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Thorlabs extends lens expertise with JML Optical acquisition

17 Jan 2023

Deal to buy Rochester firm expected to close by the time both Thorlabs and JML exhibit at Photonics West.

Diversified photonics company Thorlabs is set to further expand its offering in optical components, after agreeing a deal to acquire the Rochester, New York, precision optics firm JML Optical Industries.

Founded back in 1972 by Joseph M. Lobozzo II, JML offers a range of spherical, aspherical, plano, cylindrical, and acylindrical lenses, as well as expertise in coatings, quickturn optics, and optical system design across a wide range of market sectors.

Acquired by private equity outfit Five Points Capital in 2011, the company now boasts 70,000 square feet of space dedicated to the design, production, and testing of lenses and multi-element optical devices.

According to Thorlabs the JML team will remain in Rochester, where it will form a new division of Thorlabs known as Thorlabs Lens Systems (TLS), with “significant” investment promised to expand the operation.

“Operating as an R&D and production facility, TLS will add to Thorlabs’ existing optics manufacturing footprint, which currently occupies 120,000 square feet of vertically integrated production space within Thorlabs’ campus of buildings in Newton, New Jersey, and another 24,000 square feet within its facilities in South Carolina and California,” announced the company.

Increased exposure
JML’s president and CEO, Bob Bicksler, commented: “Over the last five decades, the JML Optical team has repeatedly set benchmarks for lens component and lens assembly development.

“We take pride in being a leader in providing optical solutions. We see this combination as an excellent opportunity to increase exposure to our products through the extensive global reach of Thorlabs.”

Bill Donovan, who heads up Thorlabs’ optics division, added: “We are thrilled to welcome the highly experienced JML team to Thorlabs and look forward to leveraging their proven optics capabilities to further serve the photonics industry.

“Having a significant design and manufacturing presence in Rochester, the epicenter of one of the most significant and vibrant communities within the US for optics technology, will further enhance our ability to provide the innovations needed for future advancements in photonics.”

Paul Melone, Thorlabs’ director of global optics manufacturing, indicated that the acquired business would be set to expand in the near future, saying:

“I look forward to assisting with the integration of the JML team into the Thorlabs ecosystem. Their QuickTurn Optics (QTO) capabilities are well known in the market and highly synergistic with Thorlabs’ existing speed-to-market philosophy.

“We already have plans in motion to invest significantly in expanding the Rochester-based team as well as their manufacturing capacity and capabilities.”

The tie-up is expected to be completed by the end of this month, when both Thorlabs and JML will be taking part in the technology exhibition at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco.

JML Optical corporate video:

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