See my blog from summer 2013 regarding follow-up to Semicon 2013. Just change the date to 2014 and the feedback is about the same as last year.
On the semiconductor side of the show, I counted just six entities providing laser-based manufacturing equipment as their primary activity (Fraunhofer, Rofin-Baasel, IPG Microsystems, 3D-Micromac, DPSS Lasers, and ESI North America). There were a couple of other primarily laser/electro-optics vendors, but in total the number was less than a dozen! And, as with last year, most of the larger laser companies were not only no-shows as exhibitors, but there were very few people from our industry even walking the floor. The organizers claim 26,000 people attended in total, but if so it certainly did not seem so, and certainly there were not a lot of laser people. In the Inter Solar exhibit hall (The West Hall), I could not identify a single laser company. So, obviously, this show still has value in that there are still exhibitors and attendees, but for some reason the laser community is not in general an active participant. Even PennWell, which used to be there by virtue of their holding in Solid State Technology magazine (no longer a part of PennWell), did not have a presence. With the exception of DPSS Lasers, I do not recall seeing a laser marking company at all. The reason I was given is that this business is too low-profit and highly competitive, and it is hard to financially justify an expensive show like Semicon.
Usually when I am in CA, I try to go during a major show and at least walk the show for a day or two. I can easily see a number of people in a short amount of time with a small amount of effort. Normally, my trips are two weeks so I can cover both 'northern' CA (Bay area) and 'southern' CA (LA to San Diego). Frequently, I do not make hotel reservations if I do not need to be at a specific location, and sometimes that strategy backfires. My first night in southern CA, it took me about 4 hours to find a hotel with any room less than $300 per night. There are several reasons for this—the Del Mar Horse race was happening that weekend and summer is time for going to the beach, and these hotels were all along the coast. But I was told that the biggest problem was that people had already started arriving for Comic-Con! It turns out that Comic-Con in San Diego was expecting 130,000 people! I am still trying to figure out what this is telling me, but it appears to me that getting 5 times more nerds to attend a comic book show than to attend the continent's largest semiconductor show should be telling me something.
In the meantime, the water situation in CA is dire, with no relief projected for the near future. There is continued unrest all over the Middle East. Planes are getting shot out of the sky. Traveling is not getting any easier.
I wish everyone a great summer and I hope to see many of you during the upcoming fall travel to conferences such as IMTS, LME, ICALEO, Fabtech, MDM-MN, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.