Strong demand for industrial robots led U.S.-based robotics companies to their best 9-month sales totals ever, says the Robotic industries Assn. Through September, new orders totaled 6,218 robots valued at $548 million, a 12% jump in units and 13% increase in dollar volume compared with the same period last year. Shipments climbed 30% in units and 26% in dollars over last year. The greatest demand is coming from U.S. manufacturers. RIA estimates 53,000 robots now are at work in the U.S., making it the world's second-largest robot user. However, Japan has seven times as many robots installed.