Optics Industry Report

Jenoptik acquires Wahl Optoparts; Taiwanese lens firm tops $12 million in 2003; Goodrich supplies optical assemblies for SOAR telescope; MORE...

Jenoptik acquires Wahl Optoparts

The Jenoptik technology group (Jena, Germany) has boosted the optics line of its photonics business division through the acquisition of all shares in Wahl Optoparts (Triptis, Germany). Wahl Optoparts specializes in the development, production, and distribution of custom-made optical components, as well as plastic optomechanical and optoelectronic component assemblies.

According to Jenoptik, the use of plastic optics in optical equipment and systems will figure prominently in the future of optical technologies because of the cost-efficient production made possible by plastic optics. In addition, these materials are lighter than glass optics and thus more attractive for use in systems and varieties of equipment that cannot exceed a certain weight, such as mobile phones and digital cameras, as well as industrial, medical, automotive, and lighting applications.

Wahl Optoparts manufactures its lenses, prisms, microlenses, and microstructured optical components through the use of injection molding. The company's customers include Roche Diagnostics, Sanmina-SCI, Logitech, and Bosch. Founded in 1956, the company merged with the plastic optics unit of the former East German company Carl Zeiss Jena in 1991 and currently employs more than 170 people, with _9.5 million (US$25 million) in sales in 2002.

Taiwanese lens firm tops $12 million in 2003

Kinko Optical, the third-largest manufacturer of optical lenses in Taiwan, estimated net profits of NT$430 million (US$12.7 million) in 2003. Kinko and its subsidiaries brought in consolidated revenues of NT$2.05 billion last year (US$60 million), company president Chen Ching-chi said. Chen predicted that revenues will reach NT$2.65 billion (US$78.5 million) in 2004. The company aims to become the world's largest lens maker by 2006 by increasing its monthly production capacity from 8.7 million lenses to 20 million lenses over the next two years. Kinko has also extended production from lenses to lens modules used in mobile phone cameras and digital still cameras, with volume production to begin soon. The annual capacity will be expanded to three million lens modules this year, Chen pointed out.

Goodrich supplies optical assemblies for SOAR telescope

Goodrich (Charlotte, NC) has delivered the optical assemblies for the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope to an 8800-ft mountain in the Chilean Andes. The effort is funded by a partnership between the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), Brazil, Michigan State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The telescope will provide astronomers with high-quality imaging of space-based objects and imaging spectroscopy—the mapping of specific materials by detection of their chemical composition. The telescope will be operated by the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, a division of NOAO.

Goodrich's Danbury, CT–based Optical and Space Systems division was responsible for the design and fabrication of the telescope's Active Optical System, which consists of three mirror assemblies: a 14-ft primary mirror and smaller secondary and tertiary mirrors. Goodrich's delivery of the system culminates four years of design and optical fabrication efforts in Danbury.

Rockwell to provide arrays for NIRCam

Under an award from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Arizona has selected Rockwell Scientific Company (Thousand Oaks, CA) to provide the IR focal-plane arrays for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam). JWST, a part of NASA's Origins Program, will detect the first light-emitting objects from the universe after the "Big Bang." The NIRCam design is optimized to find these "First Light" sources, but it also includes features that will make it a wonderful tool to study star formation in the Milky Way Galaxy and to discover and characterize planets around other stars.

Also in the news . . .

Glass Brokers (Pittston, PA) and Schott Glass Technologies (Duryea, PA), a division of Schott North America, signed a distributorship agreement giving exclusive rights to distribute Schott's optic crystal for artistic and decorative purposes within the territory covered by the North America Free Trade Agreement, which includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Glass Brokers will concentrate on the distribution of raw glasses in strip, gob, rolled sheet, bar, and rod forms. . . . eMagin (Hopewell Junction, NY) and Leadtek Research (Chung Ho City, Taiwan) have introduced the first SVGA-resolution video headset based on organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). The X-eye combines eMagin's OLED microdisplays with Leadtek's optics to create 3-D stereovision, high-resolution-imaging head-mounted displays for PCs and video.

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