I am to report on some aspects of industrial lasers in Japan.
Mostly centering on the market. In Japan, the history of laser
developnent is rather profound. And long. Ever since the first
invention of the laser in this country in 1960. This is partly
because of the fact that in Japan the spectroscopic studies of the
ruby was very popular in the late 1950's. Ever since niost of the work
has been done in the research laboratories of the industry, not in the
universities or not in the governmental laboratories. And since that
time our first activity was mainly centering on the basic research,
but after that time we have the evolution of the technology. One of
the features in Japan is that the activity of developement and
research of laser technology from the very basic phase up to the
present commercialization has been done by the same group of people,
including ine. We had a national project which ended about six years
ago which was sponsored by MITI. MITI is Ministry of International
Trade and Industry in Japan. And because of this national project,
the effect of this project had a very enlightening effect in Japan.
And after that our Japanese laser market became very flourishing.
When I agreed to give this talk I was with Prognos a market
research company. Now I am with Trumpf Lasertechnik (Stuttgart,
Germany) . So the data I'm going to present represents not only a
Trumpf Lasertechnik view, but also the more general view of somebody
that has done market studies on the whole laser market worldwide.
I may depart a little bit fron the previous agenda by the other
speakers in that I'll share with you a perspective in terms of the
U.S. market of trying to quantify it for you and give you a feel for
the trends, but I would also like to give you a feel for some
statistics about how the technology and where the technology is being
used in U.S. metal working plants in comparison to other manufacturing
processes. And then I'd like to kind of open up the discussion to the
group, particularly the laser suppliers and laser systems suppliers
who are in attendance to explore ways that we can help to expand the
available market for the technology in the U.S.
Dave Belforte has intimated that the U.S. is falling behind in
the adoption of this technology and I think we need to turn our sights
here in the U.S. on how we help expand that market at a much more
When I was invited two years ago to talk about low power lasers,
Dave Belforte's emphasis was basically on 50 W lasers and below. At
this time, he's expanded it to 500 W lasers and below, which to a
certain extent is an indiction of how the low power sealed laser
technology has gone, which I have been very much involved with over
the last six or seven years. For the purposes of this talk, as I
said, low power lasers is less than 500 W and specifically I'm going
to focus in on lasers that are 250 W and less. I'm going to eniphasize
again sealed laser systems which are, in terms of CO2 lasers, are
those things that look much more like HeNes. They have no gas
requirements, you basically plug them in the wall because they're
higher power beasts, you put water in to them to cool them off and
light comes out. There is a dramatic difference between those lasers
and the flowing gas or the fast axial flow and so forth that people
think of when they start talking about the high power lasers.
I've been asked to talk about the high powered CO2 market in the
United States, which I've defined as being 500 W and greater.
About ten days ago I received some inforraation from Production
magazine with regards to their 1991-92 capital equipment survey.
Several years ago iayself and other people coerced them to start asking
questions about the laser industry and laser materials processing.
The latest information won't be out for several months yet came to ne
first. The results show that there were several interesting trend
lines that are developing in the marketplace that I thought would be
of value to this group. I think that you're going to see some trends
in this survey of over three thousand respondents, representing about
10% of the questionnaires that Production sent out. The resulting
information is pretty insightful in terms of what 1991 and 92 looks
like and so what I'd like to do is relay that to you.
Figure 1 shows the world niarkets for Nd:YAG. 1990 is forecast,
1991 is projected and 1989 is the actuals. The information shown has
been taken from Industrial Laser Review, the Industrial Laser
Handbook, Laser Focus World and some independent studies which have
been done within Lunionics, plus some views that we got from our
friends at Prognos. The total systems numbers work out to be
soruething around 330 inillion or so in 1990. It's our view that that
is the average laser content is about 56 inillion dollars and the
average laser price comes out to be somewhere about 45,000 dollars.
This is lasers 50W and above.
I have to thank Industrial Laser Review for the invitation to
update you on the exciiner laser market. Two years ago Lindsay Austin
has given some examples of applications of use of industrial excimer
laser in particular. I'm not going to repeat that because you can
find them in the SPIE's proceedings of the last industrial laser
market seniinar. As mentioned before this afternoon we have hardly
heard anything about excimer lasers. It was only after until the
presentation of Jim Rutt where he explicitly mentioned excimer lasers
that triggered a few questions about excimer lasers. And one of the
reasons for that is that it gets lost in the noise of the statistics
and the uncertainties that we have heard this afternoon, and if I take
then the exciraer figures they hardly play a role. If I compare, for
instance, that I have heard something like 1000 CO2 and YAG laser
units sold in the U.S. in 1990, then you can intagine that when we talk
about industrial excirner lasers which are in the order of 80, less
than 100, you're completely in the noise of the other figures.
My discussion here today will cover a couple of areas. It's
basically to provide some understanding of the unit volunie of CO7
lasers sold here in the U.S., to be used in what we in the industry
call the sheet metal bashing industry. There's really nothing that
sophisticated about it. It's kind of a blood and guts industry that
has tremendous competition already not only antong laser corapanies but
in contpeting with other manufacturing alternatives many of which you
saw here at the show. So we want to take a look at that. We want to
see front a job shop perspective what factors are affecting the
utilization of lasers in job shops today. What does our industry see
as a reason for more utilization of lasers here in the U.S.? Perhaps
in comparison to what other countries have been subjected to longer
than we have.
While it's true that this is an exciting topic, it niay be more
exciting than profitable, but it certainly has captured the attention
of a lot of us laser folks, and it keeps growing almost because it
wants to. First of all let me comment briefly with a word from our
sponsor that GE Fanuc is one of the several ways the Fanuc laser
product gets into the United States. We market it, GM Fanuc also
markets it, and of course it shows up on Japanese machine tool built
products. The information in this little presentation came from
discussions with you folks wherever possible. In some cases I was
unable to make contact with the horse's mouth as it were, but we got
roundabout information so it's not gospel, but it's close. We've also
had some updated information at the show here updated rumors maybe
that suggest that some of the numbers may be high or low. I think in
the aggregate it's not too far off.
Just a word of definition before we begin. This sounds a little
bit esoteric and maybe it's marketing lingo but what I'd like to do is
separate the markers by technology rather than by wavelength. Soiaeone
said to me once there's two kinds of people in this world, those that
divide things into two categories and those that don't. Well, I'm
apparently in the first category. And the way I'd like to do that is
divide the products by what we call focussed spot markers and image
masked markers. In the past we've just simply said YAG and C02, but
lately there's been a lot of crossover in the technology. It appears
that it will continue.
For some time now, Industrial Laser Review has been tracking the
job shop market. It's fascinated us because in the beginning we
weren't sure how big it was and how many people participated in it.
It wasn't until we began sending out our annual questionnaires and
getting the answers back that the information becarae so significant
that we started to talk about it more in each of the issues. As a
matter of fact for two years now we've had a special job shop issue.