28 Industrial Laser Solutions SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 www.industrial-lasers.com
David A. Belforte
Wishing can make it so—in time
For those readers that follow my blogs on www.industrial-lasers. com, you’ll recall that I have been digging into early published ref- erences to establish the first ap-
pearance of the term “industrial laser.” In doing
so, I couldn’t help but notice among them the fol-
• “Will Laser Make Grade as Proven Welding
Process?” – Iron Age (1964)
• “Lasers Ready for Production Role” –
• “Laser Applications Invade Production Field”
– Automation (1968)
• “The Great Potential of Laser Beams in
Industry” – The Engineer (1969)
• “Will Lasers Serve as Heat Treaters Ally” –
Iron Age (1970)
• “Laser Makers Finally Get Practical” –
Purchasing Week (1971)
• The Laser May Be Ready For the Big Time –
Business Week (1971)
I especially liked the last one because it actually
took 29 years before industrial laser system revenues cracked the billion-dollar mark in 1990, which
I consider the big time. Sales passed $5 billion in
2006 and $10 billion in 2011, and revenues are projected for more than $13 billion this year.
A major contributor to this growth in the last
few years has been the China market, which today
makes up about a third of all industrial laser system revenues. In my article describing this vibrant
market, I point out that estimated laser processing equipment sales in China are expected to top
$4.5 billion, or 35% of the total market (see page
9). No wonder all eyes are on China when considering the growth prospects for industrial lasers.
It’s a difficult market for analysts to understand
as verifiable in the form of available official gov-
ernment historical statistics—which are not avail-
able, at least to Westerners. Fortunately, the laser
industry itself has become more sharing, and
ILS has tapped resources there to publish back-
ground information on this vibrant market.
In addition, this month we also offer readers a
look at proven applications in laser additive manufacturing, fiber laser cutting and welding, and surface treatment.
Our cover features Airbus, who made their first
steps into additive manufacturing in flying aircraft
in 2014. Peter Sander (Airbus Operations GmbH)
tells how the company uses a multistep approach,
from first parts to clean sheet design (see page 5).
Benjamin Mehlmann and Josef Sedlmair (F&K
Delvotec Bondtechnik GmbH) describe combining a 1k W fiber laser with a heavy-wire bonder to
connect copper ribbons measuring several millimeters wide with excellent connection quality and
high speed, specifically for battery pack connections for e-mobility (see page 12).
Christian Dornscheidt and Caesar Sasse (SMS
group) describe the production of hard-to-weld
strip materials using patented inductive heat treatment, including information about fiber lasers
and weld-seam heat treatment on recent installations for pickling lines in Finland and in Arkansas
(see page 16).
I’m happy to welcome back Bob Kolcz
(Prima Power), who writes about P & A Metal
Fab (Clackamas, OR), a contract fab shop that
installed a laser/punch combination machine that
provides them with outstanding flexibility, speed,
accuracy, and productivity (see page 21).
David Gillen (Blueacre Technology) says that in
the past, laser cleaning applications have been
limited. However, he says now it is advancing, as
companies are implementing similar principles
used in medical device and semiconductor processing to increase yield and reduce overall production costs (see page 24).
LASERS POINT TO
THE CHINA MARKET