The Laser Institute of America's second-annual Laser Additive Manufacturing Workshop in Houston drew 50 per cent more attendees as well as more sponsors and vendors than the début show of 2009.
The May 11-12 conference gathered 137 attendees from 11 countries, as well as 22 vendors, to hear carefully selected presentations about cutting-edge techniques for the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas and other industries.
'We were very pleased with the second LAM workshop,' said LIA executive director Peter Baker. The conference 'emphasises LIA's commitment to providing end users and manufacturers with the practical knowledge and information they need to use lasers productively and profitably. Keynote speaker Bill Steen of the University of Liverpool commented that it was well organised with an extraordinary level of friendliness of the participants who were really interested in progressing their business.'
Lasers' low heat and precision mean a world of possibilities and efficiencies for additive manufacturing, and LIA assured attendees the show would 'have a significant impact on the widespread industrial implementations.' LAM is increasingly popular as a cost-effective way to repair expensive machinery and parts and reduce manufacturing down time.
The success of the LAM workshop was evident to Paul Denney, general chair of the conference and director of the laser applications lab at the Connecticut Centre for Advanced Technology in East Hartford. He noted the attendance of several major firms, including representatives from Caterpillar's re-manufacturing group, GE Global Research and GE Aviation, and Pratt and Whitney. 'Those are the big guys who are interested in the technology,' Denney notes, 'and if they accept it they'll drive not only what they do at their own facilities but drive what goes on at their suppliers.'
Denney and others are already thinking of ways to expand next year's conference. 'We'd really like to push to get more discussion and interaction with people who are doing (laser-additive manufacturing),' he said. 'A lot of people want to hear stories from other people; they'd like the end users to talk about how they're using the technology. We've got to bridge over to other organisations and communities that don't use lasers that readily and get them to come to the workshop.' Some other attendees and planners mentioned they'd like to see webcasts, more technology service providers and perhaps a third day added to the schedule.'
LIA's 3rd Laser Additive Manufacturing Workshop (LAM 2011) will once again bring industry specialists, executives, users and researchers from around the world to show how cladding and rapid manufacturing can be applied effectively and affordable to today's manufacturing challenges.