This month, both Trumpf and SPI Lasers UK have appointed new people to their management teams.
Fibre laser manufacturer and Trumpf Group subsidiary, SPI Lasers UK, has appointed Dr Thomas Fehn as its new CEO, whereas Trumpf has announced that Annette Doyle will take on the role of managing director.
Before taking on the position of CEO of SPI Lasers, Fehn spent the last nine years as executive vice president of Jenoptik, and before that, he served in a number of senior positions with Linos Photonics from 1998-2005.
Annette Doyle will serve as managing director of Trumpf from 1 July. Doyle has worked at Trumpf as head of the Customer Training Centre and as assembly department manager for the company's TruLaser machines, where she was recognised by The Manufacturing Institute with a Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Award.
The news comes following the recent acquisition of JK Lasers by SPI Lasers, which has been seen by many as a major commitment by its parent company, Trumpf, to further expand its fibre laser business.
The acquisition has seen SPI Lasers grow its product portfolio to include a number of high power continuous wave (CW) lasers and systems, adding to the level of choice it already offered its customers.
‘The main reason for the acquisition is the technical supplement. Certain components such as the fibre or combiner are needed in both types of lasers and here, SPI and JK Lasers perfectly complement each other: what one company has been purchasing, the other can supply,’ Trumpf’s marketing manager, Caroline Rapp, told Laser Systems Europe.
'SPI has a long history in the field of pulsed fibre lasers and only started developing CW [continuous wave] lasers for middle and higher CW powers only in recent years. JK Lasers was focused on continuous wave lasers,' she added.
Rapp also explained that a key motive behind the acquisition was JK’s experience in laser cutting and additive manufacturing: ‘These are precisely the applications that Trumpf itself develops in-house and also offers to OEM customers. Here the range is now even wider.’
However, some are concerned at what the acquisition represents for the UK laser industry. While the UK has a strong record in innovation, with many start-ups having strong technological leadership, taking a product to market and building a strong manufacturing company is something that seems more difficult, explained Dave MacLellan, executive secretary of the UK’s Association of Laser Users (AILU). ‘The cost of development often needs a large company with “deep pockets” to fund the process effectively – sometimes perhaps lack of access to funding may be the issue,’ he said. However, he noted UK companies taken over by EU organisations seem to fare better than those bought by US concerns.
‘I feel very sad about this [JK Lasers acquisition]: only in that it reflects the poor state of the industrial laser source and system manufacturing in the UK,’ added Mike Green, who recently stepped down as AILU executive secretary to be replaced by MacLellan. ‘On the other hand, JK Lasers has been in decline for many years so it is possible that the takeover will have a positive outcome for the UK.’
SPI Lasers will be launching new products in their CW high and medium powered product ranges at the upcoming Laser World of Photonics Munich exhibition, including the RedPower multi-kilowatt OEM and system product ranges, as well as the improved range of pulsed RedEnergy fibre Lasers from 10-100W.