ICALEO Business Forum looks back and forward at laser materials processing market

Oct. 8, 2010
Anaheim, CA--The 2010 Business Forum at ICALEO brought together representatives from five companies to look both back and forward at the laser materials processing industry.

Anaheim, CA--The Business Forum & Panel Discussion 2010 at this year's 29th International Congress on Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics (ICALEO) in Anaheim, CA from September 26-30 brought together representatives from Coherent (Santa Clara, CA), Miyachi Unitek (Monrovia, CA), New Tech Development (Somerset, WI), Innovative Laser Technology (ILT; Minneapolis, MN), and the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, England) to look both back and forward at the laser materials processing industry. In keeping with the laser anniversary theme of ICALEO 2010--presented by the Laser Institute of America (LIA), the session was appropriately entitled "50 Years of Lasers--Key Accomplishments and Future Trends," and was co-chaired by Neil Ball from Directed Light (San Jose, CA) and Sri Venkat from Coherent.

Perceived trends

In the opening presentations prior to the question and answer session, Coherent's Paul Crosby reminded attendees that even though the laser market is a $6 billion dollar industry, the laser systems market was at least 2.5X to 5X larger. Crosby revealed what he thinks are some coming trends in the laser industry: Company consolidation will continue; fiber and disk lasers will continue to displace DPSS legacy devices; China will begin to manufacture more and more of its own high-end lasers; new applications will continue to emerge such as those enabled by ultrafast lasers; and the move to direct-diode materials processing will continue, with successful companies in this space needing access to a diode fab.

Cambridge University’s Bill O’Neill presented his views on why the U.S. is failing to connect education with business research compared to Germany, Japan, and the U.K. He pointed out that one of America’s biggest exports was intellectual property, but argued that innovation--the process of bringing products out of the lab and into practical production--and not invention, creates wealth. "Invention turns cash into ideas. Innovation turns ideas into cash." He sees the U.S. selling IP, but not reaping its benefits and instead importing manufactured goods and commodities. "When I am king," O’Neill said he would establish technology innovation centers that would bridge the current U.S. canyon between universities and industry.

Barbara Kuntz from Miyachi Unitek, William Lawson from New Tech Development, and Steven Weiss from Innovative Laser Technologies spoke about building a better web presence, how to survive and prosper in business, and how to select the appropriate e quipment to fit your business needs, respectively. But it was the question and answer session that followed that best revealed the viewpoints of the panelists (and contributing audience members) about the past and future of the laser industry.

Semiconductor laser innovation

When asked what was the greatest advance in the laser industry over the past 50 years, O’Neill adamantly said the diode or semiconductor laser; Lawson agreed. O’Neill pointed to the massive deployment of semiconductor lasers in the consumer electronics industry, as well as their proliferation in all laser industries--enabling fiber lasers for example with diode pumping. Crosby saw the movement of the laser from lab to industry as the greatest achievement, while some audience members pointed to the 24/7 reliability of the laser as its most enabling feature.

And even though no one is able to foresee the future, the panelists did their best to answer the question, "What is the future for industrial lasers?" Again, O’Neill said the semiconductor laser. He sees direct-diode processing as the next wave in industrial lasers, and went so far as to say that manufacturers should be working towards making laser products commercially available at every Home Depot. Why not a laser welder that fits in a backpack, or a laser sewing machine in the home? Lawson brought up an old saying that if you can cut the cost in half, you can make the market 10X bigger. And Weiss and Kuntz agreed that laser cost reduction is key to growing the available applications for lasers.

Next year

ICALEO 2011 will be held in Orlando, FL from October 24-27.

For more information on the industrial laser markets, go to www.marketplaceseminar.com.

Posted by:Gail Overton

Subscribe now to Laser Focus World magazine; It’s free!

Follow us on Twitter

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!