Good news ... really!

A new report from our sister company, Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA; see www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/357230) predicts that sales of industrial lasers in 2009 could end the year 32% lower than in 2008, putting sales at the same level as in 2004.

Th Stev

A new report from our sister company, Laser, Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA) predicts that sales of industrial lasers in 2009 could end the year 32% lower than in 2008, putting sales at the same level as in 2004. Given the ongoing decline in global manufacturing output, this is hardly surprising news. However, despite this strong downturn in the industrial sector—and a couple of other areas like semiconductor processing—the broader optics and photonics arena seems to be weathering the global economic storm fairly well. In January, Photonics West surprised most everyone with a full slate of exhibitors and attendance up from last year; then last month “Laser, World of Photonics China” saw growth in the number both of exhibitors and of attendees; and at a March press conference in Germany, “Laser, World of Photonics” organizers predicted that their June event in Munich will also buck the downward economic momentum.

In fact, there are several photonics market sectors that seem to be resisting the downward trend and helping to prevent a meltdown in photonics like that some other industries are facing. These sectors include R&D, the life sciences, medical, and defense: at the time I write this, SPIE is reporting that its Defense, Security, and Sensing event in Orlando, FL, would host a record-breaking number of exhibitors. And of course the energy sector—from solid-state lighting to photovoltaics—also is playing its part in keeping revenues flowing into photonics firms. Even as research continues into improving the performance of LED-based illumination, solid-state lighting systems are being installed around the globe. And in photovoltaics, changes in solar supply-demand dynamics, coupled with new tooling requirements for next-generation photovoltaics, seem likely to increase adoption rates of lasers that are used in production of solar cells and thin-film panels .

While the dynamics of these market sectors are different, they all are showing resilience in the face of the current crisis—which leaves photonics well positioned for a return to healthy gains when the world’s economies emerge from recession. That is good news!

Th Stev
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Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief
stevega@pennwell.com

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