Laser systems market expected to decline 10% to $16bn in 2020

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The global market for laser systems for materials processing is expected to reach $16 billion in 2020, market research firm Optech Consulting has reported.

This corresponds to a decrease of 10 per cent compared to the $17.9 billion the firm reported for the year before

The firm also expects a decrease in the range of 10 per cent for the global market for industrial laser sources, with market volume expected to be in the range $4 billion for 2020. 

‘The expected decrease for 2020 appears moderate given the grim macroeconomic environment that developed under the impact of Covid-19,’ Optech Consulting said in its report. ‘The decrease also appears moderate when compared to the massive decrease of global sales of the machine tool industry this year.’

The demand of industrial lasers and laser systems follows the investment cycles of end industries such as the 3C industry (computers, communications and consumer electronics), the mobile electronic devices industry, the automotive industry, as well as a broad range of end industries for major applications such as cutting and marking.

At the start of 2020, the industrial laser and systems market was in a continued downturn trend that started in mid 2018. This was reflected in the quarterly sales figures of major industrial laser and system suppliers such as IPG Photonics, Coherent, and Han’s Laser. They showed a strong growth in 2017 followed by a decrease in the second half of 2018. This downturn was triggered by deteriorated economic expectations for major end industries, in particular the automotive and consumer electronics sectors.

With regards to China and its effect on the market, while the country had lead growth rates for several years, it decreased in 2019 due to the wide adoption of laser processes over a short time in the years prior. This decrease also came with the above mentioned deterioration in major end industries, trade conflicts, and the partial shift of foreign manufacturing investments to neighboring countries. However, 2020 quarterly sales of the major local laser and system manufacturers have recovered in Q2 and Q3 from low Q1 levels, Optech Consulting reported, laying ground for full year figures which will exceed those of 2019. 

For Europe, North America, and Japan, the firm expects that sales will be markedly down in 2020.

Microelectronics segment expected to grow despite pandemic

The market for laser systems for microelectronics processing – for manufacturing semiconductors, flat panel displays, printed circuit boards, and solar cells – had just started to recover from the downturn in 2019. This recovery was not halted by the pandemic, and demand for laser systems in the segment is expected to grow in 2020. 

However, other segments of the market for industrial laser systems are expected to decrease in 2020, according to Optech Consulting, especially those comprising standard machines adding processing capacity rather than being technology buys.

Overall, growth rates for single segments of the industrial laser market are expected to range from double-digit losses for lasers for standard systems to positive growth rates for several segments of microelectronics processing.

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