This article describes the path to commercialization for laser shock peening beginning with the discovery of the basic phenomenology of the process through to its implementation as a commercial process. It describes the circumstances leading to its invention, the years spent on exploring and defining characteristics of the process, and the journey to commercialization. Like many budding technologies displaying unique characteristics, but no immediately evident application, i.e., “a solution looking for a problem”, there were several instances where its development may have been delayed or ended except for an unanticipated event that enabled it to move forward. An important contributor to the success of laser peening, is that nearly 15 years after its invention, universities world-wide began extensive research into the process, dramatically broadening the knowledge base and increasing confidence in, and understanding of its potential. Finally, a critical problem in need of a solution, laser peening, appeared, culminating in its first industrial application on aircraft turbine engine fan blades.
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