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Optimistic Mood on Show Floor
Jan 2009
SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 30, 2009 – “Cautiously optimistic” was a phrase heard a lot in the aisles of the Photonics West 2009 exhibition when talking about the state of the economy as it relates to the photonics industry.

“One reaction to the worldwide financial crisis that’s going on is to actually offer new products that are very interesting for the industry, because there’s always opportunities, and that’s what we are looking for. And I think we are well-positioned for that,” said Dr. Heinz Kaiser, vice president and general manager of fiber optics for Schott North America, which was promoting the doubling (to 300 mm²) of its one-piece fiber optic faceplate image size for large-format medical, military and commercial applications. Schott Worldwide is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Vendors seemed encouraged by the attendance numbers at the trade show, which plans to move to bigger quarters in San Francisco next year. Some were encouraged by the number of exhibitors and attendees at both the biomedical optics (BiOS) and Photonics West exhibitions.

“We exhibited at the BiOS preshow, and I expected a sharp dropoff in attendance over the last three years, which I also attended, and actually it was about as busy as I’ve ever seen it, much to my surprise,” said Markus Bilger of JDSU’s Custom Optics division.

During the show, JDSU announced the availability of a new UV filter, an optical component critical to instrument makers and used for applications such as environmental monitoring, genetic research, biomedical instrumentation and medical/aesthetic laser instrumentation.

Because JDSU supplies Chinese companies, Bilger had expressed concerns that scheduling the event during a Chinese holiday week would keep those customers away, but “I think it’s about the same proportion of people as normal,” he said.

“We’ve been doing very well so far this fiscal year, which started Oct. 1, and probably the second quarter we should do well, also. Of all the people I’ve talked to here at the show, nobody seems to have a very clear agenda for the next half-year. In all industries, people are cautious,” said Stephen Krenitsky, vice president of advanced optics for Schott North America, which was promoting its new glass diffractive optical elements for laser beam shaping applications and high-end microscopic glasses for high apochromatic microscopy lenses. 

As with Schott, many companies attending Photonics West were demonstrating new products or capabilities, and they view the current economic situation as a time for new opportunities.

Douglas M. Rutan, marketing manager for lighting products at Welch Allyn in Skaneateles Falls, N.Y., was honest about the economy’s effect on business. Welch Allyn, a Photonics West first-timer, produces lighting products for medical and military applications and for sports applications such as scuba diving, cycling and ATV motocross.

Rutan said the economy has not really affected Welch Allyn’s business in the medical and military fields but that the company was surprised at how much sales have dropped off in the sports sector. “Usually, people are willing to pay for their passions,” he said. “But they’ve been pulling back.” He noted that the company projected lower earnings for this year and that right now it’s on target.

Luckily, Welch Allyn has a range of offerings, which Pranalytica Inc. CEO and Chairman C. Kumar N. Patel says is the key to surviving an economic downturn. “If one market drops off, then you still have the others,” he said.

Pranalytica is a product-oriented high-technology company that specializes in ultrasensitive gas-sensing instruments for medical, environmental, industrial and national security applications; the company also offers mid-IR laser systems.

Show organizer SPIE reported that attendance for Photonics West 2009 was 17,903, up slightly over last year’s 17,440, with the increase coming in exhibition attendance. 

Click here for more information on Photonics West 2009. 

Melinda Rose

Laura S. Marshall

A noncrystalline, inorganic mixture of various metallic oxides fused by heating with glassifiers such as silica, or boric or phosphoric oxides. Common window or bottle glass is a mixture of soda, lime and sand, melted and cast, rolled or blown to shape. Most glasses are transparent in the visible spectrum and up to about 2.5 µm in the infrared, but some are opaque such as natural obsidian; these are, nevertheless, useful as mirror blanks. Traces of some elements such as cobalt, copper and...
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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