Laser Innovations Timeline

1992- Bob Kartman was inspired to start a laser cutting business to provide better quality parts for model airplane kits. He was so frustrated with the poor quality die cut parts in a model kit he was building that he decided to “build a better mousetrap…” After seeing a demo of an early compact enclosed laser system made by Universal Laser Systems (ULS)  at an engineering trade show in Chicago, he decided that he could put the technology to use. Several months were spent in business planning, launch preparation, and designing his own small laser system from surplus parts (the budget was too tight to afford a turnkey ULS system at the time).

February 1993- Laser Innovations Inc. is launched in Bob and Rebekah’s basement with an $11,000 investment. The 25 watt laser system could only cut parts up to 12" x 19”, but it was enough to show that the idea was viable, although the first several years were lean. Radio Control Modeler magazine was kind enough to include LII brochures with every plan that RCM sent out.

April 1993, April 1994- Laser Innovations exhibited at Toledo’s Weak Signals RC club’s RC model show at Seagate Center. We were one of 2 laser cutting companies at the 1993 show and met the first of many long time customers.

1995- The old medical laser used for the original system failed and was replaced with a newer Synrad 25 watt laser head. Laser cutting quality and cutting speed improved.

1998- Bob modified his original laser to be able to cut model parts up to 12" x 39”  Bob’s dad, Al, starts digitizing and laser cutting when our original laser system is relocated to South Bend.

1999- LaserDad (Al) retires from his mechanical engineering career in the aerospace industry and takes over the majority of the model plans digitizing and airplane kit cutting effort, while Bob devotes much of his time to business, marketing, and product development.

2000- Laser Innovations adds two turnkey CO2 cutting systems; our 25 watt Universal Laser Systems ULS-25 to add high quality engraving and thin plastics cutting capabilities, and our 50 watt Kern cutting system for thicker materials, and larger part wood cutting. The ULS system is located in our Fort Wayne Office, and the Kern system is in our South Bend office, and Al Kartman, affectionately known as Laserdad runs our model cutting service after retiring from a 39 year mechanical engineering career at Bendix Corporation (Allied Signal Corp when he retired).

2003- Our first website is launched at

2004-2013 Our two laser systems continue to be workhorses that keep cutting and cutting!  The ULS laser cuts more than 500,000 plastic (mylar) parts over the years, and the Kern system keeps cutting thousands of high quality balsa and plywood model aircraft parts. We also begin to produce laser engraved awards, photo frames, laser engraved marble, wood plaques and dogtags for various sports teams, marching band, and other customers.

2013- LII adds its third turnkey laser system: our new pride and joy, a 75 watt Epilog Fusion CO2 cutting and engraving system.

2015- LII adds our fourth system, a Universal Laser Systems PLS6.150D 18x32” 100 Watt CO2 cutting and engraving system. We continue to expand our product base to include laser engraved Yeti mugs. After being diagnosed with ALS in late 2014, Laserdad retires from laser cutting and we discontinue our model cutting operation that he ran. The Kern laser system is sold.

2016- in May, LII merges with the Gingerbread Shoppe in Fort Wayne and Bob helps run the merged organization. We finally bid adieu to our workhorse ULS 25 watt laser system after MDS Bats purchases it from us to bring their baseball bat laser engraving in house when they relocate from Fort Wayne to Traverse City, MI. In November, Laserdad passes away after a 2 year long battle with ALS.

2017-  After realizing that the business merger was not working out, Laser Innovations splits from the Gingerbread Shoppe and resumes independent operation, owned again by Bob and Rebekah Kartman. LII retains ownership of the ULS 6.150D laser, and continues to serve our longtime customers who have enjoyed years of quality service by Bob and Rebekah. As part of the business divorce, the Gingerbread Shoppe retains ownership of our beloved Epilog Fusion laser.

2019- Laser Innovations continues to support our longtime production customers but reduces its custom work as Bob resumes a longtime career in the aerospace industry as a spaceflight electronics packaging engineer, and is not able to devote much spare time to the laser business.

© Laser Innovations -Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2020