No sweat with the fast laser stuff

May 23, 2013
At a cooler Laser World of Photonics show, more companies are jumping into the UFP market.
Ron Head Shot Lia 2018 Best 5d02b6088488d

The last two Laser World of Photonics shows (2011 and 2013) in Munich were held in May instead of the traditional time in June. This timing is much more to my liking for three reasons. First, there are usually scheduling conflicts with other shows, most notably Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) East in Boston. Second, the halls are much hotter in June than in May, and somehow the Germans have not really adapted to air conditioning! Third, May is Spargel season (white asparagus), which is officially over in early June and certainly adds a wonderful bonus when traveling there during this time.

This year, visitors were plentiful, what with four large halls full of exhibitors. I heard that they were turning vendors away this year and may add another hall to the next show.

But–about lasers! Two years ago, the main buzz at the show was fiber lasers. While fiber lasers are still very hot, at this year’s show, the real buzz was ultra fast pulse (UFP) lasers defined by me as having a pulse length less than 1 ns, so including primarily picosecond and femtosecond lasers.

In preparing for the show, and also for an upcoming article in Industrial Laser Solutions (July/August issue), I asked more than 15 companies involved in UFP micromachining to fill out a specification sheet about their products. While I tried to remain objective in the selection of companies I asked to respond, certainly there may be some bias based upon personal experience. However, walking the show, it became pretty obvious that there were MANY more companies getting into this field than I had previously thought or even suspected.

Some observations include:

  1. More and more companies are jumping into this market.
  2. High power output was available in more compact packages; several companies exhibited multi-kW UFP lasers in desktop packages.
  3. Companies were promoting 'clean' pulses and no ASE (amplified stimulated emission).

Another area to keep our eyes on is the direct diode business. Direct Photonics, for instance, displayed a 2 kW laser in a very compact package. The big competition, of course, is between direct diodes and fiber lasers, with industry experts (including some members of the ILS Editorial Review Board) coming down on both sides of the fence.

The debate is still going strong about whether direct diodes or fiber lasers will be king…. Look for renewed debate in Munich 2015, and, with the air conditioning turned off, it should be a good sweaty one!

I just read Dave Belforte’s blog on the show and it appears we are singing approximately the same song – unrehearsed!

I am always interested in hearing your thoughts concerning laser micromachining, the laser industry, or 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

Optical Power Meters for Diverse Applications

April 30, 2024
Bench-top single channel to multichannel power meters, Santec has the power measurement platforms to meet your requirements.

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a Micro 3D Printed Benchmark Part: Send us your file.

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

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.

Voice your opinion!

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