The strategic partnership with IPG Photonics is strengthening Bystronic’s innovative capacity: Together, these two technology pioneers are developing the next generation of fiber lasers.
Laser cutting machines are Bystronic’s most important sales pillar. For more than 30 years, the heart of these systems, the laser source, was developed in-house – initially for CO₂ technology and since 2005 for fiber lasers. Three years ago, Bystronic discontinued the in-house development of fiber laser sources. “This decision was the correct one, because the further development of powerful laser sources requires know-how that was not available internally,” says Christoph Rüttimann, Chief Technology Officer and a member of the Bystronic Management Committee. “For example, achieving optimum harmonization of the laser source with the machine and the cutting process remains a challenge,” the CTO explains. For this reason Bystronic needs not simply a supplier, but far more a strategic partner.
Bystronic procures its laser sources from the market leader IPG Photonics, a pioneer in this highly competitive market. Founded in 1991 by physicist Valentin Gapontsev, a top inventor and pioneer in the field of high power fiber lasers, by 2019, the Nasdaq-listed company that is headquartered in Oxford, Massachusetts, had grown into a multinational corporation with revenue of over 1.3 billion US dollars. Its serves a wide range of markets including automotive, aerospace, medical, research, consumer electronics, semiconductors and communications.
Bystronic is one of IPG’s most important customers in the field of materials processing. What started as a simple supplier-customer relationship has evolved into a strategic partnership: In 2018, the two companies initiated joint development projects within the framework of a collaboration agreement. “This offers us the opportunity to adapt the laser sources to our specific needs and to develop innovative features for our customers,” says Christoph Rüttimann.
One such collaboration includes for example, Bystronic technicians being qualified to replace defective transport fibers at the laser source or to exchange laser modules. “We can thus set ourselves apart by offering comprehensive services from a single source. Our customers appreciate having a single point of contact for all their concerns,” Christoph Rüttimann emphasizes.
The output of fiber laser cutting machines has increased rapidly over the past few years. Two years ago Bystronic launched a 12-kilowatt system on the market, and this October with 15 kilowatts, the next power level will be launched. Christoph Rüttimann is convinced that the race for power will continue. And Bystronic is at the forefront – also thanks to its partnership with IPG.
For Bystronic’s customers, the performance increases achieved over the past few years have translated into higher productivity and above all greater flexibility. This tangible customer benefit can be enhanced even further thanks to innovative features. The exchange of ideas and know-how with IPG is fertile ground that generates valuable ideas to drive forward the development of the systems.
The joint innovations show that with IPG, Bystronic has found an ideal partner to drive development of next generation fiber laser solutions. Christoph Rüttimann observes: Within a rapidly evolving market, our partnership provides technology leadership, delivering leading-edge productivity and superior cost of ownership to our customers, and strengthening the future prospects of Bystronic.”