IPG Photonics' relentless pursuit of commercialising fibre laser technology has led to the introduction of a broad range of innovative products and the creation of a company uniquely positioned to support and manufacture those items. Over the past 20 years, IPG's fibre lasers have rapidly gained market acceptance and are now universally recognised as the benchmark for the laser industry. Currently, with more than 250,000 lasers shipped and successfully deployed worldwide, Dr Gapontsev's ambitious vision has become a reality, with IPG's lasers and processing systems extensively used in a diverse range of demanding industries and applications worldwide.

Expanding its horizons

IPG offers laser sources to OEM systems integrators, as well as complete laser-processing systems direct to end users. IPG operates a vertically integrated business model, manufacturing all critical laser components internally. With more than 5,000 employees worldwide, IPG's manufacturing scale, engineering prowess, service infrastructure, extensive intellectual property and proprietary fibre technologies provide unmatched technical resources, customer support and volume manufacturing capabilities. These competitive advantages enable IPG to meet the most challenging customer requirements, accelerate product developments, manage costs and improve component yields, while maintaining the industry's highest quality standards.

By focusing development efforts on highly differentiated and innovative products, with broad market appeal, IPG's market share and revenues have grown rapidly. In 2017, IPG's sales grew by 40% to more than $1.4 billion, and since the company's IPO on the Nasdaq in 2006, IPG has maintained a leading market share position with a market capitalisation currently in excess of $8 billion.

The technology of choice

The inherent advantages of fibre lasers, compared to other types of lasers, include a more compact size, scalable architecture, reduced cost, ease of manufacture, robust reliability, high electrical efficiency and ease of integration – typically resulting in the most effective and lowest cost solution for manufacturers. This compelling set of advantages has made IPG's fibre lasers the 'technology of choice' for many existing industrial applications, as well as enabling completely new manufacturing solutions; naturally displacing either the traditional laser or other incumbent technologies used.

Manufacturing challenges

The medical device industry presents a number of challenges to manufacturers. The IPG Minneapolis division designs and manufactures complete laser systems for the medical device market. These systems are designed to comply with industry specific quality, traceability and repeatability needs for medical device applications, including stent cutting, precision drilling, micro fabrication, precision welding of implantable devices, dark marking of surgical instruments and precision joining of polymers.

An example of this includes IPG's proprietary PicoBlack picosecond-pulsed laser process, specifically developed for medical device manufacturers. This process creates periodic nanometre scale structural changes on the surface of metals such as stainless steel, aluminum and titanium. These structural changes result in reduced reflectance of light and darker direct marked parts that are corrosion and wear-resistant – making them ideal for marking traceability barcodes and unique identification codes found on reusable surgical devices and implantable devices.

IPG has manufacturing facilities in the US, Germany, Russia, and Italy and regional sales offices in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, India, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Canada and the UK.