Double-digit growth spurs

An ancient Chinese proverb cautions: "Be careful what you wish for," as it may come true. I can`t hel¥but reflect on that saying when reviewing the data presented in this year`s Annual Review and Forecast of Laser Markets (see p. 78). When executive editor Steve Anderson predicted last year that the entire laser market (nondiode and diode lasers) would exceed $3 billion in 1997, it seemed like an incredibly large number. But wishful thinking? Hardly, as this year`s numbers bear that predicti

Double-digit growth spurs

laser markets to record volumes

An ancient Chinese proverb cautions: "Be careful what you wish for," as it may come true. I can`t hel¥but reflect on that saying when reviewing the data presented in this year`s Annual Review and Forecast of Laser Markets (see p. 78). When executive editor Steve Anderson predicted last year that the entire laser market (nondiode and diode lasers) would exceed $3 billion in 1997, it seemed like an incredibly large number. But wishful thinking? Hardly, as this year`s numbers bear that prediction out. It`s not just the total number that is accurate--the double-digit growth he forecast has also proved to be real. Steve attributes this market growth to several factors.

First, he believes that the relatively rosy picture that emerged from his survey rides piggyback on the general economic strength of most relevant financial markets in the western world. These robust economies produce large amounts of capital available for investing, and many laser manufacturers are using that influx of capital not only to increase R&D spending but also to increase manufacturing capacity to kee¥u¥with the demand caused by "real" industrial applications. Other worthy investments include acquisitions (see p. 76), burgeoning industrial applications (see p. 61), and successful new-product development (see p. 100).

Steve also highlighted a shift in the way many laser manufacturers approach business. After concentrating on making products for the scientific research market, which has been declining for several years, companies have "weaned themselves off this revenue stream and instead concentrated on end-user applications," he said. This growth is reflected in the maturation of specific technologies, such as diode-pumped solid-state lasers, which are now used in printing, ophthalmology, disk manufacturing, and other applications.

What`s new in `98

This year, in our ongoing Back to Basics series, contributing editor Eric Lerner turns to lasers and applications (it`s been seven years since we focused on that grou¥of topics). As diode lasers represent about half of the $3 billion laser market, the first few articles will concentrate on these types of lasers (see p. 123). Contributing editor Jeff Dixon steers the 1998 Optical Engineering series to measurement techniques, starting with scanning interferometry (see p. 147). Senior editor Conard Holton recently joined the Laser Focus World editorial team, and his more than 15 years experience writing about and reporting on our industry will be a welcome addition as we chronicle our expanding market.

Heather W. Messenger

Executive Editor

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