Industrial lasers navigate a difficult selling year

Dec. 22, 2021
This issue of Industrial Laser Solutions closes out a tumultuous year, due to pandemic fallout, for industrial laser materials processing.

This issue of Industrial Laser Solutions closes out a tumultuous year, due to pandemic fallout, for industrial laser materials processing, with three features on subjects other than sheet metal cutting or electric-vehicle battery welding.

First, Francesca Moglia and Antonio Raspa (EPIC) discuss how laser beam shaping and in-line monitoring systems are fundamental for the optimization of the laser cleaning process (see article). 

Then, Bob Kloczkowski (Iradion Laser) introduces readers to market growth for ceramic-core CO2 lasers accomplished by several OEM systems suppliers. This success story covers a range of applications for this modest output-power laser in diverse manufacturing sectors (see article).

Additive manufacturing is the industrial laser process that many market analysts suggest will be a near-term significant revenue generator, but it hasn’t happened as fast as predicted. As TRUMPF commented in their 2020/21 annual report, “…we remain fundamentally convinced that additive manufacturing is a pioneering process with which TRUMPF can achieve considerable business success.” The oil and gas industry is a potential market that has eluded industrial laser suppliers. In a breakthrough application for laser-assisted additive manufacturing, Lynn Manning (Parker Group) describes the joint effort by Velo3D that has led to the first additively manufactured components meeting oil and gas industry demands (see article).

I would be remiss for not commenting on the passing (October 22, 2021) of an industrial laser pioneer, innovating scientist (in his native Russia), and astute businessman in the global laser industry. Dr. Valentin Gapontsev (1939-2021) will leave his crowning gloryhigh-power industrial fiber lasersat the pinnacle of their commercial success in today’s industrial laser marketplace. Starting in the early 2000s, from modest success with a low-power fiber laser for marking/engraving, his company IPG Photonics scaled up the manufacture of multikilowatt units challenging the high-power CO2 laser suppliers in the field they dominatedsheet metal cutting.

It was slow-going, trying to convince fabricators to use a new type of laser. But the economic advantage of more efficient IPG Photonics fiber laser metal cutting gained wider acceptance in 2009 and grew this market 100% to 2018, mainly at the expense of high-power CO2 laser sales. IPG Photonics rode this advantage, dominating global industrial laser sales in 2019 with about 20% of total industrial laser revenues. Valentin wisely drove the now publicly traded IPG, by continually reducing manufacturing costs passed on to system integrators. He leaves a dynamic product growing the market to new highs. For additional comments, see

About the Author

David Belforte | Contributing Editor

David Belforte (1932-2023) was an internationally recognized authority on industrial laser materials processing and had been actively involved in this technology for more than 50 years. His consulting business, Belforte Associates, served clients interested in advanced manufacturing applications. David held degrees in Chemistry and Production Technology from Northeastern University (Boston, MA). As a researcher, he conducted basic studies in material synthesis for high-temperature applications and held increasingly important positions with companies involved with high-technology materials processing. He co-founded a company that introduced several firsts in advanced welding technology and equipment. David's career in lasers started with the commercialization of the first industrial solid-state laser and a compact CO2 laser for sheet-metal cutting. For several years, he led the development of very high power CO2 lasers for welding and surface treating applications. In addition to consulting, David was the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Industrial Laser Solutions magazine (1986-2022) and contributed to other laser publications, including Laser Focus World. He retired from Laser Focus World in late June 2022.

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