Fiber lasers on the advance

Analyses by the Swiss firm Optech Consulting indicate that the rapid advance of fiber lasers in materials processing continues unabated.

Fiber lasers are gaining more and more market share in materials processing. While their share was four percent back in 2005, it was 37 percent in 2015 according to Optech Consulting. Manufacturers of laser fibers generated global revenue of 1.16 billion USD in this segment, compared with 940 million USD in the previous year—a market share of 30 percent.

Optech Consulting also notes that fiber lasers have caught up with gas lasers (CO2 / excimer lasers), which likewise accounted for a market share of 37 percent. Whereas the high performance of excimer lasers means they are hardly affected by the rise of fiber lasers in the field of microprocessing, such as microlithography, display production or nozzles for ink-jet printers, the impact is stronger on CO2 lasers in metalworking. However, the analysts are not suggesting that the death knell will soon sound for CO2 technology. They still expect high demand for low-power CO2 lasers due to their wavelength advantages, especially in the processing of non-metallic materials.

Optech Consulting states that fiber laser manufacturers will in future position their systems where solid-state lasers have been used to date. Their market share in materials processing fell to 26 percent in 2015, accounting for global revenue of 800 million USD. This total was divided up between diode-pumped and flashlamp-pumped lasers, ultrafast solid-state systems, and disk and direct diode lasers.

Optech Consulting expects further growth for fiber lasers. This will be driven by new markets, such as additive manufacturing (3D printing), and this technology’s price advantages. The market data relates to laser sources that accounted for global revenue of 3.2 billion USD in 2015. However, global revenue for lasers embedded in systems for materials processing was 11.8 billion USD. A comparison of revenue shows how dynamically the market has developed. While a meager 0.64 billion USD were invested in laser systems for materials processing in 1986, that figure ten years later was 2.0 billion USD, rising to 6 billion in 2005 and then, as stated, 11.8 billion last year.

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