Operating amidst uncertainty

March 24, 2020
The 32nd Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar showed that the revenue numbers remain good for lasers and across many photonics markets, but will depend on geopolitical uncertainties such as trade tariffs and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 virus.
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Solid 2020 revenue numbers are expected for lasers across many photonics markets, as you will read in this Report on the 32nd annual Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar. However, these forecasts should be tempered by shifting macro-economic and geopolitical uncertainties such as trade disputes and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 virus in China and beyond.

Like last year’s Seminar, the format this year blended a variety of presentations, interviews, and panel discussions so that the audience could hear direct answers to questions and not rely so much on slide decks. For example, I interviewed Akira Hiruma, President and CEO of Hamamatsu Photonics and laser market analyst Allen Nogee after their presentations. And after lunch, I was on stage talking to John Lee, President and CEO of MKS Instruments, in a discussion about how he operates amidst uncertainty, among other things.

Two panels engaged the audience in different ways on very different topics: photonics business and vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). The photonics business panel analyzed technologies and markets and featured participants from II-VI Inc., Trumpf Inc., Excelitas Technologies, and Tarkas Ventures, while VCSELs were discussed in depth by panelists from II-VI Inc., Vixar/Osram, Array Photonics, and Yole Développement.

We also heard from SPIE's Government Affairs Director on export controls, and U.S.-China trade negotiations. A discussion of the new demands placed on optics by emerging laser applications was followed by an overview of recent advances in solid-state and fiber lasers that combine the precision of the ultrashort-pulse laser with the surface throughput of cutting and welding lasers, which open up new applications in the large-area machining of ultra-hard materials, and in photovoltaic and battery manufacturing.

I trust this Report gives you a sense of the Seminar and the information presented. The Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar remains the leading event where you can network with colleagues as you hear about developments in our markets and consider the implications for your business. I hope to see you there next year.



About the Author

John Lewis | Editor in Chief (2018-2021)

John Lewis served as Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World from August 2018 through October 2021, after having served as the Editor in Chief of Vision Systems Design from 2016 to 2018. He has technical, industry, and journalistic qualifications, with more than 13 years of progressive content development experience working at Cognex Corporation. Prior to Cognex where his articles on machine vision were published in dozens of trade journals, he was a technical editor for Design News, covering automation, machine vision, and other engineering topics, for over six years.

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