Trumpf sees future in laser car production and EUV microchips

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Automotive industry retooling and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) semiconductor manufacturing are expected to continue to help drive revenue at Trumpf, after the company's record 2012.

Speaking to Electro Optics at Photonics West, Trumpf's vice chairman and laser technology and electronics division president, Dr Peter Leibinger, described the sources of revenue that had helped the company reach €2.33 billion in 2012. According to Leibinger, the laser and machine tool divisions, with machine tool sales to Asia and multi-kilowatt disk lasers sold to the car industry for sheet metal cutting, played a key part in the record sales. 

'Another driver is the Moore's law of solid-state and fibre lasers. Over the last five years we have seen a 60 per cent drop in the cost per watt delivered,' said Leibinger, citing industry retooling as a future driver also. 'This has led to new applications in the car industry.'

He pointed to Volkswagon, BMW and Daimler's announcements in 2012 that identified total production investments in the next five years of around €100 billion. As well as car industry investment, the microchip manufacturers need to move to smaller and smaller chip features for higher speeds and for Leibinger this means EUV is close at hand as the new production technology.

Looking at possible new markets, he saw an expansion into defence as unlikely because of the expectation that that market would soften soon. His review was echoed at the Photonic West executive panel, which heard senior industry figures describe a defence market that was becoming more difficult while commercial markets were improving.

Leibinger also told Electro Optics that the company had many new products to launch at Laser World of Photonics in Munich this year.