A rose by any other name…

July 25, 2017
I'm going way out on a limb here, but I think that in 1983, I may have inadvertently linked together two words that, by common usage, became a defining term.
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I'm going way out on a limb here, but I think that in 1983, I may have inadvertently linked together two words that, by common usage, became a defining term. I'm talking about "industrial laser," a term I started using in an article I wrote for the February 1983 issue of Lasers & Applications (long since defunct). In that article, entitled "Why Doesn't Industry Use More Lasers?", I stated "We have seen the technical, organizational and competitive issues surrounding the development of the industrial laser are all interrelated." A cursory review of my publication in my files prior to this date does not link the words "laser" and "industrial." After my first use of the term, I gave a keynote address at the SME's May 1983 seminar on Laser Innovations in Manufacturing Technology—my subject was "Industrial Lasers – A Perspective." From there on, I've used the term freely.

Now, I am not laying claim to ownership of the term—far from it—but I think I at least acted to popularize the term to the point where "industrial laser" became the defining term for an industry that has now grown to more than $3 billion a year in revenues.

So, here's the challenge—if you can cite a published reference prior to 1983 using the term "industrial laser," send it to me at [email protected] and, after a decent period of time, I'll let readers know when and where the term was first used by whom. It could well have been me, for all I know.

By the way—proving the popularity of industrial lasers—so far this year, 55 organizations have published 157 market studies on industrial laser material processing subjects, ranging from cutting and welding to drilling and additive manufacturing.

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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