Infrared products market projected to heat up

April 1, 2001
Infrared products will experience strong and steady growth over the next five years, according to The Market for Infrared Thermometers and Thermal Imagers Worldwide, a market study conducted by Flow Research (Wakefield, MA).

IR MEASUREMENT

Infrared products will experience strong and steady growth over the next five years, according to The Market for Infrared Thermometers and Thermal Imagers Worldwide, a market study conducted by Flow Research (Wakefield, MA). Market revenues totaled $504 million in 2000 and are projected to grow at an average annual rate of 10.5% to reach more than $800 million in 2005. The study includes infrared thermometers, linescanners, thermal imagers, and thermal imagers for firefighting applications, according to Jesse Yoder, director of research at Flow Research.

Infrared (IR) thermometers are used to measure the temperature of an object when it is difficult or undesirable to make physical contact because the object is extremely hot, at a remote location, or in motion. Steel and glass industries are prime users of infrared thermometers because the temperature of molten steel and glass must be continuously monitored and extreme temperatures make the use of a conventional thermometer or thermocouple impractical. Similarly, in the plastics industry IR thermometers monitor the temperature of plastic in the extrusion process and during heating and cooling, Yoder said.

In the food industry, IR thermometers can reduce the possibility of contamination that otherwise might result from direct-contact measurement and they are widely used for spot-checking the temperature of food, both in production and in transportation.

Portable and fixed devices are available—portable thermometers typically use a point-and-shoot method, with some having a laser sight that places a red circular display around the area where the temperature is being measured. While portable thermometers are convenient for spot checks, fixed thermometers provide permanent and continuous process monitoring and control within a manufacturing process.

Thermal imagers work somewhat like a conventional camera but, instead of sensing light to create a picture, they sense heat. These systems are used for security and surveillance purposes, to allow drivers to see at night, and to enable firefighters to navigate through smoke during a fire, Yoder said.

While thermal imagers offer an effective diagnostic tool, their cost, which can exceed $30,000, is often daunting, leading many companies to subcontract their thermal imaging work, Yoder said. Prices are declining, however, and Yoder believes more companies will purchase their own thermal imagers, thus fueling projected increases in the market.

LFW Staff Report

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