McLEAN, VA-At $122.7 million, first quarter 2004 shipments of industrial laser equipment and systems for North America and U.S. exports were up approximately 40% from first quarter 2003, according to the Laser Systems Product Group (LSPG) of The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Industrial laser equipment and systems shipments within North America by the 41 companies reporting to the first quarter 2004 LSPG statistical program totaled $81.6 million, while exports totaled $41.1 million.

The report from the LSPG shows that shipments of CO2 laser systems increased almost 35% and Nd:YAG lasers were up 45%, compared with the previous year's first quarter. The report also shows cutting applications as the largest source of industrial laser activity in first quarter 2004, accounting for approximately 50% of all shipments. In addition, more than 55% of industrial lasers shipped for the quarter were of the CO2 variety and nearly 90% of total shipments were configured as a laser system, which is a laser source and workstation.

First quarter 2004 dollar figures are based on data supplied by contributors to the LSPG statistical survey. The year-on-year percent change in CO2 and Nd:YAG lasers reflects the contributions of only those companies that participated in the statistical program in both first quarter 2003 and first quarter 2004. The report does not include increased shipments reflecting the addition of new program participants in the first quarter 2004.

"While impressive, the 40% increase in industrial laser shipments compared to the first quarter 2003 is not a big surprise, seeing that capacity utilization indices continue to rise to new cyclical levels, as do American manufacturing profits. Expectations are for even further growth as the summer months arrive," says Dave Plourde, LSPG chairman.