JR Laser supplies aerial brackets to Hanwha

December 11, 2023

Geelong’s JR Laser has produced an order of bespoke steel aerial vehicle brackets for major GMC sponsor Hanwha Defense Australia.

In another example of Hanwha actively engaging with local suppliers, JR Laser recently delivered the first order to Hanwha’s Truganina site as the build of the Armoured vehicle Centre of Excellence continues next to Avalon airport.

“We were pretty excited about receiving the order. It’s the first step and we’re on their supplier register now,” Managing Director Trevor Arklay tells GMC. 

“We’d already joined the Hanwha portal as a potential supplier but now we have done a supply it makes the chain a bit easier. All was good, delivered on time and everybody’s happy.

The steel brackets were folded at 90 degrees and supplied as a finished unpainted item.

“They were aerial brackets going on one of their trial vehicles. There are a gazillion components that go into making one of those vehicles so there is going to be a lot of potential there for us and for others.”

JR Laser Cutting, a long-standing supporter of the GMC for over 10 years, has been Geelong’s premier laser cutting service company for decades, with state-of-the-art machines, exceptional cut quality and quick turnaround times. 

The Australian, family-owned business has been operating since 1989 operates and makes two runs a day. The team of eight prides itself on personalised service and is a trusted supplier of customers of the ilk of Ford Product Engineering and Patagonia. 

JR says it can cut “practically any 2D shape” out of paper, polycarbonate plastics, MDF and other wood, aluminium, stainless steel, leather, acrylic plastic, mild steel, and more. A computer numerical control (CNC) reads G-code instructions and drives the laser cutting machine.

The laser technology uses a computer controlled, high voltage, focused laser beam to “vaporise” the material, followed by a pressurised gas to blow the vaporised material away.

“Similar to an oxy torch, but the cut is much finer and much more accurate,” the business says. “If you want ten, a hundred, a thousand or a million of the same item they will all be identical size and shape. If you can draw it on paper we can cut it out of practically anything you want.”

JR has a client base of about 1200 customers. It used to supply Alcoa’s ingot mill, and Ford Product Engineering remains a customer. 

“We are cutting research and development components for their product engineering. What those components are, they don’t share with us, they just send us the drawings, give them obscure names,” Trevor said. 

“Our main customers are industrial, mostly for their proprietary items. We supply a lot of components to other Geelong manufacturers. Some customers will buy from us once a year, some more often. They keep us all pretty busy. We’re still doing two shifts a day cutting.”

Trevor, who bought the business with brother Morris, attended East Geelong Technical School and became a qualified fitter and turner, and later undertook a sponsored mechanical engineering degree while working at BHP. Morris was also trained at BHP with a Master Planner qualification. The original laser is still in operation, alongside a newer one bought from Italy in more recent years.

“One is about 30 years old that we use for some stranger requests. Because of its age, it’s very flexible, compared with our modern machine, which is more a production type machine so it doesn’t stop and it’s not as not as flexible, but it’s a lot faster.”

An example is fireproof buildings made with steel sections that require power and water outlet holes. 

“We do those on the 30-year-old machine because it’s flexible and you can only do one at a time,” Trevor said. “We prefer shorter runs and more of them rather than long runs of a couple of thousand items. Otherwise we get bored!”

He is quietly confident the latest order from Hanwha is just the beginning but says there is no hurry.

“It certainly takes time to develop relationships and also for them to get themselves up and up and going. We are quite prepared to be patient.”