Last week, the MD&M conference was held at the Jacob Javitz center in NYC. It seems like the number of people at this conference goes down every year and the cost (including staying in the city) goes up. Once again, though, it is a good place to spend a day or two meeting up with customers and vendors, but I have to wonder about the cost of actually exhibiting. On one hand, there has to be a critical mass of vendors or there is no show. I am sure many of the companies really do well at this show, but laser manufacturers and service providers may not.
I wrote the above words as the opening paragraph of my MD&M East review one year ago and they still seem to apply in 2018. There are a few vendors that have been at this show for years, including DPSS Lasers and Epilog Laser. They seem to do quite well, as evidenced by the fact that they are exhibiting year after year. IPG Photonics was back this year for the second time, which is a bit unusual since they were about the only laser manufacturer—but because they also provide complete systems, it makes more sense. They were showing equipment from their Marlborough, MA division and not from the Minneapolis division, which is more fully integrated into the medical device world, but their booth seemed to be busy during the times I was there or nearby.
I always come across at least one or more new (for me!) laser companies at this show, and this year was no exception. AP Lazer is headquartered in Lansing, MI, and uses primarily fiber and CO2 lasers in an open architecture configuration with a removable z table and laser top, which makes it possible to cut and engrave much larger parts than with a typical boxed system. This was their first year at the show and the jury is out as to the payback, but according to senior account executive Mandi Rosen, any venue that provides as much traffic as MD&M is a good venue to be in. As of Wednesday afternoon, they were happy with the traffic their booth generated and planned to return.
There is a lot of activity in the laser industry! Mergers and acquisitions, new products, new applications, and a society to promote the safe use of lasers all helping to drive the industry. There are some major changes occurring at the Laser Institute of America (LIA) with new personnel and some new directions for upcoming events. The LIA's 50th Anniversary celebration is this fall in Orlando during ICALEO (the week of October 14th) and a lot of cool things are being planned, so this is a conference you want to start planning for now! I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but there may be a very high-profile guest speaker in attendance this year—stay tuned! Also, LIA is cooperating with the sponsoring organizations of IMTS for a day of laser technology on September 12th at the show in Chicago. More information will be forthcoming about this event, but if you are interested in lasers and plan to be at IMTS (or if you just like to visit Chicago!), consider attending this event.
Summer is here in a few days and I for one will be taking full advantage of it. I wish you all a very happy summertime and all the best for your ongoing businesses. Stay tuned for more laser industry news as we prepare for the fall conference schedule.
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.