The market for helium detectors, including the domestic market in Japan and sales overseas, is expected to have recorded a slight increase in 2013 and achieved a value of around ¥2.1bn.

This is, says The Gas Review (TGR), due to both advance purchases of detectors ahead of a 3% increase in sales tax due to go into effect in April, and an eagerness among some users to engage in capital investment.

According to statistics from the Japan Vacuum Industry Association, the market contracted around 7.5% in 2012 (amounting to ¥1.9bn) but is expected to have recovered to 2011 levels in 2013 (¥2.1bn).

There was believed to be some impact as a result of the helium shortages too; it is thought that, for a time, helium detector producers experienced a flood of inquiries on the part of users.

The overall view of the helium detectors market, however, is one of stability. With the exception of 2009 and taking into account the contraction in 2012, this sector has been moving along in the range of around ¥1.7bn to ¥2.1bn in recent years and is therefore considered stable.

Helium leak detectors check the air tightness of products, and are widely used for leak testing of equipment such as all types of piping, mass flow controllers and valves, in addition to auto components and air conditioners, all of which require air tightness. Major manufacturers in this market include Ulvac (accounting for 90% of the export market), Canon Anelva, Inficon and Shimadzu Emit.