LIA celebrates 50th anniversary at ICALEO

This year, the LIA celebrated its 50th anniversary in Orlando, FL, where a record attendance of more than 350 gathered.

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The largest advanced laser material processing conference in the Western Hemisphere has been held every year for the past 37 years in the United States. For laser history buffs, the Laser Institute of America (LIA)'s International Congress on Applications of Lasers & Electro-Optics (ICALEO) traces its roots to the 1981 Joint US/Japan International Laser Processing Conference, a story in itself.

This year, the LIA celebrated its 50th anniversary in Orlando, FL (the society's headquarters), where a record attendance of more than 350 international industrial laser processing practitioners and educators gathered for four days of intense sessions on laser cutting, welding, surface treatment, drilling, marking, and additive manufacturing.

Attendees from 23 countries led by the U.S. (144), Germany (70), and China (31) filled eight rooms for daily concurrent sessions. For the record, 57% of the attendees traveled to North America for this event. The LIA was pleaded to welcome the China contingent because this country is the single largest market for materials processing lasers. This country would have had more attendees if U.S. State Department visa restrictions had allowed. That was too bad, as the presentations and posters that Chinese speakers delivered were some of the best heard from this country at ICALEO.

Industrial Laser Solutions was well represented this year, with attendance by myself and Editorial Advisors Ron Schaeffer, Bo Gu, Stan Ream, Geoff Shannon, Brian Victor, and Kunihko Washio. That's a powerful group that allowed ILS to be present at various concurrent sessions. On my part, this was my 36th ICALEO—tied I think only by Stan Ream.

At the Awards Gala, held for the first time in the evening, a full ballroom heard Drs. Bo Gu and Ron Schaeffer inducted as Fellows. The Arthur Schawlow Award was presented to Dr. Don Scifres, a pioneer in early diode-pumped solid-state lasers and fiber lasers, who gave an engaging and entertaining Honored Speakers Address.

Since this is a blog, space does not allow a review of the many dozens of presentations and it might be unfair to winnow out a limited number for special comment. Those interested can Google the ICALEO 2018 website and if ILS comments are needed, contact me at and I will forward to the pertinent Editorial Advisor.

For more ICALEO 2018 commentary, read my colleague Ron Schaeffer's own blog.

I'm almost certain that I hold the record for LIA active longevity, as I held the #3 membership number. As such, it was a pleasure to see a rejuvenated LIA, which is in a transitory stage as it plans its next 50 years.

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