Work for large bed profile cutter

A friend of mine has a one-man business cutting special shapes out of large sheets of mild steel. I have become involved with this huge
machine - which can take sheets of mild up to the largest, I would imagine and up to several inches thick. Because I understand the old relay transistor technology I have been able to help him out on occasions. It cuts a pencil thin cut with oxy-propane and follows a line on a full size diagram, very accurately.
With lots of his customers going out of business, or cutting backon work, he is worried about the viability of his own future and I suggested he try to diversify and sell to a larger market. As he does not use the internet except for emails etc. he asked if I could try and get a few suggestions of what other companies in the same field may be doing, or where we could look or advertise for new work. Has anyone any experience about using one of these sort of things for - perhaps unusual or inovative work. Any suggestions would be welcome. A brainstorm perhaps!
Thanks very much and regards, George.
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A bit old hat and dated now I'm afraid. I get a lot of work laser cut, I email a DXF file of the part, they load this into their machine which reads it and it cuts it. They put the parts on a pallet and I get them next day.
No drawings other than email and never have to leave the shop.
John S.
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A "magic eye" machine, haven't seen one of those for years. I used to have to make the templates for them when I was an apprentice. Does he use a CAD package on a computer to draw the profiles and then print them out full size with a plotter? If so he could accept dxf files from customers by email and send parts back, just as John mentioned with his laser cutter. I don't know what the current status is, but there used to be a thickness of plate where it became more economical to oxy-fuel cut plate instead of laser cut it. As he's a one man band he might be able to offer reasonable prices for one-off parts that a lot of cutters don't want to do. But most of the model engineering requirements are relatively thin, and well covered by laser cutting. This is very outdated technology though, we got rid of our machines while I was an apprentice (over 20 years ago) because they were otdated then and we had bought cnc machines. Best of luck though.
Regards Kevin
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He is using old technology as someone mentioned,but there are still a lot about.Got one myself although we don`t use it. Problems he`s facing are many and he cannot compete against lasers and hi-def plasma on quality of cut and cost. He could look at adding plasma to it but most of that type of machine do not have a good enough axis drive system to handle the speeds and accuracy required. His problems are not going to go away unfortunately and my own feeling is that his only chance of surviving is to find small niche customers who value service and provide them with that or spend money on equipment (not to be recommended today) or diversify. You don`t mention where he is unfortunately.I know a guy in the north of Scotland who is looking for profiles but he needs them on his doorstep.
Mark M
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Thanks for all that, - some interesting ideas. We are in Norfolk, just outside Norwich. Quite a way from Scotland. Do you think these old gas machines have any advantages at all over the laser models? Some Unique selling points? He did say that he can cut a thicker sheet than a laser. If your output is very heavy, it sort of limits you to local customers.
Regards George.
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George,the laser guys can go to 25mm but most stop at about 15mm in steel.The big problem is that due to the recession and lack of work the laser guys are doing work they would never have touched a year or so back. Waterjets are also getting common and affordable. The only advantage a gas machine has over laser is that it can cut thicker material. I don`t see a big future for your guy if he only does oxy-gas profiling.Sorry
Mark M
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