These Are Good Times for Laser Machine Tools
What’s not to like about Laser Munich, held 22-25 June? It was bigger than ever, with a 5th exhibit hall. It's the greatest convocation of laser exhibitors--particularly for machine tools--in one bi-annual event. Exhibitors generously offer espressos and fresh beer all week long, and it’s summertime in Munich.
Another reason the mood was good? Arnold Meyer of Optech Consulting reported his preliminary estimate of the global laser machine tool business at $11.6 billion in 2014, growth of 8% over 2013. The final estimate will come out higher, and in 2015 it's expected to grow in the high single- to double-digit rates.
The most important product on the floor was the multi-kilowatt fiber laser, with several vendors promoting not only 2-4 kilowatts, but boasting vertical integration in their manufacture of diode pump lasers. Vertical integration in volume is considered necessary to compete with IPG Photonics, the market leader. The competitors each have their own story how they are doing this: Trumpf (in disk lasers, and also with its SPI Lasers brand's version), JDSU (soon to be Luminent), Rofin (including its Corelase brand's own version), Coherent, and nLight, to name some. But IPG has a strong lead; they can't all have enough volume to compete, can they?
At the bleeding edge of laser technology was Trumpf showing a Lego mock-up of its CO2 lasers for extreme UV(EUV) lithography. At 13.5 nm wavelength, EUV is also known as soft x-ray, but that sounds too dangerous so polite people call it EUV. The tool uses CO2 lasers to zap moving droplets of liquid tin, zapping them twice each, at the rate of thousands per second. The resulting plasma emits soft x-rays--er--EUV, which must be collected into a beam without splattering tin all over the optics. It's a crazy idea, it shouldn't work, but it's the only solution so far for the next generation of semiconductor lithography. The full ASML tools sell for over $100 million each. At that price they will be used only for the finest lithography steps, such as gate layers in the latest DRAMs and microprocessors. No wonder that the highest-end fabs today cost a few billion dollars.
OSA Industry Development Committee
Thank you to the volunteers who oversee the programs and services available to the Industry Community.
• Jean-Michel Pelaprat,
• Allan Ashmead,
• Henrik Skov
• Simin Cai,
• John Dexheimer,
• James Fisher,
• Alex Fong,
Gooch & Housego
• Steve Grubb,
• Fred Leonberger,
• Claudio Mazzali,
• Mike Mielke,
• Jerry Rawls,
• Martin Seifert,
• Costel Subran,
• Christoph Harder,
Harder and Partner,
Speaking of CO2 lasers, just when you think you've seen everything, Coherent introduced a 200 Watt CO laser. That's carbon monoxide, operating at 5 microns, as compared to the more familiar 10.6 microns of CO2 (carbon dioxide) lasers. The only variety of CO laser we knew of before this have been from Edinburgh Instruments and Infrared Instruments, operating around 1-3 Watts. The new lasers promise better absorption for some materials, finer beam quality, and can use chalcogenide fiber.
Of course there were hundreds of other companies, and thousands of other products, but you get the idea. Times are good for laser tools in Germany these days.
Whatever Happened to the Rare Earth Metals Crisis?
Remember the anxiety about the skyrocketing price of rare earth metals a few years ago? Now there's news that Molycorp—a notable U.S. producer that responded to the crisis—is in bankruptcy. What happened?
The surge in prices was certainly real. It began around 2010, as shown in this chart from Reuters, available here from Vox. As prices went up, there were concerns that the supply was too concentrated in one country (China), and that the extraction was an environmental disaster.
According to the 2014 academic paper noted in the Vox article, three things happened to alleviate the high prices. (1) Other countries responded and developed supplies. (2) Manufacturers found ways to reduce their dependence on the priciest metals. And (3) China responded to pressure and relaxed its own export controls, or the controls sprung many leaks, depending on your point of view.
Meanwhile, Molycorp took on enormous debt to reactivate a rare earths mine in California in hopes of making money, but prices tumbled, and Moly was left with the debt. Forbes offers a perspective here.
Rare earth metals are only part of the story, however. Rare earth metals are not necessarily rare, while many other minerals may be strategically critical in the future. For example, see this presentation by Michael Silver, CEO of American Elements to the New York Mineralogical Club that was streamed live by OSA in 2013.
Let us know what you think. How do critical materials affect your business? Are regulatory policies working? Contact Laura Kolton, OSA Director of Government Relations.
Welcome New Industry Development Associates Members
Applied Optics Engineering and Laboratory Notes Now Online
Applied Optics now publishes articles called Engineering and Laboratory Notes (E&L Notes). These articles are intended to give engineers and technicians a venue to highlight laboratory techniques and hands-on skills required for the design, analysis, fabrication, integration, alignment, and measurement of optical components and systems.
Check out these three recently published E&L Notes:
Want to publish an E&L Note? Submit your manuscript today! If you aren't yet ready to submit, read this editorial by the E&L Notes Editor Brian Monacelli to learn more.
Registration Opens 1 August for the OIDA State of the Art Integrated
3 November, OSA's Office in Washington D.C., USA
Attend and get the answers to key questions about commercializing integrated photonics.
Registration opens 1 August. Learn more and mark your calendar to register.
