MARKET INSIGHTS: Photonics shows strength in Shanghai

May 14, 2012
Since first opening in 2006, LASER World of Photonics China has established itself as the leading lasers and optics tradeshow in China.

Since first opening in 2006, LASER World of Photonics China has established itself as the leading lasers and optics tradeshow in China. It was very clear to me how energized the exhibitors and attendees were by the diversity and quality of products on display, the rapidly increasing scale of the industry in China, and the international feel of the event.

The show ran from March 20–22 in Shanghai’s New International Expo Center, and was collocated with electronica, productronica, and SEMICON China. The organizer, Messe München International, said the show attracted 475 exhibitors from 19 countries, an increase of 32% from 2011. The number of visitors reached 34,300, a 19% growth over last year, and the total exhibition space increased to 23,000 m2, up 33% from 2011.

Most of the major North American and European manufacturers of lasers, optics, and cameras exhibited at the show. Some were able to benefit from many years of operating subsidiaries in China; for example, Avantes China held a celebration marking its fifth anniversary and disclosed plans for growth that included expanding from four to five locations.

The vast majority of exhibitors were Chinese, including names increasingly familiar to me such as Castech, China Daheng Group, Crystech, Han’s Laser Technology, Luster LightTech, Pinnacle Scientific, Wuhan HuaGong Laser Engineering, Wuhan Raycus Fiber Laser Technologies, and Xi’an FocusLight Technologies. A section of one hall was devoted to the Machine Vision Exhibition Pavilion, which attracted approximately 50 Chinese and international exhibitors.

The Photonics Congress China was held in parallel to the tradeshow and featured the International Conference on Laser Processes and Components, the Conference on Laser Technology and Optoelectronics, an OIDA Fiber Communications Workshop, and the OSA Energy Photonics Workshop. I presented some of the global laser marketplace data researched by Strategies Unlimited, a summary of which was published in Laser Focus World.

The audience of approximately 300 also heard from Prof. Youliang Wang, Chinese Optical Society Laser Processing Committee, who discussed the state of the laser industry in China. The first point he made was that the central government is firmly behind the industry. The current President of China and General Secretary of the Communist Party Hu Jintao has said, “We should redouble our efforts to research, produce, and use lasers.”

Wang also noted that two laser companies are now listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SXSE): Wuhan Golden Laser (SHE: 300220) and Shenzhen Sunshine Laser and Electronics (SHE: 300227). He said that the laser processing industry is growing quickly and embracing fiber lasers, but that much work needs to be done. According to Wang, there are 50 domestic high-power laser companies in China, but only 13 of them are well known and have a strong intellectual property position and R&D operations.

He urged the domestic laser industry to become more “self-directed” and innovative, and to overcome the lack of management experience, R&D, and skilled technicians. He further stressed that China must avoid becoming just another laser marking market.

Thinking global
Dr. Bo Gu, a well-known figure in the industry who has held management positions in both China and the US, also spoke on China and the global laser industry. He first urged the Chinese laser industry to develop a leader mentality. China has trailed in the invention and development of new technologies by only a few years, including laser technologies. However, “the cost of being second is huge.”

Higher margins go to the leaders (up to 60%)—as latecomers enter markets, prices and margins drop. Market data from Strategies Unlimited shows that approximately 90% of the value of the global laser industry now comes from companies headquartered in the US, Germany, or Japan.

Gu said that the advancement of lasers and laser technology was called for in the government’s current five-year plan and that once such a commitment was made, resources were allocated to ensure it happened. To drive this change, Gu said Chinese companies should:

Acquire overseas companies or create joint ventures (which may not provide access to leading-edge technologies, but might reduce the trailing time).

Participate in exchange programs with international companies (given the political world, probably more feasible with European companies).

Invest in and set up overseas centers to attract talent and learn (probably only feasible for larger companies such as Huawei).

Shanghai was a noticeably different city from the one I visited five years ago while attending another tradeshow. In a sense, the Chinese laser market is growing and changing even faster than the social and infrastructure changes that are transforming the country. Hoping to keep pace, I’ll be writing much more about the industry on our web site and in the pages of the magazine.

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Motion Scan and Data Collection Methods for Electro-Optic System Testing

April 10, 2024
Learn how different scanning patterns and approaches can be used in measuring an electro-optic sensor performance, by reading our whitepaper here!

How Precision Motion Systems are Shaping the Future of Semiconductor Manufacturing

March 28, 2024
This article highlights the pivotal role precision motion systems play in supporting the latest semiconductor manufacturing trends.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!