Gyroscope and IMU Markets Expected to Grow

October 11, 2012

Game-changing MEMs technology, emerging markets, and new applications are driving the market, which should see dynamic growth in the defense, aerospace, and industrial sectors in the near term.

DUBLIN /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Gyroscopes and IMUs for Defense, Aerospace & Industrial 2012" report to their offering.

Multiple Technology Changes Fueling Market Growth

  • New entrants are using game-changing MEMs inertial measurement units (IMUs) to target emerging markets.
  • IMUs are a large industry, traditionally dominated by defense and aerospace applications. 2011 was a stable year for IMUs, with a market size of $1.75 billion.
  • We expect more dynamic growth in this market near term because of two factors:
    • In the defense and aerospace sectors, though the markets in the U.S. and Europe are best described as conservative and mature, many new programs are being launched in Asia, Brazil, and the Middle East.
    • Many new applications are fueling the growth of the IMU market, benefiting from significant technology evolutions, such as the continuous improvement of MEMS IMUs.
  • The IMU market is very concentrated; only a few big companies are dominant. Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, and Sagem are the clear leaders, but many newcomers are coming in to play, looking to enter the market with low-cost MEMS-based products and a different approach to how things are done.

Growth Opportunities Impacting Gyroscope Market
High-performance inertial sensors and systems is a dynamic market segment, as an ever-increasing number of platforms require stabilization, guidance, or navigation functions. The 2011 market for high-performance gyroscopes was estimated at $1.29 billion, growing at a 4.3% annual rate, and is expected to reach $1.66 billion in 2017.

However, this growth will not be global. Indeed, the most attractive opportunities will be concentrated in a select few applications, geographies, or technologies:

  • Defense applications still account for half of the market and most players expect this to remain about the same, as budget cuts made in the U.S. and Europe will be partially compensated by strong demand in Asia.
  • Commercial aerospace represents close to 25% of the market. After a period of stability, an increasing number of business jet, helicopter, and civil aircraft orders will drive renewed inertial systems growth, starting in 2013.
  • The remainder of the market (composed primarily of industrial, naval, and offshore applications) will be the most dynamic area. While it will take time to adopt new technol-ogies in the more conservative areas, new industrial applications are appearing with each passing day, benefiting from the increasing availability of low-cost inertial solutions.

This report describes in detail each application in terms of market size, competitive analysis, technical requirements, technology trends, and business drivers.

MEMS and FOG Drive Change in the Technology Mix
Currently, optical gyroscope technologies still dominate the market by a wide margin. In particular, ring laser gyroscopes (RLGs) are largely used in navigation systems and tactical guidance; one example is the Honeywell HG1700 IMU.

Although RLGs will be robust for high-performance, Yole Developpement expects two other technologies to make a large contribution to 2011–2017 growth: fiber optic gyroscopes (FOGs), which are currently very popular for stabilization applications, and should rapidly progress to eventually replace other navigation technologies; and MEMS technology, which will have the largest impact on the industry.

New applications are enabled by low-cost MEMS sensors, and when it comes to tactical-grade applications, a lot of progress has been achieved in just the past few years in terms of reliability. MEMS are now accepted in high-reliability environments and are even starting to replace FOGs and other technologies in tactical applications. Of course, other technologies must be considered as well. Hemispheric resonant gyroscopes are making progress and are now designed for navigation. Coriolis vibrating piezo gyroscopes are finding increasing success in a large variety of end markets, while new disruptive gyro technologies are still in the lab phase. Finally, DTG and other mechanical gyro technologies are still used in some retrofit systems for 2-axis stabilization systems or for gyrocompass, but this trend points to a decline.

Many factors are shaping tomorrow's competitive landscape: technology capabilities, products' maturity level, geography, value chain, and others. As such, competition trends are carefully analyzed in this report. Honeywell is still the global leader by far, with great success in RLG-based systems and successful deployment of MEMS technology. Northrop Grumman, Sagem, and other market leaders are next on the list with a variety of technologies and new product lines that should have big market impact. Newcomers will play a role as well, from startup companies developing disruptive sensors to MEMS manufacturers, IMU integrators, and large end users willing to pursue internal inertial technologies.

This report highlights market share analysis by application field and technology, as well as global company shipments and technology breakdown.

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