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Asia lures 3M's component business

17 Jun 2002

3M is relocating its optical-component products to Singapore and establishing an optoelectronics center of excellence.

Global photonics giant 3M is transferring all of its optical-component manufacturing processes from its Texas-based US facility to its Woodlands plant in Singapore.

The company is set to invest S$60 million (USD 33 million) in the venture over the next five years which is expected to create up to 200 new jobs.

The moves creates a so-called "optoelectronic center of excellence" at the Singapore site giving 3M a presence in Asia's fast growing optical-networking market.

Three product lines are being transferred. "We are moving the established fiber Bragg grating product line," Matt Fagan of 3M told Optics.org. "The newer lensed pigtail assemblies and dispersion compensation module product lines are also being moved. The transfer will be staggered over a 14-month period."

Fagan highlights the increasing customer demand in Asia for passive optical-network components as one reason for this move. He says future products will be developed jointly between the two labs with the Austin, Texas facility continuing to serve the US and European markets.

Teo Ming Kian, the chairman of Singapore's economic development board commented that "this decision confirms Singapore's continued attractiveness for high value-added manufacuring and next-generation development in photonics. 3M's transfer adds to our thriving industry placing Singapore as a key global photonics player".

Having an Asian presence is rapidly becoming a strategic necessity in the telecoms industry as many organizations are either relocating in full, or moving parts of their business to Asia. Within the last year, several of 3M's fellow telecoms giants have made similar moves.

Early in 2001, JDS Uniphase opened a 320 000 sq. ft factory for making passive components in Shenzhen, China while Agilent Technologies has set up an optical lab in Beijing to design next-generation photonic devices.

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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