High-power fiber lasers ready for growth
Fiber-laser revenues are set to grow to $256 million by 2008 and are likely to have a significant impact on the penetration of high-power lasers into the manufacturing environment, according to a new report from Ashmead Associates, "High Power Fiber Lasers: Technology, Applications, and Markets, 2003–2008."
PORTOLA VALLEY, CA—Fiber-laser revenues are set to grow to $256 million by 2008 and are likely to have a significant impact on the penetration of high-power lasers into the manufacturing environment, according to a new report from Ashmead Associates, "High Power Fiber Lasers: Technology, Applications, and Markets, 2003–2008." According to Allan Ashmead, who authored the report, the superior price/performance (beam quality, efficiency, and footprint) of fiber lasers is likely to accelerate the adoption of laser processing in volume manufacturing where lasers are only just starting to offer fully integrated solutions (robotic integration and fiber delivery) that will in turn enable new designs and manufacturing techniques.
"What do you get out of a fiber laser you don't get with other lasers? Better beam quality and higher power," Ashmead said. "I think there is now a general acceptance of lasers in the manufacturing environment, and advances in fiber lasers that allow the end user to do more. The result is increases in productivity and decreases in cycle times."
Ashmead's report splits the addressable market for fiber lasers into seven major categories—cutting, welding, marking, aerospace/military, drilling, printing, and "other"—and identifies several potential growth areas for fiber lasers, including:
- Non-specialist 3-D milling market currently dominated by CNC machines
- Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) market
- Pipe fabrication
- Large metallic structures (doors, tanks)
Ashmead says the immediate opportunity for fiber lasers is as a replacement for Nd:YAG and, to a lesser extent, CO2 lasers at lower power levels (<100W) for marking, and a limited number of high power units (~1kW) for welding and cutting. However, he adds, over the next two to five years the technical superiority of fiber lasers will permit them to carve out an expanding percentage of the Nd:YAG and CO2 markets accounting for up to 20% of the welding and cutting markets, by value, by 2008.
"Fiber lasers are forecasted to grow to $256 million by 2008 based on 9% CAGR growth in the industrial laser market and 14% fiber laser penetration," Ashmead said. "However, this number may double with aggressive automobile adoption."
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