Entering a new manufacturing age

Manufacturers of lasers, systems and related products show their wares at IMTS 2002

David A. Belforte


Figure 1. Most laser-related exhibits are grouped in one viewing area.
Click here to enlarge image

On September 4th, when the doors to Chicago's McCormick Place open, the first of more than 100,000 visitors will enter the three halls (containing 1.3 million square feet of exhibition space) that make up the 2002 edition of the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). This, the 75th Anniversary Show, will be a tester. The U.S. machine tool sector is coming out of a short but severe downturn. Signs of recovery are abundant and exhibitors are optimistic that buyers are ready to return to the market. But there is a note of caution in certain market sectors, among these fabricating equipment and industrial lasers.

As this issue of ILS goes to press an unofficial survey of key suppliers of industrial lasers, systems and related products produced mixed signals, although overall the attitude is positive. The general opinion is that the bottom of the market downturn was reached in 2001 and that 2002 will presage a return to growth and profitability.

Earlier this year, on these pages, it was noted that the leading suppliers were weathering the downturn by preparing themselves technically and equipment-wise for a return to growth. By their investment in exhibiting at IMTS and from the innovative equipment being shown, these industry suppliers are giving notice that "the shop is open and we are ready to do business."

IMTS has become the major show for industrial lasers and systems in North America. Because of the size of the industrial laser business—about eight percent of world machine tool sales—show organizers assigned exhibitors to their own Pavilion adjacent to the Metal Forming and Fabrication Pavilion in the North Hall. This makes it relatively easy for show goers to spend their time in one section of one hall and get to see most of the laser-related exhibits, a definite plus when at a show this large.

Exhibitors
ILS has written about the new ultra-fast Byspeed laser cutter from Bystronic (Hauppauge, NY) and now, in B-6510, you will have an opportunity to see this unit with drive technology that delivers three times the acceleration/deceleration of competing systems. In B-6442 you'll find Crafford—LaserStar Technologies (Riverside, RI) showing two lamp-pumped and one diode-pumped Nd:YAG laser marking and welding systems. Cutting Edge Optronics (St. Charles, MO) will show, in B-6237, several versions of its GUV Series of diode-pumped Nd:YAG lasers operating in the UV. Not far away in B-6165 is the Legend EX, said to be the industry's fastest laser marker, built by Epilog Laser (Golden, CO), featuring high mark quality and detail at an extremely low selling price. Close by, in B-6281, Foba Laser Systems (Lee's Summit, MO) will demonstrate the engraving action of its largest and most versatile of the G Series Nd:YAG laser system, the G900, a three-axis system for 3D engraving. Lasag Industrial-Lasers (Arlington Heights, IL) will show several of its diode- and lamp-pumped solid-state lasers with Real-Time Power Supply, in B-6284.

One aisle over in B-6144, GSI Lumonics (Northville, MI) will show the third generation of the Classic JK Series of Nd:YAG lasers, the JK 802 and 1002 CW units for precision welding and cutting, along with an updated version of the JK 7000—now using a twin-rod design and a new fiber-optic delivery system. Geo. T.Schmidt (Niles, IL) will display its new compact Microlase diode-pumped solid-state laser marking system in B-6169. In B-6139, Lambda Physik USA (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) introduces Uniform Side Pumping Technology in the diode-pumped Gator series of solid-state lasers. A couple of booths away is Laservall North America (Pawtucket, RI) which will show, in B-6151, its Sagitta 50-watt diode-pumped Nd:YAG laser, the 8-watt Violino (532 nm) Nd:YAG and a multi-beam welding station powered by a 50-watt lamp-pumped pulsed Nd:YAG laser. A few aisles over in B-6633, Virtek Laser Systems (Waterloo, ONT) will show its flat-part laser inspection systems. And in B-6710, RMI Laser Division (Lafayette, CO) will be introducing two diode-pumped solid-state laser markers.

Two of the big guns are located in the Fabricating Pavilion. Here Mazak Nissho Iwai (Schaumburg, IL) will feature four laser systems in B-6620, the SG-U44 compact high-speed cutter, the FG-300 multi-axis rotary systems and the Space Gear 48 and 510 systems with pivot beam design. In B-6500, Trumpf (Farmington, CT) has chosen IMTS to show a typical part being processed by the company's diverse range of laser technology—cutting (L 3050), welding (HL 1003), marking (VectorMark), measuring (Qualifier), laser-hardened bending tools and laser beam safety.

Alabama Laser (Munford, AL) will present information on its beam delivery components and custom-built laser systems in B-6416. Laser Machining Inc. (Somerset, WI) will be showing total laser processing solutions in B-6040. And a few booths down the aisle in B-6021, Monode Marking Products (Mentor, OH) will show a diode-pumped Nd:YAG marker from CAB Laser. Scanlab AG (Pucheim, Germany) shows its high-performance scanning systems in B-6558. When you visit B-6288 you will see a technology to produce color marks on just about any material, produced by TherMark Corp. (Los Angeles, CA), which has just announced a strategic partnership with Merck KgaA (Darmstadt, Germany) and Tesa AG (Hamburg, Germany). You'll have to walk a bit but you won't want to miss the new Z3-500 laser cutter, with a Coherent Inc. (Santa Clara, CA) 500-watt Diamond CO2 laser, from Haas Automation (Oxnard, CA) in Booth A-8232 in the South Hall. While in the South Hall, visit the Gildemeister exhibit, A-8501 to see two Nd:YAG laser milling machines (LaserCav) by Lasertec (Kempten, Germany).

Baublys Control Laser Corp. (Orlando, FL) will be conducting live demonstrations of its broad range of multiple-wavelength laser marking and engraving systems in B-6522. And one aisle over in B-6662, Kugler of America (Wallingford, CT) will be showing metal and ceramic mirrors and focusing heads. Next door in B-6663 International Crystal Laboratories (Garfield, NJ) will offer lens saver windows and lens mounts. Beam monitoring is an important processing factor so Spiricon Inc. (Logan, UT) will introduce the world's first passive in-line continuous high-power CO2 laser beam monitor in B-6448. Laser Mechanisms Inc. is showing its new laser beam conditioner and a new trepanning head in B-6112. And in B-6364 you will find Precitec Inc. showing, among other products, a new cutting head for tube cutting and a laser pathfinder.

Good news for laser users, a new compact, low-cost power meter, called LaserGage, from Molectron Detector Inc. (Portland, OR), will be demonstrated in B-6069.

IMTS has become the only trade show at which industrial lasers, systems and related products suppliers can gather in one venue to show their latest products. With economic recovery well underway, buyers will want to make a visit to this show a priority this year.

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