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UK laser job shop sector being squeezed by steel stockholder competition

Dr John Powell, technical director at Nottingham, UK-based job shop Laser Expertise, has said that the UK laser job shop industry is being squeezed by competition from steel stockholders.

He made the comments speaking to Laser Systems Europe, and also gave a presentation on the subject at the International Laser Technology Congress, AKL’16, at the end of April in Aachen, Germany.

Powell noted two big changes in the UK job shop sector over the last few years: the addition of fibre lasers to what was a market dominated by CO2 lasers for cutting, and competition from steel stockholders with laser machining capabilities.

The competition from steel stockholders is for jobs that weigh a lot, that involve a lot of metal. Steel stockholders get their metal cheaper than job shops meaning they can quote lower prices. Powell commented in Laser Systems Europe: ‘In some cases, steel stockholders are quoting prices for large orders that are the equivalent of what job shops will pay just for the metal.’

‘This has changed the UK job shop landscape,’ he continued. ‘Turning a profit as a job shop is more difficult than it used to be.’

He suggested that one route to compete in the market is for job shops to add value to laser cutting with other services. Laser Expertise offers a full fabrication service, including bending, welding, drilling and painting, alongside the cutting.

Read the full article on the laser job shop market, including new service bureaus springing up for micromachining, here.

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