Optics Industry Report

Oct. 1, 2002
Newport downscales photonics effort; Another optical incubator in Wales; MORE...

Newport downscales photonics effort

In an effort to maintain revenues and position itself to be one of the survivors when the telecom business returns next year Newport (Irvine, CA) is scaling its photonics business down to refocus its resources on other, more profitable markets. Newport plans to shut down at least one manufacturing facility, lay off up to 275 employees, discontinue up to six product lines in its fiberoptics business, and reorganize the Fiber Optics and Photonics Division into the Advanced Packaging and Automation Systems Division. Newport expects all of these actions combined to result in annualized savings of $12 million to $14 million. In total, the cost-cutting measures and reorganization are expected to result in one-time charges in the third quarter of 2002 between $30 million and $40 million.

Another optical incubator in Wales

The Welsh Development Authority is completing construction of another incubation center for high-technology companies modeled on its successful Technium facility in Swansea. The new 7,700-sq-ft OpTIC center in Asaph, North Wales, England, will house up to 24 optoelectronic companies. OpTIC is part of the Technium network of facilities that will bring together sector-specific expertise in business and academia across Wales. OpTIC will cost $21 million and will open early in 2003.

Leica laser radar heads for naval research

The Metrology Division of Leica Geosystems (Norcross, GA) announced that its LR200 Laser Radar has been purchased by MAGLEV (MLI; Monroeville, PA) for the use in the U.S. Office of Naval Research Project entitled "Precision Fabrication of Large Steel Structural Curved Plate Beam Components for Shipbuilding and Other Industries." This collaborative endeavor between MAGLEV and ONR provides the research and testing groundwork to perform weld distortion analysis for the manufacture of highly accurate large curved beams. The LR200 laser radar, the first noncontact measurement device to combine radar, laser and three-dimensional software technologies, will be used to monitor dynamic material surface conditions during and after the weld process.

SPIE maintains meeting attendance

Despite the weakened economy, attendance at the 2002 SPIE annual meeting in Seattle, WA, last summer compared favorably with previous conferences held away from the biannual San Diego venue and with a slightly downsized technical program, according to conference organizers. The Seattle meeting offered only 63 technical conferences, compared with 81 offered during the 2001 annual meeting. But the initial tally for 2002 indicated more than 4000 attendees. More than 2800 were technical, almost 500 were exhibit walk-ins and more than 700 were technical exhibit reps. The 2002 numbers actually showed a slight improvement over the just under 4000 attendees at the 1999 Denver meeting when the telecom bubble was still in bloom.

IMT joins L-3 in defense-related projects

MEMS manufacturer Innovative Micro Technology (IMT; Santa Barbara, CA) has secured a $5 million equity investment from L-3 Communications (L-3; New York City, NY), a leading defense company. The two firms will collaborate on defense-related projects involving microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), including but not limited to weapons guidance systems and communications technologies. IMT will partner with L-3 in a variety of areas but remain diversified with ongoing projects in microfluidics, communications, microwave, biomedical, biotechnology, and other applications.

MetroPhotonics completes new InP fab

MetroPhotonics (Ottawa, Canada) has completed its indium phosphide fabrication facility to produce monolithically integrated optical components. The new clean-room facilities are 10,000 sq ft at Class 100/1000/10,000. Bedwyr Humphreys, director of device fabrication at MetroPhotonics said, "We are presently set up for 3-in. production, but have the capability to easily convert to 4 in. when our business plan requires it. In fact, all tools are capable of conversion to 6 in., so with the fast pace of development in InP substrates and EPI growth techniques our facilities are also future proofed."

Also in the news . . .

Breault Research Organization (Tucson, AZ) is commemorating the 20th birthday of its ASAP software by raffling off a complete set of ASAP worth over $30,000 and by launching a special "Ask Al" web-based question and answer exchange that pays tribute to Al Greynolds, the author of ASAP and now chief technical officer at Breault. The home page for both the ASAP Raffle and the "Ask Al" column is www.breault.com/html/soft_asap20years.html. . . . Intense Photonics (High Blantyre, Scotland) has closed a £10.5 million ($16 million) series B funding round. Intense Photonics will use the funds to accelerate the development of its product range and strengthen its marketing effort.

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