Optech Consulting of Bisingen, Germany, foresees continued double-digit growth in the global laser materials processing market. The company predicts that worldwide sales of laser processing machinery will reach $12.2 billion in 2010, compared with $3.6 billion in 1999, driven by continued expansion in the cutting and welding sector and by laser processing of printed circuit boards. European and Japanese manufacturers supply the majority of systems for cutting, welding and marking applications. Manufacturers in the US and Japan control the market for laser systems used to process semiconductors and printed circuits. Optech expects the continued dominance of CO2, excimer and lamp-pumped solid-state lasers, and the increased use of diode-pumped solid-state lasers. Soldering and plastics welding applications are forecast to benefit from the development of high-power laser diodes suitable for direct processing applications.