Control Laser History
1965 – 1974
Pioneer of Laser Technology
On April 19, 1965, the inventor of the automobile airbag, Michael Ivashuk, founded a private company in Pompano Beach, Florida incorporated as Ivashuk Manufacturing Company. The company’s initial business model was to serve as a universal contractor for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. Ivashuk Manufacturing developed and manufactured jet engine parts and missiles from exotic materials.
In 1968, as the business expanded, Michael merged Ivashuk Manufacturing with the Orlando Research Corp., and renamed the company as Control Laser Corporation, then went publicly listed the next year, and eventually landed on the NASDAQ in 1974.
Michael had foreseen the infinite future potential of laser technology in the years after going public while vigorously working on laser development. By March of 1973, Control Laser became the top producer of YAG lasers in the United States (Orlando Sentinel Mar 11, 1973 Article). At this stage, Control Laser pioneered many far-reaching laser applications, like ophthalmology laser therapy; ION lasers for University research and repurposed for use in light show demonstrations; laser holographic anti-counterfeiting for the emerging credit card businesses ; spinning polygon barcode readers; the first versions of laser-based finger print detection; and the first semiconductor wafer laser marking system.
1974 – 1988
In July 1977, Michael Ivashuk sold his controlling interest of Control Laser Corp. to a Washington based logistics company named Security Storage. The founder’s son, Robert Van Roijen Jr., was elected Chairman of Control Laser. Mr. Van Roijen, who came from a family of CIA officials and joined IBM after graduating from Harvard College, was responsible for marketing and government relationships for 4 years, and became a co-founder of numerous venture capitals and hedge fund companies.
After taking charge of Control Laser, Robert used his ingenuity and knowledge of capital operations to develop the business by acquiring a series of laser companies with proprietary and ingenuitive technologies. This move quickly expanded the company’s revenue by more than 10 times. Important expansions included the acquisition of Holobeam in 1978 which brought CLC into the high power Ruby and YAG laser welding market, as well as drilling and diamond cutting applications. Then, in 1980, CLC acquired a new business venture in Daventry, England from British Oxygen Corp. for the development of a computer-aided 6kW CO2 laser machining, cutting, and welding tool, with an integrated 5-axis servo robotics system, which was sold to the US Navy; Boeing Military Aircraft; and GE Turbine Generation Systems in the mid 1980’s.
In 1977, after a long wait of 18 years, Gordon Gould finally won the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Laser Invention patent approval. The Bell Labs patent which had been held for 17 years (since 1960) and their corresponding laser patents were terminated. The patent Office awarded the patent to Gould and within one week, a lawsuit had been filed against Control Laser.
There were new patent approvals given to Gould as the year progressed. The approvals yielded a huge, back-dated patent fee due that year. Royalties were due and resisted by the current laser equipment companies of the time. Mr. Gould, in turn, sold some of the patent proceeds to cover attorney fees. 10 years of patent litigation slowly resulted in many of the current laser companies of the time going bankrupt or merging to consolidate costs.
1988 – 2008
In July 1988, Control Laser’s controlling ownership was sold to Quantronix Company, thus entering the semiconductor mask repair business. Because of the volatility of the semiconductor market at the end of 1992, Excel Technology acquired both Quantronix and Control Laser.
In 1985, Mr. Rama Rao, an Indian-American physicist and son of an Indian steel company accountant, founded Excel Technology Inc. After the successful development of tunable-wavelength lasers for oncology surgery, Excel Tech landed on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange in 1991. After public listing, Excel technology continuously acquired proprietary technology companies every one to two years.
With respect to Excel Technologies, Control Laser Corp. became the only company in the United States to provide solutions for the manufacture and sale of automated laser processing systems. The laser applications, and CLC’s customer base, expanded from the aerospace, military and semiconductor industries into automobiles, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, tools, molds, jewelry, trophies, packaging and other commercial markets.
2008 – Present
In July 2008, General Scanning Inc. Group, determined to horizontally integrate the laser industry, financed 3.6 billion USD to privatize and acquire Excel Technology. Because of the later financial crisis, General Scanning Inc. Group went into bankruptcy protection and debt restructuring, divesting its laser equipment business. In November 2012, Control Laser’s equity was fully acquired by Hans Laser group.
In April 1996, university professor Gao Yunfeng founded Han’s Laser company, which went public in 2004. Starting from the laser marking machine business, Han’s Laser successfully expanded their business into the many various industrial applications markets after 20+ years of effort, including high-power laser cutting and welding; 3D printing of metal additive manufacturing; ultrafast laser system integration; CNC machine tools; industrial robotics; etc. Now, Han’s group is the world’s largest laser system manufacturer by sales volumes, and is ranked the top 3 by market value or net equity.
During this period, Control Laser was focusing on the material processing applications demand from six major market segments: aerospace, military, automotive, semiconductors, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, and formed four branded product lines: laser micro-machining, laser marking and engraving, high-power laser cutting, and laser welding systems.
CLC managers team in 2019