The global laser market will end 2008 at an estimated $7.1 billion in sales, a growth of 3.7% over 2007, despite slowing sales in the second half of 2008. This figure includes both diode and non-diode lasers, for use in applications as varied as metal cutting, vision correction, fiber communications, and DVD players.
Based on recent sales trends, 2009 is forecast to show a decline of 11% from 2008. The downturn is expected to be longer than the last brief contraction in early 2007, and will mark the first annual decline in the overall market since 2000-2002.
These findings are based on the Laser Focus World annual review and forecast of the laser marketplace, to be presented at the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar in San Jose, CA on January 26, 2009 (see www.marketplaceseminar.com).
"Most laser manufacturers reported healthy sales growth in early 2008," said Dr. Tom Hausken, analyst at Strategies Unlimited who conducted the survey. "The market was buoyed by strong demand for new equipment in several industries, including solar and other energy related products, farm machinery, food processing, military and aerospace, and telecom," he said. This boosted sales in early 2008 for laser companies like Trumpf and Rofin-Sinar.
Slowing sales following the global financial crisis in the second half canceled much of the gain in the first half. And, sales into some sectors have been soft since 2007, particularly IC manufacturing—which has slowed sales for Coherent, Newport, and most particularly, Cymer.
Manufacturers report extremely poor visibility into 2009. Current trends of the end-user markets suggest a contraction of 11% compared to 2008. Slowing sales have already led to steep discounts in some laser products, threatening profits for all types of suppliers.
The next year will be hard on venture-funded start-up companies seeking an extension of funding. But, most suppliers were in a solid financial position before the downturn, and will be well-positioned for growth in the recovery.
About the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar: Held in conjunction with SPIE's Photonics West, the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar is a one-day event that analyzes the business of photonics. Now in its 21st year, the annual seminar provides photonics industry decision makers and stakeholders with market information and analysis, a look at emerging opportunities, and a forum for networking. The seminar provides a comprehensive market perspective that is unobtainable elsewhere, with market data segmented by applications and laser technology from three of the photonics industry's leading resources: Laser Focus World, which delivers global coverage of the entire photonics industry; Industrial Laser Solutions, a primary source of information on industrial laser materials processing; and Strategies Unlimited a market research unit of PennWell and the world's foremost photonics market research company. In addition, industry experts present their views and analysis of photonics-market trends, applications development, and business outlook.