ANALYSIS & OPINION

UK finds industrial laser research strategy ahead of ILAS

The AILU’s Industrial Laser Applications Symposium (ILAS) will be held 17 and 18 March 2015 in Kenilworth, UK. In the build up to the meeting, Laser Systems Europe spoke to Mike Green, AILU secretary on how he sees the current laser systems market and how ILAS is making sure it meets the industry’s requirements

The Association of Laser Users' Industrial Laser Applications Symposium (ILAS), which will take place next week in Kenilworth UK, will showcase some of the latest technologies and applications in world of industrial laser processing.

As a UK-held symposium, Mike Green, AILU secretary, commented on the UK industrial laser market: ‘It is well recognised that until recently the UK did not have a strategy for lasers in industry, but this is now being rectified. Innovate UK [a UK government technology strategy board] is a key driver for industrial research activity through its various collaborative industry-led competitions; so too is the EPSRC [Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council], the main funder of basic academic research in the UK.'

He said that AILU and the EPSRC-funded Centre for Innovative Manufacturing have organised a UK roadmapping activity targetting laser-based production processes. A national strategy working group is currently being put together to turn the roadmapping output into a final product, he said.

Green commented on the roles of the conference: ‘We see ILAS’ key objective as providing an interface between industrial users and the UK laser materials processing research community. In practice its agenda is determined mainly by the UK research community, mainly those involved in research in laser materials processing: the technology of sources and beam delivery, the laser-materials processes themselves and the parameters that influence them, and the applications in regard to new and improved applications – especially in high value manufacturing – and the opportunities that arise.’

Green explained the laser materials processing market can be divided in a number of ways – by process, such as cutting or drilling, by materials and by application or industrial sector. ‘For ILAS, we have traditionally gone with the split by process, as you can see in the programme,' he said.

According to Green, there are two exceptions to this: a session devoted to the European project Lashare, which covers a number of new process developments close to industrial implementation, and an extended session on funding led mainly by Innovate UK, the KTN and, as users of lasers, the STFC.

The main growth areas for the research associated with laser materials processing outlined by Green were additive manufacturing, welding, micro and nano processing, and laser source and beam delivery development. Green pointed out that each of these themes has more than one session dedicated to it at ILAS.

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ILAS 2015 details

The ILAS 2015 programme

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