For the CO2 laser machine industry, 2011 was a record-breaking year for revenues while 2012 with economies fluctuating in Europe and China we saw a significant slowdown. Now 2013 may prove to be another modest year of growth. With 2012 being almost a flat line for some laser sectors, and world economies fluctuating – 2013 should again show very conservative gains.
Many of the leading industrial laser system suppliers as well as a recent report from the ILS (Laser Solutions For Manufacturing) point to uncertainty in the manufacturing economies and unresolved economic issues as the culprit for the conservative outlook. ILS makes their forecast after analyzing 48 public corporations who publish their quarterly financial statements.
The ILS made a single digit growth prediction for 2012 after two record breaking years of growth and was only a few percent off. Fueled by big growth from the fiber laser sector the laser industry in general saw revenue growth top 2.14 billion in 2011. As big as growth was in 2008 it almost collapsed in 2009 fueled by the downward pressure of the recession. Having survived the past recession many laser cutting and engraving machine suppliers managed operations similarly in 2012 and will maintain the same in 2013 as well. The conservative outlook for 2013 points to the problems in the Chinese economy and the 27 country European market slow down. Two economies largely responsible for propelling growth in years past.
The ‘fiscal cliff’ as the U.S. government terms it has led to uncertainty toward the U.S. laser industry manufacturing economy. The result is an average growth rate estimate of a mere 3% with CO2 lasers on the low end with only a 1% growth rate and on the high end the fiber laser industry forecasted at 8%.
New fibre laser application solutions have made this sector popular in 2012 with 2013 estimates as high as 20% increase in 2013 revenues. In fact in 2012 fiber lasers proved to have the highest growth rate with a 16% improvement in laser revenues. Compare that to the falling CO2 laser market which was down 15% in growth within the same year.
Fiber lasers market penetration isn’t without a few other growing technologies including diode and excimer laser technology.
Fiber laser developments have made processing materials with high peak power more and more common. But it still has its limits depending on the application. This solid state fiber laser technology has proven to be a better fit for laser cutting thinner materials. Whereas, CO2 is more efficient with thicker materials.