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Laser marking firm secures pandemic recovery funding to expand service offerings

Laser marking specialist ES Precision, based in Oxfordshire, UK has secured an OxLEP grant to expand its service offerings via the government’s £900m Getting Building Fund, which targets areas facing the biggest economic challenges following the pandemic that can help rebuild the UK economy. 

ES Precision uses its range of galvo-deflected lasers to provide laser processing services to medical device, automotive, electronics and other engineering companies. 

Like many others, the firm suffered a fall in business activity in 2020-21 due to many of its key sectors being hit hard by the pandemic, for example car plants temporarily closed their assembly lines, and fewer medical operations took place.

Prior to the pandemic the firm contemplated expanding its laser marking-dominated service to include subcontract erosion cutting, but hesitated to do so owing to the economic uncertainties and reduced capital available as a consequence of the pandemic.

‘Erosion cutting is a promising application for medium power fibre lasers,’ said Andrew May, director of ES Precision. ‘It harnesses the flexibility of familiar galvo-driven laser marking systems and meets a demand for precise cutting of thin materials that most commercial flat-bed laser cutters cannot. Such large, expensive CO2- or fibre-based machines with high pressure gas nozzles are not well suited to producing fine features and small profiles in metal sheets which are of order of 1mm thickness.’

The firm therefore wants to provide a service for profiling, drilling and perforating thin gauge materials (mainly any type of metal, up to about 2mm thick) to high technology manufacturing across the UK and Ireland. 

‘Aside from our core sectors, we see interest in this from motorsport, solar energy, sensor/lab-on-a-chip manufacturers, fuel cell development, instrumentation and aerospace,’ said May.

Integral to the firm's plan to laser cut structures with great accuracy is the need to measure the results with precision. This requires investment in an optical measurement system to provide QA and reports for customers, in addition to the new laser cutting workstation.

ES Precision therefore presented its business plan and its impact on the Oxfordshire economy in its grant application to the OxLEP committee, which saw the benefits of funding the project. As a result, the firm will now take delivery of the erosion cutter and measurement system in the Autumn, with aims to launch the new service towards the end of 2021.

May plans to further describe the increasing demand for erosion cutting and the experience in applying for a grant to fund ES Precision’s service offering expansion in a future Laser Systems Europe article.

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