Laser Industry Report

Jan. 1, 2005
Advanced Medical Optics (AMO; Santa Ana, CA), a global provider of ophthalmic surgical devices and eye- care products, acquired VISX (Santa Clara, CA), the leading provider of laser vision-correction services, for $1.

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Eye-laser giant acquired by eye-care firm

Advanced Medical Optics (AMO; Santa Ana, CA), a global provider of ophthalmic surgical devices and eye- care products, acquired VISX (Santa Clara, CA), the leading provider of laser vision-correction services, for $1.3 billion. The combined company will retain the Advanced Medical Optics name and be headquartered in Santa Ana. The VISX facility in Santa Clara will remain intact, with the laser group’s R&D, sales, service, and manufacturing activities continuing to operate there.

Liz Davila, VISX chairman and CEO, will join AMO’s board of directors, increasing to eight the number of directors for the combined company. Doug Post, VISX president and chief operating officer, will become president of AMO’s Americas region. According to Post, who came to VISX in 1992 with the acquisition of Questek, which was then providing excimer lasers to VISX (Questek’s nonmedical division was sold to Lambda Physik in 1993), the merger makes strategic sense on a number of levels.

“When you look at the field of ophthalmology, the two companies are so well aligned. There is no overlap of products,” he said. “AMO offers the lifecycle of vision care, with the exception of the laser. And VISX, while successful, is really a one-product type of company.”

Northrop Grumman, UDI collaborate on laser defense

Northrop Grumman (Redondo Beach, CA) and United Defense Industries (UDI; Minneapolis, MN) are teaming to provide the U.S. Army with ground-based laser defense systems designed to protect U.S. soldiers against a variety of current and emerging threats. The agreement combines Northrop Grumman’s expertise in high-energy laser systems with UDI’s experience in combat vehicle and armament systems integration, rapid prototyping, and manufacturing. Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology sector will lead the team as the developer of laser systems with UDI integrating the technology on hybrid-electric drive combat vehicles produced by UDI.

High-power fiber lasers ready for growth

Fiber-laser revenues are set to grow to $256 million by 2008 and are likely to have a significant impact on the penetration of high-power lasers into the manufacturing environment, according to a new report from Ashmead Associates (Portola Valley, CA), High Power Fiber Lasers: Technology, Applications, and Markets, 2003-2008.

According to Allan Ashmead, the price/performance (beam ­quality, ­efficiency, and footprint) of fiber ­lasers is likely to accelerate the adoption of laser processing in volume manufacturing where lasers are only just starting to offer fully integrated solutions that will in turn enable new designs and manufacturing techniques. The report splits the addressable market for fiber lasers into seven major categories-cutting, welding, marking, aerospace/military, drilling, printing, and “other”-and identifies several potential growth areas for ­fiber lasers, including automotive, 3-D milling, HVAC, and pipe fabrication.

Ashmead says the immediate opportunity for fiber lasers is as a replacement for Nd:YAG and, to a lesser extent, CO2 lasers at lower power levels (less than 100 W) for marking, and a limited number of high power units (approximately 1 kW) for welding and cutting. However, he adds that over the next two to five years the technical superiority of fiber lasers will permit them to carve out an expanding percentage of the Nd:YAG and CO2 markets accounting for up to 20% of the welding and cutting markets, by value, by 2008.

Also in the news . . .

Spectra-Physics Lasers (Mountain View, CA) is supporting education and research at the University of Arizona’s Optical Sciences Center through a $1.6 million donation of laboratory equipment. The donation includes optical tables, microscopes, lasers, wire bonders, chillers, data acquisition units, fiber couplers, and burn-in systems. . . . Sherwood Technology (Chesire, England) has opened a new applications laboratory to demonstrate future possibilities of laser marking, enabling current and potential licensees and end users to test the final results of using Sherwood’s color-change technologies to mark their products using a wide range of lasers. . . . ILX Lightwave (Bozeman, MT) and ETSC Technologies are establishing a service center in Wuhan, China. The center will provide repair and calibration of ILX’s instrumentation products and installation and support of their laser diode test systems. . . . Radiant Dyes (Wermelskirchen, Germany) is now selling the new line of Nd:YAG laser systems developed by Innolas (Krailling, Germany). In addition, Peter Menzenbach has joined the Innolas team as sales manager.

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