A tale of two shows

July 23, 2013
Semicon West shrinks while Photonics West grows.
Ron Head Shot Lia 2018 Best

Semicon West is the premier conference and exhibition for the semiconductor industry in North America, and perhaps worldwide. A few years ago the conference was held simultaneously in the San Jose and the San Francisco convention centers as there was so much activity. There is no longer any activity in San Jose, and in fact the show keeps getting smaller every year. This year, the North Hall was only about half, full and the West Hall was totally devoted to Solar, as it has been for a few years now.

The real tell tale about this industry is the fact that most of the big guys do not have a presence at Semicon West at all, or perhaps only a minimal presence. Applied Materials, LAM, Motorola, KLA Tencor and many more have decided not to put their marketing money in to this show.

How does this affect lasers? Well, look at the laser companies that exhibited this year and compare to a few years ago. Rofin, RPMC, IPG and Newport were there, but several told me that this would be their last year. DPSS lasers was there marking pens like usual. That is about all. One colleague commented to me that he thought the show was pretty slow on Wednesday afternoon. My reply: "You should have been here yesterday."

So, what's the point? Not just to whine about Semicon West (which by the way was good for me as I had several good meetings and I was busy the whole time, but then again I did not have to pay a lot for a booth), but to compare it with our industry flagship show, Photonics West. This show moved from San Jose to the Moscone Center a few years ago to accommodate the increase in the number of vendors and attendees. The move was accompanied by an increase in both, and it is my opinion that it will not go back to San Jose (although that location is more convenient for me and a lot of other folks). In contrast to the Semicon show, I spoke with many newer companies that told me they will be exhibiting at Photonics West next year. You will find all the "big guys" in the industry at this show – Coherent, Newport, IPG, Trumpf, Rofin, etc. It is a typical venue for promoting new products. It is also heavy on the applications side.

Thus, in contrast to a multi-zillion dollar industry like the semiconductor industry, our "little" laser community is vibrant, exciting, growing, and can still hold the interest of not only our community but of those looking to use lasers in their manufacturing environments. It is indeed a cool time to be a Laser Jock.


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 [email protected].

About the Author

Ron Schaeffer

Ron Schaeffer, Ph.D., is a blogger and contributing editor, and a member of the Laser Focus World Editorial Advisory Board. He is an industry expert in the field of laser micromachining and was formerly Chief Executive Officer of PhotoMachining, Inc. He has been involved in laser manufacturing and materials processing for over 25 years, working in and starting small companies. He is an advisor and past member of the Board of Directors of the Laser Institute of America. He has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Lehigh University and did graduate work at the University of Paris. His book, Fundamentals of Laser Micromachining, is available from CRC Press.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Motion Scan and Data Collection Methods for Electro-Optic System Testing

April 10, 2024
Learn how different scanning patterns and approaches can be used in measuring an electro-optic sensor performance, by reading our whitepaper here!

How Precision Motion Systems are Shaping the Future of Semiconductor Manufacturing

March 28, 2024
This article highlights the pivotal role precision motion systems play in supporting the latest semiconductor manufacturing trends.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!