David Belforte: Mourning the loss of an industrial laser legend

Aug. 9, 2023
Read below for a self-penned obituary found by his family.
David Belforte
Laser community mourns the loss of an industry legend.
Laser community mourns the loss of an industry legend.

Known as: the Laser Pope in Germany, Mister Industrial Laser in Japan, and the Father of Chinese Laser Job Shops, David Arthur Belforte (n. Belforti) passed away on Sunday, August 7th, 2023. Born in Framingham, Mass. The son of Arthur D. Belforti and Jean (Purcell), he was raised and educated in that town, graduating in the noted Framingham High School class of 1950 (on the town’s 250th anniversary.) After moving to Ashland, Mass, he married Virginia E. (Crowley) and settled in Ashland where a son Steven D. Belforti was born. The family subsequently moved to Melrose, Mass. before moving to Sturbridge, Mass.

He served in the U.S. Army during the closing period of the Korean War and the subsequent Cold War (1953-55) and was a graduate of the Army Signal School in Monmouth, New Jersey (1953) and the Ordnance School in Aberdeen, Maryland (1954). He served with the 1st Army at Fort Totten, Bayside, NY, and Camp Hero, Montauk, NY. He was honorably discharged in 1963 after completing active and reserve duty for his country. For this, he was recognized by the United States and Commonwealth of Massachusetts governments, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion.

Mr. Belforte graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with degrees in Chemistry (1963) and Production Engineering (1970).

He was a member of the Research Staff at Raytheon Company in Waltham, MA, a sales engineer for Alloyd Corporation, Cambridge, MA, General Vacuum Corporation Medford, MA, and after their merger Alloyd General Corporation in Cambridge, MA. He was a co-founder of Electron Beam Corporation in Lynn MA and in a merger with Thomson Electric Welder Company (a company established by the renowned inventor of resistance welding Elijah Thomson), he became Vice President and Co-owner of Thomson Welder Company.

Later he established the industrial laser products group at American Optical Corp. in Southbridge, MA where the first million pulses industrial glass laser was developed for drilling and spot welding. Subsequently, he established a subsidiary of Ferranti Electric (Scotland) in Sturbridge, MA, and introduced the laser cutting of sheet metal in North America.

He then became a Staff Member at Avco Everett in Everett, MA where he helped create Avco Everett Metalworking Lasers in Somerville, MA which installed the then highest power industrial lasers at Caterpillar Tractor, Fiat, Westinghouse, and others.

He established Belforte Associates, a consulting practice, in Sturbridge in 1982 and consulted in industrial laser material processing for many international clients.

In 1986 he co-authored the Industrial Laser Annual Handbook and its’ five subsequent editions. This was the first global publication to openly share industrial laser processing data. In 1986 he also founded and became Editor-in-Chief of Industrial Laser Review, a monthly (later bi-monthly as Industrial Laser Solutions) industrial laser magazine, then and until 2021, the only such publication read in 150 countries, focusing on industrial laser material processing.

In a long career in industrial laser processing, he wrote and published, hundreds of articles and technical papers and, taught short courses and lectures on this subject, in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. He was an invited speaker at conferences in 30 international countries. His columns on this subject appeared routinely in Industrial Laser Review (later Industrial Laser Solutions) and several other technical publications. He was also a Contributing Editor to Laser Focus World for three decades.

He was honored with the Laser Institute of America’s prestigious Arthur L. Schawlow Award for these educational efforts and elected as an Academician by the Ukraine Academy of Engineering Sciences. He became President, a Fellow, and a Life Member of the Laser Institute of America and was awarded (three times) for Valued Service. He was also: A life Member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, a Gold and Life Member of the American Welding Society, and appointed as a Distinguished Expert by Zhejiang University of Technology (China).

He retired, after 53 years of continuous service in the introduction and growth of industrial laser material processing technology.

In his private life, he was a consummate reader of non-fiction accumulating an extensive library on the history of World War II, and a voluminous reader of fiction, especially international police procedural mysteries. He was a music lover with a primary interest in Big Band music. In his youth and later in life he played drums in amateur bands. While in the Army he was a founding member of the Fort Monmouth Signaleers Drum and Bugle Corps that won championship recognition in New Jersey.

He appeared on the stage with the Drama Club of Framingham High School in their State Championship performance of I Remember Mama and later with the Civic League Players of Framingham in several productions. This led to a lifelong interest in theatre as a playgoer.

At one point in life, he was an amateur photographer specializing in landscapes, and his well-regarded views were taken in countries around the world.

He was a member of the American and New England Hosta Societies and his collection of more than 500 varieties of this plant was admired by many in his Sturbridge home.

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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