Monday, August 30, 2010

The Korean powerhouse

After traveling 9000 miles in 16 hours, it is a bit much to present, over six days, three seminars on the current state of industrial laser material processing and to rub shoulders with CEOs of the leading South Korean laser system manufacturers. But you do what you have to in this global technology era.

I was pleased to present my views on trends in the industrial laser material technology to several Korean audiences. The main event was participating in the 3rd International Microtech – MEMS Business Conference, a part of Laser Korea 2010. In return I had the opportunity to meet with several of the leading Korean manufacturers of industrial laser systems for both macro and micro processing.

Over the years, Korean laser companies have been reticent in sharing market data with outsiders. On this trip I found these companies more willing to define and quantify their business and markets. I sensed a sort of frustration with some of the CEOs I met with in regard to their peers across the Yellow Sea in China. Several times the comparative size and strength of the Korean suppliers vis-à-vis their counterparts in China were called to my attention.

The upshot is that in my Annual Economic Review I may have been underestimating the size and output of the Korean system manufacturers. While most of the information shared was oral, it wasn’t hard to value the Korean industrial laser system business at $600-$700 million, a figure that surpasses the reported number from China. And more to the point, China, along with Taiwan, are the largest markets for Korean laser system exports.

Because of this newfound cooperation, I expect to tweak my 2010 numbers as I begin to work on this year’s economic report.

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