Laser Industry Report

Sept. 1, 2005
In an effort to prevent a breach of the thermal protection system for future space shuttle launches, Discovery carries aboard a new exterior inspection system designed to detect imperfections less than a millimeter in size on the thermal tiles of the shuttle’s hull.

Fitel laser monitors shuttle Discovery

In an effort to prevent a breach of the thermal protection system for future space shuttle launches, Discovery carries aboard a new exterior inspection system designed to detect imperfections less than a millimeter in size on the thermal tiles of the shuttle’s hull. The three-dimensional (3-D) laser scanner system was developed by Neptec (Ottawa, ON, Canada) and is powered by a Fitel (Peachtree City, GA) pump laser that is manufactured by Furukawa Electric (Tokyo, Japan).

Unlike a standard video camera working in the visible range, the 1500‑nm wavelength of the Fitel laser is immune to the effects of changing lighting conditions-a critical advantage in orbit where the sun rises and sets many times each day. According to Isamu Oshima, product manager for Furukawa America (Clinton, NJ), the 1500-nm laser with a power output of 350 mW was selected for its ruggedized, radiation- and vibration-resistant packaging and its ability to deliver high output power with low power consumption.

SAES Getters strengthens portfolio

SAES Getters (Milan, Italy), the parent company of the SAES Getters Group, is acquiring a 30% shareholding in Scientific Materials Europe (Tortolì-Arbatax, Italy), a manufacturer of solid-state laser components, including undoped and doped Nd:YAG laser rods, slabs, and Q switches. The intent is to strengthen the SAES Getters Group’s penetration of the solid-state laser material market.

SAES Getters entered the advanced-material market last year with the launch of crystal substrates for optoelectronic-device and solid-state-laser applications.

The Italian companies plan to focus on two main product-development stages, the first being the extension of the YAG product portfolio currently offered by SAES, and the second to consolidate the production capability for lithium tantalate to target cutting-edge laser applications.

Though slowing, HB-LED market still healthy

According to market research firm Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA) in its recently released report, High-Brightness LED Market Review and Forecast-2005, the mobile-appliance segment accounted for 57% of the high-brightness (HB) light-emitting-diode (LED) market in 2004. From 1995 onward, the market for HB LEDs grew at an average annual rate of 46%, reaching $3.7 billion in 2004.

But, as the mobile-appliance application begins to saturate, the HB-LED market is entering a slower period of growth; for the next five years, growth rates are expected to be in the range of 10% to 15% per year, rather than the 40% to 50% that the industry has come to expect. Even with these lower growth rates, however, the HB-LED market is still expected to reach $6.8 billion in 2009-nearly twice the level of 2004-with growth driven by emerging applications such as illumination, automotive headlamps, and backlights for LCD monitors and TV screens.

Laserdyne reaps multiple system sales

Prima North America announced that its Laserdyne Systems Division (Champlin, MN), a manufacturer of multi-axis laser machining systems, has received a multiple system order exceeding $2.3 million from one of North America’s leading turbine engine builders. The systems will be equipped with the P50L laser provided by another PRIMA division, Convergent Lasers (Chicopee, MA).

“These sales represent several milestones in our business development,” said Paolo Cigna, president of Prima. “The order is for multiple Laserdyne 790 systems in a cell setting with robotic loading. The order also includes capabilities developed at Laserdyne Systems for ‘drilling at focus’ with the P50L laser. Our customers will no longer need to rely on highly trained operators to produce consistent results.”

Gail Overton

For more business news, subscribe to Optoelectronics Report. Contact Jayne Sears-Renfer at [email protected].

Also in the news . . .

Quintessence Photonics (Sylmar, CA) won a multiyear production contract for high-brightness semiconductor lasers for a major medical-laser manufacturer. . . . Obzerv Technologies (Quebec, Canada), a manufacturer of laser range-gated night-vision surveillance systems, was awarded a contract to deliver such a system to the French Army Parisian Expertise Centre. . . . Aculight (Bothell, WA) was awarded a $1.08 million contract from Lockheed Martin to develop a solid-state laser as an infrared light source for the laser radar seeker in the Loitering Attack Missile (LAM). . . . IMRA America signed a license agreement with the University of Michigan (both in Ann Arbor, MI) allowing IMRA to extend freedom to use patented processes to system integrators and end-users that purchase IMRA laser products as part of a femtosecond laser-based micromachining station or setup. . . . NP Photonics (Tucson, AZ), a supplier of fiber lasers for optical-sensing applications, closed a Series A2 funding round totaling $5 million.

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