Sales of German laser systems grew nine per cent in 2015 reaching €932 million, according to the latest figures from the VDMA, the German engineering federation. In addition, incoming orders registered by laser system manufacturers in Germany in 2015 rose by eight per cent.
The results were presented by Gerhard Hein, director of the Laser Working Group at the VDMA, at a press conference for the Lasys trade fair, which was held at Audi’s manufacturing facility in Neckarsulm, Germany on 2 March.
Notably, the percentage of laser systems equipped with CO2 lasers lost ground to those based on solid-state technology, which includes fibre and disk lasers. Solid-state was up to 65 per cent in 2015, compared to 54 per cent sold in 2014, while CO2 lasers dropped to 35 per cent. This reflects the general trend to replace CO2 systems with solid-state lasers, in particular fibre lasers.
Exports of laser production systems from Germany to China and the USA both reached 15 per cent in 2015, compared to nine per cent and 13 per cent respectively in the previous year. Exports to Western Europe were at 29 per cent (down from 34 per cent in 2014), and to Central and Eastern Europe at 15 per cent (16 per cent in 2014); Japan received seven per cent of exports (six per cent in 2014), while the rest of Asia excluding China and Japan was at 15 per cent (17 per cent in 2014). Other countries received five per cent of exports from Germany (six per cent in 2014).
Hein said that there was a reasonable amount of incoming orders from Russia, and that the trade embargo with the country hasn't had a huge effect on exports from Germany – exports to Central and Eastern Europe only fell by one per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year. He added though that the political situation between the EU and Russia could have an effect on the sales of manufacturing equipment.
The financial results also showed that laser systems grew disproportionately in Germany in 2015 (nine per cent) compared to the machine tools sector, which increased by around four per cent in 2015, suggesting a healthy industrial laser market.
The laser material processing trade fair, Lasys, will exhibit laser production technology from around 200 exhibitors when the event takes place from 31 May to 2 June in Stuttgart, Germany. The show will feature an international pavilion, along with a joint stand with 20 French providers from the laser industry.
Messe Stuttgart, organisers of the trade fair, is running an initiative called ‘Lasys Meets’, in cooperation with Irepa Laser, the organiser of the French congress and exhibition, Espace Laser. The initiative takes Lasys to different countries to showcase industrial laser technology – an automotive themed day will be held in Istanbul on 31 March as part of Lasys Meets.
Lasys will have a solution centre with specialists from the Bavarian Laser Centre, the Institut für Strahlwerkzeuge of Universität Stuttgart, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology, and the Hannover Laser Centre, all on hand to answer specific questions about laser material processing.
An additive manufacturing joint stand is planned in conjunction with Messe Erfurt, while Laser Systems Europe magazine, together with Messe Stuttgart and the Laser Institute of America, will run a forum called Lasers in Action, a programme of seminars covering topics including microprocessing, additive manufacturing, beam handling, and market opportunities in Asia. There will also be a panel discussion on 1 June looking at the latest trends in laser materials processing. The Institut für Strahlwerkzeuge of Universität Stuttgart will also organise the Stuttgart Laser Technology forum (SLT), which will have presentations on innovations in laser technology.
Lasys will offer courses on the basics of laser materials processing, as well as a workshop on Industry 4.0. A job fair will also be held.
The press day at the Audi facility in Neckarsulm, Germany included a presentation from Dr Jan-Philipp Weberpals at Audi on the car maker’s use of laser technology.