News Briefs

Making up

The German companies EOS (Krailing) and Trumpf (Ditzengen) have reached a patent license agreement with Concept Laser that brings to an end all outstanding patent-infringement litigation between the companies involving laser sintering and rapid manufacturing. The agreement provides Concept Laser, part of the Hoffmann Innovation Group, with nonexclusive use of some EOS and Trumpf European and U.S. patents, allowing it to market its LaserCuring systems in all global markets outside the United States.

In a separate move, EOS acquired a preliminary injunction against the Italian firm CRP, which markets a carbon-filled PA12 laser-sintering powder, claiming that CRP is making misleading statements to users about its patent position. EOS says it has published its own patent applications covering carbon fiber-filled PA12 laser-sintering powders that predate all CRP’s patent filings.

Joint venture

Fujitsu (Tokyo, Japan) and Mitsui & Co. (Tokyo, Japan) have established a new optical device venture, QD Laser, leveraging venture capital funding from both companies to further develop and commercialize quantum dot laser technology. Utilizing quantum dot semiconductor crystallization technology developed thus far by Fujitsu, and laser design and process technologies, QDL will offer quantum dot lasers to the optical telecommunication light source market for use in optical access and optical local area networks within buildings.

Assets acquired

Avensys (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) entered into a definitive agreement to acquire most of the assets of ITF Optical Technologies, a designer and manufacturer of advanced photonic solutions based on proprietary all-fiber technology. ITF specializes in providing sophisticated high-end applications for submarine, military, telecom and industrial uses and has invested more than CAD $50 million in facilities and high-end equipment since its creation in 1997. This acquisition will provide Avensys’ fiber component production division, Avensys Technologies, with access to ITF’s 10,000 square foot clean room, thereby providing economies of scale and facilities for future growth.

In a separate transaction, ITF’s Research and Development unit, including all of its intellectual property assets, will be merged with that of Avensys’ partner, Avensys Laboratories Inc. and will be renamed ITF Laboratories to leverage the strength of the ITF brand in the photonics industry. ITF Laboratories will spearhead the development of ultra-reliable fiber-optic systems; optical sensors and instrumentation; and fiber laser components.

Stock sale

Spire Corporation (Bedford, MA) sold 941,176 shares of its stock at $8.50/share for gross proceeds of approximately $8 million, in a private placement to two accredited institutional investors. The net proceeds of the sale were approximately $7.7 million after deducting placement fees and other closing costs. Spire intends to use the proceeds to fund future development initiatives and for general corporate purposes.

Laser weapons

BAE Systems (Nashua, NH) was awarded a $96.1 million contract to provide laser-guided rockets as the prime contractor for the US Army’s Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) program. APKWS II is intended to provide a low-cost, lightweight guided weapon that is effective against soft and lightly armored targets and is well-suited to urban operations. The BAE system will be used on all Army and Navy aircraft currently operating the Hydra 70 rocket. BAE Systems uses a mid-body guidance approach that employs its distributed aperture semi-active laser seeker, also used in the Army’s Precision-Guided Mortar Munitions program.

European presence

CVI Technical Optics (Albuquerque, NM) has acquired Quality Laser Optics Ltd (QLO; Ballasalla, Isle of Man). According to CVI, the deal will increase CVI Technical Optics’ European manufacturing capacity by more than 25%, add new material processing capabilities such as phosphate disc polishing to the product mix, and provide improved flexibility to serve customers worldwide.

“We are combining two complementary companies to create a single trusted source for spherical lenses, cylindrical lenses, multi-element lenses, waveplates, polarizers, beamsplitters, filters, windows, large format optics, mounts, and opto-mechanical subassemblies,” said Helmut Kessler, general manager of CVI Technical Optics.

Nanopositioning patent

PI (Physik Instrumente; Auburn, MA), a manufacturer of nanopositioning and precision motion-control equipment for photonics, semiconductor and life science applications has received U.S. patent #6,950,050 for its development of an innovative means of increasing resolution in existing D/A converters without additional hardware. This technology, which will be marketed under the trade name HyperBit, is expected to enable PI to provide higher resolution piezo-driven nanopositioning devices at a lower cost.

