Synova shifts strategy to meet demand

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND-Responding to mushrooming applications growth for its water-jet guided lasers technology, Synova has altered its business model from simply selling systems to licensing technology as well.

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND-Responding to mushrooming applications growth for its water-jet guided lasers technology, Synova has altered its business model from simply selling systems to licensing technology as well. During the last year revenue growth at the company has gone from the 50% to 100% range previously to about 150% currently. The technology has expanded into so many new applications and markets “that it became impossible to do everything ourselves,” said Synova CEO Bernold Richerzhagen. The decision to start licensing technology was partly an internal policy decision but was also motivated by numerous requests from potential customers, he said.

Utilizing the difference in the refractive indices of air and water, the technology contains a laser beam within a stream of water by reflecting the laser beam at the air-water interface, similar in principle to an optical fiber, and is capable of guiding a beam for distances of up to 10 cm. The Synova Laser MicroJet module consists of a coupling unit, laser source, and water pump.

The technology’s primary target applications include: dicing and edge grinding of semiconductor wafers; organic light-emitting diode (OLED) mask scribing, grooving and cutting for flat-panel displays; inkjet printer-head slotting; cutting of hard materials (such as polycrystalline diamonds and cubic boron nitride). Synova is also moving into fields such as photovoltaics and medical instrumentation.

Richerzhagen listed three new approaches that the company is taking. One involves licensing the technology to end users. The first such licensee, a European company, is buying 25 systems from Synova for use in electronic manufacturing applications. A second approach involves licensing the technology to integrators for use in larger systems. Richerzhagen said Synova is working with five such licensees at present. The third approach involves licensing the technology to research institutions for applications development. Currently, one such licensee, the Fraunhofer Institute (Freiberg, Germany), is developing the technology for manufacturing solar cells.

“Synova has evolved tremendously in the last decade. We’ve moved from building credibility and awareness of our technology to now solving our biggest challenge yet: how best to satisfy the explosion of demand for Laser MicroJet in so many diverse markets and application areas,” Richerzhagen said.

-Hassaun Jones-Bey

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