ANALYSIS & OPINION
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Trumpf UK 'cautiously optimistic' about UK manufacturing market

The new managing director of Trumpf UK, Annette Doyle, has said she is ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the UK manufacturing market going into 2016. Doyle made the comment at a press briefing given by Trumpf at its Luton, UK site on 20 January.

The UK arm of Trumpf has appointed new roles to senior staff, with Doyle joining from the US offices in summer 2015, Gerry Jones now taking the role of national sales manager, and Alexander Mainos joining on 1 January 2016 as manager of finance and controlling. Lee Moakes remains technical director, being appointed in 2014.

Doyle commented in a statement: ‘As expected, during the months of [staff] transition we witnessed a short softening of our order intake. However, this has already reversed and we are now on track for another good year at Trumpf UK. Our FY 2014/15 saw slightly lower order level than 2013/14 with slightly increased turnover, so essentially flat, but the trend has reversed and we are seeing an increase in orders again.’

Doyle added that indicators from the company’s customers were positive across the UK.

The company, as yet, has not measured any response from its customers – largely job shops and OEMs – to the collapse of the UK steel industry as a result of cheap imports from China. Jones said Trumpf UK was aware of the events over the past month but hadn’t measured any impact. Doyle added that steel manufacturing is the smallest segment Trumpf sells into.

Doyle reaffirmed the general view that solid-state lasers, like disk and fibre lasers, are taking market share in industrial processing from CO2 systems. The company will continue to make CO2 systems, she said, but added that CO2 lasers are now considered more of a ‘niche market’.

The company was demonstrating the cutting capabilities of its TruLaser 5030 Fiber using an 8kW disk laser source. The system working at Trumpf’s technology centre in Luton was cutting 40mm thick stainless steel, a first for the UK in terms of the thickness of material cut with a solid-state laser, according to Trumpf.

The laser incorporates the company’s BrightLine fibre technology, which allows the user to change the size of the beam depending on the thickness of the material – a larger beam expels more molten material, important for cutting thicker parts. The BrightLine nozzle funnels cutting gas down through the cut, guiding the beam and removing material. The system at Luton was operating at 150mm/min.

Trumpf has three orders for the 8kW TruLaser 5030 Fiber, including Preston-based laser cutting service supplier, AK Stainless, with a further 10 orders in the pipeline. This means that by the summer of 2016 there will be 100 solid-state Trumpf laser systems active in the field, according to the company.

Trumpf was also demonstrating some of its software solutions for manufacturing, such as TruConnect and its Axoom online platform. Both are aimed at making efficiency savings for logging laser processing jobs and generating quotes – customers can upload job files to Axoom and the software calculates the length of time and the cost of each laser processing task.

These software tools are targeted at improving automation in manufacturing. Jones commented that the UK is still behind Germany in terms of automating its production processes, but that more of Trumpf’s laser systems are now being shipped in the UK with automation functionality attached. Moakes added that in the last fiscal year, one in two of the laser systems supplied to UK manufacturers had some form of automation capability.

The other area Trumpf is now part of is additive manufacturing, releasing pilot laser metal fusion and laser metal deposition machines last year at the trade fair Formnext. Jones said that over the last 10 years, the market for metal additive manufacturing has been proven, and that, although the technology is still in its infancy, Trumpf has invested a lot to make these machines available.

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