The expansion of the EU last year made dealing with many Eastern European countries even easier - and photonics is an industry taking full advantage, according to Tim Gillett
Photonics in Eastern Europe has been a growth industry in recent years - not least since a succession of countries joined the European Union in 2004.
While several photonics companies in the region have been in existence for decades - the Czech Republic's Crytur, for example, was formed some 60 years ago - many report that international business has picked up strongly since their home countries joined the EU. The year 2004 saw the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia join the European Union.
The worldwide optoelectronics marketplace offers industry players a number of viable approaches for generating and sustaining attractive, profitable growth. Technology differentiation is generally a critical element in all of these approaches. The various approaches, however, seek to achieve technology differentiation in fundamentally different ways. Experience shows that all of the approaches can be successful, given the right conditions and sound technology and market strategies. Introduction of fundamentally new, breakthrough technologies is one particular innovation path, and is often the primary focus of corporate strategic plans. This approach aims to generate significant differentiation, and is typically associated with substantial, multi-year R&D and manufacturing investments.
A high-profile use of lasers in modern life is that of printing and graphics, as Peter Rees discovers
In printing, lasers are everywhere from the home to the largest industrial presses. It is a technically diverse sector with lasers of several types finding favour with equipment manufacturers and users. Perhaps this isn't surprising, given the different types of printing in use - lithography, flexography, gravure - and the fragmented nature of the industry.
There are tens of thousands of commercial printing companies worldwide - the US alone has around 35,000 firms - and most are small or medium-sized. The result is that change - at least across the whole industry - comes slowly. Paradoxically perhaps, printing technology is changing rapidly as it becomes increasingly computerised and automated. Fully digital presses - see panel - cannot yet match the overall product quality of traditional offset printing, in which ink is spread on a metal plate holding an image, transferred first to a rubber blanket and then to paper.
When Ophir Optronics was formed in 1976 its founders forecast a turnover of US$30 million in 25 years. Their strategic vision has been realised, with further steady growth predicted for the future, writes Tim Gillett
Despite having blue-chip clients including the US military and Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Ophir Optronics' managing director Yoram Shalev says its greatest strength lies in its human resources. He tells Electro Optics: 'From the outset, we have always been a people company. Despite the fact that we are involved in state-of-the-art processes, we retain old-fashioned values when it comes to our staff - treat them well and keep them happy, as they represent the future success of the company.'