China consolidates its presence in thermal imaging

11th April 2024
Sheryl Miles

In 2023, the thermal imaging market saw continued growth, fuelled by traditional commercial uses.

This growth mirrors the trends observed before the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, prices have shrunk considerably at the microbolometer level, increasing the market size. Chinese market leaders have narrowed the performance gap with established players, boasting high production capacities and competitive pricing.

Axel Clouet, PhD., Technology and Market Analyst, Imaging at Yole GroupP, said: “While growth in the industrial market remains robust, it’s counterbalanced by lower prices resulting from a higher proportion of lower-tier systems. Demand and product mix is shifting from high-end handheld cameras towards lower-end fixed-mount ones.”

The PVS sector is a crucial driver in consumer market expansion, particularly in the European market. Enhanced system performance coupled with decreasing prices is fostering broader adoption.

The defence and aerospace market is benefiting from geopolitical tensions and recent conflicts, resulting in positive momentum. Additionally, the automotive market is poised for growth due to upcoming stringent regulations in the US concerning AEB systems, potentially enforced by 2028. The decision on these regulations, expected in the first half of 2024, holds significance for widespread adoption.

In this context, Yole Group releases its market and technology report ‘Thermal Imaging and Sensing 2024’. In this report, the company provides a complete analysis of the thermal imaging and sensing markets, applications, and technologies. With this new study, Yole Group offers a detailed view of the ecosystem regarding developments and funding and a broad overview of the technology trends. This edition also provides an update on the significant trends and challenges in the market as well as the evolution of the dominant business models. It will help in understanding the competitive environment with an overview of key players and the evolution of the thermal imaging and sensing vendor market share per segment.

In 2023, Chinese companies like InfiRay and Hikmicro maintained their upward trajectory, driven by strategies prioritising volume, leading to their increasing dominance in both the industrial and consumer sectors. The Chinese thermal imaging ecosystem reached a significant milestone, accounting for 50% of global thermal imager shipments.

Clyde Midelet, Ph.D., Technology and Market Analyst MEMS and Sensing, said: “In the face of this heightened competition in industrial applications, western counterparts have retained their stronghold in government-centric sectors, such as security, firefighting, defence. They are expected to concentrate on high-margin offerings.”

Regulatory changes in the US, with potential implications for Europe, have created a lucrative opportunity in the automotive sector. This has spurred intense technological advancements, with established players and startups like Adasky and Owl actively pursuing innovation in this domain.

Geopolitical factors continue to influence supply chains, with several defence-focused entities engaging in financial manoeuvres, indicative of anticipated production upticks in the coming year.

The ongoing trade tensions between the US and China persist, with ramifications for the thermal imaging industry. For example, recent export restrictions imposed by China on Germanium can have an impact on the camera lens supply chain.

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