The choice is yours

May 1, 2007
A solicitation letter from an international charity arrived in my personal mail right after New Year’s Day.

A solicitation letter from an international charity arrived in my personal mail right after New Year’s Day. On the envelope, in glaring red letters, were the words, “This is your last chance!” Having just sent a check before the holidays I thought the notice inside might concern its loss. Instead it was a warning that I was going to miss an opportunity to donate more money to a new matching donor gift campaign. My wife and I had many laughs over this the next few days, warning each other that everything distasteful was going to be a last-chance opportunity. Two months later, another letter, same charity, with bold white lettering on a green envelope stating, “There’s still time!” Seems the gift matching campaign was still on. I was being given a reprieve to make another choice.

We selected this charity as a Christmas gift to each other in lieu of spending money on things we really do not need. In fact, we use this procedure for all those on our Christmas giving list, because we believe it gives four times; a warm feeling from those recognized by the donation, the glow of a good deed done by the donor, financial satisfaction for the receiving charity, and of course some form of welcome assistance to those in need.

The only problem is that once your name is on the charity’s list you become the pop-up target of every new campaign in the next year. It’s a hazard that is easily overcome by tossing new appeals in the wastebasket, because it is all about choices. We choose to participate when we decide, not, for example, when we are offered an ill-conceived ultimatum like the “last chance” fiasco. Choosing when or why to do something is one of those freedom issues that get written about (in columns like this) as an inalienable right. It’s basically what you do when you want to do it.

This came to mind as the ILS editorial staff was chuckling over some very succinct and spare answers we found humorous in a response, from an outsourcing manufacturer, to our inquiry for details about an application that was under consideration as an Update item. We asked if this off-shore, outsourced application produced economic or production benefits and the terse answer was that laser welding was a pain from a manufacturing point of view; being too difficult, expensive, and time consuming. But the response we found amusing was, “If it (the part being laser welded) didn’t produce superior performance we would not do it.” Choice yes, under duress maybe, but made for the right reason.

Over time we have heard just about every pro and con there is when it comes to the choice of lasers for processing. In courses I taught, a list of likes and dislikes was presented as criteria for selecting laser processing versus some conventional technique. The most negative comment identified was equipment cost, usually offset by technical enhancement, process economics, or productivity improvement as a result of laser processing.

Surveys we have conducted invariably place equipment cost at the bottom of reasons to make, or not make, a laser choice. Reliability, ease of maintenance, product improvement, and increased throughput always rank higher.

Several years ago, when the benefits of laser processing were not as widely known, lasers had to satisfy a large list in order to be accepted. Today, the choice is made easier because knowledgeable prospective buyers place value on the laser’s processing performance before they consider the cost factor. Like the company referenced aboveeven though the laser might be “difficult,” the end result is too good to pass up.

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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