By Ron D. Schaeffer, Ph.D.

The laser market is booming! While the U.S. economy in general is on a tear with the stock markets at record highs, the laser industry in particular is showing better financial numbers than the overall economy.  The total laser market was up approximately 20% in 2017 relative to 2016, making it one of the best years in the history of the laser industry, and it appears that 2018 could show just as much growth.

The laser market is growing due to manufacturers discovering the use of lasers to improve their processes. Don’t be left behind by your competitors. Attend the Lasers for Manufacturing Event® (LME®) to learn more about laser applications for manufacturing.

LME was conceived seven years ago as a venue to introduce commercial laser applications to a wider audience. LME 2018 will take place on March 28–29 at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois. Two other two-day conferences, Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM®) 2018 and DigiFab Con 2018, will be co-located with LME. Registration to either conference will include admittance to LME.

LME is small enough that attendees can have personal contact with laser industry decision makers, yet big enough to attract a number of reputable exhibitors and industry icons. In addition to the exhibitor booths on the show floor, there will be technical talks and classes intended to promote the laser industry and to educate.

Why attend LME?

  • Interact with laser industry experts.
  • Find out if lasers can help with your manufacturing problems.
  • Network not only with the exhibitors but other attendees as well.
  • Sign up for the local field trip to Trumpf’s new Smart Manufacturing Facility. Opened in 2017, the facility features digitally connected production solutions for the sheet metal process chain.
  • Find a job in the photonics industry – even though this is a manufacturing event, it serves as a good venue for recent graduates because it is inexpensive and gives a lot of bang for the buck.
  • Increase the bottom line by increasing profits!



Keynote Speakers

One of the keynote addresses will be made by Dr. Geoff Shannon from Amada Miyachi discussing lasers for medical device manufacturing (Day Two from 2:15–2:45pm). Henrikki Pantsar from Trumpf Inc. will speak about lasers in heavy manufacturing (Day One at 2:00–2:30pm).


On Day One, I will be giving a tutorial on Current Trends in Laser Micromachining from 8:30 -10:00am.  This course will present information on precision laser subtractive manufacturing using mostly UV and USP (Ultra Short Pulse) lasers.  On Day Two, a tutorial will be given by David Havrilla from Trumpf on Laser Welding Techniques and Applications. Trumpf is an industry leader in the field of not only laser welding and material removal, but they also have a very large non-laser presence in the manufacturing industry.  This course dovetails perfectly with the proposed visit to the local Trumpf facility. These tutorials are free to attendees.

Lasers 101 and 102

These talks provide basic information on many aspects of laser technology. They start at about 10:15am each day and go until the end of the day. The topics will cover laser sources, beam delivery systems, laser safety, laser marking, laser cleaning, laser cutting, laser welding, laser cladding and optics.  These short presentations are given by many industry icons, and these presenters are generally available to not only answer questions but to meet informally afterward.

The best part about the 101/102 talks is that they are given on the floor of the exhibition, so there is no need to leave the exhibit floor to attend these talks.  In the past, most of these presentations have drawn a standing-room-only crowd.

Ask the Experts

Another extremely useful tool is the “Ask the Experts” booth, also located on the show floor. Spearheaded by industry veteran Neil Ball, this booth will be staffed by various laser experts and will be open for business throughout both days. The format is quite informal, and if the experts cannot answer your questions, they can usually direct you to someone in the hall who can.


It would be impossible to hold these conferences without the sponsorship of our corporate members.  The generous sponsors of LME are IPG Photonics, Laser Mechanisms and Trumpf, all recognizable names in the laser industry.

IPG manufactures laser sources and a standard array of laser machining systems and has held to the proposition of driving laser costs continually lower by revenue growth, volume growth and vertical integration.

Laser Mechanisms provides beam delivery components to customers all over the world and is recognized as an innovator in the field of beam delivery.

Trumpf manufactures laser sources, as well as components and industrial machining systems, and has been active in the industry for many years promoting the cutting edge applications.



At the time of this writing, there are almost 50 exhibitors registered. These exhibitors range from companies providing laser sources (Amplitude, Ekspla, Light Conversion, Lumentum and SPI, for example) to companies that provide a complete industrial laser system (Alabama Lasers, GF Machining Solutions, Haas Laser Technologies and Lasea).  In addition, there are a number of optics and components companies to round out everything in between the laser source and the work piece. A number of companies involved in laser safety will be exhibiting, such as longtime LIA supporter Kentek. There will also be some exhibitors in the field of Laser Additive Manufacturing at LME, including companies like Trumpf, Alabama Laser, LPW Technology and Powder Alloy Corporation.

As with the sponsors, without the participation of these exhibitors, this exhibit would not be possible.  There is not enough space to recognize each of these exhibitors in this article, but each and every one is a valuable contributor to the overall success of the event.

What’s New in 2018?

Perhaps the most exciting new opportunity is the interaction of LAM and LME, which previously were completely separate conferences.

Digifab Con has also never before been held in conjunction with LME.  Produced by Fab Lab Hub, this program will explore how digital fabrication – like 3D printing, laser cutting and CAD – is changing the world.  Attendees will see exciting technologies like 3D printing, laser cutting, robotics and artificial intelligence and will have the opportunity to meet with visionaries, educators and innovators.  Learn how anyone can use digital fabrication to bring new ideas to life and change the world!

Registration is now open! For more information and to register, visit

Ron D. Schaeffer is a technical consultant to PhotoMachining.



Here are a few tips that may help make your visit a success.

  • If possible, come with specific questions prepared in advance. If the project is still new, that is fine too, as general knowledge is still very useful especially in the first stage of many planned projects.
  • Take advantage of the Keynotes, courses, classes, talks, etc.
  • Take time to talk to ALL of the interesting vendors, even if you have come to the conference for a specific visit or meeting. There is a lot of information available – be a sponge!
  • Stay at the event hotel if possible as most of the laser vendors and sponsors will be staying there, and this is a perfect venue for less formal interactions – in other words you can grab someone in the hallways, restaurants or bar and get to know them. People do business with people!
  • Meet the LIA staff and LIA’s new Executive Director Nat Quick. These people are very smart and experienced and know a LOT of people, so they can connect you to the contacts you need. Plus, they are a bunch of good folks who you want to get to know regardless.
  • Join the Laser Institute of America as a member and receive all of the member benefits. Also, if you really want to get into the technical detail, consider attending our flagship conference, ICALEO, in the Fall.