Back in 1986, my then-partner at PennWell, Moe Levitt, and I were dragging a folding shopping cart full of a hot-off-the-press publication through the Philadelphia Civic Center at the International Tool & Manufacturing Engineering Exposition and Conference sponsored by the SME. We were bootlegging a brand-new publication, Industrial Laser Review, dropping copies off in the booths of friendly exhibitors who had expressed an interest in industrial laser materials processing. Our hope was that visitors to those booths would pick up a copy and contact us for a subscription. I use the term bootlegging because we were not an official exhibitor, nor a paying attendee at the concurrent SME conference—our presence being overlooked by the show’s organizers who were getting free mentions in the inaugural issue.
Selecting this event was a last-minute decision on our part, resulting because one of our advertising space salesmen had managed to sell industrial laser-related ads in this issue and we thought those companies, exhibiting at the Tool show, would appreciate seeing their endorsement in what had actually started as a paid subscription newsletter that now morphed, thanks to the paid ads, into a magazine.
I’ve written before on the creation and founding of Industrial Laser Review, the predecessor to Industrial Laser Solutions (ILS), so I won’t repeat. What I want to say now is that the November/December 2020 issue of ILS will be its last as a free-standing publication. The economic pressures on the global magazine publishing industry leading to the closure and mergers of countless publications finally caught up with ILS, and “the little magazine that could”—as a former ad sales manager aptly described us—will no more be on its own.
We will merge ILS into our big sister, Laser Focus World (LFW), becoming a section in that publication and thereby gaining tens of thousands of new readers as well as a return to publication every month. We look forward to carrying on the mission we set back in 1986—‘Educating manufacturing professionals to the economic and technical benefits of industrial laser material processing.’
Current ILS subscribers will receive LFW each month and LFW readers will now read about the latest in advanced industrial laser material processing in timely ILS articles written by industry experts.
The ILS website () will continue to be the repository of technology and business news from the global industrial laser material processing market. Occasionally, web-exclusive articles also will appear.
When Moe and I first started ILR, we never foresaw 35 years of publication. We never dreamed the industrial laser market would reach $20+ billion, a 12.3% CAGR. We saw a need in 1986 and set out to fill it—successfully I would say, thanks to the editorial contributions of hundreds of authors who shared their advanced materials processing developments with our readership. Our editorial schedule, as part of LFW for 2021 continues this tradition, and we have scheduled dozens of feature articles from many contributors. ILS readers will continue to enjoy reading us, now monthly, and we look forward to hearing from our new LFW readers.
We will start the new year with a departure—two timely, thoughtful, and yes, perhaps controversial, features in the ILS section of the January issue of LFW, one on the challenge to global market competition from aggressive Chinese industrial laser suppliers. The other will be a complementary feature on how technology is utilizing digitalization to become more agile and resilient to such disruptions in the global supply chain.