German photonics market saw strong growth in 2014 driven by exports

June 16, 2015
A new market report says German photonics production grew 4% in 2014, reaching a total of EUR 30 billion.  

The Photonics Market Research Work Group (or AG Marktforschung Photonik) says German photonics production grew 4% in 2014, reaching a total of EUR 30 billion. Excluding production of photovoltaics, communications equipment, and displays (which have all been moving to Asia) the growth rate is in the high single digits for manufacturing and medical technology, optical components, and lighting, particularly LEDs.

The market research group was formed by the German industry associations of SPECTARIS, VDMA, and ZVEI. The report notes that the industrial areas of laser systems and laser sources, image processing, measurement engineering, and lithography benefited from both higher domestic sales and even stronger export growth. Some of these areas recorded two-digit growth rates and growth was generally more dynamic than that of the world market. All three industry associations expect growth in 2015 to be as dynamic as in 2014.

Overall the report says the German photonics industry has returned to the level of earlier long-term growth forecasts for the industry and is exceeding the growth rate of the global photonics market. A 2013 report had predicted an average growth rate for the photonics industry from 2011 to 2020 of 1.5 times the global gross domestic product. According to that forecast, photonics will reach a world market volume of EUR 615 billion in 2020, based on a market volume of EUR 350 billion in 2011.

Related article: Laser Marketplace 2015: Lasers surround us in the Year of Light

The VDMA reports a 16% growth in the export of German photonics, with 78% of laser systems made in Germany exported--far higher than the export share of the overall German manufacturing industry, which is about 48%.

Here are some of the highlights:

- Production volume reached Euro 30 billion in 2014 (Euro 27 billion in 2011)

- Growth across all photonics segments at approximately 4%

- In strong core areas the growth rate was larger:

- Laser systems: 11%

- Laser sources: 5%

- Industrial image processing: 16%

- Lithography for semiconductor equipment: 15–16%

- Optical systems in medical technology-–solid growth of about 6%

- Lighting: LED-technology gained share--market share in outdoor lighting area exceeded 50%

- Photovoltaic, information technology, and displays--continuously weak

- Ongoing high R&D investment of approximately 9-10%

- 2015: Stable growth expectations 1-1.5 times GDP

- Trend towards intelligent system solutions, as well as the digitization of production processes.

Download the full Photonics Market Research Work Group report.

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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