Arriving at a view of the 2020/2021 industrial laser market (see article) was complicated by the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had the 2020 numbers complete except for confirmation of the last-quarter estimates, but the 2021 projection was a puzzle—how rapidly would the world markets, except for China, recover from the COVID-19 crisis? As we went to press, the crisis was seeing increasing records for affected numbers causing in some countries, mainly the U.S., government mandates on nonessential manufacturing.
China appears to be ahead of the world on treating the pandemic, sales are booming, shipments are being made, and revenue is flowing into the coffers of industrial laser equipment manufacturers. As a consequence, China’s 2021 economy will be brighter than all the other manufacturing countries.
In regard to the feature on the cost-efficient creation of nanostructures (see article), experts at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology comment that “to achieve sustainable technology development, it is important for us to cover the entire process chain. That’s why we have also established all required technology in-house, including modeling, mask production, nanostructuring, and quality control of the results.”
This is the second issue of Industrial Laser Solutions (ILS) in Laser Focus World (LFW), and early comments on the January 2021 issue have been encouraging. Some readers of LFW, seeing the ILS section for the first time, were pleased to be introduced to the world of industrial laser processing. Publishing monthly takes some effort on my part, having been in a bimonthly mode since 2010 and enjoying the extra time to prepare issues.
Some readers, doing the math, realize we are publishing 24 features as opposed to the 36-plus we had been delivering before. Not to worry, additional features are being posted on the ILS website at industrial-lasers.com. Check them out, as they are typically on very current applications.
The upcoming March 2021 issue will have laser welding difficult metals and alloys as its theme, and will include a feature by Nuburu on advances using the high-power blue laser to weld copper for e-mobility batteries. The technology to be discussed is said to meet the surging demand for electric vehicles (EVs), and is timely because China is committed to this EV technology and will be a major source of these batteries.
The March issue will also include another solution to the copper welding problem. Offered by Coherent, the solution is in copper welding tests performed with a new type of adjustable ring mode (ARM) fiber laser having a high-brightness center beam. It demonstrates that this source actually delivers increased weld speed over green lasers while retaining the inherently advantageous characteristics of fiber lasers.