Where is the limit of discrete photonics? Where is its manufacturing economical and where is it not?
How is this threshold different for different applications?
What is the role of integrated photonics in the data center?
What is the future for commercialization of integrated photonic sensors?
Participate in Capitol Hill Day — September 10, 2015
The Optical Society (OSA), along with its National Photonics Initiative (NPI) partners, are organizing a Capitol Hill Day taking place in Washington, DC on September 10, 2015.
With so many new members of Congress, this is a great opportunity to establish a relationship with your Congressional offices and to educate your members of Congress on the importance of optics and photonics. Last year, OSA and the NPI had several legislative successes all thanks to the advocacy efforts by OSA and NPI members communicating with their members of Congress. The more members we have participate in these efforts, the better chance of success.
Each participant will be placed on a combined society team based on your geographic region. There will be training on the evening on Wednesday, September 9 in Washington, DC focusing on the NPI, how to have an effective meeting, and details on what to discuss with the Congressional offices. On September 10, you and your team will visit your Congressional representatives. Society staff will schedule and coordinate your day and will escort you to all of your meetings.
If you are interested in participating in the September Capitol Hill Day, please sign up on the NPI CVD webpage.
We hope you will be able to join us for Capitol Hill Day. If you have any questions about the activities, please contact Brandy Dillingham at email@example.com.
OIDA Programming at Advanced Solid State Lasers Conference
and Exhibition (ASSL)
04 - 09 October 2015, Berlin, Germany
Join us for two complimentary sessions at ASSL this year:
Keynote Presentation: The History of Disk Lasers from the Perspective of a Contemporary Witness
Friedrich Dausinger, CEO, Dausinger + Giesen GmbH, Germany
7 October 2015; 10:30 — 11:30
Industry Panel: What are the Limitations of Technology?
6 October 2015, 11:30 — 12:30
Exhibit space for ASSL is still available. For more information on exhibiting contact the OSA Business Development Group, Kari Jacobson Smith, +1 202.416.1988, firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to ask about the special discount for OSA Industry Development Associates members.
OIDA Town Hall Forum on Biophotonics Challenges & Opportunities at FiO
Wednesday, 21 October 2015, 18:00 - 20:00, San Jose, CA, USA
The new Forum aims to find consensus through an open town-hall type discussion on key topics affecting the biophotonics segment, beyond technical achievements or new product applications:
The Forum will include a discussion aimed at distilling and prioritizing key findings, for future use by the photonics community.
Where is the funded research going?
What is the enabling technology that has the most market traction?
What are the bottlenecks or "showstoppers" among photonics technologies today?
What are the solutions?
This event is complimentary—please join us. Light refreshments will be served. Information coming soon on the FiO web site.
Exhibit space for FiO is still available. For more information on exhibiting contact the OSA Business Development Group, Kari Jacobson Smith, +1 202.416.1988, email@example.com. Be sure to ask about the special discount for OSA Industry Development Associates members.
You're Invited! OSA Industry Development Associates encourages you to get involved and make an impact in the industry through volunteerism! There are opportunities to suit your interests, level of effort, and available time commitment. The benefits of volunteering include:
For a full list of opportunities available, please refer to the information here. For questions, information, or if you are interested in joining a committee please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Networking with fellow members and obtaining professional connections
Ensuring that our programs meet the needs of your company and the industry
Enhancing your resume
Giving back to the community
The ability to create additional opportunities for yourself within your career
Sponsor the OSA Centennial Celebration & Connect with 220,000 Industry Leaders All Year Long!
The Optical Society is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2016, and we are inviting your company to be part of our festivities. Choose one of our three Centennial Sponsorship options and your company will be highlighted in a year-long calendar of special events and programs that will provide you with high visibility in the optics and photonics market. To learn more contact Regan Pickett, email@example.com or 202.416.1474. A sponsorship opportunity like this happens only once every 100 years!
Post Your Jobs on OSA's WORKinOPTICS
Not only is WORKinOPTICS the best way to find qualified candidates, but it's also a great way to reinvest in our community and help build the optics and photonics profession. Unlike the commercial job boards, our site is owned specifically by OSA and was developed solely with industry employers in mind.
When you purchase a job posting package on WORKinOPTICS, the revenue that is generated will stay within our society. This leads to enhanced professional development programs, education programs and initiatives that will help us provide you with a wider range of relevant, high-quality talent. Your support helps our society enhance the professional value of our talent pool. Visit WORKinOPTICS and connect with candidates that have the education and professional experience to make an impact from day one.
OSA Industry Development Associates Members: Take Advantage of Your FREE Career Services--Post 20 job openings and unlimited internships!
Want to get even more insight and access to great discussions about optics and photonics?
Join 3,000 of your colleagues in our Optics & Photonics Industry Network LinkedIn Group. This one-of-a-kind Forum for Industry lets you participate in discussions about cutting-edge issues. Extend your professional network. Exchange information about problems, ideas and solutions. Collaborate with experts in your field. Now is the perfect time to build a relationship with fellow optics and photonics professionals!
Take advantage of your OSA Industry Development Associates Member Benefits
We are committed to ensuring the value of your OSA Industry Development Associates Membership, so please email OSA if you have any suggestions for new programs or comments on your membership.
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