Observations from ICALEO 2012: People, papers, and numbers

by ILS editorial advisors and editors

Several ILS editorial advisors, experts in their respective fields of industrial laser materials processing, offer their takeaways from last week's ICALEO conference in Anaheim, CA -- from networking discoveries to the most interesting papers, and how attendance numbers reflect industry trends.

Networking nuggets

Sunday night's Welcome Reception -- The Beer's Law Band this year consisting of me, Henrikki Pantsar from Cercorp in Finland (bass) and Lenny Migliore from Coherent (keyboards). The crowd pretty much stayed until 7pm, although the "official" time frame was 4-6. I am glad this event has turned into a great place for making acquaintances -- years back it was kind of, you go, use your one free drink ticket, and leave. Now, people are actually taking advantage of the opportunity.

One of the cool things about ICALEO is I get to and talk to the people developing it. Tuesday morning I ran into a company, KM Labs, that I did not even know existed that is into high-power, very short-pulse lasers -- down to less than 47 fs, with milliJoules of pulse energy and even at a couple hundred kHz a few hundred microJoules. The trouble with most commercial fs lasers is they are actually hundreds of fs and to me that is kind of like a ps.

For me this is what makes ICALEO exciting: the networking. For the most part the LIA folks make it easy to do. -- Ron Schaeffer, Photomachining Inc.


Plenary talks, presentations, and posters

In an invited sub-plenary talk (#101), Paul Denney from Lincoln Electric Co. made a well-organized pretty informative and enlightening overview on laser additive manufacturing (LAM) technology and its growing applications. A talk (#M402) from Osaka U.'s Isamu Miyamoto on novel fusion welding of Si/Glass using ultrashort pulses was very interesting. According to him, this technology could compete well with the existing anodizing bonding technology. -- Kunihiko Washio, Paradigm Laser Research

The plenary was excellent this year and I particularly enjoyed Tom Baer's presentation [on global research into "green" i.e. sustainable photonics"] which certainly got people talking -- although I was very surprised to find out that some of our well-known laser guys are still climate change deniers! -- Tony Hoult, IPG

Poster [sessions] were ok, the most notable feature being an increase in the quality of the submissions from Chinese institutes. The winning poster (#P159) was from a group at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in St Johns, Canada. This is their first time at ICALEO and [they] should certainly be encouraged to prepare an oral presentation next year. The topic was femtosecond laser fabrication of a microfluidic device.

There were a number of papers on composite processing, although my takeaway was that nobody is even close to providing a laser cutting solution for the aerospace industry although composite bonding applications are far closer to realization. -- Tony Hoult, IPG


Special recognition

An invited talk (#M1101) by Paul Webster of Queen's University, Canada, on inline coherent imaging at high power was very enlightening and interesting. He has applied SD-OCT (spectral domain optical coherence tomography) technique for investigation of the inline process characterization of laser welding and drilling, etc., to get quick view of depth movement during processing. The performance in terms of dynamic range, depth resolution, and imaging speed looks very attractive for practical application of process development and process control. He has just started his company: LaserDepth Dynamics Inc. -- Kunihiko Washio, Paradigm Laser Research

Paul Webster's progress certainly is interesting to watch especially as he submitted his doctoral thesis the day before his excellent invited talk, I have known that since he won the poster competition a few years back that he is destined for great things! -- Tony Hoult, IPG

Paul really has a great technology to offer. -- Stan Ream, laser technology leader, EWI

-- Editor's note: ILS has been in contact with Paul Webster since ICALEO 2011. A feature article on his work is scheduled for early 2013.


Business forum: Educate and support like Germany

Ken Dzurko, SPI Lasers, provided slides from a business session he chaired which explored the challenges for industrial lasers adoption. Mainly these were presented as concerns of perception ("old-school manufacturing thinking," needing additional expensive engineers, lack of understanding of the technology) and capabilities (quality metrics, "show me first" for seemingly all applications, and what alternatives exist).

One takeaway question was whether laser safety regulations which drive costs are appropriate or excessive. Another takeaway interpretation was a need for education, to get designers thinking of lasers as a basic consideration -- using the "Fraunhofer model" and 30+ years of German government programs as a guide. A follow-on thought expressed that US government (defense) funding is inefficient in producing commercially viable capabilities, again invoking the example of German programs which involve commercially motivated partners and competitors, and produce publically owned IP. -- ILS editors

ICALEO by the (preliminary) numbers

Editor's note: these observations from our editorial advisors are based on preliminary ICALEO attendance preregistration numbers; e.g. for ICALEO 2012 the list was as of Sept. 5. Actual attendance numbers, available soon from the LIA, should be significantly larger.

There are about 500 people attending, about the same as last year. Vendors are down, but this is somewhat expected in that the Lasers for Manufacturing Event (LME) is so close in time (Oct. 23-24) and a lot of vendors have to choose between the two. There are attendees from 26 countries. I would guess over half to be from outside the US. -- Ron Schaeffer, Photomachining Inc.

According to the LIA, the deadline for the pre-registered attendees list is much earlier for the conference held in West Coast (Anaheim) than that for the conference held on the East Coast (Orlando). Therefore, direct comparison of the numbers of pre-registered attendees between ICALEO 2011 (Orland) and ICALEO 2012 (Anaheim) will need consideration for the time difference between the deadline date to the opening days. -- Kunihiko Washio, Paradigm Laser Research


ICALEO preregistration attendance numbers. (Data from the LIA)


The decrease in the numbers of preregistered attendees from North America (USA and Canada) looks significant as compared with the increase in the numbers from some Asian Countries (China, Korea) and some European Countries (France, Finland). Perhaps this comparison reflects trends in actual laser-related activities? -- Kunihiko Washio, Paradigm Laser Research

I had the opposite sense of demographic shift when comparing 2011 to 2012. A brief review of the attendee list looks like the Asian contingent percentage is lower than at Orlando last year. -- Stan Ream, laser technology leader, EWI

I spent the whole vendor reception in the LIA booth. I did poll a few of the vendors, and the comments that I got were very good to "I have been doing vendor receptions for 10 years and this was the best yet!" -- Ron Schaeffer, Photomachining Inc.



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