The world is our stage

March 16, 2016
New readers may not be aware that ILS is truly an international publication focused on the use of lasers in material processing operations in manufacturing.
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New readers may not be aware that ILS is truly an international publication focused on the use of lasers in material processing operations in manufacturing. About a third of our subscribers are located in 150 countries worldwide. And these readers tell us they value ILS editorial as a source on information on advances in laser material processing in North America. What's more, 51% of page views on our website come from outside the US.

A small but significant percentage of these readers are in emerging nations, many of which will likely represent the next wave of manufacturing outsourcing solutions—that is, certain African nations are already stepping into the gap left by a decreasing low-labor-rate resource in China. Two years ago in this column, I wrote on the possibility of a sea change in outsourcing. Maybe my timetable was off a bit from the prediction I made in 2011.

ILS editorial is a two-way street—about half of it is generated by contributors from nations where lasers for materials processing are already established in the manufacturing sector, as examples in this issue show.

Profs. X. Tang and X. Zhu from Huazhong University in China describe the development of the laser material processing industry in Wuhan, China's optical valley, and share with readers some interesting numbers not generally known. According to BLM Group's Giovanni Zacco, Tubilaser (Ponzano, Northern Italy), a supplier of structural steel tubing and laser-cut tubular components, won with their gamble that users were ready for laser tube cutting of large-diameter, heavy wall tube and pipe used in a number of outstanding public structures. And Nitin Shankar discusses the growth of the industrial laser micromachining market in Europe.

Two US laser manufacturers share with readers technology that enhances process productivity. Dahv Kliner and associates from nLIGHT report on new fiber lasers incorporating back-reflection isolation that have their customers demonstrating uninterrupted processing of highly reflective materials. And Francisco Villarreal Saucedo and his associates at TeraDiode show the benefits of high-power diodes over other lasers, outperforming fiber lasers in cutting speed in many thin materials and quality cutting thicker materials—the last realm of CO2 metal cutting systems.

Two in-process applications employing advanced laser technology are featured in this issue. CRP USA, a company manufacturing on-car and wind components for racing teams, also produces parts for the space, entertainment, and automotive industries. Francesca Cuoghi says the company has expertise in selective laser sintering technology. And Frank Gäbler from Coherent introduces a process that avoids carbide grain formation by optimizing the mix of cladding materials for a specific application, precisely depositing material in accordance with the calculated recipe.

This issue of ILS is an excellent example of the diversity of laser material processing technology applications brought to readers around the world. In the next issue, ILS will feature articles from Spain, France, Germany, and the US on glass marking, polymer joining, micro-ablation, auto exhaust system welding, and 2μm fiber laser processing.

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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