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Photonics now a key technology, trade show delegates told

Photonics has moved from being a niche sector to a key enabling technology, according to a joint study of the industry.

Research by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the industrial associations VDMA, Spectaris and ZVEI, show that, despite the financial crisis, there has been solid growth in the photonics sector since 2005.

'Photonics has changed from a niche existence to a worldwide, accepted key enabling technology, which is a driver for innovation and plays a decisive role for many end users,' Thilo Brodtmann, from the German Engineering Federation VDMA told delegates at Laser World of Photonics in Munich, Germany, where the Photonics Industry Report 2013 was presented for the first time.

The worldwide photonics market totalled about €350 billion in 2011, compared to €228 billion in 2005. This means that the average real growth of the photonics industry was about 6.5 per cent per annum, exceeded the growth of worldwide GDP by a factor of more than two. By 2010/2011, the photonics industry had managed to recover to its pre-crisis level of 2008.

Photonics production data – broken down by region and country – reveal a shift of market share in the direction of China which, with 21 per cent market share, has now nearly reached parity with the world market-leader Japan. Those same data also offer clear evidence that regions and countries have a tendency to specialise in individual application segments.

The business activities that are oriented more towards production and manufacturing engineering, along with medical technology and life sciences, remain concentrated in the 'established' industrial regions, namely Japan, Europe and Germany, and North America. The segments with a stronger IT and communications technology orientation, on the other hand, are clearly concentrated in Asia and the emerging industrial nations of China and South Korea, but also in Taiwan and Malaysia.

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