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Lasys 2012 Lasers glow as new technologies supplant traditional manufacturing

Editor: Eric Culp

Instead of cutting metal with other metals or materials, many tool and mould makers are now relying on focused light to make their mark. Lasers are not only pushing into the machining sector, they are also proving themselves for polishing and surface treatments. Some even create tooling inserts and other parts through additive manufacturing. And by the look of things, the trend is growing.

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Welding is just one laser process that continues to increase in popularity.
Welding is just one laser process that continues to increase in popularity.
(Source: Stuttgart University)

The global market for laser systems for materials processing set a record last year with a volume of $10.1 billion, according to a survey by Optech Consulting. It said volume growth in 2011 jumped 28% versus the previous year, and the market has nearly doubled since 2009. Around 70%, or $7 billion, of this market consists of systems for macro processing, mainly for cutting, welding and marking, with the rest covered by lasers for micro processing and for producing semiconductors, flat panel displays, printed circuit boards and solar cells.

“East Asia presently reports by far the highest growth rates, with steeply growing demand for laser systems in China, Korea and Taiwan,” Optech said. Laser system demand is also accelerating in other countries with high growth rates of industrial production such as India and Brazil.

See: Laser sintering produces tool inserts

After a record year for laser material processing, the timing for the Lasys exhibition (12-14 June) could hardly be better. “Lasys reflects the wide range of applications of laser systems in material processing and therefore precisely corresponds to market requirements", said Meike Mayer, Lasys project manager. Mayer said at the last show in 2010, 71% of visitors were from industry, predominantly mechanical engineering and the automotive sector as well as the metal working and processing industry and a range of other sectors.

The focal points of this year’s Lasys will be machines, processes and services, including laser-specific machine subsystems. Some 200 exhibitors, 35% of them from abroad, are expected to participate at the Stuttgart Trade Fair Centre. International pavilions planned for this year feature the Dutch, the Belgians and the Americans as part of the 10,000 m² allotted for the exhibition.

This year’s show also has a new promotional supporter: the Working Group for Lasers and Laser Systems for Material Processing in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). It said last year’s production value for German systems fitted with CO22 and solid-state lasers for material processing grew nearly one quarter versus 2010 and nearly doubled since the crisis year of 2009, thus making a significant contribution to the international expansion of market volume in 2011 for laser-supported production technology. “Against this background of tangible financial and real economy consolidation tendencies, the laser industry can cautiously approach the 2012 fiscal year,” the VDMA said, noting the global growth for the system market is seen at 7%.

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