It’s off to work we go

It’s off to work we go

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The recent ICALEO and the upcoming LASYS events provide world-class venues for laser materials processing

Walt Disney World Resort may seem a strange place for an international laser conference, but more than 500 attendees at the 26th International Congress on Applications of Lasers & Electro-Optics (ICALEO) seemed to find the mix of Disney magic for social events and the comfortable conference venue at the Hilton Hotel in Orlando a good pairing. I can’t recall a previous ICALEO with so many young families joining attendees. Halloween led many families to don traditional costumes and head for Pleasure Island to celebrate. Even the effects of Hurricane Noel did not seem to dull the week’s events.

Attendees from 38 states and 26 countries filled the meeting rooms, for certain sessions such as hybrid welding and welding with high brightness lasers, spilling over into the corridors. This year, in addition to the usual Laser Materials Processing Conference (136 papers) and the Laser Microprocessing Conference (64 papers), the organizer, the Laser Institute of America, added a Nanomanufacturing Conference (22 papers), which, despite its location on another floor at the hotel, drew attendee interest.

But it’s not just about the record number of papers presented; it’s about the quality of these papers. A random sampling of the record attendance suggests this was the best ICALEO yet when it came to the quality of information being presented and discussed. Europe, led by Germany, produced 50% of the papers, followed by North America at 30%, Asia at 28%, and the ROW at 2%. The presentations from North America were primarily in the micro- and nanoprocessing sector, while the Asian contingent seemed to focus on micro/nano and light macro applications and the Europeans led with the most contributions on heavy-duty macro.

Is there a message here? I suspect that the large number of contributions from the Fraunhofer Institutes and other German research organizations focusing on welding and other macro applications is indicative of interest by manufacturing companies in that nation, while it is obvious that Asia and the USA have a greater interest in micro applications that are funded by industries working in that regime. As they say in “whodunits,” if you want to know what’s happening where, follow the money trail.

ICALEO 2007 raised the bar for advanced laser materials processing education in the USA with a world-class meeting. The question is can next year’s meeting in Temecula, CA, keep the records falling?

Speaking of records, the latest report from the organizers of LASYS (www.lasys-messe.de), the first international trade fair for system solutions in laser materials processing, is that the main hall was, in November, close to sold out, and they are contemplating expanding into an adjacent hall. ILS-the main international media partner-is urging last-minute exhibitor signups prompted by the thought that this event will be a major visitor draw from the world’s second-largest industrial-laser economy.

And this is why we have chosen to introduce, at the show, the newest addition to the ILS media franchise-Industrial Laser Europe (ILE; www.industriallasereurope.de)-under the stewardship of one of Europe’s most recognized and respected editors, Franz Gruber. ILE joins ILS-China and ILS-Japan and, of course, the parent ILS to bring readers the most comprehensive global information from the world of industrial laser materials processing.

As a closing thought, if I was contemplating adding laser materials processing equipment to my production plant, I would make a reservation to attend LASYS, where it will be amply displayed.

David A. Belforte
belforte@pennwell.com

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