Strategically Blogging

Fiber Laser Market Continues to Evolve

Allen Nogee 09/05/2014

I’ve always been a person who has been very interested in the latest technology, and sometimes it’s hard for me to believe how much technology has changed over the years.

Everything from flat screen TVs, DVRs, audio equipment, cables and wiring, computers, tablets, smartphones, and so many others have evolved over the years, and in most ways, the new technology is quicker, smaller, cheaper, and more energy efficient. Today we take all these things for granted, but it wasn’t that long ago that a flat screen TV or a smartphone was a novelty. Today we just can’t even imagine living without these things.

Martin Shih

A Win-Win Situation: Cree Announces Investment in Lextar through Private Placement

Martin Shih 09/05/2014

Cree recently announced plans to invest US $83M in Lextar Electronics, one of Taiwan’s major LED manufacturers, in order to acquire 13% of Lextar shares and to enter a supply/royalty agreement. Cree will become Lextar’s second largest shareholder (AUO, Lextar’s parent company, is the biggest shareholder) and obtain one member of BOD. This deal is expected to be done at the end of 2014 and the lock-up period is 3 years, which means Lextar will reserve its capacity for Cree for 3 years.

Lasers in Medical Imaging: The Forecast Looks Very Bright

Allen Nogee 07/11/2014

Almost all medical imaging to date has used one of three technologies: X-rays, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound. X-rays alone have been used for almost 120 years now, and although today’s imaging technology has improved vastly over the many years, the fact remains that x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetism are all technologies that, due to many factors, produce coarse images, at least by today’s standards. But what if a very coherent light source was used instead, maybe a laser?

Actually, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), which produces images based on the reflections of coherent light, is not a new technology. OCT has been used since the early 1990s, especially in the area of ophthalmology, where the images produced by OCT are 100 times finer than standard images produced by ultrasound. In just the last five years, OCT has become one of the most important retinal imaging techniques used today.

The Impact of the Epistar Acquisition on the LED Industry

Martin Shih 07/09/2014

Epistar (2448.TW) announced a plan to fully acquire Forepi (3061.TW), the second-largest chipmaker in Taiwan, through a share swap (1:3.448), implying 18% share dilution to Epistar. The effective date will be the end of 2014, and Forepi will be delisted from the TAIEX.

After the merger, Epistar will become the world’s largest LED chip maker in terms of capacity with a global market share of 15%, which will better position the company to lead in future technology development.

EPA's New Emissions Cutting Plan Could Have an Effect on LED Lighting

Philip Smallwood 06/30/2014

On June 2nd, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. The EPA will finalize the proposal in mid-2015 and then give states a year to design their own plans to meet targets. The organization will let states meet emission targets for power plants in several ways, including through plant upgrades, by switching from coal to natural gas, by improving energy efficiency, or by promoting renewable energy outside the plant site. This approach will give states greater flexibility in designing plans to meet the EPA’s targets.

Laser Munich--Bottoming out, fiber lasers, and a family reunion fueled by beer

By Tom Hausken
Who can be gloomy at a show where the beer starts flowing before noon and booth parties start before closing? If booth traffic is slow, at least the halls are bright and cheery and everyone is there. It’s the closest thing to a family reunion in the laser business, and it only happens once every two years.

The number of exhibitors at Laser Munich last week was almost exactly the same as in 2007, but spread out in four halls instead of three. Considering the laser industry is in its deepest trough ever, people were in a great mood.

One factor would be that there is now a general feeling that the industry, and the economy at large, has more or less hit bottom. One comment that sums it up is that now “there are finally more new orders than cancellations.” It’s kind of like how you feel when you stop beating your head against the wall.

The bright colors may have helped too. Trumpf was touting the Blue Laser, which I was told referred to blue sky, earth as seen from space, earth-friendly, and something about cozying up to Mercedes. Its new-ish acquisition, SPI Lasers, featured its redENERGY and redPOWER lasers--really more infrared than red, but close enough. Coherent, meanwhile, went yellow and featured a more industrial look, evoking images of robots, Caterpillar tractors, and guys with hardhats.

The best coverage of the show, including video coverage, is by Industrial Laser Solutions magazine (look for articles in the June 15 to 19 timeframe). But, since everyone seemed to ask, "What's new at the show"? here's my general take.

Fiber lasers were once again the big thing at Laser Munich. At Munich 2007 we saw several early fiber laser products from players who had been on the sidelines, most notably Trumpf, Rofin, and GSI. This year those companies stepped up their fiber laser offerings. In addition, Coherent showed a fiber laser prototype based on bar pumping that will be out next year. Newport quietly relaunched a 100W CW fiber laser for industrial applications. nLight featured its fiber laser products from its OptoTools acquisition. And even LASAG, well known for its lamp-pumped YAG lasers but not wanting to be identified only as such, had a fiber laser in its booth.

Never one to be outdone, IPG showed a 10 kW single mode fiber laser. Even 3 kW was remarkable just a couple years ago, now they are at 10 kW. Its main application is for military customers developing directed energy weapons, a good business for IPG these days.

Direct diode lasers also had some buzz. For the most part, there were the usual players, Laserline being a leader, but acceptance is growing for processes like brazing and welding. Trumpf was the most notable new player . Lumics was able to boast about its "three digit" unit order for 200+ W fiber-coupled diode systems--a nice win in a tough economy.

Overall, the booth traffic may have been on the light side, but I wonder if Laser Munich may steal some market share from competing events. Even with companies tight on travel budgets, everyone still wants to be at Laser Munich, to be part of the family reunion.

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