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Combating Covid-19 pandemic: photonics industry worldwide rallies round

16 Apr 2020

Sector responses range from new research initiatives and partnerships, to gifts of safety equipment, tech and financial assistance.

FLIR Systems has announced the A400/A700 thermal smart sensor and thermal image camera solutions for monitoring equipment, production lines, critical infrastructure, and screening for elevated skin temperatures. The smart cameras provide non-contact temperature monitoring across a range of disciplines including health and safety.

FLIR said that the A400/A700 Thermal Smart Sensor solution “initially will be prioritized for those responding to Covid-19. For all applications, the series offers multi-image streaming, edge computing, and Wi-Fi connectivity to help speed data flow and enable faster decisions, improving productivity and safety for professionals.”

The A400/A700 cameras are designed with two configurations. The Thermal Smart Sensor configuration, recommended for measuring elevated skin temperatures, incorporates advanced measurement tools and alarms with edge computing to enable faster critical decisions.

Jim Cannon, President and CEO, commented, "As the world works together to face the global Covid-19 pandemic, FLIR will prioritize initial deliveries of this new A-series camera to professionals using it in elevated skin temperature screening as an adjunct to other elevated body temperature screening tools to help to fight the spread of the virus."

FLIR is now in beta testing phase for an automated elevated skin temperature screening software solution integrated with its US FDA-certified thermal cameras. The solution is designed to rapidly increase the accuracy, ease-of-use, and speed of existing screening procedures.

3D Against Corona initiative

EOS, a developer of industrial 3D printing systems of metals and polymers, has launched an online platform 3dagainstcorona and LinkedIn group to support the battle against Covid-19. The company stated, “We want to thank the additive manufacturing community that has been working to find solutions for the fight against Corona.

“At EOS, we have leveraged our global network so our open platform initiative features relevant data, impactful projects, and offers valuable files free to download and ready to print. All of these are designed to support pandemic-fighting and life-saving approaches. The 3DAgainstCorona site will be updated on a regular basis.”

Marie Langer, CEO of EOS, commented, “The current pandemic now calls for a joint approach, more than ever before. Today, we are asking all partners to join us in tackling the challenges. Let's do what our technology enables us to do. One of the most valuable benefits additive manufacturing can contribute is that it can reduce dependence on traditional supply chains. Based on AM, critical shortages can be more rapidly addressed.

“Data can be shared or sent across the globe and products can be 3D printed where they are most needed. Current activities range from filling critical needs, to helping repurpose existing equipment or providing rapid tooling for traditional manufacturing."

Israeli defense company Elbit Systems, which also manufactures electro-optic and countermeasures systems, announced that it is closely monitoring the development of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts on employees, customers and suppliers, as well as on the global economy.

Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, President and CEO, commented, “We are leveraging our capabilities to produce thousands of ventilators following a request from the Israeli Government. We have been developing a sensor system to remotely read physiological parameters to protect health workers and have adapted our cellular command and control systems to increase the effectiveness of medical staff, each of which are being rolled out at major Israeli hospitals.”

He added, “Our 2019 year-end financial results from March 25, 2020, indicated that the pandemic has not had a material impact on the company. Subsequently some of our businesses have begun to experience disruptions. We are monitoring these businesses closely and plan to update the market in due course. We have initiated a series of cost control measures to help limit the financial impact.”

'$50 million available'

The US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched the application process for $50 million in grants to help manufacturers respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Using funds authorized by the CARES Act signed by President Trump in March, NIST will issue awards to Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers in all 50 US states and Puerto Rico for Covid-19-related projects.

“The MEP centers have the expertise to help client companies make the products needed to fight this pandemic, and to help manufacturers across the supply chain to weather this storm,” commented Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter Copan.

Through a formal Request for Applications, NIST MEP centers may apply for a portion of nearly $50 million allocated to support new projects, which will not require matching nonfederal funds. Successful applications will allow MEP centers to help manufacturers recover from workforce and supply chain interruptions; apply for private insurance claims and disaster loans from the Small Business Administration; and access resources at the federal, state and local level.

Luna Innovations has joined forces with its Charlottesville neighbor, shoemaker OESH, to manufacture flexible 3D printed respirator masks for use during the Covid-19 pandemic N95 respirator mask shortage.

OESH is using its 3D printers and expertise designing around body features along with flexible, plastic material to produce the masks, which have a tight seal around the edges. The facemask can be used when there are no certified N95 masks available. Luna is welding the masks together, adding an aluminum strip on the nose and distributing them.

Hamamatsu supports remote pathology initiative

Inspirata, a cancer informatics and digital pathology solution provider, announced earlier this week its free remote pathology initiative, available to healthcare institutions looking to provide flexibility to their staff during the pandemic. In an important boost to this campaign, Inspirata is now joined by two industry partners, Hamamatsu and KiKo Knowledge Hub. Hamamatsu will provide its Whole Slide Image scanner, Nanozoomer, to scan glass slides submitted by institutions for research and secondary consults (the device will not be used for any primary human diagnosis).

The founders of KiKo knowledge hub, a knowledge sharing platform for pathologists and other physicians, will leverage their pathology practitioners' expertise to ensure successful scanning and processing of all received pathology slides. "This is an important validation of our efforts to support the community. Our successful previous digital pathology collaborations make Hamamatsu and KiKo optimal partners for this initiative," said Mark Lloyd, EVP and Founder of Inspirata.

High power fiber laser manufacturer IPG Photonics has worked with local health authorities and government agencies around the world to lend support “in any way we can during the global Covid-19 pandemic”. In February, IPG donated $250,000 to local China organizations to support the aid and welfare of communities hardest hit by the corona virus. This donation benefited the Hope Project, operated by the China Youth Development Foundation that used the funds to provide aid and assistance directly to 200 China-based families.

As the pandemic reached the neighborhoods and communities surrounding IPG global headquarters in Massachusetts, the company identified local hospitals and organizations that could benefit from its assistance. IPG says it found that many of the smaller and local institutions struggled to receive support to keep their workers on the frontline safe.

As a result IPG Photonics committed its resources to procure 30,000 N-95 protective masks for local health care professionals and first responders in the greatest need. These protective masks were distributed in early April to multiple hospitals and other first responders in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The International Day of Light (IDL) 2020, set for May 16, will no longer take place as scheduled, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the IDL secretariat is offering some potential alternatives.

IDL states, on its website, “Although the International Day of Light recognizes the anniversary of first laser operation on 16 May, events throughout 2020 can still take place with official recognition as an IDL2020 activity.

“So instead of cancelling outright, at this stage you may wish to simply announce rescheduling to a later date to be confirmed once we see how the global situation develops." Further information is available on the IDL Events website.

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