Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Its a small world after all

Longer ago than I care to remember, I took my son to Disneyland where we enjoyed all the rides except for Small World. The only reason for our disenchantment with this Disney ride was the incessant playing of the song, "Its a Small World". All the time spent in line to enter the ride, probably 30 minutes, we were bombarded with this tune and then subjected to it continuously throughout the ride.

For the rest of the day that song reverberated in my brain and I found myself humming it repeatedly. I was humming it so much that I vowed never to listen to it again, a hapless goal if you have ever visited Disney’s parks.

However, I have been itching to find a reason to use the song title in my writing. And now I have the opportunity so I will get it out of my system, once and for all.

It is a small world, this manufacturing sector served by precision processing operations. This world is made for sharply focused laser beams which, depending on wavelength choice, can produce remarkable results such as those that benefit from “cold processing”.

As we finish the first decade of the new millennium, allow me to resurrect statements and thoughts I made as we entered the new decade. I quote from the January 2000 ILS Annual Economic Review, “All in all, ILS editors think 2000 should see the long-predicted move to microprocessing as the key to industry sales growth.”

I will confess that it took a little longer than I had imagined back in 2000, but we are now there and it’s a small world after all. It would be nice if we had a hymnal to celebrate the occasion and I may have found it in a new book published by Springer (www.springer.com/series/856) entitled Laser Precision Microfabrication. This book, edited by Koji Sugioka, Michel Meunier, and Alberto Piqué, is an expansion of their original concept, which was to present selected papers from the International Symposium on Laser Precision Microfabrication (LPM), which has been held at international venues since the first one in Saitama, Japan, and the latest in Stuttgart, Germany in conjunction with LASYS 2010.

As an editor trying to cover concurrent session at conferences, the choice of which to attend is difficult, made untenable if your interests are broad. So I thank the book editors for compiling a very valuable display of the current and near-term processes for laser microprocessing. The book is a very useful selection of papers and contributions that covers laser ablation, micro and nano-structuring, patterning, microforming, and the more familiar processes: cutting, drilling, welding, and marking.

The selection of authors is excellent, and they treat each subject in 13 chapters as if the readers are novices to that particular technology. And for those who are deeply interested, the authors have included lengthy and comprehensive references at the end of each chapter. What this does is make this book a valuable reference resource on my bookshelf ,and I will likely make heavy use of the Index as I seek an explanation for some application that I am writing about.

So here’s the close: it’s rapidly getting to be a small world in laser material processing. As the macro applications begin to mature, it will be these rapidly developing micro processes that will act to increase markets. Driven by more reliable and responsive lasers integrated into “laser only" processing systems, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that when attending the next concurrent session conference, more time should be spent in the microfabrication session. However, the book will still serve as a “basics” for those who are not laser “junkies," but are process engineers looking for a solution to a difficult microfabrication operation.

I recommend the book for process engineers and applaud the editors for the selection of contributors who have written on both an introductory and advanced level for readers.

The book Laser Precision Microfabrication, Springer Series in Material Science 135, is available from Springer, www.springeronline.com; in the U.S., you can call 1-(800)-Springer.

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