As the leading show in photonics, Laser World of Photonics will be taking place from 24th-27th June in Munich, with more than 1,300 exhibitors and more than 33,000 visitors expected across the four days. Additionally running concurrently is the World of Photonics Congress show, taking place from 23rd-27th June, which brings a lot of scientific sources to Munich as some of the most important societies are part of the congress, which will provide a nice overlap between science and engineering.
Photonics are all around us and therefore there will be a range of industries that attend the show. Currently there are around 25 exhibitors from the UK, with room for more to join before it all begins. From previous shows the UK has a large number of visitors that attend the show, in fact in 2017 the UK ranked third in terms of number of visitors. Katja Stolle, Exhibitor Director at Messe Munchen said: “The laser industry is not really feeling any impacts from Brexit. It maybe that we are a smaller industry, but so far with this year’s show there doesn’t seem to be any differences.”
Barbara Kals, PR Manager at Messe Munchen, explained that there are three main focus areas which include e-mobility and autonomous driving, biophotonics and medical engineering and innovative startups and industry newcomers.
Kals explained that e-mobility and autonomous driving products would be possible without lasers and photonics: “Sensors are everywhere and in everything, without sensors you couldn’t have driverless cars, this is why Laser World is key to be able to see the future of autonomous cars.”
Initially, internal combustion engine and electric-drive vehicles will share the same production lines. Photonics is considered to be a key technology for electro-mobility - in the complex manufacturing processes for high voltage batteries, electric motors and power electronics and in lightweight construction alike.
At the show there will also be a discussion on a future field of activity in which lasers play a key role: ‘Smart Production of Metallic Parts by Additive Manufacturing’ based on lasers making components out of metal alloys in powder form and plastics, without tools - and with previously unimaginable design freedom.
Kals also said that there is always a lot of German car manufacturers interested in the event, but the show focuses on the stage that is slightly prior to manufacturing comes in, it is the technology that is needed to make the manufacturing happen.
E-mobility has always had a presence at the show, but this year there is a lot more to focus on, and there will be an application panel solely dedicated to this topic.
Biophotonics and medical applications are another focus as the pharmaceutical industry is as big as the laser industry, so combining the two was always going to be a winner.
This year will also be the third year that Laser World holds a Startup Pavilion at the show, and although many will be German startups it is open to international companies, and some do come and exhibit. Stolle explained: “A lot of the startups exhibiting in the pavilion take part in the startups awards, in which the winner is awarded €5,000. The top three companies present to a panel of judges and then are placed. Last year the winners were from Israel, Spain and Switzerland. It is so nice to see people come together, and it is good for startups to see how their peers think about the industry.”
The startup presence at the event is important to show that Laser World is supporting young talent and helping these young entrepreneurs into the industry.
There is also a ‘Makeathon’ which will last 24 hours, where students will receive a task on a certain topic, and will have one day to solve the problem or build the prototype. Judges are then invited to give positive and constructive feedback, where the students will also partake in a networking experience. “Everyone is a winner in this event, as we don’t want to make things too competitive. It is normally a really nice atmosphere, where a lot of the students stay up all night to work,” Stolle explained.
Something else this year that will help encourage networking is the QR challenge that will be potentially taking place. Kals explained: “We are trying to combine academia with industries by getting companies to take part and have QR codes on their stand in which students have to go around asking questions and solve problems that have been dotted around the halls. There will be a prize to be won at the end, but essentially it’s a good way to get companies involved with the students.”
We also will see a large presence of quantum technology at the show, which Kals said is another hot topic: “Everyone wants to be involved in quantum technology to ensure they are not ‘missing out’ but there are no applications yet so it is hard to tell what will happen.”
Finally the guided tours will be running again this year. This gives exhibitors another chance to be more involved with visitors and for them to gain a deeper knowledge, as they can also learn from the professional tour guides. The topics have been decided and for the first time there will be a tour in the area of biophotonics and medical technology.
The tours are:
Laser World is not just about the appointments and meetings, it’s about the whole experience, the people and the networking.