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Jenoptik reorganises and opens 'Europe's largest' plastic optics facility

19 May 2006

As the company opens Europe's largest dedicated plastic optics R&D and manufacturing facility today, Jenoptik is rebranding itself. Its subsidiary formerly known as Wahl Optoparts is refashioned to better fit the group identity and grow its medical technologies business, while Jenoptik Jena is reborn as Jenoptik Germany.

The Jenoptik Group today opened a new production building for plastic optics and optical systems - the largest and most modern in Europe - in the town of Triptis, Thuringia, Germany. Jenoptik subsidiary Wahl Optoparts has simultaneously rebranded itself as Jenoptik Polymer Systems (JPS).

The new identity of JPS, which has been a Jenoptik subsidiary since December 2003, is intended to emphasize its involvement with the restructured Jenoptik Group, which specializes in the use and exploitation of light as an industrial tool.

Four sites operated by Jenoptik subsidiaries have been combined in the new building on the Triptis industrial park, encompassing an investment of Euro 9 million (US$11.5 million) - excluding equipment. Triptis is a few kilometers from the company's former location in Jena.

There is enough space to meet the expected growth of JPS: the new production building covers 8,000 m2, with cleanroom facilities alone accounting for 1,400 m2 and 1,800 m2 taken up by commercial areas and administration. Manufacturing quality will also be improved by the better air conditioning facilities.

Jenoptik also invested Euro 2.5 million (US$3.2 million) in new machinery, amongst others for the assembly and packaging technology area. Now that the building is complete this new site will go into the mass production of client-specific modules for image sensors, light detection as well as lighting units.

In the new production facility JPS will be able to manufacture plastic optics more efficiently than in its previous locations. Optics design, injection molding machines, state-of-the-art coating systems, the assembly technologies for the integration of the optics within complete assemblies and systems, and the assembly and packaging technology, which was only added in October 2005, are now housed under one roof.

The process chain can therefore now be managed more efficiently since there is no longer a need to cope with manufacturing interfaces and long distribution routes. Jenoptik says this will enable the subsidiary to manufacture not only plastic optics in large volumes but also complex optoelectronic systems on a customer-specific basis and to a high standard of quality.

The fact that part of the manufacturing process is carried out under cleanroom conditions should ensure that these systems meet the market's stringent quality demands.

In addition, a sophisticated air-conditioning system will provide for enhanced process reliability on every level of the value-added process. In particular, JPS expects further expansion as a consequence of meeting the high standards demanded by the medical technology business.

Plastic optics are increasingly being deployed in medical equipment, automobiles, multimedia devices (such as web cams and camera phones) and in industrial measurement technology and mechanical engineering.

Jenoptik says that demand has risen strongly across the range of plastic optics applications in recent years. In medical technology, these are mainly in optoelectronic systems for so-called one-off diagnostics, including domestic applications, which are increasing the demand for this lower cost alternative to glass optics.

JPS also has a sales location in Rochester, NY, US, which operates not only in the medical technology, industrial sensors and automotive markets but also in lighting applications and color management.

About Jenoptik Polymer Systems

Jenoptik Polymer Systems (formerly Wahl Optoparts) develops, manufactures and markets polymer optical components and optoelectronic assemblies to client specifications. The family owned company was founded in 1956 by Friedrich A. Wahl as a factory manufacturing polymer optics, based near Kassel.

From 1988 to 2005 the company was run by Gabriele Wahl-Multerer. In 1991 it was merged with the plastic optics business of the former Carl Zeiss Jena Group in Neustadt/Orla - which prompted the company to relocate its head office from Munich to Triptis, not far from Neustadt/Orla.

Since December 2003 JPS has been a 100% Jenoptik subsidiary in the Laser & Optics division. JPS employs more than 200 personnel, 197 alone at the Triptis location.

1,200 employees in the Laser & Optics division develop, manufacture and distribute primarily components and subsystems, which are then integrated into systems, devices and facilities by the customers all over the world. In 2005 they reported sales of approximately Euro 150 million (US$190 million). The operating result totaled Euro 15 million (US$19 million).

In the laser field Jenoptik concentrates primarily on new principles, for example high-performance diode lasers and thin-disc lasers. The main areas of use are materials processing and medical technology. In the optics field the group develops, produces and markets high-quality optical and micro-optical components made both of glass and plastics.

Jenoptik Jena reborn as Jenoptik Germany

Following a strategic realignment Jenoptik has concentrated its group companies under a single brand umbrella: Jenoptik Germany.

With the completion of the strategic realignment in just one year and the resultant disposal of the former Clean Systems business division, Jenoptik is repositioning itself. The company says it will focus on its core expertise of utilizing and exploiting light as a tool and, as such, is returning to its origins, optical technologies.

The areas of expertise of generating light (lasers), shaping light (optics) and measuring light (sensors) will be rounded off by mechatronics as a connecting element.

The core markets of the restructured Jenoptik are materials processing, medical technology, safety and defense technology, the semiconductor and aerospace industries as well as digital imaging and measurement technology.

The Thuringia-based technology group has an industrial history in Germany going back more than 150 years but is nevertheless a young company. Founded in 1991 as the legal successor to the former firm of VEB Carl Zeiss Jena, Jenoptik has a direct connection with the city of Jena, the heart of the optics industry in Germany.

The bond between Jena and the Jenoptik name is strong. Over and above the common areas of expertise, the claim to highly innovative, excellent products is something else that all the Jenoptik companies have in common. 2,800 employees in the group work to achieve this goal.

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