Fiber laser cutting is hot in Atlanta

I won't lay all the praise on fiber laser cutting, so I'll give credit where it's due. There was concern about Atlanta as this year's Fabtech venue, mainly about attendance (final total >30,000—a record).

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I won't lay all the praise on fiber laser cutting, so I'll give credit where it's due. There was concern about Atlanta as this year's Fabtech venue, mainly about attendance (final total >30,000—a record). Some remained concerned about the hall layout at the Georgia World Congress Center (more than 550,000 sq. ft.). Two adjacent long halls—really long—are accessed by walking three escalators and what seems a half-mile from the lobby to the entrance for each hall. Once entering the center of the hall, you are—in my case—faced with trudging a football-field length get to the ILS booth, two aisles from one end of the hall. It occurred to me that if I could punch a hole in the wall near the booth, I could short-cut the half-mile evening round-about walk back to the Marta train station.

Personal gripe aside, I was taken by surprise by the early-morning, opening-day rush of visitors. Maybe it was the late start—10 AM—but it seemed like a horde rushed the halls at opening. I barely had time to unpack and display the ILS copies before the aisle was crowded with visitors. Adding the hour delay in opening to the close on Tuesday confirmed this, as the last hour of the day was slow.

Fabtech is a big industrial laser show—I counted about 110 laser-related exhibitors, many of these in Hall B in large booths such as that of Trumpf, Amada, Bystronic, Mazak, Mitsubishi, Salvagnini, and Prima Power. Just in the center of this hall, I counted 28 fiber laser sheet metal cutters. One of these was a Whitney machine introducing a 12kW fiber cutter that can handle plate, but was being touted as the fastest laser cutter on the market. Others in Halls B and C, the tube and pipe (like BLM) and welding (like Wayne Trial) exhibitions, added another 15 fiber laser-powered units. The additive manufacturing companies like Stratasys had Hall A to themselves and drew another crowd.

Comparing fiber lasers at this year's Fabtech to those at EuroBLECH, the really big European fabricating show held in Hannover in October, it looks like a tie. Our friend and associate Antonio Vendramini counted 47 fiber lasers on display there, with double the space and more exhibitors and visitors.

If you are not getting my message, fiber laser in fabricating is hot—on track for about 6000 units this year.

To close, congratulations to the SME and partners—you made some critics eat crow. The Southeast is still a very good market for fabricating and the laser community loves it.

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