OR LASER recently held its FOCUS DAYS 2018 at the HQ in Dieburg, Germany. Gathering together the increasing number of our global distributors for our wide range of industrial laser equipment, more than 80 guests were present during the two-day event. The main goal of the event was to highlight the latest developments from OR LASER during the last year and to disseminate that among its partners and resellers.

Through these channels, the global reach of OR LASER has been extended considerably in recent years to virtually every continent with visitors from as far afield as Japan, mainland China, Hong Kong, the USA, and Singapore as well as Europe. Throughout our 20+ year history, OR LASER has formed strong relationships with our distribution partners which have grown in number year on year and increased rapidly since the launch of the ORLAS CREATOR additive manufacturing system in 2016.

The OR LASER FOCUS DAYS are a now annual event to bring together all of these partners both to provide them with valuable information, insight, and updates; and to strengthen the bonds of partnership through a series of well curated presentations; practical workshops; networking opportunities and a little bit of fun, too. Leading OR LASER experts in their respective fields as well as invited 3rd parties combined to provide an extremely insightful view of the latest developments from OR LASER and how these can be maximised to their full potential by end-users within the current market.

While industrial laser technology remains the core of our expertise, the natural move into direct additive manufacturing with the development of the ORLAS CREATOR and the ORLAS CREATOR hybrid saw the first of the OR LASER FOCUS DAYS drill down into the additive manufacturing sector and the full solution that OR LASER brings to the industry.

Additive Manufacturing: Current Trends and Future Directions

Joseph Kowen, of Oryx Business Development provided an excellent and comprehensive overview of the Additive Manufacturing sector to the audience. Kowen’s longevity within the industry (an original Objet team member before the company merged with Stratasys) and his considerable experience since then meant he was very well placed to offer independent insight into the current state of the Additive Manufacturing industry.

After providing historical context, Kowen went on to outline the full technology base for Additive Manufacturing, market statistics including growth and value (currently in the region of $6 billion) before highlighting projected figures of $26 billion by 2022 (source: Wohlers Associates). While these figures are only projections, Kowen’s point was to illustrate the vast opportunities that exist for Additive Manufacturing in the next decade — which is not disputable, regardless of what the figure proves to be in 2022. Kowen subsequently went on to cite a number of key areas of application where he believes AM will flourish specifically in the automotive, aerospace and medical sectors and technology trends that can be identified, including full colour developments, automation/modularity and increasing regulations and standards for AM processes. This last point was indeed what Kowen cited as an indicator that AM was truly coming of age and evolving into a “normal, manufacturing process”.

ORLAS CREATOR und ORLAS SUITE

Markus Wolf, CTO, and his team are responsible for developing and improving the systems, followed Kowen’s presentation with an in-depth update on this area of the business. About 30 ORLAS CREATOR have been delivered worldwide so far.  As will Ludovico Camarda’s presentation which provided a live demo of the new features that have been incorporated into the proprietary ORLAS SUITE software. The developments here have been significant, notably for the 3D Printing module, and both Wolf and Camarda’s presentations generated great interest — and approval — from our partners, which will inevitably filter through to our end-users in the coming weeks and months. While our reseller partnerships are a cornerstone of our business strategy, other collaborations are also vital to progress at OR LASER with academic institutions and industrial partners for process and applications development. However, since the launch of the ORLAS CREATOR, OR LASER has also developed key collaborations with powder material manufacturers and suppliers.

Partnerships with powder material manufacturers and suppliers

Ran Reznik took the opportunity during the 2018 FOCUS DAYS to highlight the collaborations with powder material manufacturers and suppliers. Since launching the CREATOR, OR LASER took the strategic decision to remain an open company when it comes to materials and not sell them as consumables. However, a crucial part of that strategy is to form partnerships with powder companies to certify powders for OR LASER systems for optimal results of the machine, which the company is happy to recommend, while leaving users free to make their own powder decisions. Currently OR LASER is working in collaboration with HC Starck, BEGO, LEGOR and Heraeus.

FOCUS DAYS 2018: Practical workshop sessions

The practical workshop sessions during the FOCUS DAYS provided great opportunities for all of the guests present to get hands on with the full range of industrial laser equipment for welding, marking, engraving and of course additive manufacturing. Of particular note was the peak of interest in both the Direct Metal Deposition (DMD) additive systems (three) and the Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) additive systems (two). OR LASER is, justifiably we believe, extremely proud to be one of only two companies worldwide that offers highly capable commercial systems for DMD and LPBF.

The latest DMD iteration from OR LASER in the form of the ORLAS CUBE generated a great deal of attention — the integration of a flexible and mobile system with an enclosed DMD capability is a new and compelling offering from the company. The CUBE concept sits alongside OR LASER’s larger and more complex DMD offerings of the EVO Mobile and ORLAS Robot systems for demanding industrial applications, some of which were highlighted by Marco Göbel, Senior Application Engineer, during his presentation on the second day of the event. These applications are found across a multitude of industrial sectors, including aerospace, automotive, marine and power generation.

Cloud manufacturing value for the industry

Ludovico Camarda informed our guests about new business opportunities, specifically with our unique Cloud Manufacturing Services and the range of maintenance contracts OR LASER has made available. Ludovico’s passion for big data was evident, as was his depth of knowledge and understanding which has translated into one of OR LASER’s key USP’s — the ORLAS CREATOR CLOUD, which combines original software, networking and data with remote hardware. Developed to provide unprecedented levels of control, access and intelligent operations and maintenance, ultimately what the ORLAS CREATOR CLOUD offers users is increased productivity. Moreover, the cloud facility allows this productivity to be distributed from a centralised R&D facility — producing the right part, in the right place at the right time rather than importing/exporting manufactured parts. And Ludovico was keen to share his belief that the cloud will ultimately create value for entire industry! All three of OR LASER’s maintenance plans (basic, excellent and premium) support cloud access and tech support services. Furthermore, any customers that purchase a CREATOR today includes the 3DP module of the ORLAS SUITE.

The event came full circle when Marcus Wolf rounded up the event with a presentation focused on “What’s next: Forecast and Future Developments”. The primary emphasis for the next year will be the ORALS CREATOR hybrid, a system that will truly take AM to the next level and the ORLAS CUBE, which courtesy of ongoing development projects will result in unprecedented improvements. What became very clear during our FOCUS DAYS is that OR LASER is well placed to continue to grow around the world with our superb reseller partners.