Celebrating 25 years

Twenty-five years ago, over lunch, Morris Leavitt (Moe), publisher of Laser Focus World, and I, a contributing editor to that magazine, were discussing the dearth of useful published information describing procedures for laser materials processing.

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Twenty-five years ago, over lunch, Morris Leavitt (Moe), publisher of Laser Focus World, and I, a contributing editor to that magazine, were discussing the dearth of useful published information describing procedures for laser materials processing. You may find this hard to believe but in 1985 there were a limited number of articles or books addressing the functional issues of laser materials processing. I mentioned to Moe that at a conference held in Dusseldorf, from which I had just returned, several young post graduate students had bemoaned the fact that they found this paucity of useful processing data a serious drawback to their experimental thesis work. And they postulated that this situation could impact the growth of the laser in their industrial manufacturing operations.

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Moe, always the entrepreneur, asked me if these young men and women would be willing to act as advisors to a publication that would address their stated concerns. Recognizing the deep interest of these former students—many performing entry-level work on laser processing at a number of large German companies—I offered to contact them, which I did. Their enthusiastic responses and offers of support led to the creation of the Industrial Laser Annual Handbook, a hard-bound publication that mixed practical laser processing data with technical articles on the subject.

As work on this new publication progressed it became clear to Moe and me that an annual publication, while needed, was not the vehicle for more rapid dissemination of the technology news (remember this was before the Internet), as the industries were gearing up for more widespread installations of the processes. The Annual Handbook continued publication until 1993 when it was decided that it’s original goal had been accomplished with the availability of numerous publications on the subject.

Consequently, over another lunch (we seemed to make all our momentous decisions over a good meal) we decided to start publishing a subscription newsletter directed to those interested in using the technology for manufacturing. Thus was born Industrial Laser Review (later to be renamed Industrial Laser Solutions for Manufacturing) with me as editor.

By now the story of its change to a controlled circulation magazine with advertising is well known (see ILS December 2009) as a result of a very warm reception at a June 1986 machine tool show in Philadelphia. What is not as well known is that at that time the industrial laser supplier industry was fragmented, populated by laser companies looking for markets for their products. In this issue of ILS you can see how certain applications eventually drove the market.

In that inaugural issue of the magazine, for the first time a profile of the industrial laser market was made, predecessor to the annual report that appears in this month’s issue. Also in the first issue were a report by Moe from China, then only a dream market, and the first of countless reports from international laser materials processing conferences. Technology reports covered: laser versus EDM, laser microsoldering, aerosol can nozzles drilling, laser versus electron beam for welding, surface texturizing, a new laser/robot system, and an automobile bumper mounting hole cutting system. These and similar subjects have been faithfully covered for the 25 years of ILR/ILS, making the magazine the oldest continuous resource for industrial laser materials processing applications.

ILS could not have survived the years without the support of the industrial laser community to whom we are eternally grateful. There have been times when economics dictated budget reductions, but even then the industry rallied to support us. We thank you and look forward to the coming years.

David A. Belforte
belforte@pennwell.com

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