil Main||Micrometric Ltd|
|Phil Carr||Carrs Welding Technologies Ltd|
|Cirrus Laser Ltd|
|Midtherm Laser Ltd|
|Mark Millar||Essex Laser Job Shop Ltd|
|Jamie Sharp||Laser Engineering UK Ltd|
Chairman's Report by Mark Millar
From AILU's The Laser User magazine (May 2107)
Fibre lasers, they are all the rage at the moment. I recently had a conversation with one of the OEMs sales staff who said they think they will stop producing CO2 lasers altogether soon. I’m not 100% convinced myself. Clearly fibre lasers have their niche in the market place. They are undoubtedly fast and give a reasonable cut quality finish for the thin materials, but for materials 4 mm and up I’m yet to see the same quality that you get with a CO2. If you are weighing up the pros and cons of fibre versus CO2, I would like to sound a note of caution. You will have heard that fibre lasers use less electricity, have lower maintenance costs and overall are cheaper to run. But be aware that the electricity saving may not be huge. Whilst fibre lasers do use less electricity, unless you buy a budget-end machine with lower power consumption drive motors, then the only saving comes from the lower energy required for the laser itself. This saving is unlikely to cover the cost of changing your CO2 to a fibre unless you are planning to run it for a long time.
Any saving in electricity may soon be offset by the cost of the nitrogen used. The fibre laser beam width is much smaller, so to compensate, the nitrogen usage is increased by increasing the gas pressure. Also nozzle sizes have increased - remember the area of a circle is the square of the radius, so if the nozzle size doubles you’ll use about 4 times the amount of nitrogen. Even if you have a nitrogen generating plant, bear in mind you still have to pay for all the equipment, maintenance etc. plus the electricity to generate the nitrogen. For thin materials, the nozzle diameters will be similar and your cutting costs will be roughly the same as a CO2, possibly cheaper. On thicker materials costs will increase.
Fibre cutting with almost any material of any thickness will give a slight burr, i.e. the hard, sharp dross material left on the underside of the material. Whilst this is not noticeable on thin materials it is increasingly obvious the thicker the material. It would be wise to budget for de-burring especially if you are planning to cut thicker materials on your fibre laser.
I have noticed that processing time is key to costing a job, rather than cutting time - the time it takes to load/unload the machine is the same no matter which type of laser you use. Yes, you might cut a whole sheet in 5 minutes that previously took 20 minutes, but if every sheet still takes 20 minutes to load/unload and you start charging your customer ¼ the price, you will soon find yourselves in trouble!
Speaking to other member of the AILU committee many years back we speculated on the maintenance costs of fibre lasers, and we now have a better idea. Discussing this matter again recently, there seems to be a wide range of fibre laser reliability from great to poor. Some companies are experiencing no failures, but others are finding failures are happening much faster than envisaged. One possibility for this could be due to reflections - we were led to believe that reflective materials can be cut on a fibre but now there is some back-tracking. Repair costs are not cheap; whereas a repair to a CO2 is often some thousands of pounds, you must prepare to have fewer but more expensive repair bills, at around £10k+, for a fibre.
As long as you are cutting thin mild, a fibre is perfect; less expensive to run and should be the right choice as long as you quote your prices to include the time for loading/unloading. If you are cutting a variety of materials especially thicker or reflective materials it may be wise to think carefully about potential additional costs.