By Darryl Boyd, US Naval Research Laboratory, and Mike Idacavage, Colorado Photopolymer Solutions
The Photopolymerization Fundamentals Meeting convened September 17 through 20 in scenic Boulder, Colorado, at the elegant St. Julien Hotel & Spa. The biennial occasion once again began with a series of Short Courses that were taught by leaders from various focus areas within photopolymerization research. Following the Short Courses, a dinner reception was held to welcome the conference attendees.
The following morning, the research presentation portion of the conference began with opening remarks from University of Colorado Professor Christopher Bowman, who thanked each of the attendees, speakers and sponsors. He also gave a special thanks to Dr. Neil Cramer and his team, as they were the principle figures who worked to put the conference together. Former RadTech International President David Harbourne also welcomed the conference attendees with a thoughtful message of thanks and insightful comments on the importance of the conference to RadTech.
The impressive and informative conference presentations then commenced. Presenters representing academia, government and industry spoke on work that they were conducting as it related to photopolymerization and optical materials. Topics covered by the presentations included additive manufacturing, unique synthesis of biological polymers, photo-activated shape-memory polymers, unusually low and unusually high refractive index polymers, and polymers as scratch-resistant/self-cleaning coating materials.
For a conference of this size (roughly 150 attendees), the strong emphasis on gathering those in academia with those in government and industry is quite unique. The conference rules (which strictly prohibit divulging proprietary information outside of the meeting), the intimate setting and the broad-scoped nature of the meeting allow presenters the opportunity to more freely discuss aspects of their work that they might not present at other conferences.
Student participation is another major emphasis of the Photopolymerization Fundamentals Meeting. Many of the students not only attend the podium presentations, but also participate in the poster session alongside the various industry poster presenters. This unique side-by-side combination of student and industry posters provides interesting opportunities for collaboration, while also engaging all attendees, no matter their interests.
To increase the in-depth discussions during the poster session, a concurrent exhibit area was co-located in the poster area. Ten companies representing a wide range of industry participation staffed the booth area. This served as an additional place for technical discussion to take place.
In what is hoped to be the start of a new tradition at the Photopolymerization Conference, RadTech sponsored a special graduate student/industry networking session on the evening of the first day of the conference. The invitation went out to all students attending the conference to meet after the last session of the day for food, drink and a good discussion of RadTech and how RadTech could support the students looking for industrial positions after graduation. With five RadTech members attending the event, the students were able to discuss, in a casual setting, their questions regarding both RadTech and working in industry.
For many years, this meeting has been touted as the premier conference on the topic of photopolymerizations, and the 2017 edition further cemented that reputation. Planning for the 2019 conference already is underway, as the conference looks to continue its legacy.