Light Makeathon brings photonics to life

July 05, 2017 // By Julien Happich
On June 27 and 28, the world’s leading trade fair Laser World of Photonics hosted the first Make Light Makeathon. 78 students and young engineers from five countries took part in the event. Talented youngsters developed a product from idea to prototype within 24 hours in the midst of the trade fair action.

Messe München had already been the venue of Europe’s first Makeathon at the Automatica Robotics trade fair a year ago. As the summit meeting of the photonics industry, Laser World of Photonics at the Munich trade fair site was now the ideal platform for providing access to optical technologies to talented youngsters. The Make Light Makeathon saw 3-D printers, laser cutters and programming boards being used to create a product from the optical technologies, robotics or automation arenas.

Many intrigued trade fair visitors made their way to the unveiling of the results. The eleven Makeathon teams had two and a half minutes to explain their projects. This was followed by questions from a jury of experts, including representatives of Mitsubishi, TRUMPF and Fraunhofer. The jury’s task was to provide the participants with feedback from an industrial and scientific perspective; prototype prizes were deliberately not awarded in a specific sequence—the community mindset took precedence over the competitive mindset. The competition produced enthralling prototypes such as a “human ping-pong”.

This involved developing a “playing area” that works with a combination of OHP and LED systems as the lines. The “smog dog” went down equally well with the public and jury: the device, similar to a robotic lawnmower, uses optical sensors to detect and home in on air pollution or the smell of burning.