Germany’s optics and photonics sector is growing vigorously and attracting major foreign investment.
Increased levels of automation in passenger vehicles, light-based technologies in the health sector and the ongoing digitalization of industry are just some areas driving demand for advanced photonics solutions in application industries. Solutions in the core areas of production technology, Industrie 4.0, healthcare and optical components and parts for instance for future mobility, in which Germany has a strong global market position, account for around 60 percent of production value.
Advanced Manufacturing – Photonics 4.0
Photonic and optical technologies are also central to the ongoing digitalization of industrial production and form a key foundation to Germany’s Industrie 4.0 project. One of the highest-growth application areas of photonic technologies is process analytics. The use of optical sensors enable the optimization of products and production processes, avoids rejects and reduces the use of raw materials. Additionally, optical measurement technologies provide a significant contribution to operational safety. Photonic sensor technologies help thus to transform production systems and products into cyber-physical systems (CPS). Germany is seeking to become an integrated industry lead market and provider for Industrie 4.0 solutions – consolidating its reputation as the world’s factory outfitter and a country capable of meeting the challenges of the digital age.
Future Mobility – Automotive 4.0
Until not so long ago, photonics was integrated into the car only through lighting functions. However, the global auto industry is in a period of radical transformation due to the rise of e-mobility and connected and automated driving technology developments. German car manufacturers have been showing increasing interest in new technologies – especially photonics-based developments – in all areas: from powertrain, through lighting to driver assistance (ADAS) and vision systems (LIDAR). Germany is recognized the world over for its outstanding automotive industry and excellence in engineering. Germany is by some distance Europe’s leading production and sales market. The country’s world-class R&D infrastructure, complete industry value chain integration and highly qualified workforce create an internationally peerless automotive environment. It enables companies to develop cutting- edge technologies that perfectly address tomorrow’s mobility needs.
Medical Technology – Biophotonics
Photonics has the potential to revolutionize healthcare. The use of light-based technologies in the bio- and medical sciences – also known as biophotonics – can be used effectively for very early detection of diseases, with non-invasive imaging techniques or point-of-care applications. Biophotonics is also instrumental to the analysis of processes at the molecular level, giving a greater understanding of the origin of diseases, thereby supporting prevention and new treatments. Photonic technologies also play a major role in addressing the needs of Germany’s ageing society – covering everything from pacemakers, synthetic bones and endoscopes through to the micro-cameras used in in-vivo processes. German medical technology companies invest nine percent of their revenue and deploy 15 percent of their personnel in research and development. Germany is the most important manufacturer and developer of medical technologies in Europe and the world's third largest manufacturing nation with a share of about 10 percent of worldwide medical technology production. Close collaboration between science and industry has helped establish Germany's medical technology sector as an international landmark of quality, performance and safety standards.