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Business briefs

12 May 2008

Featuring news from Trumpf, Modulight, Faro Technologies, iSuppli, NanoMarkets and more.

Trumpf has started construction of a new production facility in Taicang, China, in recognition of the significant Chinese market for the company's laser machining products. The new factory represents an investment of €15 million ($22 million) and will employ around 200 workers. Trumpf has been producing the TruLaser 3030 laser flatbed machine exclusively for the Chinese market since January 2008, using rented buildings in Taicang and importing core components from Europe. Trumpf and SiberHegner have operated a joint venture in China since 2002, which will continue to handle sales and service operations, although the new production facilities are wholly owned by Trumpf.

Modulight and the European Space Agency have entered a two-year agreement worth $1.1 million to develop high-brightness pump laser technology and improve the brightness and reliability of laser arrays used to pump solid-state lasers in industrial and space applications. The programme is a continuation of efforts to develop lasers in the 800 nm bandwidth range, and aims to produce space-qualifiable quasi-continuous-wave laser arrays with outputs greater than 200 W that are stackable to produce laser modules of up to 1 kW.

Faro Technologies, a producer of portable computer-aided measurement hardware and software, has acquired an exclusive license from Dimensional Photonics for global rights to develop and sell the company's imaging technology and products. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Faro will establish a new Technology Centre of Excellence in the Boston area, close to the existing DPI team, and the new R&D team will fall under Faro's current Engineering organization headed by Jim West. DPI's proprietary technology, accordion fringe interferometry (AFI), creates a 3D digital model of a physical object's surface by immersing it in patterns of light, then recording how the light reflects. Its ability to achieve accuracy of 25 microns or better in a 500 mm field of view is claimed to be world class for a non-contact technology.

• Two reports on the market for photovoltaic (PV) products indicate that the strong growth in the sector has caused a world shortage of polysilicon, while the significant investment in developing organic PV products should be about to pay off.

In the first, iSuppli says that booming global demand for solar energy has spurred a critical shortage of the polysilicon used to make PV cells. The shortages and the resulting rise in costs are forcing the PV industry to adopt more vertically integrated structures, bringing production of polysilicon under their more direct control, while also driving the advancement of thin-film technologies that can act as the raw material for PV cells. The market share of thin-film technologies will rise from 5% of the total PV market in 2007 to 20% in 2010, according to iSuppli.

Meanwhile, NanoMarkets predicts that organic photovoltaic (OPV) products will become commercially available for the first time during 2008, following the substantial venture capital invested in this sector. As a result OPVs are now being taken seriously as a low-cost solution for mainstream solar panels and building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) applications. BIPVs will account for $470 million in revenues by 2015, by which time the entire OPV sector will be generating nearly $1 billion. Although the conversion efficiencies of commercial PVs based on organic materials cannot yet match inorganic approaches, organic solar cells are lower in cost and hybrid organic/inorganic dye sensitive cell (DSCs) are already the lowest cost of all printed PV cells types, according to Organic Photovoltaic Markets available from NanoMarkets.

Physik Instrumente, a German supplier of nanopositioning and motion-control equipment for photonics and other applications, has created a new sales and support office in the UK. Physik Instrumente UK will support customers in the UK and Ireland and provide applications support, equipment demonstrations, price information and feedback on technical issues. This move comes after the recent establishment of a new sales office in France, and is in response to continuing growth and expansion into new fields, according to a company statement.


• The Innovation Award Laser Technology 2008, conferred by Arbeitskreis Lasertechnik and the European Laser Institute, has been awarded to Bertold Hopf of Daimler. Hopf is part of the team behind RobScan, a robot-guided remote scanner for laser beam welding which has been developed for vehicle body construction by a Daimler project group.

• Jack Gabzdyl and Andrew Appleyard have been named by SPI Lasers as product line managers for pulsed lasers and high-power laser systems respectively. They will be responsible for driving uptake of the company's G3 pulsed lasers and the R4 system platform, and leading new product introductions for 2008.

Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology has appointed Bernard Scanlan to the role of General Manager of the newly acquired Technologies and Devices International (TDI) business in Maryland, USA. Scanlan was previously operations director at Oxford Instruments Nanoscience.

LASEROPTIK GmbHIDS Imaging Development SystemsKentek CorporationOcean Insight IncTeledyne LumeneraEKSMA OpticsCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.
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