Global laser industry revenues are expected to reach $9.4 billion by 2015 while demand from machine tools, telecom equipment, and China have driven sales since 2010 to a growth high of 52 per cent compared to 2009, according to photonics markets consultancy Strategies Unlimited.
Strategies Unlimited’s report Worldwide Market for Lasers: Market Review and Forecast 2012 makes the 2015 prediction but it also expects a flat market for 2012, on the heels of a 2011. Last year saw slower growth in the second half, compared to the first. However, 2013 is expected to see a return to good growth to achieve the $9 billion revenues in 2015.
Strategies Unlimited also claims the outlook for growth from 2013 is strong because of demand from tablet computers and smartphone makers, which use lasers in their production; the adoption of lasers for conference room projectors and digital cinema; the use of lasers for gaming products like Microsoft’s gesture control gadget Kinect; the semiconductor industry’s development of soft x-ray lithography processes that use CO2 lasers; and the telecom industries investment in 40Gbps transmitters and plans for 100Gbps transmitters.
The consultancy’s report also cites Newport and CVI Melles Griot as companies to watch because of their acquisitions in the last year. Newport bought Ophir Optronics and ILX Lightwave, while CVI acquired Coherent Imaging Optics.
Today five companies earn over 50 per cent of the industrial laser revenues, and they are Coherent, Trumpf, Cymer, IPG Photonics, and Rofin-Sinar, according to Strategies Unlimited.
The one market Strategies Unlimited cites as having a weak future is data storage. This is because prices for laser based storage systems are declining and users are turning to other forms of storage, such as solid state.