Stuttgart, Germany – LASYS 2010 closed today, surpassing the 2008 show attendance by about 11%. Raw numbers do not necessarily tell the whole story. I spoke with dozens of fellow exhibitors and received mixed responses: more positives relative to attendance then negatives.
The positive exhibitors specifically valued the quality of their visitors. Although exhibitors have yet to review leads generated, they spoke glowingly about activity. For example, a product manager of a major laser supplier said the show was very good and his booth visits were high. Although his location, opposite the main door, may have helped.
Show management was sandbagged this year with many late cancellations brought on by exhibitors that had indicated attending before the crippling recession hit Europe. As a consequence Messe Stuttgart assigned the largest hall for LASYS and, with cancellations, the back quarter was empty and the aisles were widened to equalize spacing. Actually I liked the wide aisles except that they forgot to widen the carpets and all the aisles showed bare concrete along the edges. A minor complaint, but one can imagine that visitors picked up on it.
Enough about the venue--what was new? First off, the show attracted about a dozen or so new system builders for Europe and another dozen or more related products suppliers. For example, the French, Italians, and Finns had pavilions. Among exhibitors located in these areas were several new to me that had some interesting products for industrial laser material processing. I especially liked the Italian companies who have decided to make a statement by showing here and at Photonics West in January and Shanghai next year.
Space constraints and my constitution on show closing prevent a detailed analysis of the exhibits. What was surprising and most significant was the large number of companies showing Ultra Fast Pulse Lasers. More interesting in the fact that these lasers, even though the individual selling prices are high, have found market niches in several industry growth sectors such as photovoltaics, marking, automotive, medical devices, semiconductor, and microelectronics for such diverse applications as scribing, drilling, marking, structuring, and even welding (fuel injector nozzles).
We won't tip our hand right now, but ILS has lined up a basketful of new applications for these lasers that we will be featuring in the magazine and online in the coming days and weeks. Here's a hint: how about marking glass medical products with the mark inside the glass to avoid possible debits. Stay tuned to the ILS Webpage for details on this soon.
The Ultra Fast Pulse market is developing faster than diodes or fiber laser did, and although the current market is in the low hundreds, projections are that they will break the thousand unit level in 2012. If the current high selling price was to hold, that would mean the market could reach $250 million in that time period. Not bad for a new technology.
On a macro scale, we will be featuring a brief report on the first laser truck wheel welder next week followed by a detailed installation report later in the year.
I'm not an expert on trade shows, but my inclination is that new shows take a few years to find their optimum attendance niche. The second LASYS, hit by a recession of other-world magnitude and 40%+ revenue declines among German companies last year, is difficult to analyze. I still believe that the world needs a laser-system-only show, and if show management responds to exhibitor comments, LASYS can be that show.
When I wore my attendee hat and not my exhibitor hat, I had a great time meeting new suppliers and getting exposed to some great new technology.
– David. A. Belforte