Gleaming accuracy

Leading the fibre-laser revolution in UK manufacturing, IPG Photonics has continued to grow through continually upgrading its high-precision solutions and attracting new customers from the region

Calls for the optimisation of materials processing have put IPG Photonics in an enviable position at the forefront of the transition that will lead to the increased adoption of laser-based techniques. The manufacturer of high-performance fibre lasers has felt the ever-growing demand for its solutions across the UK and Ireland, which poses excellent prospects for its future development. Speaking with Manufacturing Today Europe is the company’s Director of Sales and Service, Mark Thompson, who updates us on IPG’s latest highlights and discusses the potential for a wider integration of fibre lasers in British manufacturing.

“Fibre lasers operate across a very broad base of applications, but if I have to single out specific areas of growth, these must be sheet metal cutting and joining, in particular, dissimilar materials joining, where the use of aluminium and copper has increased significantly,” Mark begins. “We are also focused on serving the global automotive lightweight sector, addressing the evolving requirements for vehicle weight reduction.”

Valuable asset
Alongside being at the heart of the shift from non-laser processes, such as plasma and electric discharge, IPG is also working with customers who already use solid-state and gas laser technologies to transition them to use fibre lasers, for a marked improvement in their productivity levels.

Towards the end of 2017, IPG announced the acquisition of Laser Depth Dynamics (LDD) – an innovative provider of in-process quality monitoring and control solutions for laser-based welding applications. “LDD’s technology enables real-time evaluation of the quality of the weld by adding a near-infrared measurement beam to the welding head,” Mark explains. “It allows you to look into the melt pool, record data and measure the precision of the welded seam. If we then combine this system with our revolutionary wobble welding heads, the result will be an unparalleled process consistency and ultra-high-power welding heads for deep penetration welding.”

Demonstrative of the business being perceived as a much-valued asset within the UK manufacturing community, is its status as a Tier 1 member of the Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC). Mark elaborates on the nature of the partnership: “We provide equipment in the form of state-of-the-art, high-power fibre lasers, which allows manufacturers to achieve high operating efficiency by testing the quality of their processes at a relatively low cost. If you take high-value manufacturing, a lot of environmental assessment of the weld joint is needed, with regards to corrosion, for example. It is, therefore, beneficial to manufacturers to perform such testing once they have produced the joints on-site with our equipment.

Massive investment
“In summary, we are convinced of the potential fibre-led technology holds for our British and Irish customers, and it is incredibly promising to see that more and more companies regard it as a highly valuable solution that can help their businesses to grow. This is why we are investing heavily in new equipment to support the heightened demand and assist our clients in overcoming the challenges they are currently facing. There will be huge export opportunities in the UK in the coming decade and those who adopt fibre-laser technology will reap the rewards of increased productivity and lower cost of ownership,” he concludes optimistically.

IPG Photonics
Products: Fibre lasers
www.ipgphotonics.com