1998 proved to be our best year ever. our sales volume rose 14% ahead of last year, which was our best prior year.
more than 50% of our business comes from the dynamic medical area. since the introduction of our generation 4 guidewire profiler, in 1982, we have shipped many of these machines throughout the world. the remainder of our market is found in a diverse range of industries including automotive, cutting tool, dental, oil, screw machine, musical, and nuclear. every day our research and development team is acquainted with new and different applications for our centerless grinder.
having just completed the new addition to our facility, we have increased our customer service area, enabling us to provide the fastest spare parts response in the industry. since our customers have required more automation we were able to add additional engineering personnel to meet those special engineering requirements. we also provided a special area for customer demonstrations. this room has a completely temperature controlled atmosphere, including the latest laser diameter control equipment, roundness and imaging.
we are planning the purchase of additional machine tools for our manufacturing area to keep pace with future productivity and quality requirements and the expansion of our "lights out" program. presently our manufacturing engineers have in place a computer bar coded part tracking system. in the next year we will be expanding this state of the art system.
overall, royal master's first 50 years of business have been strong and we are investing in the next 50 years