optics industry report

II-VI uses state funds to expand

II-VI uses state funds to expand

According to news reports, optics fabricator II-VI (Saxonburg, PA) is constructing what could be a $15‑million building to house its expanding operations. The firm recently received $1.5 million in financing from Pennsylvania, $250,000 of which will help defray the cost of the construction. Part of the money, $350,000, will go toward training for 450 existing and 134 future employees who will be hired over the next three years. The firm will also receive up to $400,000 in state income tax credits for creating the new jobs. The final portion of the state funding is a $500,000 loan, at 2.75 percent interest, to purchase machinery and equipment.

The company has been hiring about 10 employees a month in 2004 and plans to add another 50 by the end of the year. To accommodate the new hires, the company erected ­several temporary office trailers. However, II-VI is also in the process of adding a 60,000-sq-ft building to its existing 176,000-sq-ft facility. The company’s primary activity at the Saxonburg plant is manufacturing optic lenses for infrared lasers used in industrial applications such as cutting and welding automobile engine parts and in military aircraft and tank guidance systems and infrared night-vision gear. Infrared lasers ­represent the largest business line at II-VI, accounting for $90 million in ­revenue out of a total $151 million in fiscal 2004 (ended June 30). Other II-VI offices make lower-powered laser lenses used in marking items like beverage containers with date and product codes.

3M Precision Optics licenses technology for displays

Prodisc Technology (Taiwan) will license several patents from 3M Precision Optics (Cincinnati, OH) to enhance microdisplay-based projection engines. The company has licensed 3M proprietary technology that unifies light from a point source and enhances the ability to create a uniform picture in light engines, such as Texas Instruments’ digital light-processing technology and ­liquid-crystal-on-silicon technology.

Maskless lithography systems enhances bio-nano research

An SF-100 maskless photolithography system from Intelligent Micro Patterning (St. Petersburg, FL) has been installed at Arizona State University’s Center for BioOptical Nano­technology in the Biodesign Institute. The SF-100 is a maskless photo­lithography system that utilizes patented Smart Filter technology, licensed by Intelligent Micro Patterning from the University of South Florida.

Smart Filter technology incorporates proprietary micro-optical techniques to rapidly project master images directly onto diverse substrate materials, such as quartz, ceramics, and plastics, without the use of photomasks. The main application for this system is the fabrication of DNA, proteins, and other heteropolymers for the construction of combinatorial libraries to be used in molecular evolution procedures.

APA Optics changes its name

The shareholders of APA Optics (Minneapolis, MN) approved changing the company’s name to APA Enterprises at the company’s annual meeting in August. According to Anil Jain, president and CEO, the new name and logo are “consistent with the significant changes in APA’s assets and business activities over the last several years and will also accommodate any potential future changes.”

Among the key factors promoting this change was the establishment of APA Cables & Networks (a subsidiary of APA Optics), which purchased the assets of two companies, Computer System Products and Americable, during fiscal years 2003 and 2004, respectively. In addition, APA is ceasing its optics manufacturing activities during FY2004.

The company will continue to report its future financial and other activities in its current segments, APA Cable & Networks and its Optronics Division (gallium nitride R&D and products and other activities in Blaine and Aberdeen). There will be no change in the company’s stock trading symbol.

Also in the news . . .

Spectrum Thin Films (Bohemia, NY) signed Blue Hill Optical Technologies (Canton, MA) as its sales agent for the Northeast Region of North America and to serve application-specific customers in other regions. According to Tony Pirera, president, Spectrum is implementing a program to strengthen its product and service offerings, with particular attention to thin film coating technologies, turnkey optic production, increased capacity, shorter lead times, high-performance inspection instruments, and to the strength of its sales force.

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