According to the company, HyperBit is a fundamentally flexible technology that can benefit any application where the DAC update rate exceeds the responsiveness of the rest of the system. It works equally well in open- and closed-loop situations. In closed-loop systems it can exist upstream or downstream from the servo. HyperBit can also reduce higher-order granularity-driven artifacts. PI USA is seeking non-competitive licensees in a variety of markets, including test & measurement, liquid crystal elements, spatial/spectral modulators, spectroscopy, lithography, MEMS actuation, nanopatterning, and motion control.

Submit your news to Optoelectronics Report. Sales reports, market outlooks, and strategic moves are just a few of the items we would like you to share. Please fax information to Kathy Kincade at (603) 891-0475 or send e-mail to [email protected]

Medical merger

Laserscope (San Jose, CA) acquired InnovaQuartz (IQ; Phoenix, AZ), a privately held company founded in 1991. InnovaQuartz is a developer, manufacturer, and supplier of fiber optics, sterile fiber optic delivery devices, optical components and optical subassemblies. Laserscope acquired all of the capital stock of InnovaQuartz for approximately $7.5 million in cash, the assumption of approximately $1.1 million in debt and future cash payments contingent on the financial performance of IQ over approximately three years. The InnovaQuartz acquisition is expected to be accretive beginning in 2007. IQ will be managed and operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Laserscope for the foreseeable future.

“The addition of IQ’s newest fiber optic product line provides us an immediate entry with leading technology into another important urological market: the intracorporeal treatment of kidney, bladder, and other urinary stones that use holmium laser technology,” said Eric Reuter, president and CEO of Laserscope. “Entry into this large growth market is consistent with our strategy to become a complete player in the field of urology, and the treatment of stones is one of the highest volume urological surgical procedures in the U.S. outside of the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.”

Molding technologies

LightPath Technologies (Orlando, FL) was awarded a Small Business Innovative Research grant from the Naval Air Warfare Center to develop molding technologies for infrared optical components and thereby provide lower costs for both government and commercial applications. Lockheed Martin will provide technical support and guidance for this development. LightPath has more than 20 years of experience molding visible and near-infrared aspherical optics. This grant will provide initial funding that will expand LightPath’s existing technology and extend it into the mid- and long-wavelength infrared spectrum. The development program is also expected to enable larger infrared aspheric lenses and a broader market penetration.

Military contract

Officials of FLIR Systems (North Billerica, MA) are set to build High Performance Mobility (HPM) forward-looking, infrared systems. FLIR engineers are doing the work under terms of a $44.9 million U.S. Navy contract option awarded April 20. The HPM provides a thermal imaging and image intensification along with laser rangefinder/pointer/designator capability, and provides precise target location in geodetic coordinates and outputs the target position to external global positioning system devices. Work will be finished by September 2009. Awarding the contract was the Naval Surface Warfare Center (Crane, IN).

R&D needs

Members of the Optical Society of America (OSA) traveled to Washington, D.C. in late March to meet with Congressional representatives and emphasize the need for increased and balanced federal investment in research and development. The group focused on the fact that federally funded research is critical to securing the nation’s economic future. OSA members joined with nearly 300 scientists, engineers and business leaders who made visits on Capitol Hill as part of the eleventh annual “Congressional Visits Days,” an event sponsored by the Science-Engineering-Technology Work Group. Society member participants included Robert Breault, Peter Delfyett, F. J. Duarte, Alexandre Fong, Wayne Knox, Silvia Mioc, and Carolyn Russell.

While visiting Congressional offices these individuals discussed the importance of the nation’s broad portfolio of investments in science, engineering and technology and promoted its role in national security, prosperity and US leadership and innovation. Most importantly, they provided a constituent perspective on the local and national impact of these programs and their significance to optics and photonics. Specifically, members asked for increased investments at the Department of Defense, Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Science Foundation, as well as reiterating the need for continued funding of math and science education.

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