Fibre lasers are compact and energy efficient laser systems that offer the best beam quality for applications where precision is important. As the technology is based on an optical fibre, the absence of free-space optics and mechanical components provides excellent system stability and long product lifetime. Directing the laser radiation to the point of application via an optical fibre ensures safe operation for humans and simplicity of integration into robotics. Hence, in a diverse range of industries, replacing conventional laser or non-laser technologies with fibre lasers can maximize process speed and precision while minimizing operation costs.
Inside a fibre laser, rare-earth metal dopants function as the gain medium and determine the output wavelength. 1-micron, 1.5-micron and 2-micron are the common infra-red (IR) wavelength bands optimized for applications in material processing, sensing and healthcare.
Mid-IR supercontinuum (broadband) laser sources and visible light frequency-multiplied laser sources are also available for specialist applications in sensing and healthcare, respectively. Fibre lasers can easily achieve multi-kilowatt average output powers or function as ultrafast pulsed energy sources depending on the system architecture.
According to IDTechEx’ report Fiber Lasers 2018-2028: Technologies, Opportunities, Markets & Forecasts, fibre lasers have already a large share in the laser material processing market but ongoing technology innovations led by key suppliers such as IPG Photonics (USA) enable such lasers to further replace competing laser and non-laser technologies.
Commercial applications of fibre lasers in sensing are typically limited to high-precision LiDAR for terrestrial mapping, range finding and wind sensing. IDTechEx has identified significant evidence of key players preparing to enter the automotive market by optimizing fibre laser LiDAR for autonomous vehicles. IDTechEx also expects emerging fibre laser technologies to have a significant impact on gas sensing and structural health monitoring within the next decade.
Fiber lasers can offer wavelengths that are an excellent match to novel fluorescent markers and biological molecules. Key players collaborate with research institutes to optimize fiber laser systems for applications in biomedical imaging and medical surgery. IDTechEx expects several emerging technologies to enter the healthcare market segment within the next decade.
Overall, the market research firm forecasts the global fibre laser market to show significant growth during the next 10 years to reach a size of $8.9 billion in 2028.
IDTechEx – www.IDTechEx.com