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Review AKL'22 /

Many industries are ready to break new ground in production with lasers. To do this, users and suppliers must reconcile digitalization and sustainability, ecology and economy. As an important means to this end, lasers can be integrated into the emerging process chains so that they interact with the entire upstream and downstream processes, saving both time and money. The more than 520 participants at the AKL'22 International Laser Technology Congress in Aachen learned how the laser community is already proactively tackling these tasks.

Deep learning, cloud computing, virtual commissioning – three of many new terms at AKL'22 that pointed toward the changing nature of how lasers are and will be used. Digitalization used to come up at the Aachen insider meetings of the laser community, but suddenly it was ever-present: Everywhere, AKL participants discovered the beginnings of what digital photonic production (DPP) of the future might look like.

But what makes manufacturing under the DPP label special – is it particularly efficient, safe, competitive and, at the same time, can it learn? A new term was brought into play by Prof. Constantin Häfner, Director of Fraunhofer ILT: “Sustainability is increasingly becoming an important criterion for how decisions are made in the manufacturing environment. Sustainable digital photonic manufacturing opens doors for technology sovereignty, innovation, resilience, and agility.” Sustainable digital photonic production has many advantages: Not only does it help users implement sustainable goals and regulations, but it also strengthens Europe's role as a high-tech location.