17. May 2024

Optatec 2024: Inspiring, Highly Specialised and International

Optatec Internationale Fachmesse für optische Technologien, Komponenten und Systeme Optatec 2024 002 web

Photonics experts celebrated the 16th Optatec international trade fair for optical technologies, components and systems from the 14th through the 16th of May, 2024. The industry highlight at its traditional venue in Frankfurt focused on an exciting topic, namely the technical exploitation of light. 422 exhibitors from 24 countries showcased innovations from the fields of optotechnology, optical metrology, new technologies, sustainable manufacturing processes and modern machines on 18,000 square metres of exhibition floor space. Roughly 64% of the exhibitors came from outside of Germany.

“At this highly specialised top event, manufacturers and users from all over the world were once again able to discuss light and its technical use – face-to-face and in great depth,” sums up Fabian Krüger, Optatec project manager at trade fair promoters P. E. Schall. “As trade fair promoters, we’re very proud to have the opportunity of dealing with such a distinguished, exclusive topic, and we’re delighted to be able to offer this platform – the only one of its kind in the world which is intensely devoted to the specialised topic of optotechnology. We welcomed 422 exhibitors from 24 countries this year, which corresponds to foreign participation amounting to 64%. We’re very pleased with the increasingly international presence,” confirms Krüger. A total of 3.962expert visitors attended Optatec 2024 in Frankfurt.

Satisfied Exhibitors – Matching Target Groups – Personal Exchange of Ideas

“We’ve been exhibiting at Optatec since the very first event because the trade fair reflects our entire range of products and services,” confirms Ray George, managing director of sales and production at POG Präzisionsoptik Gera GmbH. The company from Löbichau, Germany, manufactures optical systems, above all customised lenses for applications for which there are no suitable standard products. “We value the fact that we also meet up with machine manufacturers here and encounter the relevant industry cross-section,” confirms George. “Trade fairs like this are absolutely essential, because they’re the nuts and bolts of personal dialogue.”

For speciality glass manufacturer Schott as well, Optatec is a firm entry in the trade fair calendar because they meet up with the right target groups at the event. “Optatec is primarily a trade fair where we get together with our existing customer base and cultivate our networks, but we also meet interesting new customers,” emphasises Udo Reitz, sales director for the optics division at Schott. Personal customer contact at Optatec is also very important for Dr. Jürgen Bode from Satisloh: “This trade fair is especially important for us because we benefit from the exchange of ideas with our customers about new processes and product features.”

Simon Zilian from Trioptics, a long-standing exhibitor at the trade fair involved in optical metrology, also confirms the importance of Optatec because its key topics are matched ideally to the company’s expertise. Trioptics prepared an equipment and instruments exhibition area, a consultation lounge and a lecture area for the trade fair. This provided expert visitors with the opportunity of acquiring new background knowledge, experiencing practical equipment demonstrations and benefiting from professional support at the same time.

Focus on Efficient Processes and Sustainability

Optical technologies are key disciplines which combine engineering sciences with the natural sciences. Optatec exhibitors showcase various technical light applications, components and manufacturing processes. They bridge the gap between research and industry, science and technical implementation. Sustainability in modern manufacturing processes and more efficient applications are currently at the centre of attention. “Photonic components are enablers for new applications,” emphasised Dr.-Ing. Erik Beckert, head of the Optomechanical Components and Systems department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, Germany. The component technologies include, for example, fibre optics for light transmission, coatings and structures, as well as components for satellite and communications technology. Microscopy for materials and laboratory research, as well as for electronics production, belong to the field of photonics as well. A further trade fair topic involved sample applications for optical measuring technology, for example with 3D scanners which can also be used as mobile units, and with which components and objects of all kinds can be measured automatically.

Photonics – a Key Technology for Sustainability

There’s a strong focus on research and innovation in the field of photonics. Dr. Wenko Süptitz, director of the photonics division at Spectaris, the German Industry Association for Optics, Photonics, Analysis and Medical Technology, reported in Berlin that Germany is the European leader for patent applications in the field of photonics. “Photonics technologies make high-tech solutions for new recycling processes possible, as well as reduced materials consumption, CO2 emissions and power consumption, for example”, stressed Süptitz. “Photonics makes a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.” However, Süptitz also pointed out that the current shortage of qualified personnel poses major challenges for the industry. Furthermore, demand for photonics products is at risk of declining in the foreseeable future because order backlogs in the capital goods industry have decreased in key sales regions. Optatec is an indispensable platform for Spectaris as well: “Optatec is one of the most important trade fairs anywhere in the world for our members from the optical technologies and photonics sectors for presenting their state-of-the-art products and latest innovations,” emphasised Süptitz.

Important Future Industry

Optatec presents important applications for the solution of current and future ecological, economic, social and technical challenges. This is why the optical technologies are among the most important future trends of the 21st century. The German photonics industry encompasses roughly 1000 companies with a total of approximately 190,000 employees who generate annual sales amounting to €54 billion. Jena and Berlin are major centres for photonics research and industry, and other photonics hubs are located in the German states of Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Germany commands a 40% share of the European photonics market, followed by the United Kingdom and France with 15% each. Around 45% of all exports from German photonics companies go to European countries, and about half of Germany’s photonics imports come from Asia. According to Spectaris, the importance of the USA has increased as a trading partner for photonics.

Optatec 2024 was once again able to confirm its world-leading status and was also distinguished by an impressive supplementary programme: seminars were held by the Spectaris Photonics Association, a CEO Roundtable dealt with “The photonics and optics industry in times of uncertain markets”, the technology park for “Education and Research – Studying Photonics” provided information on photonics masters programmes offered in Hesse and, as a communication platform geared towards expert visitors, the exhibitor forum provided additional information about participating companies and technologies. “We’re very pleased with this successful trade fair, which addresses the inspiring topic of light,” summarises Bettina Schall, managing director of trade fair promoters P. E. Schall. “Optatec is the industry meeting place par excellence, and we look forward to seeing you again at the 17th Optatec, two years down the road, in Frankfurt from the 5th through the 7th of May, 2026.”

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62 Years of Trade Fairs for Markets – Schall Trade Fairs’ Recipe for Success

Schall has developed successful business platforms with internationally recognised trade fairs for quality assurance (Control), optical technologies, components and systems (Optatec), stamping technology (Stanztec), automation in production and assembly (Motek), bonding technology (Bondexpo), plastics processing (Fakuma), sheet metal working (Blechexpo) and joining technology (Schweisstec). This has given rise to entirely new markets in various sectors, whose protagonists are distinguished by tremendous innovative strength, comprehensive systems competence and practical application solutions.