Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the May/June issue of LIA Today. LIA has unveiled an expanded educational track for LME 2012, bringing more basic courses and a pair of two-hour tutorials addressing welding and joining and ultrafast laser processes. The event will again offer attendees guidance on creating effective, efficient laser-based production systems to increase profitability in a broad range of applications, predominantly aerospace, automotive and medical. Three new courses addressing the fundamentals of laser additive manufacturing, cutting and robotics have been added along with the two tutorials. These will appear alongside primer sessions on the main types of lasers used for manufacturing, creating laser systems and establishing the return on investment. In addition, a new two-day Laser Welding & Joining Workshop, chaired by LIA past president and Schawlow award winner Prof. Eckhard Beyer of Fraunhofer IWS, will run concurrently with LME. “As many laser manufacturers and system builders are engaged in the workshop, this would be an ideal opportunity to get application-related questions answered and get new ideas on how to use lasers,” Beyer said. “We are going to unite many people from the laser community who are shaping the way the world of lasers is today. This will make it possible to address lasers from the basics to high-end applications.” The workshop will feature 18 presentations, spread out over two days to allow ample time for attendees to interact directly with OEMs in the exhibit hall. “The workshop will start with short courses presented by industrial research experts to give a sound overview of laser basics and current developments,” Beyer said. “End users with long-standing experience will present their solutions to the typical challenges of laser applications.” Some of those applications will include power-train welding, remote welding, hybrid welding and micro applications, he noted. Such applications are being refined constantly as lasers continue to evolve. “We still see a big impact of the tremendous rise in beam quality and energy efficiency,” Beyer said. “Here the application fields are expanded in many ways: ultralow distortions or the realization of new mixed-material joints like copper-aluminum using precisely shaped weld pools. Also, remote-beam applications are now standard; that was a field restricted to expensive high-brightness lasers just a few years ago. “Furthermore, laser size reduction is a key development; many lasers are now so small that machine integration is much simpler and can be done in a way not possible before.” Focus on ultrafast lasers Although this year it is a tutorial, next year the program on ultrafast lasers could grow into another two-day workshop, organizers said. For the inaugural session, the educational track will feature technical examples, a survey of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 1-9 materials and an overview of markets and materials, said LIA president Prof. Reinhart Poprawe of Fraunhofer ILT. He added that the session will be geared toward those involved with optical systems and scanning technologies, as well as toward users of precision machining applications with accuracy in the range of 10 µm and below. “The development of ultrafast lasers with pulse durations of some 100 fs to 10 ps on an industrial scale with powers up to the kilowatt class has led to a new level of laser processing with ultimate processing quality,” Poprawe said. “Starting with physical basics on ultrashort pulse interaction phenomena, the tutorial will give a survey on different applications from electronics, energy topics and tooling technology to large area processing for tribology optimization and surface functionalization.” LME 2012 offers courses, tutorials, networking opportunities and more to give attendees guidance on creating laser-based production systems for a broad range of applications including aerospace, automotive and medical. Images courtesy of LIA. The tutorial is particularly suited for engineers and scientists from machine suppliers and end users, Poprawe said. Also, “Manufacturers of ultrafast lasers and optical systems (scanning technologies) will learn about the requirements on system technology with respect to laser parameters and processing parameters.” “Ultrashort pulsed lasers are heading to the edge of mass industrialization and will undergo similar growth rates like other lasers in the past,” Poprawe added. Applications for ultrafast lasers include the biomedical, automotive and tool and molding industries; LED and OLED light-guiding systems; photovoltaics and energy storage; and general surface processing. The tutorial will help shed some light on the current debate over what kind of pulse lengths are optimal for what materials, how best to apply high-repetition lasers to workpieces, and how researchers and manufacturers can concentrate on shortening manufacturing cycle times. Safety education In addition to spotlighting the bottom-line benefits of lasers, the working systems at the event will put the need for laser safety front and center. LIA education director Gus Anibarro, also the event’s laser safety officer, will give a one-hour presentation on assessing beam and nonbeam hazards in the laser manufacturing environment and how to ensure the safety of operating personnel. The exhibition at LME 2012 will allow companies to connect with potential customers. Anibarro will condense his extensive laser safety experience into an information-packed session that highlights prevention rudiments addressed more fully in LIA’s two-, three- and five-day laser safety courses. The crash course in proper laser use will cover the classes of lasers, direct vs. reflected exposure, the need to control laser-generated air contaminants, skin and eye hazards, and how to choose eyewear of the proper optical density. Networking made easy Held in proximity to a large number of manufacturers and job shops, LME has something for everyone, from those seeking to refine current laser systems and applications to those assessing new ways to employ lasers in production. While the educational program provides tools to help assess the benefit of investing in lasers, the exhibit floor provides a real-time marketplace to discuss applications as well as primary and ancillary equipment with top-tier suppliers. To that end, LME will again feature the Laser Technology Showcase, a stage at the front of the exhibit hall that will be used for keynote educational presentations and shorter informational addresses by many companies in attendance. The show-case format helped foster interaction between attendees seeking solutions and a wide array of industry leaders able to lend their expertise in person. “[At other shows] you get lost between the drill bits and the cutting oil,” said Mike Klos, general manager of Midwest operations for IPG Photonics in Novi, Mich., at last year’s event. “If you’ve ever looked at a laser application, this is the right place to come. Everybody’s here.” To learn more about LME, or to register for the event, visit www.laserevent.org.