2022 Photonics Trends and Themes: Photonics West Observations

Another successful year at Photonics West is in the books! With the show being back in person again since it last was in 2020, we wanted to share some main themes that we observed after attending in person at this year's event.

  • Dealing with ambiguity. A reoccurring theme for the past couple of years, ambiguity hit many of us once again while preparing for Photonics West 2022. Unsure of what to expect and what was to come, having a hybrid or remote plan for trade shows has been proven once again necessary in this post-pandemic world for those questioning if to exhibit or attend live. 

  • M&A and supply chain trends. We are seeing continued supply chain changes as raw materials and commodity pricing is expected to dip back down dramatically in 2022. With recent and expected pricing swings, most acquisitions today are driven by the security and stability of supply chains. While consolidation in photonics has been happening for years, it's predicted this will heavily hit LIDAR in 2022. 

  • Product localization. With recent moves from China planning to build a complete Chinese supply chain, companies wanting to do business in the area need real infrastructure there, with an additional willingness to localize not just their marketing, but their product line.

    We are also seeing a move for semiconductors to expand outside of Taiwan, with a recent Intel investment in semiconductors in Colombus OH that many are seeing as the start of the reinvention of the Rust Belt. 

  • Workforce shortages. Workforce shortages are one of the top threats for US companies, impeding growth for many in the photonics and manufacturing industries. With a tight labor market and the huge cost of replacing an experienced employee, employee engagement and brand culture are considered critical by most business leaders.

  • Photonics in the net-zero economy. In the past years, there has been an increased interest and funding behind the technologies that will contribute to zero emissions targets. Beyond the opportunity to develop tech that makes a difference, there’s been a 7-10x increase in companies reporting on sustainability metrics in their annual report, a value point that will impact their ability to hire. 

Lessons Learned in Navigating Change