24 Jan 2008
Revenues will continue to increase in 2008, although the effects of wider economic factors are hard to assess.
Total sales of all types of lasers increased by around 9% in 2007 to $6.9 billion, according to figures from Steve Anderson of Laser Focus World. Speaking at Photonics West in California he forecast continued growth in 2008, albeit at a lower rate of 7%, to bring the total laser market to $7.3 billion.
Sales of non-diode lasers rose by 8% in 2007 to account for $3.08 billion of the total, driven primarily by materials processing applications as well as double-digit growth in lasers for scientific and medical applications. That growth rate is expected to decline to 7% in 2008, in part due to weakening markets in lasers for materials processing in microelectronics. Sales growth for fiber lasers is expected to slow from a massive 39% in 2007 to a more modest 16% in 2008.
For diode lasers, revenues grew by 10% in 2007 to reach $3.81 billion, buoyed by a rapid expansion in FTTx deployments. According to Bob Steele of Strategies Unlimited, growth is likely to slow to 7% in 2008, although the market will break through the $4 billion mark for the first time. Gains are expected in 405 nm lasers in next-generation DVD systems, and high-power laser diodes for fiber laser pumps. However, declining customer spending could impact sales of laser diodes into consumer electronics applications.
The effects of instability in the US economy and the global financial markets has introduced even more uncertainty into what has always been an inexact science. According to Anderson, the biggest unknown is how falling consumer confidence, particularly in the US, might impact on global laser sales.
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