According to yearly statistics by the Laser Sub-association of China Optics and Optoelectronics Manufacturers Association, sales of laser processing equipment have maintained a rapid growth in China in recent years. Attributing to a range of public awareness activities including marketing campaigns, exhibitions, popularization and user trainings for the Chinese market, the laser processing market has been greatly developed and expanded, bringing confidence to Chinese users in adopting this kind of advanced manufacturing technology, which also creates a preferable market environment where laser processing technology can be much more broadly applied.
At present, there are over 200 laser processing machine manufacturers operating in China, supported by a strong industrial workforce consisting of nearly 20,000 employees, among which the technicians account for 50%, and specialists with medium to senior technical titles account for 30%. In the mean time, the industry development in China also attracted the attention and follow-up by many overseas laser processing equipment manufacturers.
It is estimated that the current sales of 1~4KW laser cutters including 1000w fiber laser cutter in the Chinese market have reached 300~350 sets, of which China’s supply could be over 200, and the rest (over 100) were from foreign countries, such as Germany, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea and Belgium. The biggest Chinese producer is Shanghai Unity Prima Laser Machinery Co., Ltd., ranked 8th in the global production, and its annual amount of orders has surpassed 100 sets. The other major producers are Huagong Laser Engineering Co. Ltd., Jinan Jiemai NC Engineering Co. Ltd., Shenyang Prima Laser Machine Co. Ltd., Jiangsu Jin Fangyuan Co. Ltd, etc.
Laser marking machine
At present, laser marking machine sales cover more than 50% of Chinese laser processing machine sales, occupying a wide extent of the Chinese market, and greatly expanding the application industry fields, with application range even much wider than the overseas. Its annual amount of sales is approximately 4000~5000 machines. The well-known Chinese marking machines producers are companies such as Han’s Laser, Huagong Laser, Chu Tian Laser, Da Heng Laser, Guilin Stars Laser, ZHD Laser.
25W~100W Laser processing machine
It mainly refers to the type applying a 25W~100W CO2 laser and a X-Y tabletop work-bench system, and also refers to the type applying a Nd:YAG laser machine integrated with vibration mirror. It can be applied in carving works, including inner carving, cutting, piercing, embroidering and cut processing. Its annual output is about 6,000, occupying the vast Chinese market, and it has been exported to regions such as the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa. The well-known producers of X-Y work-bench machines are Zhejiang Boye Laser, Guangdong Yueming Laser and Wuhan Golden Laser.
Laser cladding technology and equipment for re-manufacturing industries
Laser processing technology for the reproducing industry mainly uses 5KW~10KW CO2 high-power laser and its system. Its annual sales are approximately 100 sets. A comparatively outstanding company in this aspect is the Dalu Laser. They apply the laser micro profiling and cladding technology into practice and widely use it in industry fields. Meanwhile, the company also produces laser devices and units, becoming a leading enterprise of this technology in China. Other well-known firms are Wuhan Goldensky Laser, Huagong Laser, and Unity Laser.
Laser welding technology and equipments
Application of laser welding technology is rapidly expanding in China, with its sales just less than that of marking and cutting. It is mainly applied in industries such as battery, electric appliance, measuring instrument, hardware, steel and iron, air and aerospace, and automobile etc.. The current market capacity is 600~800 sets.
Its application is divided into three categories: the first category is for the welding purpose of cell phone battery, capacitance, electric appliance, measuring instrument and appliance. The second category is mainly for the laser welding purpose of diamond saw blade. The diamond saw blades are the most consumed parts in all diamond cutters used in infrastructure construction, with a large demand approximately worth 3 billion US dollars. In addition, with development of various infrastructure projects, air conditioning installations and the stone material industry in China, annual demand of saw blades is approximately equal to 1 billion RMB. As a result, Chinese enterprises have been encouraged into joining in the laser welding technology and equipment production. The current annual export value is approximately 30 million US dollars.
The third category is the laser-welded planks, applied commonly in the iron and steel industry, piece welding of automobile sheet plates and welding of various shell parts. It is estimated that this market may be worth more attention in the future. Chinese enterprises producing this kind of systems include Huagong Laser, Shanghai Unity Prima Laser, and Wuhan Chu Tian Laser and so on.
Compared with the international laser processing systems, China’s laser processing systems have not yet caught up, producing only 2% of global output. The deficiencies are mainly reflected in the following: there are little or even no high-end laser processing systems; main-force lasers are not yet qualified; micro-laser processing equipment is in shortage. However, China’s manufacturers are steadily accumulating strength to step forward, and Chinese market has significant room for growth. It is forecasted that China’s sales will double in the next 2-3 years from 1.5 billion RMB in 2004, i.e. the output will reach 3 billion yuan. The reasons are as follows:
- The government attaches importance to the development of the laser industry, and government departments at all levels are actively paying attention to it, making out plans and establishing projects, with an all-round investment. Particularly, the government stresses that project initiators should be progressed from colleges and universities, scientific research institutions to enterprises as the main force, which has promoted independent innovation and technological upgrading of enterprise products.
- Chinese manufacturing industries of all kinds are adopting laser processing technology, and this would enable them to increase the technological content of their products, speed up product upgrading, reach to a “agile manufacturing” level and meet the requirement of the market for “personalized” products.
- In China, laser industry clusters have been gradually formed. Enterprises of laser spares and parts are catching up step by step, and various types of laser processing system manufacturers with own product features are being established one after another. Four industrial belts for manufacturing laser processing equipment have been formed, mainly located in Central China; Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta, and Beijing & Tianjin & Circum-Bohai Sea economically developed region.
- Some of the internationally renowned laser processing manufacturers have invested and set up factories in China and some have set up joint ventures in China. As a general trend, they enter into Chinese market successively and establishing localized international competition in China.
- Chinese main-force lasers are gradually qualified and applied to the market. For example, high-power axial flow CO2 lasers, metal chamber RF CO2 lasers with small and medium power, LD-pumped all-solid-state lasers, fiber lasers, frequency-doubled DPL lasers, high-power diode modules and so on. These products are poised to enter initial stages of production and then step into market, creating conditions for upgrade and leading new applications for domestic laser processing.