Following the release of a report by the Laser Systems Product Group of the Association for Manufacturing Technology in McLean, Va., Dave Plourde, chairman of the association and vice president of sales at Preco Laser Systems LLC of Somerset, Wis., stated that the laser market is heading into 2006 healthier than it has been at any time in the past decade. At $169.6 million, shipments of industrial laser equipment and systems for North America and US exports were about the same in the second quarter of both 2005 and 2004, according to the report. Of the total second-quarter 2005 shipments reported by the 38 companies that participated in the survey, dispatches within North America totaled $115.8 million, while exports amounted to $53.8 million. Plourde attributes the health of the market to the fact that, although the laser has been used as a tool since the 1970s, it has come a long way in terms of speed, quality and performance. He thinks one of the primary issues is that, “we better understand what it can do from a machine tool standpoint.”The report shows that approximately 60 percent of the industrial lasers shipped in the second quarter of 2005 were CO2 types, an increase of 4 percent over last year. Nd:YAG laser shipments consequently decreased 6 percent. According to Plourde, this is simply an issue of power, because CO2 lasers have dropped in price and now provide a lot more power for less than an Nd:YAG.Total system configuration appears to be a trend, with more than 80 percent of lasers shipped as a system that integrates a laser and workstation. Lasers used in cutting applications accounted for 60 percent of those shipped.The Laser Systems Product Group is made up of companies that belong to the association and that produce laser systems and industrial laser sources. Any company in North America that builds or supplies industrial laser equipment may participate in the statistical program. For more information, contact Alicia Alfiere, +1 (703) 827-5259; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.