Laser techniques for micromachining and other forms of material processing, such as texturing, scribing and surface cleaning, have been moving into industrial processes increasingly over the past few years. The recent advances in femtosecond laser micromachining have prompted a lively debate, both in the literature and at international conferences, on the subject of the most appropriate type of laser to carry out these processes in the industrial environment, whilst bearing in mind the importance to industrial users of ruggedness, reliability, cost and speed, as well as the quality of the finished part. Some of the protagonists in this debate have accepted invitations to contribute papers to this Focus Issue of Optics Express.

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