Laser imagers have room to grow

June 19, 1991

The market for medical imaging laser printers should approach2000 units sold worldwide this year. The global market for laserprinters and associated media last year is estimated at about$850 million and is expected to rise to $1.2 billion by

The market for medical imaging laser printers should approach2000 units sold worldwide this year. The global market for laserprinters and associated media last year is estimated at about$850 million and is expected to rise to $1.2 billion by 1994,according to a report developed by Polaroid Medical Imaging Systems.The report was released at the Society of Nuclear Medicine conferencein Cincinnati last week.

Polaroid is in the process of launching the Helios Model 810Laser Imager, its first multiformat laser printer. Helios usesa proprietary non-silver-halide, dry-processing technology. Thesystem will first be released using 8 x 10-inch images in ultrasound,nuclear medicine and C-arm applications (SCAN 1/30/91).

Conventional x-ray film still accounts for 75% of the approximately$2 billion North American image recording market, but sales ofx-ray film are growing at only 4% to 5% a year. Digital imagingtechnologies, on the other hand, are expected to grow 15% to 20%per year, according to statistics provided to Polaroid by AlexHenderson, a Prudential-Bache analyst.

Henderson anticipates the market ratio will stabilize at about60% digital and 40% conventional x-ray film, said the Polaroidreport, entitled An Overview of Diagnostic Image Recording Systems.

There is room for growth in the laser printer market, accordingto Polaroid. Only 10% to 20% of imaging facilities have thesedevices. The worldwide installed base of laser printers is about7000, the report said.

All major radiographic film companies offer laser printers,with 3M and Kodak sharing the lead. Matrix controlled the marketfor 14 x 17-inch CRT multiformat medical images for 15 years beforethe introduction in the mid-1980s of 3M's laser imager, whichused a special infrared film sold only by 3M.

By 1988, 3M had taken a 70% share of the market for 14 x 17-inchhard-copy medical images, the Polaroid report said. Agfa purchasedMatrix in 1988 (SCAN 8/17/88).

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Molecular Biosystems (MBI) of San Diego saw revenues decline36% in fiscal 1991 (end-March) from $19.4 million in 1990 to $12.4million, due largely to declining contract revenues and licensingfees. MBI has not yet initiated U.S. sales of its ultrasound contrastagent Albunex, which entered full premarket approval review atthe Food and Drug Administration last month. The contrast developersubmitted the PMA in September.

"We were fortunate to have been profitable for the lastfew years, even though we have been in a development phase,"said Kenneth J. Widder, chairman and CEO. "However, quarter-to-quarterearnings are not how our current activities should be evaluateduntil we are selling product."