Photonics West exudes cautious optimism

January 25, 2008, San Jose, CA--I heard it again and again from most everyone I spoke to at SPIE's Photonics West: The recession scare in the U.S. and the large stock-market drops in Europe and Asia are creeping into the otherwise solid, growing photonics marketplace. Just how much the 'fear factor' surrounding this economic uncertainty will affect the market going forward is anyone's guess.

Jan 25th, 2008

January 25, 2008, San Jose, CA--I heard it again and again from most everyone I spoke to at SPIE's Photonics West: The recession scare in the U.S. and the large stock-market drops in Europe and Asia are creeping into the otherwise solid, growing photonics marketplace. Just how much the 'fear factor' surrounding this economic uncertainty will affect the market going forward is anyone's guess.

Several startup and mid-size companies are stepping back to evaluate the application areas that brought them the most success in 2007 as they chart a cautious spending roadmap for 2008. But taking a look at the ever-expanding attendance of Photonics West (and the need for two South Halls to accommodate the growing exhibition as well as the 2010 move to Moscone), the pessimism is hard to see.

Because much of the photonics industry is closely tied to consumer spending, recession fears are indeed real. However, there is every indication that factory automation trends and the biomedical market will continue to expand and hopefully buffer laser and optics manufacturers in the years ahead. The success of the BiOS Symposium was evident by the biomedical offerings of many of the mainstream photonics companies. CVI Melles Griot (Albuquerque, NM) exhibited its fiber-coupled Blue 488 nm solid-state laser for bio-analytical applications, its yellow fiber-coupled 561 nm diode-pumped solid-state (DPSS) laser for fluorescence applications, and a universal controller for both diode and DPSS lasers in a compact, applications-friendly package. And in a Schott (Mainz, Germany) luncheon presentation on Wednesday to a packed room, biotechnology was cited as the primary trend growing the glass manufacturing business from the deep ultraviolet to the far infrared (followed by materials and semiconductor processing).

For a comprehensive Photonics West conference review, please see upcoming issues of the Optoelectronics Report newsletter by following this link Optoelectronics Report.

--Gail Overton, Associate Editor, Laser Focus World


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