Inaugural Caribbean Laser Conference

Caribbean_Hammock

There was no snow last week in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Laser Conference for the Caribbean, unlike outside my window this afternoon while I am writing this note. The two-day technical session on lasers was a success. While the number of participants was below 50, the enthusiasm and hunger for laser knowledge was evident in the people who did attend.

According to one attendee: “This was the best conference I have participated [in] when taking into account the level of expertise and training provided by all the presenters. I want to thank you in behalf of all the laser users here in Puerto Rico. I believe that the group can create a road show with this same format across the US and disrupt the way clients and suppliers interact and add value for the industry.”

Puerto Rican economy
Overall, the Puerto Rican economy is in very bad shape, but the medical device sector seems to be strong and growing. In addition to making 80% of the world’s rum, 80% of the world’s pacemakers are also manufactured in Puerto Rico, most at Medtronic, which has a large presence and sent a number of its engineers to this event. Other large medical device manufacturers in the US also have a presence – companies such as Boston Scientific, J&J, Ethicon, Striker and St. Jude.

In comparison, Puerto Rico is poorer than the poorest state of the US with 41% of its population below the poverty line. However, when compared to Latin America, Puerto Rico has the highest GDP per capita in the region. Being a US territory also has its benefits concerning shipping and visa status.

About the show
The February 27-28th conference was organized by Innovative Laser Technologies after requests from its many customers on the island and from the Puerto Rico Manufacturer’s Association (PMRA). This is a private, voluntary, non-profit organization established in 1928 with the objective of uniting the island’s manufacturers and related value-added service providers for the furtherance of the island’s competitiveness. The association is reportedly the largest and most influential business organization in Puerto Rico.

The Conference Welcome was given by Waleska Rivera, head of the PRMA and also president and principal shareholder of Danosa Caribbean Inc., the island’s leading roofing membrane contractor.

Exhibitors
More than 20 laser vendors were present and 17 different laser and optics companies made presentations during the two-day event. Besides ILT, companies that gave presentations were PhotoMachining, Industrial Laser Solutions, Raydiance, Directed Light, Miyachi America (Amada), IPG, Scanlab, Laser Mechanisms, Coherent, FOBA, JDSU, C-Axis, SPI, Amplitude, Ophir-Spiricon, Trumpf, and Spectra-Physics (Newport).

I personally see a lot of talks at a lot of different conferences, but even I observed several things that I had not seen before. For instance, I did not realize that Amplitude Systèmes, Pessac, France, has delivered a 400 fs, 1 mJ pulse energy, fundamental wavelength through a fiber and the company is working to take this to even higher levels. This development could have a significant impact on how many of these USP laser are being utilized.

Fun in the sun
If you read my last Blog, you may remember a lot of griping about snow. Well, this was not a worry. In fact, many of the vendors brought their “significant others” for a few days of relaxing in the sun before and/or after the event. One of our colleagues even thought that Puerto Rico was just off the West Coast and that it would be a quick and easy trip – only to find the flight from LA is more like 10 to 12 hours with stop overs. In his defense, he is British and only living in CA!

Stay tuned for upcoming news announcements concerning new business development, mergers and acquisitions, and new products. One thing on which we all agree is that it is great to be a part of the laser community where new products, applications, and technology developments are constantly occurring.

I am always interested in hearing your thoughts concerning laser micromachining, the laser industry, comments on entrepreneurial endeavors, etc. AND … we are always looking for fresh, publishable material. Please feel free to contact me at rschaeffer@photomachining.com.
    



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