SEMICON West 2016 recap

SEMICON West has minimal, but important industrial laser content.

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SEMICON West has minimal, but important industrial laser content.

On the surface, it does not seem like there is a lot of laser activity at this show. Indeed, the laser manufacturers have mostly abandoned SEMICON West as vendors, but there are still a number of laser system companies present—and just below the surface, it is clear that this industry is in many ways fueled by photons. Many of the large semiconductor companies with big booths at the show are also large OEM customers for a variety of different types of lasers, so you will see a lot of "laser people" at least attending the show, if not exhibiting.

I would like to mention a few companies that had booths. The first is 3D-Micromac, which has had a presence at this show for the last few years and they seem to be at least among the world leaders—if not the world leader—in laser micromachining applications. Their systems are used in the medical, display, semiconductor, solar, and other industries, and include automation. This interesting company will be presenting an article in 2017 for ILS.

The second is Han's Laser. They always have a large presence at the SEMICON West show, as well as many other industrial trade shows. I remember many years ago seeing this Chinese company and thinking, who would buy from them in the US, even if they are big in China? However, fast-forward to 2016, and this is not only one of the largest laser machining companies in the world, but they also have a very impressive array of laser tools and expertise.

The third company to mention is Coherent. The latest news I had was that the stockholders have approved of the Coherent purchase of Rofin, and teams are already working on the integration plan. Coherent also got another huge order for their excimer laser technology in the past few months, so now they are on target to exceed the billion dollar/year revenue mark--certainly with the inclusion of the Rofin business. Who would have thought that excimer lasers would be providing such a huge part of not only the total revenue of Coherent, but also a significant portion of the profit? By the way, the cost of neon has come down from the ridiculous highs of summer 2015 and additional capacity has been put in place, which is good for the growth of excimer manufacturing.

SEMICON West is a good show to attend—but as I pointed out last year, the SPIE Photonics West show in the same venue, and with an industry 10x smaller than the semiconductor industry, is much more vibrant and crowded.

I wish everyone a great summer and I hope to see many of you during upcoming fall conferences, such as IMTS, ICALEO, MDM-MN, Fabtech, etc.

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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