June 21, 2013, ORLANDO, Fla. — There’s a never a dull moment in the life of the Laser Institute of America. Since 1968, LIA has been at the forefront of advocating for advanced laser applications and user safety. That’s never more evident than at LIA’s premiere industry events.

Each of LIA’s conferences and workshops is meticulously planned year after year, with careful attention paid to addressing cutting-edge industry trends — like laser-based additive manufacturing — with compelling educational programs that keep professionals on top of their game. And each event has its own character, shaped as much by the attendees as the planned program.

At the moment, LIA is ramping up for its third-annual Lasers for Manufacturing Event, to be held Sept. 11-12 in Schaumburg, Ill. The unique event, in the heart of America’s automotive industry and convenient to many job shops in the region, has met a very specific need: connecting laser manufacturers and systems integrators with the people who use them to create high-value components for the automotive, aerospace, energy, defense and medical industries. LME’s unique technology showcase presents informative sessions right on the exhibit floor, addressing a broad array of applications as well as how to employ lasers profitably in manufacturing scenarios. Those who attended or exhibited at the first two LMEs found they exceeded expectations, as this testimonial video makes quite clear.

LIA’s most recent event, the biennial International Laser Safety Conference held March 18-21 in Orlando, showcased a wealth of information from front-line practitioners in manufacturing, research and health care. While ANZI Z136 standards committees labored feverishly behind the scenes to refine vital laser-usage guidelines, attendees who hadn’t seen each other in years reveled in the unique camaraderie of the laser industry. They also took careful note of cutting-edge education that gave plenty of CLSOs and CMLSOs tips to take back to improve their operations. While the Technical and Medical Practical Applications Seminars buzzed with intensive presentations and plenty of audience participation, the four days of the event allowed for more after-hours networking.

Prior to ILSC was LIA’s fifth-annual Laser Additive Manufacturing Workshop in Houston in February. In yet another nod to geographic considerations, LIA conducts this rubber-meets-the-road session in the cradle of the energy industry. For the past two workshops, LAM has spotlighted the coming revolution in additively manufactured components while continuing to stress improvements in traditional cladding operations.

And of course, there’s ICALEO — the International Congress on Applications of Lasers & Electro–Optics (ICALEO®). The granddaddy of LIA’s events always crackles with top research from around the world in some of the most esoteric facets of laser applications. ICALEO is a clearinghouse and a celebration all in one, from the casual welcoming reception to the presentation of the Arthur L. Schawlow Award — and, of course, 350 presentations from some of the most prestigious names in the field. The 32nd-annual event, slated for Oct. 6-10 in Miami, is sure to be another eye-opening experience.

And then the cycle begins anew. Preparations immediately begin for the next year’s slate of events — all while LIA continues to improve its dizzying array of laser safety courses and resources. From on-site instruction to collaboration with OSHA and the National Photonics Initiative, to the new online training portal Laser U — LIA keeps many irons in the fire.

I’ve been covering LIA events for four years now, making new friends and connecting with old ones. The unique flavor of each session never fails to connect with first-time and veteran attendees alike. It’s impossible not to learn something new, and the ability to pick the brains of some of the top minds wrangling this ever-improving technology to do amazing things is not to be missed. Here’s looking forward to meeting up with everyone at LME 2013 in Schaumburg. If you’ve attended one or both prior LMEs, I’d be eager to hear your thoughts for a future article in LIA Today. Email me at geoffgio@verizon.net. — Geoff Giordano