Experience with lasers in manufacturing industry over the last twenty years has highlighted the flexibility of the equipment by the diversity of its applications. As a result, the use of the CO2 laser for cutting, welding and heat treatment is now commonplace on the factory floor. Falling into line with current manufacturing philosophy, the laser has been seen to be used increasingly in multipurpose, multi-axis type applications. The design and development of these Flexible Laser Manufacturing Systems has exploited the particular features of the CO2 laser light. This paper will generally consider the various beam and work handling techniques available to the laser systems designer. Consideration will also be given to the mechanical, optical and system control parameters. A number of examples of Flexible Laser manufacturing systems will be reviewed. Particular reference will be made to the development of a laser beam guide suitable for use with a conventional industrial robot.