Lasers, corona, and other observations

Another successful SPIE Photonics West has come and gone.

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Another successful SPIE Photonics West has come and gone. I can’t even remember how many of these events I have attended over the years, but I am pretty sure I have not missed any. My only complaintsuch as it isis that the event is so busy that I really don’t have time to talk to everyone and see everybody that I would like to see. 

I kept a pretty keen eye on the booths of companies involved in ultrashort-pulse (USP) laser processing because Part I of my article appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of this publication, which hit the show floor after the show actually startedso the issue was hot off the press. Having a large stack of print copies to walk the show with was a great help in opening discussions regarding this market segment and I talked to no one who was not very optimistic about the future of USP lasers. I also came across a few companies in the USP world that I either never heard about or that seem to have taken a more serious look into the USP market space. Since I have already submitted my tables for print, it is too late to add some of the newcomers on this installment. The information presented in the upcoming Part II on Optics, Systems, and Contract Manufacturing (to come in the March/April 2020 issue) should generate a lot of interest.

A lot of companies present new products at either this show, LASER World of PHOTONICS Munich, or LASER World of PHOTONICS Chinathe latter of which, by the way, has been at least postponed and probably will be canceled, if it has not been already by the time of this writing. These companies spend a lot of money on product rollouts or product promotions, putting names for their products that has nothing of course to do with the laser, but sounds good for marketing purposes. Now, I am sure that six months ago, naming a laser the Corona seemed like a good idea, and it probably was, but being in the times we are currently in, I wonder how it worked out for nLight? I did not see people getting too close to the display marked “Corona”I hope it worked well, as I am sure it is a great product and it may actually be a lucky stroke of marketing genius (it certainly has current name recognition).

Lumentum was noticeably absent from their rather large booth, but there were a few other companies who quietly did not show up. I personally heard stories of a number of my Chinese friends being detained, including our fellow Industrial Laser Solutions Editorial Advisory Board Member, Dr. Bo Gu. Bo, if you are reading this note, I wish you well and hope you are safe and as comfortable as possible! On the Tuesday of the show, everyone found out that the big Chinese Semicon show was going to be canceled or postponed, and then later the announcement was made about the LASER World of PHOTONICS China show. Do you know something that might shock people? Everyone who I talked to that usually goes to those shows was actually relieved at not having to go. This is mostly because everyone in the sales/marketing arena travels to so many of these venues throughout the year that it gets to be pretty tough work, and a break is welcome. These shows are difficult to miss because, as the saying goes, you are “noticeable by your absence,” but if EVERYONE is forced to stay away, there is no fear of a competitor getting an edge up. Everyone knows that, before it plays out, this Coronavirus problem will disrupt gatherings in China, but how will it affect other upcoming professional gatherings outside of China?

As frequently happens, the MD&M West conference in Anaheim, CA, was the week after SPIE Photonics West and this year, I did not attend. To my knowledge, most of the laser community that usually attends this event went last week and I did not hear of any major disruptions in the attendance because of Coronavirus.

Finally, when putting together numbers for the annual forecasts, a lot of work and thought goes into the effort, as I have witnessed firsthand working with Dave Belforte. But how can anyone foresee something like the Coronavirus and what impact it has on the world economy? I predict we still, as of this writing, do not know and cannot imagine the full extent of the effect (although I hope I am wrong).                      

I am always interested in hearing your thoughts concerning laser micromachining, the laser industry, comments on entrepreneurial endeavors, etc. AND … we are always looking for fresh, publishable material. Please feel free to contact me at                       

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