A cutting-edge partnership
Heriot-Watt research in laser technology has underpinned the growth of a market-leading laser manufacturing company. Rofin-Sinar UK – recipient of Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in Innovation and International Trade – has achieved consistent export and profit growth through some of the most testing UK and global economic conditions.
Rofin-Sinar UK Ltd (RSUL) develops and manufactures lasers and laser-based systems for the global industrial market. Its principal products are high-power carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers that use a radical new design invented by Prof Denis Hall’s group that enables much more compact and brighter lasers.
As a co-founding director of RSUL, Prof Hall leads the academic side of an industry/academic partnership that has gone from strength to strength over two decades. Its leading laser-performance makes RSUL products highly competitive for a wide range of manufacturing markets across diverse sectors of industry. Ground-breaking advances in laser technology have evolved into whole families of successful products, for uses including cutting, welding, drilling, scribing, heat treating and product marking.
In recent years, Heriot-Watt work to enable the laser beam to be tailored to specific applications has led to growth in new markets. Laser enhancements now include pulse shaping, wavelength selection and power scaling. When RSUL launched its enhanced-technology laser products in 2007, the company's growth rate increased significantly: its head count doubled to 140 staff in just four years. RSUL has customers in more than 50 countries. Sales are particularly strong in Europe, Asia and South America.
Prof Hall’s team has also introduced RSUL to technologies that underpin solid-state laser development, for next-generation applications in manufacturing. The success of this research triggered the £5M public/private investment in solid-state laser development and a new larger, factory announced by Dr Vince Cable, UK Business Secretary and CBI Director General John Cridland during a visit to RSUL in October 2013.