Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lasys 2012: Confidence in Europe, questions about China

A heavy attendance on Wednesday (2500+) had show organizers confident that they can achieve their projected show total of 4500. More importantly, the savvy visitors are here to see the laser and system exhibitors of which there were about half the total. LASYS does not show sheet-metal cutters for political reasons; a competing show here gets them later in the year.

Fiber lasers, diodes, ultrafast-pulse, and disc lasers have been featured at this year's LASYS -- but the industry leader IPG Photonics choose not to show, a surprise to all. TRUMPF and Rofin have major exhibits, and Trumpf has been busy every day. Products attracting interest have been micromachining, marking, drilling, and surfacing; most of these are smallish systems suitable for the size of this show.

LASYS remains very much a German show, with the rare US, Italian, and French systems being displayed. Most of the attendees are from Germany, although the show management did not have demographics available as this is being written. I spoke with a few visitors from Central and Eastern Europe who were job-shop owners shopping for micromachining systems.

Arnold Mayer, a market analyst with Optech Consulting, pegs the total 2012 industrial laser systems market at $10 billion, with projected growth flat ± 5%. This includes excimers used in photolithography, which ILS does not include in our market analyses.

The underlying concern about the European economy surfaces whenever the industrial laser market is discussed. However, the exhibitors here at LASYS seem reconciled to this sorting itself out, and that the situation will change for the better next year. Trumpf, the 800-pound gorilla, claims it will show an increase for the year, but company managers could not be pinned down to a number.

In fact, I have heard more concern about China than about Europe. Mayer pegs China at $1B last year, but he too is concerned that things have slowed for lasers there, at least for the last quarter.

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