Corning improves optical housing expertise

CORNING, NY—Through a subsidiary, Corning signed an agreement to acquire Optimum Manufacturing Corporation (Charlestown, NH), which will become part of Corning’s Specialty Materials segment.

Aug 15th, 2008

CORNING, NY—Through a subsidiary, Corning signed an agreement to acquire Optimum Manufacturing Corporation (Charlestown, NH), which will become part of Corning’s Specialty Materials segment. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Optimum manufactures optical mirror blanks, optical housings, and other precision-machined components for the aerospace and defense, scientific, medical, and communications industries. While Corning creates optics both large and small for all these industries and more (such as the display and optical lithography industries), it is Optimum’s experience in large, complex optical housings that Corning is especially interested in. In fact, Tim Donovan, president of Optimum, will join Corning’s aerospace and defense leadership team, according to Andrew Filson, Corning Specialty Material’s managing director of advanced optics.

“Corning and Optimum share a rich history and have been working together for the past two decades,” notes Filson. “During this time, Optimum and the Corning plant in Keene, New Hampshire have advanced the state of the art in regards to diamond machining and‘snap-together’ optical assemblies. We are delighted to have Tim Donovan join our aerospace and defense team.” Filson adds that Donovan is highly regarded for his knowledge in advanced computer-numerical-control (CNC) programming, process development, and design for manufacturability.

Optimum Manufacturing diamond-machines metal mirror blanks; those blanks purchased over the years by Corning go to its Keene plant, where they are made into the finished product. “Our Keene plant is well-known for advanced diamond turning, infrared grinding and polishing, thin-film coating, advanced interferometry, and system assembly and testing,” says Filson.

An optical housing for aerospace or defense use can hold any combination of refractive and reflective optical elements, as well as entire lens and mirror assemblies, galvo-mirror assemblies, filter wheels, photodetectors, cameras, and so on; the housing must often hold the optics in place to precise tolerances (sometimes micron-scale) while withstanding shock, vibration, and temperature changes.

The more technical specialties that must come together in the creation of an optical system (not just optics, but optoelectronics, mechanical design, cooling-systems design, and so on), the more advantageous it is to have all the technical talent under one roof—which is just what Corning aims for as it pursues deeper penetration into the markets it already serves with its specialty optical materials. As for what the new division will be called: “Short-term, Optimum will retain its name,” says Filson. “Over the course of the next few years, Corning will work to transition Optimum to the Corning name and brand.”

—John Wallace

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