Something that doesn’t get discussed very much – at least not in my circle of immediate friends – is industrial laser news. Industrial and fiber laser folks talk about them, but I don’t know very many of those folks. As you would expect, the economy isn’t a bright shining beam of moonlight for the industrial and fiber laser industry. Times are rough within that niche like they are anywhere else – if things continue like they are, industrial lasers overall will see a 32% decline in revenue, back at 1994’s economy numbers.
Fiber lasers, a big player in new technologies related to manufacturing and fabrication on many levels, are expected to bounce back before most of the industry. From an article at optics.org:
Sales should subsequently return to 2008 levels by 2013, helped by military, biomedical instruments, and energy-related applications. However, many materials processing applications, from laser marking to metal cutting and welding, will take longer to recover. Fibre laser sales will show a shallower decline of 24%, and subsequently bounce back more strongly.
“Sales of fibre lasers should recover faster than other varieties of laser,” commented Tom Hausken of Strategies Unlimited to optics.org. “They are still breaking into new applications in sheet metal cutting, microfabrication, medical treatments, and sensing. They will also capture some market share from other laser types, and from approaches that don’t use lasers at all. That won’t help much in the short term, but it will make a big difference in the long term.”
This economy mess is expected to thin out weaker players in a wide pattern – industrial and fiber lasers are now getting a slowdown for the first time, I think ever.