The AILU Award is presented each year to recognise an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the industrial use of lasers in the UK. The 2008 winner is Tim Weedon in recognition of his successful pioneering efforts to introduce Nd:YAG-based machining systems into the UK, starting in the early 1980s, and for his being a tireless champion of appropriately applying laser based manufacturing.
"Tim was the UK pioneer in the development of material processing systems using YAG lasers to meet the needs of production user applications," said Jim Wright, winner of the AILU Award in 1998, and well known as the co-founder of JK Lasers in Rugby in 1972, one of the UK's most successful laser companies and the first UK supplier of Industrial systems.
"Tim joined JK Lasers in 1975 from Jaguar, where he had been responsible for the computer automation of their engine test programme. At JK Lasers he rapidly applied his combination of engineering and computer knowledge (a rare combination at that time) to the needs of potential laser users in industry. His first application was the development of equipment for Medtronic to hermetically seal implantable heart pacemakers to a demanding specification in terms of precision and weld quality. The equipment he used was then deployed in both Europe and the USA. This was followed by numerous other welding applications in the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries, with Philips, Western Electric, GE, Volvo and Aerospatiale being notable customers.
'In each case there was close collaboration with the end users, firstly to develop an acceptable and repeatable process and secondly to develop a computer
automated machine to meet cost-effective production targets. Tim was also responsible for the development of the first multi-axis hole-drilling machine for Rolls Royce and the further development of such machines for both Rolls Royce and other users throughout the world. His successful solution to the required precision of the inter-hole spacing on flexible combustion chamber components is just one testament to his combined computer and engineering skills. His reputation spread throughout the world and he was frequently invited to speak at international conferences in Europe, USA and Japan."
AILU President Clive Ireland (who worked with Tim for many years), added, 'Tim is a champion of using the right tool for the job, and close customer/supplier collaboration/co-operation to achieve it.' He also noted that Tim was AILU President in 2004/5 and was passionate in his drive to see the Association undertake successfully our Design for Laser Manufacture initiative.
The Award will be presented to Tim at this year's annual members' meeting on 8 April at Cranfield University.