Strategically Blogging

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.

Where's the Glare?

Shonika Vijay 06/13/2014

LIGHTFAIR, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference, took place in Las Vegas last week. I wanted to share my thoughts on what I saw that was of the most interest. The 3 main things I saw were: a lot of LED luminaires, more use of optics in products, and lighting controls being present in nearly every booth. To read up more on controls, please see our blogs: Let's Talk Controls and Lightfair International Gets Smart. I will focus on what I saw in terms of optics and LED luminaires.

Lightfair International Gets Smart

Stephanie Pruitt 06/10/2014

At Lightfair International 2013, it seemed only a handful of companies had a booth with a smart lighting solution - Philips, TCP, and Samsung were among the more recognizable ones that I noticed. Fast forward one year and it seems that smart lighting could be found at almost every booth; even the non-name brand booths seemed to have some sort of solution. Whether this was wireless controls to dim lights or change color through your smart phone - or even gesture control...

Breaking down the "micro" laser market

By Tom Hausken
We just published our special market report on the so-called micro materials processing market . Once the market bounces off the bottom, the growth in the recovery will be good, but the interesting part of the story will be in changes in market share as the technology marches forward.

I should first explain what the micro materials processing market is. These are lasers used for lower power welding, cutting, drilling, microfabrication, additive processes, heat treatment, and lithography. We don't count kilowatt lasers at all, nor do we count marking and decorative engraving. The lasers are used to make semiconductors, solar cells, medical devices, jewelry, electronics, consumer products, and a wide range of various industrial parts.

The market will take a 40% hit this year, which is dreadful, but this is not big news any more, and the recovery will bring the market to $460 million by 2013. There is talk that the semiconductor tool business is already turning around, after falling since 2007. Other markets, like solar cells, has a ways to go yet, and automotive may be slower to come back.

We found the market share leaders to be Coherent, Rofin-Sinar, and GSI Group, with over 50% of the market. It's not hard to see why. Coherent is strong in CO2 lasers, excimer lasers, and DPSSLs. Rofin is strong in multiple categories too (don't forget that Rofin includes other brands: Lee Laser, etc.) And we counted all of Excel Technology's laser production in GSI's 2008 share, so that includes significant lamp-pumped solid-state lasers and CO2 lasers. There are a lot of players and product segments, so any company that is strong in multiple segments will have greater share. (Of course, many companies are also diversified across other laser applications apart from the micro category, but that isn't counted here.)

By the way, lamp-pumped lasers may be on the decline, but the sales still amount to something, especially considering that they often involve higher powers, and therefore higher prices. By comparison, a lot of CO2 marking lasers sell for under $2,000, so it takes a lot of them to amount to much.

The thing that is striking is that the technology, as mature as it is, isn't staying still, especially in the micro category. Innovations like pulse shaping fiber lasers, higher power green lasers, and picosecond lasers, to name a few, promise to upset the market share at least a little while the market comes back.

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