Munich demonstrated its preeminence in the field of optical technology recently when more than 32,000 international visitors attended the Laser World of Photonics trade fair.

And the first Make Light MAKEATHON, staged in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s (BMBF) Make Light initiative, proved to be a real crowd puller.

Almost 80 students and young engineers were given just 24 hours to develop hardware prototypes for machines using photonics. One notable result was a ‘Smog Dog’ —a device the size of a robotic lawnmower, capable of locating air pollution or the smell of burning with its optical sensor system.

Dr Frank Schlie, head of the Quantum Technologies and Photonics Unit at the BMBF, said: “Germany has a long tradition in photonics and is a world leader in many areas, which is only possible with good companies. For them to be able to grow requires people with ideas, a breath of fresh air for the industry. Our aim with the Make Light initiative is to make photonics accessible to talented young people. We are reaching out in particular to those interested in working in the technology arena but who have not previously considered photonics.”

Another 3,500 delegates attended seven separate conferences that made up the World of Photonics Congress, which ran alongside the exhibition. The ‘Digital Optical Technologies’ conference gave an insight into mixed, augmented and virtual reality applications. Participants were able to combine science and practice in ‘hands-on sessions’ and test relevant devices.

Messe München’s managing director Reinhard Pfeiffer, said: “Be it autonomous driving or diagnostic medical procedures—technical progress is based on photonics and LASER World of PHOTONICS is where companies showcase the appropriate innovations. The importance of optical technologies worldwide is also reflected in the increased internationality of the event.”

The trade fair’s supporting program was first and foremost about transferring knowledge. It was the first time, for example, that visitors were able to find out about future topics during guided tours. The ‘laser technology for e-mobility’ guided tour proved especially popular. Another favourite was the special Photons in Production show, which included live demonstrations such as the welding of high-strength steel as well as Application Panels with senior speakers from the photonics industry.

SOURCE Messe Műnchen