Laser manufacturing enters the era of precision processing

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Industrial laser has experienced rapid growth for many years, and will face greater growth challenges in 2022. According to the performance report of laser listed companies, most of them are both declining in performance and profit, and the net profit decline is greater than the performance. A few years ago, the profit margin of laser products was good, and more enterprises continued to be attracted to participate. The competition was intensified, the survival space of the industry was continuously compressed, and the whole industry was very likely to experience negative growth.

In terms of metal processing, the threshold for medium and high power laser equipment has become very low, and equipment enterprises have to constantly introduce higher power equipment. Fiber laser enterprises with high profits in the past are facing unprecedented growth pressure due to their sharp decline in profits.

In terms of precision processing, laser precision equipment mainly serves consumer electronics, photovoltaic, semiconductor, display and other industries. In the past few years, the dividends of these industries have obviously subsided this year. In addition, the domestic epidemic has continued to break out in several places this year, which has seriously affected the supply chain system of the laser industry and even the manufacturing industry. At the same time, the demand of the consumer electronics market has decreased, and downstream customers have been slow to expand production.

The era of destocking of consumer electronics

Recently, a very interesting news was that the price of the new iPhone 14 released by Apple in September dropped by nearly 1000 yuan just two months later, triggering a new round of price war among domestic mobile phone manufacturers. Behind the price war of mobile phone manufacturers, China’s smartphone shipments have declined continuously for many quarters. According to data from IDC, a research organization, in the third quarter of 2022, China’s smartphone shipments will be about 71.13 million, down 11.9% year on year. It shows that the demand of mobile phone market remains sluggish.

At present, the mobile phone industry has the problem of excess chip performance. In fact, there are not many highlights of mobile phone products. In addition to the folding screen, there are not many subversive technologies, which cannot set off a new round of machine change boom. Now, manufacturers are eager to clear the inventory to follow up the product iteration, and the price war will ring.

Recently, the price of TV sets is said to have dropped to a new low in recent years. China is the world’s largest producer of display panels, but since this year, not only has the shipment volume declined continuously, but also the inventory has been overstocked seriously. Smart wear, bracelets, Bluetooth headsets and other electronic products all encounter the same problem.

All these indicate that consumer electronics has entered the era of de stocking.

The trend from low-end manufacturing to high-end manufacturing

At present, China has made rapid progress in various fields of high-tech, but it is still too early to say that it will take more than 100 years for developed countries to complete their journey in 30 or 40 years. After the reform and opening up, China has gradually developed into a world factory with low-cost labor OEM, but there is still a large-scale low-end manufacturing industry that relies on manual and rough processing.

Since the financial crisis in 2010, China has vigorously promoted the upgrading of traditional industries. It has become the most concerned trend in the manufacturing industry to promote automation with robots, precision machining with lasers, and high-end manufacturing with high-precision machine tools and intelligent equipment. Multiple rounds of environmental protection renovation and the concept of “carbon reaching the peak and carbon neutralization” promote the popularization of laser cleaning processing. It is obvious that laser processing cowboy replaces cowboy washing water, and laser rust removal replaces pickling.

Although the current economic environment is declining, the development trend of low-end manufacturing to high-end manufacturing in China will not be interrupted or changed. Laser processing will continue to play an important role in this tide. At the same time, many traditional rough laser processing will turn to high-precision laser processing.

 

The appearance of ultrafast lasers, represented by picosecond and femtosecond, has truly realized high-precision laser processing. Ultra fast laser processing can be widely used in silicon wafer cutting, glass cutting, flexible film cutting, ceramic processing, panel display, OLED, etc. In addition, it is crucial in PERC, TOPCON and HJT mainstream solar cells.

This year, the willingness of downstream investment in terminal applications slowed down, leading to a weakening of domestic demand for precision laser processing equipment. From INNOVER, an ultra fast laser, to Delong, a precision laser equipment, two listed companies reported declining performance. However, the industry is generally optimistic about the ultra fast laser processing market. At present, ultra fast laser still has a large penetration space in mobile phones, display panels, solar energy, semiconductor chips, PCB and other large industries. In addition, ultrafast laser will have a greater use in medical devices, polymer materials, plastics, watch glass and parts, ceramics, communication components, etc.

The technical breakthrough of ultrafast laser and supporting products is the biggest driving force for precision laser processing. From 5W and 10W infrared picosecond lasers, to infrared femtosecond lasers, to tens of watts of ultra fast ultraviolet lasers that have attracted much attention in the past two years, precision laser processing is increasingly close to cold processing. In the future, kilowatt class high-power ultra fast lasers will also appear, which will greatly break through the limitations of material cutting.

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