After completing his apprenticeship and gaining an HND in mechanical engineering as well as an NVQ Level 3 in AutoCad, Iain Summerfield found himself at a sheet metal subcontractor in 2001 sweeping the floor and loading material onto four Bystronic CO2 flat-bed laser cutting machines. Within the first three months he had reorganised the firm’s production processes, started programming and operating the lasers, and took a course in the nesting, programming and simulation software, BySoft.
Seven years later, in mid-2008, Summerfield decided to use a small inheritance, remortgage his house and join forces with co-director Paul King to set up their own company, Laser 24, to provide similar subcontract services. In a little over a decade the subcontractor has grown to employ 26 staff and has added CNC bending to its capacity.
Due to the reliability of the Bystronic machines at his previous company and in particular the user-friendliness of the software, Laser 24’s first purchase was a second-hand BySprint 1.8 kW CO2 3015 (3 metre x 1.5 metre) laser cutting machine, which ran 24/7 in a 3,500 sq ft factory unit in Wickford, Essex. At the time, one of the early contracts was the production of 5,000 decorative snowflakes from 0.5mm aluminium sheet for a Christmas display at Harrods department store in London.