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The fiber laser, a laser technology that uses only optical fiber and no conventional optics, is finally set to capture a large share of the $2 billion industrial laser market from conventional laser technologies, even in the prominent kilowatt-class laser market, according to Strategies Unlimited.
Sales of fiber lasers are expected to have unusually strong compound annual growth of over 35 percent through 2010 in an industrial laser market that will grow just 9 percent per year over the same period. This is one of the conclusions of a new report from the market research firm covering optoelectronics markets. The timing is propitious for fiber laser suppliers, since they can seize market share from sales of solid-state and other lasers in several key laser applications that will see steady growth in coming years, the firm noted.
The fiber laser is made from a long optical fiber, which has good thermal properties and allows easy integration of all-fiber components and pump diodes, instead of using crystal rods, gas tubes, and conventional optics. The design is generally more efficient, more compact, and more reliable that conventional lasers, and the life cycle cost is competitive compared to solid-state and even gas lasers.
Fiber laser products are now used in applications as varied as product marking, razor blade welding, metal cutting, pre-press equipment, and dermatology. The U.S. Army has used a fiber laser atop a Humvee in Iraq for destroying unexploded ordnance.
Strategies Unlimited said that IPG Photonics has the dominant market share in fiber lasers, making most of its own key components. The firm also noted that: