The economy grew tremendously in 2010, according to leaders of compa- nies in all areas of photonics – lasers,
optics, imaging and beyond – who report
high expectations that this growth is set to
continue, especially in industrial sectors.
In some cases, the growth came so suddenly that manufacturers were unprepared,
having cut back on resources during the
downturn the year before; others used that
downtime to develop new technologies or
applications for existing products.
Several companies in the past year have
begun to consolidate, merging with or acquiring other companies, and some industry leaders feel that this consolidation will
help the industry maneuver even faster,
delivering innovation and sparking even
further growth in the years to come.
Photonics Spectra reached out to some
key players in the industry to gather a
snapshot of the current photonics market –
and to paint a picture of where that market
is likely to go.
Our panelists were Eugene Arthurs,
CEO of SPIE; Herman Chui, senior director of product marketing at Spectra-Physics; Joe Delfino, VP of sales and
business development at Qioptiq; Ravi
Guntupalli, business manager at Princeton
Instruments; Dr. Thomas Fehn, head of the
Lasers & Material Processing Div. and an
executive management board member at
Jenoptik; Thomas Kessler, VP of global
“There is still
opportunity – and even
a pressing necessity – for
small and medium-sized
enterprises to flourish.”
– Eugene Arthurs, SPIE
sales, and Samuel Sadoulet, VP of engineering and R&D, both at Edmund Optics;
Tim Morris, general manager of Trumpf
Inc.; Mike Naselaris, general manager at
Sydor Optics; Jean-Michel Pelaprat of Vytran Corp. and a member of OSA’s Corporate Associates Committee; Bill Shiner,
VP of industrial markets at IPG Photonics;
and Simon Zilian, sales manager at Trioptics GmbH.
They painted a picture of a market with
specific opportunities and its own special
challenges – but nearly all remained upbeat about the possibilities ahead.
Q. How would you describe the
market in 2010?
Delfino, Qioptiq: Robust, relative to the
overall economy. Anticipated contraction
ended up to be a minor slowdown as companies reduced inventories too drastically
and ended up shorthanded as a result. Supply couldn’t keep up with demand in several product areas.
Morris, Trumpf: The downturn was extremely rapid, and most of us were somewhat surprised that the recovery was almost as rapid on the way back up. The
fabrication segment saw one of the largest
declines but also one of the quickest recoveries. The companies that weathered
the storm and used the slow period to prepare for the upturn were certainly in the
best position to take advantage of opportunities in the upturn.
Chui, Spectra-Physics: In the macro-and microprocessing segments, the overall
global laser market in 2010 and first half
of 2011 saw a strong uptick after the
downturn in 2009, as the macroeconomic
environment and end markets recovered.
In the biomedical and scientific segments,
most laser applications continued to see
steady growth in much of 2009 through
the first half of 2011.
Pelaprat, Vytran and OSA: The photonics market in 2010 was recovering from
the recession that occurred in late 2008
and early 2009. In 2010, we saw the recovery occur in three waves: first, at the
beginning of the year, the recovery of
components; next, in the second quarter,
the recovery of lasers and laser systems;
and, finally, at the end of the year, the recovery of capital equipment used to make
lasers and components. Capex [capital ex-