Laser technology is beginning to be used in our society in a variety of ways. Many laser applications have been unbeknownst to the general consumer until the recent boom of 3D printing technology designed for consumer use. But laser technology has been used by the manufacturing sector for years, and engineers have been discovering new uses for lasers and developing new technology that has led to its adoption in various industries.
For a laser safety officer, it is important to stay ahead of these technological innovations in order to begin laying a foundation for a laser safety program that will remain current and effective. Let’s take a look at how the latest technological advances are forecasted to change how manufacturing, security and defense, and the medical community utilize laser technology.
Replacement of Traditional Manufacturing
In the next five years, the industrial laser market is slated to grow at an annual rate of 10.23 percent, according to Research and Markets.
While traditional manufacturing will likely remain a production method, we will start to see a rapid adoption of laser technology in the next 10 to 20 years. Cladding, hardening and
additive manufacturing will continue to grow, while fiber laser-based cutting applications and ultrafast machining applications become more affordable. The implementation of these new technologies will ultimately allow manufacturers to create and repair speciality parts with lower overhead costs.
Security and Defense Technology
The global military laser systems market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.23 percent, reaching $2.73 billion by 2020, according to MarketsandMarkets. In fact, test programs have started to prepare laser technology for use by the military in the field.
Acceptance of laser technology will continue to rise, while the defense industry is encourage engineers to get out of the laboratory and start implementing new technologies. Lasers require no ammunition and are becoming a solution to the insurgence of smaller targets such as drones. While laser-based weapons become more commonplace, existing military applications of lasers such as rangefinders, infrared countermeasures and illuminators will continue to become more sophisticated.
Medical and Dentistry Applications
BCC Research predicts that by 2019 the global market for medical laser devices will reach $7.8 billion.
As technology becomes more sophisticated, less operator training will be required to utilize laser technology in medical settings. This will encourage the widespread adoption of these technologies as training costs will lower. 3D printing is likely to become the next most popular innovation, as more and more research is being done to make 3D printed human organs and tissues commercially viable. As costs rise and resources for transplant surgeries remain scarce, these innovations will be important for both emerging and developed economies.