Laser Industry Report

Jul 1st, 2002

by Hassaun A. Jones-Bey and Kathy Kincade

Novalux broadens its market focus for 980-nm products
Responding to the downturn in the telecom market, Novalux (Sunnyvale, CA) has spent the last several months refocusing its product-development efforts on other markets. The company is looking to leverage the technology expertise it developed in the telecom market with a portfolio of 980-nm and intracavity frequency-doubled lasers for applications outside of telecommunications. "Our primary product had been the 980-nm laser for telecom erbium-doped fiber amplifiers, but current market conditions do not provide a favorable unit-volume sales forecast," said Jeffrey Cannon, who joined Novalux as senior vice president in April.


Lambda Physik expects 'bearish' lithography-equipment market
Lambda Physik (Göttingen, Germany) has received a US$3.7 million order from an undisclosed source for its ultrashort-wavelength 157-nm lasers that bucks the trend of the weak lithography market conditions seen for the past year. While industrial applications for excimer lasers continue to grow as a result of positive developments in the flat-panel display business, market research has led Lambda to expect a downward trend for lithography equipment for all of 2002 and into 2003. The company believes that lithography systems based on 157-nm lasers will not become production tools before 2004 or 2005.


Lumenis is subject of SEC investigation
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a formal investigation of Lumenis (Yokneam, Israel), a leading developer and manufacturer of medical-laser products worldwide. The SEC is looking into the company's relationships with distributors and had already contacted Lumenis in February seeking further explanation of charges and write-downs for the period beginning in January 1998. In addition to the SEC investigation, at least a dozen lawsuits have been filed against Lumenis since February, all alleging violation of securities laws and some seeking class-action status. Lumenis reported losses of $643,000 on revenues of $86.1 million for the first quarter of 2002 (ended March 31), compared to net income of $4.2 million on revenues of $43.9 million for the same period in 2001.


Cymer and LTB Lasertechnik develop deep-UV spectrometer
Cymer (San Diego, CA) and LTB Lasertechnik (Berlin, Germany) have entered an agreement to jointly develop a spectrometer for measuring the spectral performance of deep-ultraviolet light sources. Under the terms of the agreement, LTB will design, manufacture, and distribute a next-generation version of its emission line-analyzing spectrometer and provide field service for this product. Cymer will provide intellectual property and standardize the interpretation of measurement data to enhance the spectrometer's performance. Cymer will also have exclusive marketing and sales rights in the semiconductor lithography market.


Lexel closes doors, reportedly files Chapter 11
Lexel Laser (Fremont, CA), founded 30 years ago by two former Coherent employees, has closed its doors and reportedly filed Chapter 11. The company had long been known for its argon-ion, dye, and Ti:sapphire lasers for scientific, industrial, and medical applications, but reportedly had suffered from ongoing management problems and was finally forced to close its doors. According to former Lexel employees, local authorities showed up at the company's Fremont headquarters in late April, told everyone to leave the premises, and changed the locks. The employees were given no notice that the company was in trouble; Lexel CEO C. T. Liu has been unreachable ever since. Repeated calls to the company's main phone number were met with a busy signal, and their web site, www.lexellaser.com, is out of service.


U.S. and German firms form production alliance
National Laser Company (Salt Lake City, UT) and LASOS Lasertechnik (Jena, Germany) have signed a strategic alliance agreement to combine their resources in the development, production, marketing, and servicing of ion, helium-neon, and solid-state lasers. National Laser will focus on selling both companies' laser products in the North and South American markets, and LASOS will market both companies' laser products in the European market.

Also in the news . . .
Laser manufacturer Trumpf (Ditzingen, Germany) and SiberHegner (Lachen, Switzerland), a marketing and services group, are launching a joint venture to expand their presence in the Chinese market. Trumpf SiberHegner will officially open its doors this month and will manage distribution and after-sales service for Trumpf products in China. . . . Spectra-Physics (Mountain View, CA), a Thermo Electron business, has announced the promotion of Steve Sheng to the position of president. . . . Rockwell Laser Industries (Cincinnati, OH) has been granted the "Approved Course Provider" status by the Board of Laser Safety.

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