This is the 34th year for publication of Industrial Laser Solutions for Manufacturing, our formal name as the successor to Industrial Laser Review in January 1999. Back in June 1986, we published the Annual Review of Industrial Laser Trends and Markets, offering the industrial laser community a look, for the first time globally, at their industry. It was minuscule then, showing total materials processing laser revenues at $114 million (system revenues at $274 million).
Maybe it was the small size of the 1986 industrial laser market (in today’s dollars, about $250 million) that did not attract market analysts, so ILS had it pretty much all to ourselves until total sales cracked the billion-dollar mark in 2002 ($1.3 billion in today’s dollars). Then, with a number of leading suppliers that are public companies reporting verifiable revenue data, competing analysts began to appear, offering laser market reports for sale online.
We were not very concerned about competing analysis in the early 2000s since they echoed the numbers ILS was publishing and we believed then, as we do now, that our unique definitive reports based on long-time views of the markets and its suppliers, plus the continuity of our reports, gave us an edge. That, plus ILS offered a value with our reports—they were freely distributed.
Since the last recession, when the industrial laser revenues charged out of the recession at a 15.2% CAGR clip, market analyst reports have multiplied each year, reaching more than 340 (and still counting) different reports on various segments of the industrial laser and systems market in 2018.
I’m all for competition, but 340 reports on a $5 billion market—really? Okay, some of them cover industrial laser systems and that market is about $15 billion. But how much different can total numbers be? We all look at the same equipment supplier base.
That’s not what this My View column is about—it’s all about the data (developed for us by our sister company Strategies Unlimited). And we think the use of ILS published data in others’ ‘for sale’ reports, without even a courteous credit of the source, is unprofessional, never mind unsanctioned. Data developed and presented in ILS is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission, which we never do for public use, when it comes to our market reports.
So, after 34 years of freely sharing comprehensive data on the global industrial laser market, we have changed the format of the Annual Industrial Laser Market Review by reducing the details of data presented and supplementing it with textual material that should only be reproduced by copyright permission (see page 9).
Now, on a lighter note, this issue starts a fresh editorial year for ILS, and we have put together issues packed with the latest on industrial laser material processing. I asked Prof. Dr. Thomas Graf to start 2019 with a look at what the future, in his view, looks like for industrial laser processing (see page 13). Many years ago, I did the same in another publication, advocating for an unlabeled black box producing usable photonic energy to weld, cut, etc.
I’ll be interested to hear readers’ views on Professor Graf’s outlook.