Spring 2016 conference schedule kicks off

The MDM West conference is not only the premier medical device show in the US, it is probably also the show where one can find the largest number of laser-related vendors outside of pure "laser" shows like SPIE Photonics West (watch for my blog on that show the week of February 22, 2016). For the most part, the booths are staffed with companies either providing job shop services or building capital equipment, but component suppliers roam the floors as well. Last year (2015), this show was held during the same week as SPIE Photonics West, so I did not personally attend. Therefore, it has been two years since being in the Anaheim, CA area, and it is pretty amazing how much construction is going on around the convention center. There are already a few new hotels nearby that have sprung up over the last two years, and there are something like 4000 new rooms being added in the area. I can only take this to mean that these very large shows, such as MDM, are going to get even bigger.


As with all large shows, it can be intimidating to seasoned conference veterans, let alone to first-time attendees, to manage time effectively to maximize the experience. There used to be a Laser Pavilion, but now the different companies are found scattered about the hall in areas like Precision Technology and Micro and Nano Technology. So, especially if only one day is available, it is best to plan ahead—thankfully, the Internet helps and there are apps available. Over the years, the number of strictly laser marking companies has dropped, but this is probably because most of the "lower-tech" marking companies are competing on price and don't really need to exhibit. However, companies such as FOBA and DPSS Lasers, which provide marking systems somewhat outside the norm, seemed to have a steady flow—at least on the first two days of the show (Thursday is usually pretty slow, so it is a good day to plan to visit in order to maximize face time with vendors). Well-known US contract laser manufacturing companies such as Resonetics (Mound), Spectralytics, and Laserage are joined by more than a few foreign companies looking for markets in the US.

In general, the pure laser manufacturers do not have booths, but they are roaming the floor. There are a few notable exceptions like Trumpf and IPG, who sell both lasers and systems. However, systems integrators like ILT are long-time vendors. Canon has a large number of local and regional shows, but this one is still the largest and most international of all of the venues.

During the same week, the SME AeroDef show was held in Long Beach, CA, and I took Tuesday to visit this two-day show. I had been thinking about attending for a few years and since it was the same week as MDM, it seemed a good time to check it out. Unfortunately, this show was not so attractive for me and I would not come to CA just to attend the show, which was much more regional in nature than, for instance, the SPIE Aerospace and Defense conference. I only saw two laser companies—marking company Laser Marking Technologies and contract manufacturer LaserRod, who are actually quite local to the venue. So, my take is that attendance is more regional except for possibly attendees who have a specific venue, and even in this case it would not be the best place to visit to get a lot of information on laser technology.

As mentioned, stay tuned for more from me next week about SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco, CA.  

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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