32 Industrial Laser Solutions JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 www.industrial-lasers.com
David A. Belforte
Another opening, another show!
As I sat down to draft this is- sue’s My View column, the words flowing onto the screen began to seem familiar. In fact, they bore a distinct resemblance to the My View column appearing in the
January/February 2016 issue, with the opening
sentence being identical. Is there such a thing as
personal plagiarism? Might readers have forgotten what I wrote last year so that I could rerun it
and save myself the effort of rephrasing this year?
And how in the world did this happen?
A confluence of world economic factors produced decreasing country gross domestic products (GDPs) that acted as a brake on manufacturing economies in developed, developing, and
emerging countries. In the United States, it was
a tumultuous presidential campaign, with uncertainty after the outcome. Europe, France and
Italy—mired in immigrant-related problems—
experienced equipment sales stagnation. In
China, government meddling to sustain predicted
annual growth targets disrupted business investment plans for the first half of the year. Brazil,
expected to lead emerging economies, was in
a steep decline through political uncertainty that
caused production cuts. Russia was still in economic decline from a slide in crude oil prices and
geopolitical activities that caused international
sanctions. Even India’s early economic growth
promise stalled because of delayed infrastructure investments and more political uncertainty.
And here I sat, trying to find an explanation
why—in a modest growth year for machine tool
sales—2016 industrial laser product sales continued on a three-year sales growth curve. (Maybe I
should ask ILS senior illustrator Chris Hipp to add
a wrinkle to the caricature on the left of this page.)
Instead, in this year’s Annual Economic Review,
I, using my collaborator’s numbers, present a
view of the market that should enable you to plan
accordingly for the future (see p. 9).
In this year’s report, we show an inordinate
growth in microprocessing sales due in great part
to the first substantive revenues from shipments of
high-power excimer lasers for annealing organic
light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. Rainer Pätzel
and Ralph Delmdahl of Coherent describe exci-mer-laser-based, low-temperature polysilicon
annealing and how it is currently being implemented in display production (see p. 14).
An application made for precise laser processing, drilling holes in fuel injectors, has
finally become a viable process. Mike Lerner of
Microlution tells how ultrafast-pulse (UFP) lasers
created a successful new manufacturing process,
and also proves that UFP lasers could be exceptionally precise, fast, and reliable for industrial
micromachining (see p. 21).
Jack Gabzdyl and Daniel Capostagno of SPI
Lasers pick up on this, showing examples of UFP
laser joining of metal combinations that enable
design engineers to reevaluate metal pairings that
they were told were impossible (see p. 24).
And our UFP laser advocate Ron Schaeffer
chips in with an update on selecting these lasers
for microprocessing applications, adding that the
cost of these lasers is also dropping, making them
much more affordable for manufacturing applications (see p. 18).
And finally, for some variety, Matthew Gilloon of
Ford showcases how productivity has increased
at least three times over resistance spot welding
by applying remote laser welding in production of
the new Ford Mustang (our cover story; see p. 28).
I sincerely hope that 2017 economic results
match the projections made in the ILS Annual
Economic Review, and factors inhibiting last
year’s growth in manufacturing will be resolved
for the better.
STRONG UPTICK, EVEN
IN MODEST MACHINE-TOOL GROWTH