14 Nov 2013
German VC DEWB gives cash boost to developer of high brightness direct diode lasers for materials processing.Deutsche Effecten und Wechsel Beteiligungsgesellschaft (DEWB) has led an investment consortium to acquire a 37.5% share of DirectPhotonics, Berlin, Germany, in the laser maker's second financing round since its launch in 2011.
Together with existing investors Falk Strascheg Holding (Extorel), Munich and IBB-Bet. managed VC Fonds Technologie Berlin and the management, the new lead investor DEWB last week invested €3.3 million in DirectPhotonics to fund the company's future growth.
DirectPhotonics develops ultra-high brightness direct diode laser systems for industrial applications. Based on patented technologies from the Fraunhofer Institutes ILT in Aachen and CLT in Michigan, USA, the company uses passive optical components to combine the radiation of each laser diode in an ultra-high brightness beam, rendering complex brightness converters such as fibers and disks unnecessary.
This approach couples photons generated in the semiconductor into a delivery fiber to guide them directly to the workpiece. In addition to the compact design and the technical flexibility, these laser systems are characterized by high efficiency, which the company says leads to a significant reduction in operating costs compared to disk and fiber lasers.
Application areas are in micro- and macro-scale materials processing, especially cutting and welding of metals. Wavelength stabilization and a variety of available wavelengths also make the direct diode lasers suitable for use as pump sources.
Bertram Köhler, CEO of DEWB, commented, "The innovative technology of DirectPhotonics’ team as well as their experience in development and sales of lasers have convinced us to invest. The characteristics of the direct diode laser demonstrate great market potential to us, which is already underlined by existing orders from industrial customers."
500W module development
After successful completion of prototypes, development of an innovative automated manufacturing process for serial production and winning its first reference customers in industry and research in the current fiscal year, DirectPhotonics’ plan for 2014 is to introduce its lasers into the general market. The company was founded in 2011 by experienced managers of the laser industry and employs 20 employees at its headquarters in Berlin-Adlershof and its subsidiary DirectPhotonics, Inc. in Silicon Valley.
Wolfgang Gries, CEO and founder of DirectPhotonics, said, "Having DEWB as lead investor, with Falk Strascheg and the IBB participating again, gives us industry-experienced investors that will actively support our further growth and development. We will use the resources of the current round of funding to transfer our 500 W module into series production as quickly as possible, and to enable production of modular laser systems of up to 2kW in larger quantities."
In May 2013, DEWB also acquired a significant share in LemnaTec, a developer of digital analysis systems for automated phenotyping of plants and other research organisms. the money was intended for expansion financing for growth of that company's pharmaceuticals business division
About the Author
Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.