SMT & Inspection | February 05, 2010
Prolific demand from applications triggers growth in the X-ray market
Burgeoning demand from applications such as forensics, environmental protection, pollution, recycling, and research is expected to provide support for the world X-ray instrumentation markets.
The need for tools, such as X-ray instruments, in these environments is on the rise. In particular, portable instruments are seeing widespread uptake, and are poised to buoy the future prospects for the X-ray instrumentation market. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that the market earned revenues of over $659.5 million in 2008, and estimates this to reach $672.5 million in 2013. "Demand for high-end and benchtop X-ray instruments mainly arises from element analysis performed in laboratories, where the cost of test is high," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Sujan Sami. "Growth for ED XRF products is expected to be comparatively better than the WD XRF products as they are comparatively more simple and cost effective." In the WD XRF segment, the trend is toward hybrid products, especially with companies that already offer WD XRF products. This adds more value for price, considering the high price of WD XRF instruments. The prices of equipment are anticipated to remain stable in the foreseeable future. Although the outlook for the market is bright, there are some issues that cloud the market landscape. As is the case for many markets, the X-ray instrumentation markets were impacted by the economic downturn, which reduced available capital expenditure (CAPEX). While the industry witnessed significant growth in 2008, the economic impact limited market growth in 2009, and is likely to continue affecting the market in the short term. With reduced purchasing power, the high-end and benchtop product segments have felt the heat most. Going forward, sales of ED XRF instruments will improve in the developing countries of Asia as they were not greatly affected by the economic downturn. In Europe, directives such as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), Waste Electronics and Electrical Equipment (WEEE), and End of Life Vehicle (ELV) are key for X-ray instrumentation market growth. The WEEE directive helps to recycle materials and wastes as well as demand for X-ray instruments, ratcheting up demand levels in this field. Mergers and acquisitions that have been taking place among the top tier vendors in the recent past are also expected to help take the market forward. Another challenge for the market is the availability of well-educated technicians to handle XRD instruments, which are highly complex. "In today's market scenario, vendors opine that the number of skilled technicians at the customers' premise is low, and end users are unable to perceive the tangible benefits of these products; this affects the demand for such instrumentation," explains Sami. "Test vendors have to ramp up promotion strategies to educate their customers on their product features."
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