Strong growth in the laser market

According to OPTECH Consulting, in 2017, worldwide sales of laser systems for material processing rose sharply to EUR 15 billion. This was a EUR 2.4 billion increase from the previous year, in other words, almost 20%. OPTECH says that, for the past 18 years, the laser market has been growing at an average of 9 percent per annum—twice as fast as the machine tool market. In 2017, sales were distributed mainly among four economic areas. The largest single market was China, with a 30 percent market share. 31 percent of sales were in the rest of Asia, while the sector generated 23 percent of sales in Europe and another 16 percent in North and South America.

According to OPTECH, which specializes in lasers and photonics, the overall volume was EUR 4.1 billion in the market for laser beam sources. With an increase of EUR 1.1 billion compared to the previous year, the growth was even more distinct. The highest demand was for fiber lasers, which had a 43 percent market share, and solid-state lasers at 24 percent. Excimer lasers had an 18 percent share of the market, while CO2 lasers accounted for 12 percent. Diode lasers had a three percent market share.

The next big thing? Ultrashort pulse technology, additive manufacturing, and electric mobility

The Laser and Laser Systems for Machine Processing working group within the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) has also published market data, according to which, its member companies in Germany manufactured laser-supported production systems worth EUR 931 million (+ 6%) last year. Including foreign activities, the companies reported a EUR 1.22 billion increase in sales and an impressive 24 percent growth. Because new orders rose by a tenth compared to the previous buoyant year, producers are very positive with regard to the future. Manufacturers are benefiting from increasing demand for ultrashort pulse lasers for the electronics, medical technology, and automotive industries, as well as the strong growth in the additive manufacturing market. 3D printing processes are rapidly moving towards serial production, which drives demand for lasers. The same applies to electric mobility. According to the working group, prismatic batteries are on the increase, where many of the production steps are possible only with lasers. With electric engines, the trend is changing from traditional winding to laser-welded hairpins—which the manufacturers produce with fiber lasers. The laser industry is opening doors to new markets, which would suggest continued growth in the coming years.

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