Thursday, September 29, 2011

LME--laser makers meet industrial customers

  Conard Holton
  Associate Publisher, Editor in Chief
  Laser Focus World
The new Lasers for Manufacturing Event, organized by the Laser Institute of America (LIA) and held September 27-28 in Schaumburg, IL, exceeded expectations and promises to offer a new forum for laser manufacturers, integrators, researchers, consultants, and industrial users. The show, held in the Renaissance Convention Center Hotel, drew 67 exhibitors and over 800 attendees, exceeding the expectations of the organizer.

Peter Baker, executive director of the LIA, said the goal had been distilling what might be found at numerous other large North American trade shows where a laser exhibitor might see only a few interested attendees out of thousands, and where attendees might have difficulty learning about industrial laser processes and finding laser companies with products of interest.

The location in Schaumburg was a bit remote, but still only 20 minutes from O’Hare airport and easily accessible to manufacturing companies in the upper Midwest. Baker said it was fulfilling the mission of the LIA, which is to foster lasers, laser applications, and laser safety—not to mention spurring economic development.

In addition to free courses on laser basics, advantages, and safety, speakers such as Todd Rockstroh from GE addressed topics such as lasers in aerospace, automotive, and biomedical device manufacturing. Bill O’Neill, director of the Centre of Industrial Photonics at Cambridge University, gave an engaging talk on the impact of laser technology on additive manufacturing, describing the waste and inefficiency of most processes and inefficiency of supply chains (see photo). His description of additive manufacturing, including laser sintering and 3D printing, opened a few eyes to the potential for consumer products, personal electronics, displays, solar power sources, and much more.

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