It’s interesting that this month’s features are as diverse as high-power cutting of thick metals and low-power plastic welding of parts. These applications for industrial lasers produce at the extremes of laser output power. Plastic welding serves the most diverse markets, while thick-section metal cutting is confined to the fabrication market. These industrial applications are also at the extremes of the laser revenue markets, with metal cutting dominating all industrial laser sales and plastic welding just beginning to find niches.
Often when I present the industrial laser material processing market, I mention this diversity, citing the relative revenues and cautioning investors to look at the whole, not the multitude. Case in point is medical device processing, which is comprised of dozens of applications, but none of the magnitude of sheet metal cutting. And yet, unit sales could be in the hundreds purchased by a plentitude of users.
Metal cutting is a big part of industrial laser system revenues, and we note that very high-power fiber laser-powered units greater than 10 kW are currently a hot product right now. The ads we see imply these high-power units outperform lesser-power units, and I question whether this means total unit sales will lag?
I asked one supplier—Kimla—to comment on this and got back the article appearing in this issue (see article). It wasn’t quite what I had expected. So, as a balance, in subsequent issues in 2022, we’ll continue to explore the very high-power laser cutting market, with contributions from a leading system distributor of Eagle systems and another from the company providing the lasers for these systems, IPG Photonics.
At the other extreme, the fast-growing laser welding of plastics application is aptly described by a leading supplier, ACSYS Lasertechnik. The article is a very comprehensive look at what might be a significant market opportunity (see article).