More light: Lasers and laser systems for production engineering get spotlight in Munich

I fell asleep on the flight home from Munich last month and dreamed that I was having a conversation with the famed poet/theorist Goethe, who was also a natural scientist and who dealt with the properties of light in his Theory of Color (much of which has been disparaged by his critics). My sleep-induced vision (see below) came about, I think, because Klaus Dittrick, managing director of Messe München, had used Goethe’s supposed last words, “more light,” as the close of his remarks to a group of journalists invited to a preview of this year’s Laser 2007. I am told these were actually not Goethe’s last words, but his second to last, as the actual words, uttered as he lay dying, were “open the second window shutter.”

Dittrick used this as a metaphor, which really struck my fancy, for Messe München throwing open a window to the future of one of today’s most important fundamental technologies, photonics, which we old timers still insist on calling lasers.

After 17 years (the show is biennial) as the leading laser show in the world, it hasn’t lost a beat. When it started in 1973 it occupied just a few halls at the old Messe in downtown Munich and 100 exhibitors (53 from Germany) occupied 5000 m2. At the March show preview we learned that one of the areas of focus at the June show will be lasers for manufacturing. And the entire show will feature more than 1000 exhibitors in 33,000 m2 of hall space.

Dittrick told ILS that more than 280 companies featuring products for industrial materials processing will occupy Hall B3 and he hinted of an option to use adjacent Hall C3 to accommodate any last-minute exhibitors. Hall C3 is being considered for an expanded industrial laser system exhibit at the 2009 show.

Dittrick said that the focus for this year’s show is “Light at Work” (hence the Goethe connection) by emphasizing that the industrial laser content was taking on more of a system look as evidenced by the presence of companies like Kuka, the laser robot integrator that is taking space this year.

ILS has participated in the Munich Laser show for the past 25 years and we have seen the numbers grow as industrial laser product suppliers chose this show to premier new technology and products.

This year several new accompanying events will be held; Photons in Production dedicated to “Bright Light-Smart Systems,” a Photonic Forum called “Talking Trends” by exhibitors, a CEO Round Table featuring a panel of industry heavyweights, and a symposium and presentation of the Carl Zeiss Research Award.

At the concurrent World of Photonics Congress more than 1800 lectures and presentations will be made, chief of which is the 3rd Fiber Laser Workshop and this year’s new addition, Industry Workshops featuring user reports on welding, medical device manufacturing, and microprocessing.

All in all, it’s going to be a busy laser week in Munich, and it sounds like one that potential industrial laser users may not want to miss. Incidentally, in my dream Goethe is countering a thought from me with another of his famous quotes, “One can be very happy without demanding that others agree with him.”

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