Out with 2016, in with 2017!

I have a few thoughts I would like to share before we wrap up this calendar year.

Ron Head Shot Lia 2018 Best

I have a few thoughts I would like to share before we wrap up this calendar year.

I usually cover laser micromachining and in this area, I see a lot of potential upside in 2017, especially regarding ultrafast-pulse (UFP) lasers—both picosecond and femtosecond. This topic seems to generate a lot of interest. I have given a half dozen or so webinars on UFP lasers for various entities in 2016, and all were very well attended.

The last one was at the end of November for our sister publication, Laser Focus World. For a technical webinar, the organizers usually feel that 150 people pre-registered and about a third live is a very well-attended webinar. Normally I get over 200, with half live. On this particular occasion, we had 389 people pre-registered and 177 live! Wow! The sponsors (Lumentum and Photonics Industries) had to be very happy. The gratifying thing was that most of the names on the list were not previously known to me, so no stacking the deck with friends.

I predict that 2017 will be the year that commercially available femtosecond lasers can be purchased for less than $100,000.

I predict (hope) that frequency-quadrupled and even -quintupled picosecond and femtosecond lasers will available with acceptable optics lifetimes. Some companies are already providing these wavelengths, but the robustness of the optics needs to improve. It is hard to make even a nanosecond 266nm laser work well, but to do so at shorter pulse lengths is even more challenging—let alone the beam delivery optics, which also tend to degrade faster at these shorter wavelengths. Santa, are you listening—next year will be here before we know it!

I would love to discuss your micromachining questions and applications in person, and two great venues are the SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco (January 29 – February 3, 2017) and MDM West, the next week in Anaheim. As usual, I will be teaching my course on laser micromanufacturing (SC689) in the afternoon of Wednesday, February 1st. Last year, I got scheduled on Sunday afternoon of Valentine’s Day and only had six people in the class, but I expect a full house this year since it is right in the middle of the conference. I will be doing an after-show review of both.

Finally, it seems like Linde and Praxair are merging into one giant gas company. I don't know what this means for the industry, but I suppose we will find out in 2017.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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 rschaeffer@photomachining.com.

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