With the award of a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant, the Centre of Advanced Joining, based in the School of Engineering at Coventry University, got the green light to initiate a programme to introduce small and medium enterprises to the benefits of industrial laser processing.
The grant, worth in excess of £1.5m is targeted at eligible manufacturing companies within the West Midlands Objective II region. The main focus is job creation through an intensive programme of technology transfer and support.
Senior project officer Nic Blundell says that in recent years, lasers have been transformed from laboratory instruments to viable, versatile industrial tools. And technology has developed to meet the requirements of a range of applications, which now commonly includes cutting, welding, drilling, surface treatment, marking and engraving.
“Typically, only large manufacturing organisations have the financial resources available to consider internal laser processing development programmes,” he said.
The European project aims to introduce alternative and innovative methods of manufacturing to small and medium sized enterprises which cannot afford the high price of the research and development costs inherent of new technology.
Core programme activities are located at the Centre which provides laser processing facilities including high power CO2 systems and a six-axis robotic three dimensional Nd:YAG facility. However, the Centre’s recently installed Rofin CO2 laser, with integrated industrial cutting and welding system, is the focus of this story.