FIGURE 2. Powerbeam Technology’s 6k W laser cutting
machine from Eagle enables pallet change in 9 sec.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Anant Deshpande, Industrial Laser Solutions
Editorial Advisor for India and a contemporary of Rakesh
Agarwal, offers these additional comments on the market for
industrial lasers in this country.
With prices for fber laser cutting machines decreasing
almost day by day, the market—which previously was focused
on job shops—now includes companies making the products to
have such machines in-house. The cost of the earlier machines
was exorbitantly high and required trained manpower, so companies were outsourcing to job shops. However, with the drop
in prices (a 1k W laser now costs under $50,000), these companies now have them in-house. This trend is growing, as the
cost of machines is coming down—this is mainly responsible
for the growth of the sheet metal cutting machine.
The market for lasers in India is driven by the automotive
sector and, thus, job shops for sheet metal cutting. These are
mainly located in automotive hubs such as Pune, Bangalore,
Chennai, Manesar (near Delhi), and Ahmedabad, which together
account for more than 80% of the job shop market for metal cutting lasers. While the machine tool industry is spread throughout India, it is more so in Punjab, Chandigar, Ludhina, and
Coimbatore, while lasers for diamond processing are mainly
focused in Surat, with more than 10,000 to 12,000 lasers used.
Sahajanand in Ahmedabad started the fber laser cutting
market in India. They were the frst company to manufacture
a fber laser-based cutting system, having a patent on the
fber laser system design. There are other companies such as
Scantech (Mumbai), Suresh Ind (Pune), Proteck (Chennai), A
Innovative (Ahmedabad), Mehta CAD CAM (Ahmedabad), and
Lastronix (Ahmedabad), to name a few, who are now making
sheet metal cutting machines. Other companies act as distributors, selling these machines with names such as Angle
CAD CAM (Delhi), Laser Technologies, (Mumbai), and Sigma
Mechatronix, among others.
Major international players, with offces in India, have sold
their complete systems in India for a long time, dominated by
TRUMPF, Amada, Bystronic, LVD, Prima Power Laserdyne,
Han’s Laser, Golden Laser, and others. They were the dominant players for the metal cutting market until Chinese lasers
started to capture the market with their low-cost metal cutting
systems (mainly 500W).
With this growing market, the need for technical manpower
is increasing. However, the lack of trained manpower is the reason that local manufacturers and distributors are not growing,
as the dearth of manpower is not allowing them to expand
beyond a point.
Other applications such as cladding, welding, and hardening
are growing, but the growth rate for them is not as fast as cutting and marking. With cost coming down for lasers, however,
there is a growing demand for these applications and, with the
Make in India campaign, more and more companies are getting into systems and solutions done locally.
Maruti, Honda, Toyota, and other big players are expanding
their production capacity; and Toyota is targeting the export
of left-hand-drive cars from India.
Second thoughts about seconds
In the 2000s, the Indian market was flooded with used CO2 laser
cutting machines. Factories operating these high-maintenance
secondhand machines are now at risk of becoming outdated
in the market. All these machines have become obsolete and
will need replacement.
While it is impossible to know the exact number of still-op-erational secondhand machines in the country, our data suggests that replacement of these machines will be responsible
for almost 25% of total sales in the coming year.
The Indian market is slowly warming up to other applications
of lasers such as welding, hardening, and cladding—for example, advances in automation, speed, and accuracy have made
lasers very useful for the packaging industry. While lasers are
already the first choice for flexible and innovative packaging,
with a little more advancement, the technology is well poised
to replace dies and molds as well.
Lasers provide more flexibility in packaging than the tra-
ditional hard-coded machines. With the packaging industry
hinging on innovation more than ever, lasers have become
the obvious tool of choice. The requirements in the packaging industry are very diversified and unique—so much so that