Photonics West 2022 Show Recap

I’m sure you’re familiar with the long days and short nights when you need to work a tradeshow. For anyone who has experienced it, you can sympathize I’m sure. So now as we ice our aching feet and soothe our sore backs, it’s time for a Photonics West 2022 recap.

Photonics West 2022 On a Positive Note…

Photonics West 2022 was located at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco. It was packed with technical presentations for approximately 3100 conference attendees and about 950 different companies exhibiting their products to another 2900 exhibition attendees. If you are in the photonics space, this show should be on your radar.

  1. The show had focused attendees. So many of the people we spoke with at the show were on a mission. This mission was one of two things. The most common goal respondents were trying to achieve revolved around the technical sessions. Numerous people commented on the strength of the technical sessions and the ability to continue gaining knowledge with respect to an area they were focused on around Photonics or imaging applications. The second and more obvious goal we heard over and over again was that attendees were trying to stay on top of the market.  Attendees wanted to see what changes were coming and what was new from the exhibiting companies.
  2. It wasn’t just local attendees. This might sound obvious but remember – this event took place in the midst of the COVID-19 Omicron variant spike, in a city that had stringent health requirements. Couple these facts with the pain in traveling internationally right now (health test requirements, flight cancellations, pilot shortages, winter weather disruptions, etc) and it might be surprising to learn that many attendees braved the travel pains to come from international locations. The appeal for Photonics West 2022 continues to be a global appeal based on who we saw in attendance.
  3. Photonics is on the same trajectory as semiconductors, just much earlier in the arc. This was an interesting conversation that more than one person discussed with us. Respondents likened the photonics industry and the burgeoning advances in quantum computing to where the semiconductor industry was years back. Imagine the advances in computing that will continue to take place as the photonics space advances as well. The outlook continues to be positive for this space.

But It’s Not All Positive…

This was the first tradeshow I attended since February of 2019. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I knew big companies had pulled out of this show in the weeks leading up to it. Photonics West 2022 disappointed me because of 2 main things.

  1. San Francisco. Location, Location, Location. Yes, I will admit, I’ve been in love with the city of San Francisco since I first traveled there in 2000. The city had a sort of je ne sais quoi about it that I enjoyed. That city is no more. The city is no longer anything of beauty. The trash, the general degradation of the city, and the crime is evident everywhere you look. I would advise SPIE to move this tradeshow and any future tradeshow out of the San Francisco area. I suggest San Diego, Charlotte, or Orlando during that time of year these cities are cleaner and more visitor friendly.
  2. Attendance was a fraction of prior years. Shocker, I know, a trade show during a COVID spike has low attendance. With companies dropping out and expected soft attendance ahead of the show due to the current environment, I am surprised the event didn’t go 100% virtual. If you want to see how soft attendance was, look at the image above for aisle traffic during the show on day 1 and day 2. For the cost of travel, risk of COVID infection, and cost of displaying – the payback for exhibiting at this show may not be there unless you met the right customer with the right need. I will say it was interesting seeing the so many empty booth areas, they offered a nice place to take a phone call or rest your feet after walking the show for hours. There was even giant checkers and giant chess game with which people occasionally interacted.

But What About Motion Plus?

We had the fortune to be in attendance with 2 of our key suppliers, Aerotech and MICRONIX USA. On display in our booths, we had an assortment of optomechanical products (like optics holders, manual slides, rotary positioners), motorized positioners (like piezo stages, linear precision stages, and rotary positioners), and an array of drives and controls. If you missed our showing, you can see a small sampling of it on the Motion Plus company page on LinkedIn.  These products garnered a good bit of attention and opportunity as customers are still finding out about our marketplace and the benefits of working with Motion Plus. Even in the Photonics industry, our in-stock solutions offer benefits over longer lead time products. It was a record trade show for us with respect to the number of customers we spoke with.

Final Thoughts…

All in all – while attendance was extremely soft (less than 3,000 exhibit attendees) those attendees that did show up, were very focused and brought opportunities to exhibiting companies. The photonics industry seems poised for continued expansion and accelerating growth. Ultimately I’m betting you can find us again at Photonics West 2023.