Materials processing and Asia market two strong growth areas for laser firms

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Laser businesses are recording healthy year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2014, with IPG in particular posting strong figures. The fibre laser manufacturer saw a 20 per cent sales increase in Q1 2014 compared to the same period last year, posting revenue of $170.6 million for three months ending 31 March.

Elsewhere, GSI Group announced 5 per cent year-on-year growth, generating revenue of $79.1 million; Newport reported net sales of $146.9 million, an increase of slightly more than 10 per cent, while Jenoptik generated revenue totalling €136.9 million, up 3.7 per cent.

Coherent’s net sales were down slightly, posting $199.2 million compared to $200.1 million for the previous year, while Rofin also saw a marginal drop of 2 per cent on last year’s figures, recording net sales of $128.6 million.

The rise in IPG’s revenues was attributed largely to materials processing, according to Dr Valentin Gapontsev, IPG Photonics' CEO. ‘Materials processing sales grew 22 per cent as demand continues to increase for cutting applications across a number of industries. In addition, some of the newer applications like additive manufacturing, which includes 3D printing, and glass cutting showed robust performance. While welding performed exceptionally well in Japan and to a lesser extent Europe, it was weaker in North America and China.’

He added that high-power fibre laser sales increased 33 per cent and medium-power, QCW and laser systems sales also were up compared with the prior year.

Geographically, IPG saw strong growth in Europe, China and Turkey, and achieved record sales in Japan. North American sales were lower due to lower sales for welding and paint stripping, according to Dr Gapontsev.

Jenoptik’s revenues in Asia/Pacific rose by around 48 per cent and in Germany by around 7 per cent. A large part of the companys growth came from its lasers and optical systems segment, which showed a sharp increase of 18 per cent on the same quarter of the prior year. Its metrology segment dropped 4.5 per cent. The company also recorded 21.4 per cent increased in order intake in the first quarter 2014 at €160.3 million.

Rofin saw its revenues decrease by 17 per cent in North America and in Asia, whereas its sales in Europe increased 17 per cent. In terms of market sectors, marking and micro applications showed the best growth increasing by 12 per cent, while macro applications decreased by 16 per cent and sales of components were down by 4 per cent.

Coherent’s CEO, John Ambroseo, noted that microelectronics is improving and that the flat panel display (FPD) market is robust. ‘We see a number of opportunities for our glass and sapphire cutting products as several device manufacturers are moving towards deployment. Like the FPD systems, we expect these cutting opportunities to contribute to revenues in our fourth fiscal quarter and into next year,’ he said.

Jenoptik CEO, Dr Michael Mertin, believes that the companys growth target of 5 to 10 per cent for the current fiscal year will be achieved, but added: In view of the restrained demand from the automotive industry and the political and economic developments in Europe this growth target remains challenging.