Align the future of photonics manufacturing: The Advanced Manufacturing Alliance

June 6, 2024
The Advanced Manufacturing Alliance aims to streamline and enhance the optical manufacturing supply chain by fostering closer collaboration among industry stakeholders.

As photonics technologies embed deeper into all forms of manufacturing, they bring with them opportunities for efficiency, scale, and cost reduction. Micro-optics, in particular, offer much potential in markets as diverse as telecommunications, consumer electronics, healthcare, and automotive. As such, projections indicate that the overall micro-optics market will scale to $4.6 billion by 2028.

Photonics business challenges: Demand, communication, and transparency

Increasing demand for these solutions puts pressure on the companies charged with developing, integrating, and deploying photonics. As industries vie for these technologies, manufacturers of photonics solutions struggle to keep pace with industry demand and address supply chain gaps in transparency and communication.

The consumer electronics industry continues to climb at an annual growth rate of 7.63%. When photonics integration provides efficient, affordable, and rapid options for global deployment, leading consumer electronic companies fabricate new products around these offerings. While this is good for the photonics industry, it means a production bottleneck can occur while providers ramp up their offerings to meet demand.

Photonics integration also requires connections with both upstream and downstream suppliers, and while this has been the reality since the inception of business, today’s lack of sight into the full supply chain negatively impacts the manufacturing flow. In fact, nearly half (43%) of organizations report limited to no visibility of tier one supplier performance, and yet the average annual costs of supply chain disruptions are $47 million. Improved process transparency and enhanced communication are priorities in manufacturing.

Collaboration for a solution

While there is no single solution to these issues, at Optica we believe collaboration is critical to moving forward effectively. It’s why we are facilitating the development of the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance—to build a living directory of capabilities and application-driven specifications for manufacturing of advanced optics.

The Advanced Manufacturing Alliance aims to streamline and enhance the optical manufacturing supply chain by fostering closer collaboration among industry stakeholders. By creating a unified directory of capabilities and linking them to specific applications, the Alliance seeks to simplify the manufacturing process, improve communication, and ensure that the supply chain operates efficiently and transparently.

Not a standard meeting, the inaugural gathering of the Alliance will take place June 25-26, 2024 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where we will convene manufacturers, suppliers, integrators, and potential customers to tackle challenges in micro-optics—from metrology to new materials—and work toward a comprehensive approach to shared challenges.

As Alliance Chairman Oliver Fähnle, cofounder of PanDao GmbH and head of optics fabrication technology at Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences, points out, it’s only by working together that we can standardize approaches for the benefit of all. “We are lacking standards in interfaces, along with the application chain. We need standards that help with decision making, and these standard elements should know what the rest of the chain looks like,” he says.

During the meeting, we will debate the memorandum of understanding of the Alliance with the participants. Moving forward, the Alliance will hold annual meetings to update manufacturing capabilities, discuss emerging applications, and refine communication strategies.

As you think about what’s next for your company and advanced photonics manufacturing, consider the role you play today and how you’d like it to evolve for the benefit of your organization and the industry at large. Your input will be vital to shaping the future of micro-optics and its role in industry. We hope to see you in Neuchâtel.

About the Author

Jose Pozo | Chief Technology Officer, Optica

Jose Pozo joined Optica in March 2022, and has spent more than 25 years working in photonics. He earned a PhD in quantum physics from the University of Bristol (U.K.), and an M.Sc. and B.Eng. in telecom engineering from UPNA, Spain / VUB (Belgium). Prior to joining the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) in 2015 as CTO, Jose was a Senior Photonics Technology Consultant with PNO Consultants, with some of the main accounts such as CERN, Thales, and TE Connectivity. He has worked at TNO, The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, and as a postdoctoral researcher at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, where he contributed to the early development of EFFECT Photonics.

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