On the 50th anniversary of the laser, the global market for lasers is
expected to grow by $2.6 billion to $8.8 billion in 2014, a compound
annual growth rate of 9%. This is more moderate than the average
rate of 14% over the history of the market. Worldwide laser sales
fell 25% in 2009, the first decline since 2000, but 2009 was still
among the 6 top revenue years in the history of the laser. These
are among the findings in a new report, Laser 2010, from Strategies
Unlimited, the leader in market research of the photonics industry.
Sales of fiber lasers fell only 5% in 2009 to $280 million, much better
than other segments. Sales of the leading supplier of fiber
lasers, IPG Photonics, fell to its 2007 level, losing share. But,
IPG stands to gain in the recovery with its strong coverage in
kilowatt-grade fiber lasers.
The recovery is aided by a turnaround in equipment for fabricating
semiconductors and displays, and for communication equipment, as well
as stable sales in lasers for biomedical instrumentation, and military
and scientific lasers. The materials processing sector will see a
slower recovery. Lasers for data storage are in for harder times,
as the world turns more toward online sourcing and flash memory.
The laser market will continue at a lower growth rate, with economic
cycles playing a larger part than in the past. Figure 1
illustrates the slowing growth as the market increases in size.
|Forty years of market data on laser sales shows steady upward growth punctuated by recessions approximately every 9 years.|
Some segments of the laser market began declining in 2007, with the
full force felt in early 2009. An upturn was evident in mid-2009
due to inventory depletion and pent-up demand, particularly in the
semiconductor and telecom sectors. But, it continues to be a time
of turmoil as the supply chain is shuffled. Credit remains tight
for small and medium-sized businesses, and visibility remains poor.
The management of the laser industry is surprisingly
concentrated. About 87% of laser revenues attribute to companies
headquartered in just three countries: the U.S., Germany, and
Japan. Just 5 companies earn over 50% of the industrial laser
revenues: Coherent, IPG Photonics, Newport, Rofin-Sinar, and
TRUMPF. But, the top 10 industrial laser suppliers lost some
market share because of their high exposure to the machine tool
market. With tight credit and an uncertain economy, financial
events among suppliers were limited to acquisitions of mostly small
companies. Oclaro’s merger and acquisition was an exception.
There are many promising new applications on the horizon, spanning
every market sector. Particularly notable are those in the
medical and consumer sectors: lasers for off-the-shelf hair removal and
skin rejuvenation appliances, new touch-screen display sensors,
Intel’s LightPeak interface for consumer products, cataract and
praesbyopia treatment, optically-assisted magnetic recording, and
promising new laser technologies in the green and mid-infrared ranges.
Laser 2010 is the 6th in a series of reports on fiber lasers and other
lasers for industrial and consumer applications. It is the only
market report to cover the entire laser market in detail. Founded
in 1979, Strategies Unlimited specializes in market research and
strategic consulting directed at photonics systems and
components. Other recent reports by Strategies Unlimited cover:
lasers for materials processing, ultrafast lasers, optical molecular
imaging, OCT, image sensors, and LED lighting systems. The
company, based in Mountain View, California, is a research unit of
PennWell Corporation, a global media and information company.
PennWell’s many brands include Laser Focus World, Industrial
Laser Solutions, Bio Optics World, Vision Systems Design, Photovoltaics
World, Solid State Technology, and Lightwave.
For more information check the company's web site at www.strategies-u.com/