Marking time on a sleepy day

Laser marking suppliers come out for Eastec

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Laser marking suppliers come out for Eastec

It’s July, vacation time, and it’s too hot to be thinking about weighty matters. As you can see by the photo, I am not. Bear with me if I seem lethargic and slightly off my game, but it is nice here by the lake and I am having difficulty focusing on a theme for this month’s editorial. Some columnists spending their vacation on Nantucket, mail in a rehash of their older work. Others answer long-ignored letters to the editor, or worse, a few just wax whimsically. In most cases these columns are usually just fluff, only page filling.

My mind shifts to a chance meeting with an aerospace engineer that Senior Editor Laureen Belleville and I met at this year’s Eastec. We were sharing an outside picnic table, taking a sandwich break from our exhibit hall rambling. Frankly we never learned his name because the conversation was one way, with him expounding on his reason for attending the show-to look at laser marking equipment. This guy was a fountain of information, literally and figuratively, sharing his experiences in laser marking aircraft engine components while giving us a mini-tutorial on this technology. He mentioned that his company had installed two laser markers and he told us how they have benefited from the technology. Considering us as laser ignorant he never offered an opportunity to tell him we were very familiar with this topic.

Actually it was refreshing for us not to be pushing laser technology and instead to be on the receiving end of someone else sold on an application. So we casually munched on our lunch, feasting quietly on his enthusiasm. As we said goodbye he wasn’t the least bit nonplused when we identified ourselves and told him why we were at the show. Departing, he was like a kid in candy store, off to see the dozen or more laser marking equipment suppliers that were exhibiting, advising that he was going to comparison shop.

Now, as radio personality Paul Harvey used to say, for the rest of the story. By chance, as we returned to the exhibit, our first stop was with one of the laser marker suppliers. Inquiring about business prospects we learned that 2006 was going to be a very good year for this company (and for most of the marking suppliers we met) and that they were waiting for a potential customer from the aircraft engine industry to show up. It seems he owns two of their laser markers and would add another. Small world we thought.

We have a lot of respect for this supplier’s products and we know and like their sales people, having been neighboring exhibitors at last year’s Fabtech. But we didn’t want to toss cold water on their enthusiasm by advising that we had met the prospective customer and that they were not guaranteed a third sale.

Eastec, now billed as the largest manufacturing show on the East Coast, was organized by the SME about 25 years ago, and it has grown over the years to be a “must attend” for manufacturers in the Northeast. This year more than 14,000 attendees kept hundreds of exhibitors located in six buildings busy, in what was described as “the best show in many years.”

Laser exhibits have increased in the past few years, and this year more than 50 companies showed various industrial laser products, including many in the metrology field. Laser marking suppliers have identified this show as key to their regional marketing plans, and this year 15 exhibitors were showing laser marking/engraving systems. We noted activity was strong at these exhibits, as it has been in the past, indicating that laser usage in these applications sectors remains vibrant.

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David A. Belforte

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