Lasers and manufacturing events: Too many choices?

Unfortunately, there are so many conferences that it is not possible for any individual to attend them all.

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Unfortunately, there are so many conferences that it is not possible for any individual to attend them all. For people like me, these venues include not only conferences specifically related to lasers (ICALEO, Photonics West) and manufacturing in general (IMTS, Fabtech) but also industry-specific conferences (MDM, Semicon). The problem is that frequently we must make choices given the budget and time available.

This is the case with next week—the week of May 5, 2014. First, let’s start with the conference I will be attending (along with my editor and good friend David Belforte). For the 10th time, laser manufacturers and laser users from around the world will meet at the biannual International Laser Technology Congress AKL, held in Aachen from May 7-9. Featuring over 600 participants, around 60 speakers, and over 40 sponsors, the AKL has established itself as the leading forum for applied laser technology in Europe. Several intense days of talks and live demos are combined with nightly social activities. The University City of Aachen is on the borders of both Holland and Belgium, and is the ancient capital of Charlemagne’s empire (known in Germany as Karl der Grosse or otherwise as Charles I). Germany is where it is really happening with lasers and this is the conference to attend. Both Dave and I will be commenting more on this in future blogs. See the following link for more details:

Also being held from May 6-8 in Hartford, CT is SME’s Mfg4 (Manufacturing for the Future) and MicroManufacturing Conference. Manufacturing is growing and changing, moving from low-value, repetitive assembly to high-value, technology-rich products and services. To serve the evolving needs of East Coast industry, SME produces this exclusive event for aerospace, defense (including arms), medical, and micromanufacturing. These three major industries plus one strategic technology are driving change through their supply chains and leading the way in innovation and collaboration. More information can be found at

Finally, SPIE hosts the DSS conference in Baltimore, MD, from May 5-9. This is arguably the defense industry’s most important scientific conference and exhibition on optics, IR imaging, lasers, and sensing for defense, security, industry, healthcare, and the environment. Co-located with this conference are venues of particular interest to the laser community, Advanced High Power Lasers and the Penn State Electro-Optics Alliance meeting. More information can be found at

I usually attend all three of the above, but choices have to be made and a trip to Germany seems a bit more appealing—especially during Spargel Season—than to Baltimore or Hartford. Oh—I should mention that a few weeks after my return, there is the CLEO conference in CA and the MDM East conference in NYC, both during the week of June 9th. As the title suggests, too many choices, but that is another sign that we are involved in a dynamic industry that is constantly changing and evolving with new products applications and markets emerging continuously.

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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