Diverse markets buoy laser business

Jan. 1, 2007
Last month I noted the picture of a flourishing photonics industry painted by the recently released Optoelectronics Industry Development Association market report -a more detailed look at this report will follow in February’s “Marketwatch.”

Last month I noted the picture of a flourishing photonics industry painted by the recently released Optoelectronics Industry Development Association market report (www.oida.org)-a more detailed look at this report will follow in February’s “Marketwatch.” Meantime, the rebound of investor confidence in optoelectronics was amply demonstrated in December when fiber-laser maker IPG Photonics (www.ipgphotonics.com) went public. The stock surged about 50% on the first day of trading, closing at about $25 per share. The offering yielded $149 million for the company and struck a very positive note as we go into 2007. Echoing this upbeat tone, the just-released Laser Focus World Annual Market Review and Forecast predicts 25% growth of fiber-laser sales in 2007 . . . with global laser revenues (all lasers) increasing roughly 8% and crossing the $6 billion mark for the first time since the telecom “bubble” (see page 82).

Of course, wrapped inside the industry’s commercial prosperity are a host of diverse technologies that are continually advancing. From new types of lasers to improved imaging systems, these technologies enable novel approaches to existing applications or create new market opportunities-and in so doing generate increased revenues for the industry. The advent of palm-size blue/green solid-state lasers, for instance, has changed the cytometry landscape, potentially allowing next-generation instruments to go into the field, making cytometry available to a broader audience (see page 121). In industry, the benefits of disk lasers are enabling new approaches to applications like auto-body welding (see online exclusive www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/280055). In the life sciences, enhanced dispersion compensation in a tunable ultrafast source is benefiting multiphoton microscopy allowing brighter images and deeper tissue penetration (see page 117). And in optics, micro- and nanoscale lens technology can produce optical structures with valuable properties as it allows integration of large and complex optical systems into more compact architectures (see page 109). It is this technological diversity that is keeping business buoyant, so we’ll be sure to keep you informed as we track the many photonics advances of 2007.

About the Author

Stephen G. Anderson | Director, Industry Development - SPIE

 Stephen Anderson is a photonics industry expert with an international background and has been actively involved with lasers and photonics for more than 30 years. As Director, Industry Development at SPIE – The international society for optics and photonics – he is responsible for tracking the photonics industry markets and technology to help define long-term strategy, while also facilitating development of SPIE’s industry activities. Before joining SPIE, Anderson was Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World and chaired the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar. Anderson also co-founded the BioOptics World brand. Anderson holds a chemistry degree from the University of York and an Executive MBA from Golden Gate University.    

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