Emerging fiber laser technologies are expected to make waves in sensing and healthcare, while innovations in laser welding and 3D printing enable material processing to remain as the primary focus
Fiber lasers are compact and energy efficient laser systems that offer the best beam quality for applications where precision is important. As the technology is based on an optical fiber, the absence of free-space optics and mechanical components provides excellent system stability and long product lifetime. Directing the laser radiation to the point of application via an optical fiber ensures safe operation for humans and simplicity of integration into robotics. Hence, in a diverse range of industries, replacing conventional laser or non-laser technologies with fiber lasers can maximize process speed and precision while minimizing operation costs. Some examples of end-user industries that can benefit from the adoption of fiber laser technologies are highlighted below.
Examples of end-user industries that can benefit from the widespread adoption of fiber laser technologies. Source: IDTechEx Research report Fiber Lasers 2018-2028: Technologies, Opportunities, Markets & Forecasts
Inside a fiber laser, rare-earth metal dopants function as the gain medium and determine the output wavelength. 1-micron, 1.5-micron and 2-micron are the common infra-red (IR) wavelength bands optimized for applications in material processing, sensing and healthcare. Mid-IR supercontinuum (broadband) laser sources and visible light frequency-multiplied laser sources are also available for specialist applications in sensing and healthcare, respectively. Fiber lasers can easily achieve multi-kilowatt average output powers or function as ultrafast pulsed energy sources depending on the system architecture. The chart below illustrates the addressable market for fiber lasers.
The addressable market for fiber lasers. Commercialized products and emerging technologies are indicated according to the legend. Material processing, sensing and healthcare are the three market segments covered by IDTechEx Research. Source: IDTechEx Research report Fiber Lasers 2018-2028: Technologies, Opportunities, Markets & Forecasts
Material Processing: Sustained Progress and Innovation
Fiber lasers have a large share in the laser material processing market. However, ongoing technology innovations led by key suppliers such as IPG Photonics (USA) enable fiber lasers to further replace competing laser and non-laser technologies. Based on extensive discussions with industry experts when researching the new report Fiber Lasers 2018-2028: Technologies, Opportunities, Markets & Forecasts, IDTechEx have concluded that recent advances in fiber laser welding and 3D printing are highly important to lightweighting in automotive and aerospace manufacturing.
Sensing: Revolutionary Developments
Commercial applications of fiber lasers in sensing are typically limited to high-precision LiDAR for terrestrial mapping, range finding and wind sensing. In their new report IDTechEx have identified significant evidence of key players preparing to enter the automotive market by optimizing fiber laser LiDAR for autonomous vehicles. IDTechEx also expect emerging fiber laser technologies to have a significant impact on gas sensing and structural health monitoring within the next decade.
Healthcare: Towards Commercialization
Fiber lasers can offer wavelengths that are an excellent match to novel fluorescent markers and biological molecules. Key players collaborate with research institutes to optimize fiber laser systems for applications in biomedical imaging and medical surgery. IDTechEx have identified several emerging technologies that are expected to enter the healthcare market segment within the next decade.
IDTechEx forecasts the global fiber laser market to show significant growth during the next 10 years to reach a size of $8.9 billion in 2028.
In the recently published IDTechEx market report titled Fiber Lasers 2018-2028: Technologies, Opportunities, Markets & Forecasts, Dr Nilushi Wijeyasinghe explores how recent fiber laser technology developments affect the growth of key market segments. She draws on her research experience in laser physics and materials physics in the discussion of novel technical concepts. Meanwhile, the advantages and challenges associated with technology trends are assessed to provide a balanced outlook on market opportunities, and recent progress is highlighted using case studies. Market forecasts are based on the extensive analysis of primary and secondary data, combined with careful consideration of market drivers, restraints and key player activities.
A preview of a year-by-year forecast from the report is presented below. Evidently, while strong growth is expected for all key market segments, the results indicate particularly high growth in sensing applications.
Preview of the global fiber laser market forecast indicating growth of key market segments. The analysis is based on original research by IDTechEx.
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