A laser a light-emitting device that consists of a laser diode, circuit board, case, and optics. Electric components on the circuit board and laser diode are usually made up of semiconductor materials, metals, and ceramics. Semiconductor materials include compounds/alloys of aluminum, gallium, arsenic, phosphorous, indium, and similar elements. These semiconductor materials also contain metals such as gold, aluminum, and tantalum. The circuit board used in a laser is typically composed of synthetic resin, usually epoxy, with glass fibers to strengthen it. The circuit board is connected to the various components using lines of metals such as aluminum and copper. Semiconductor parts used in a laser are encapsulated in plastic with metal leads that are connected to metal pads on the circuit board with a solder. Solder is a metal alloy made up of tin and lead; however, in recent years, lead has been replaced by other metals. Non-semiconductor parts in a laser are composed of materials such as metal, plastic, glass, and ceramic. Optics used in a laser can be prepared with glass; however, they are usually made from acrylic plastic, which is more economical than glass. The casings used in a laser are usually made up of materials such as metal, plastic, or wood. It may also have metal contacts with batteries, usually prepared from brass. Usage of these materials varies as per requirement of end-user applications and also depends upon the laser device manufacturer.
Major raw materials used in laser manufacturing include glass, plastic, metal, ceramic, and others along with the processing medium, which is the source of optical gain within a laser. In terms of demand, metals dominated the laser material market in 2014 and accounted for over 45% of the demand share in the same year. Metals are primarily consumed in the production of electric components of laser, laser diodes, semiconductor, and casing of laser. Glass is the fastest-growing product segments of the laser material market. Ceramic is also one of the fastest-growing product segment of the laser material market. Ceramics are principally consumed in semiconductor parts, non-semiconductor parts, and in the manufacture of circuit boards.
In terms of demand, the communication industry was the largest application segment of the laser material market and accounted for more than 30% of the global market share in 2014. Laser technology plays a vital role in communication. Rising demand for Internet services, e-commerce, digitalization of information, and economic cycles are key factors driving growth of laser devices. This, in turn, is boosting the communication application segment of the laser material market. R&D and military would be the fastest-growing segment of the market for laser materials. Increasing demand for laser devices in anti-tank missiles, radars, underwater equipment in military services, and advanced R&D application is expected to significantly drive the laser material market during the forecast period. Other application segments such as material processing, medical & aesthetic, instrumentation & sensors, lithography, optical storage, and others are likely to exhibit higher demand for laser materials in the near future.
Asia Pacific accounted for the highest share of the global laser material market in 2014. In terms of volume, the region accounted for more than one-third share of the global laser material market in 2014 and is expected to be the fastest-growing market in the near future. North America accounted for the second-largest market share of the laser material market in 2014. Growth of the laser material market in this region is expected to remain steady in the next few years. The market in North America is anticipated to depict stable growth as the region is technologically advanced and has established markets.
Key market players include BHP Billiton, Aurubis AG, Anglo American plc, Norilsk Nickel Group, ArcelorMittal, Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Group Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, The Dow Chemical Company, Evonik Industries AG, Exxon Mobil Corporation, BASF SE, Taishan%MCEPASTEBIN% Fiberglass Inc., Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Corning Incorporated, Saint Gobain, Mason Graphite Inc., GrafTech International, Kyocera Corp., Asahi Glass Co., Ltd., CreamTec GmbH, Morgan Advanced Materials plc, Triton Minerals Ltd., Deveron Resources Ltd., Schott AG, and Rio Tinto Alcan.