The Industrial Laser Solutions Buyers Guide is being co-mailed with this month’s issue of ILS, a departure from past practice where the Buyers Guide was part of the March issue. This change was made for a number of reasons, not the least of which was user requests for a free-standing Buyers Guide that they could easily refer to throughout the year when seeking industry resources.
Producing the Buyers Guide is a both a labor of love and an excellent piece of work by the staff listed in the publication’s masthead. It is a labor of love because the editorial staff expends an inordinate amount of time ensuring that listings are absolutely correct and that the company listings are as comprehensive as possible. The Buyers Guide staff, all consummate professionals, is extremely committed to making this the most definitive publication on suppliers of industrial lasers, systems, and related products.
The first industrial laser buyers guide appeared in the 1986 Industrial Laser Annual Handbook that I co-edited with Moe Levitt. It was then called a Company and Product Directory and it compiled information for laser and system suppliers located in 15 countries. As an aside, another first connected to that publication was my collaboration with a, then inexperienced, young college graduate who grew up to be the experienced Senior Editor of this magazine. At that time Laureen Belleville showed deep interest in making this Directory complete and useful to readers, an attitude she still exhibits as she diligently Googles the Web tracking down correct information for this year’s version, a duty not in her job description.
Believe it or not, in 1986 we used to hand sort index cards that contained industry data on 168 laser and system suppliers from 15 countries; today a sophisticated computer program does the job. And thank heaven because this year we list 302 suppliers of industrial lasers and systems from 26 countries.
A number of companies do not return qualifying questionnaires for their free listing, as hard as we chase after them, and there are a number of product suppliers who do not compete internationally and therefore are unknown to ILS. On the whole, we still have the most definitive international compilation currently available; this year a total of 594 companies selling industrial laser products and services.
You might be interested to learn that 61 percent of the suppliers in this year’s Buyers Guide are located in North America, compared to 44 percent in 1986. Other comparative numbers; Europe has 31 percent today compared to 29 percent, and Asia has 7 percent today compared to 26 percent in 1986 (a result of a 60 percent supplier slippage in Japan and a 20 times increase in China).
The European market is still dominated by Germany with 50 percent of the suppliers versus 29 percent 20 years ago. Germany, by the way, has 15 percent of the world’s suppliers. New to this year’s version are suppliers in Slovenia, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey.
China now has 4 percent of the world total compared to <1 percent in 1986. And there are several fast-growing suppliers, led by Han’s Laser, already tapping into the international market.
Among laser and system suppliers listed this year, 50 percent offer products for marking/engraving and 39 percent for metal cutting, which closely mirrors worldwide installations. Twenty years ago it was 25 percent and 41 percent, with metal cutting number 1 and marking number 3.
We think you will enjoy using the new Buyers Guide and we look forward to your comments.
David A. Belforte
For more than 20 years ILS has been compiling the most comprehensive buyers guide to companies and products in the industrial laser market-place