January 17, 2017

Photonics on the rise—high market dynamics in imaging


Market data from German industry associations SPECTARIS and VDMA shows that photonics is continuing its growth trajectory. In particular, sensor technology and imaging will continue to offer the best prospects for the future.

The global photonics market will grow to EUR 724 billion in 2017. Current figures from German industry association SPECTARIS indicate that the high growth dynamics are set to continue. On average, global photonics production has increased by six percent each year since 2012 Photovoltaics, flat screens, LEDs, ITC fiber optics and laser beam sources have experienced the highest growth rates.

According to SPECTARIS, in Germany the industry now has 1,000 companies employing around 130,000 people. These companies generate combined annual sales of EUR 30 billion. The association predicts that this will grow by almost a third to EUR 43.7 billion, 70 percent of which will come from exports. According to the Robotics + Automation association within the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) imaging is one of the growth engines. In Germany, imaging sales have doubled within ten years. For 2016, the association once again expects record sales of at least EUR 2.2 billion. And there appears to be no end to the boom.

Imaging as a key technology in automation

The trade association believes the boom in imaging “Made in Europe” is due to it being in demand worldwide as a key technology in automation. Thanks to imaging, machines can “see and understand”, which has a positive effect on product quality, productivity as well as the stability and efficiency of production processes. Imaging paves the way for increasingly more flexible and smart production in Industry 4.0. The technology is also finding new areas of application in retail, transport, medicine and also in agriculture and fishing.

For 2016, the VDMA association predicts an eight percent increase in sales throughout Europe. The automotive industry is the biggest customer of the European imaging industry. Demand from there makes up a fifth of total sales. The second most important customer is the electric/electronics industry, including semiconductor production, which makes up twelve percent of sales, followed by the metal, food and beverage industries, each of which generate seven percent of sales.

Camera technology is responsible for almost a third of the overall market. In this area, demand is growing each year in the double digit range. The trend toward embedded vision in the automated, digitally networked process world of Industry 4.0 should also generate more momentum in the market.