Shipments of industrial laser equipment and systems for North America declined 5 percent last year, a drop-off that some attribute to the Asian economic crisis. That's according to the latest figures compiled by the Association for Manufacturing Technology in McLean, Va. Industrial laser shipments in North America and US exports amounted to $573.7 million in 1998. North American shipments totaled $430.2 million, while exports were $143.5 million. Lasers used for cutting applications made up more than half of all shipments, with CO2 lasers accounting for 62 percent. Most businesses chose to buy complete laser systems, with orders for workstations or lasers making up only 15 percent of all shipments.