MUNICH, GERMANY--The biennial International Congress Fair for Innovative and Applied Optoelectronics is one of the world`s largest specialized technology trade events for lasers and electro-optics. This year`s event--Laser 95--took place as usual in Munich June 19-24 and was, according to exhibitors, a vast improvement over the "doom and gloom" of Laser 93. Attendance increased about 5% to more than 14,000 visitors--of which about one third were from outside Germany--while the number of exhibiting companies was also u¥from 1993. Of the 682 exhibitors about half were from abroad, which represents a 40% increase in foreign participation compared to 1993; the largest foreign contingents were from the USA, the UK, and Russia.
Besides the product exhibits, other events included a 1200-paper technical conference, LASERmed `95 for medically oriented visitors, and several symposia such as a joint German-Canadian worksho¥aimed at increasing awareness of the treaty for scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries. The product exhibits, however, filled most of the 11 exhibit halls, the booths being grouped under various categories, which meant that several firms actually had more than one exhibit. Categories included fiberoptics, laser and optical technology, optics, measuring and testing, production engineering, and medical.
On the industrial front, Cheval Frères (Besançon, France), which was one of about 25 French companies at the show, used a video presentation to demonstrate laser welding of stainless-steel sink parts. The company`s 1-kW pulsed Nd:YAG laser with articulated robot and tools can weld one piece while preparing the next and has a throughput of about 800 sinks per day. Compared to conventional welding, the system avoids the need to hand-finish weld seams on the to¥face of the sink and is, therefore, expected to pay for itself within 18 months.
Also from France, Quantel-Laserblast (Les Ulis) demonstrated its laser cleaning system, which uses a flexible fiberoptic system to deliver the laser output via a handpiece. The fiberoptic cable can be u¥to 30 m long, and maximum laser energy delivered is 250 mJ at repetition rates of 25, 50, and 100 Hz.
From the UK, Electrox (Hitchin) launched five new lasers in Munich; most notable was a 1600-W diffusion-cooled CO2 laser, which is the result of a new joint venture between Electrox and Optomic Lasers Ltd. (Migdal Ha`Emek, Israel). Other Electrox products included two new CO2 lasers that extend the company`s existing Nova range u¥to 2500 W and a new range of pulsed Nd:YAG lasers. Spectron Laser Systems (Rugby, UK) also launched a Nd:YAG system designed for industrial use. The SL2501 uses a single rod and single arc lam¥to produce u¥to 250 CW or 180 W Q-switched with an average power of 150 W at 5 kHz.
Scientific laser product offerings included the VEGA 102 optical parametric oscillator from BM Industries (Evry, France); the system produces an output of 40 mJ over a tuning range of 410 nm to 2.5 µm with a linewidth of 0.2 cm-1. And IQL-Quantel (Les Ulis, France) showed its TDL 50 tunable dye laser system pumped by a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser. Options can extend the tuning range from 198 nm to 4.5 µm.
Among the many other product and business news items at the show, Spectra-Physics Lasers (Mountain View, CA) introduced a new 8-W white-light "midframe" ion laser for the European entertainment market--the system does not require a transformer to operate on European line voltages--and Laser Power Optics (San Diego, CA) showed new blue- and green-wavelength microlasers with specified CW outputs of 10 mW at 457 nm and 100 mW at 532 nm respectively.
Overall, reports on the product exhibit were generally upbeat, and most exhibitors seemed to think participation in Laser 95 was worthwhile. The event offers an important opportunity for US and pan-European organizations to meet existing international customers face to face and to find new ones. A survey by the organizers suggests exhibition visitors were also pleased with the show. Most attendees (53%) were apparently interested in laser technology and optoelectronics, while measuring and testing technology, optics, and manufacturing accounted about equally for other attendee interests.
Stephen G. Anderson