Features

01 November 2005

Michael Stevenson, director of marketing, Breault Research Organisation, says the optics industry has much to be proud of

As insiders, we understand the broad applications of optical technologies, the multi-disciplinary research approach that fosters innovation, and the industry intersections where new products in disparate fields are enabled by optical technologies. But if you think industry outsiders share this perspective with us, think again.

Ask a passerby to tell you what optical engineers do and you will invariably hear all about 'fibres and eyeglasses'. Ask a venture capitalist and you will either hear a screed on the meltdown of the telecommunications industry, or witness a sly grin form on the face of somebody who went short.

01 November 2005

Photonics pervades motor manufacturing, as Nick Morris discovers

Automotive engineers are always on the look-out for new production methods that will shorten the time taken to produce a vehicle, at both the design and manufacturing stages. New optical components, such as LEDs, are being used for applications ranging from headlights to lighting driver instrument readouts, such as speedometers and radios. Laser materials processing is cutting the time it takes to form and weld sheet metal used for coachwork.

01 October 2005

What next for the product once famously described as a solution in search of a problem? Warren Clark hears the views of leading industry figures

01 September 2005

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.

01 September 2005

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.

01 September 2005

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.

01 September 2005

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.'

01 September 2005

With the photonics market encompassing everything from the smallest component to the largest integrated laser system and beyond, tracking a product from manufacturer to end-user is often tricky, if not impossible. By Warren Clark

So, how do products reach you? Well, there are two main routes, but even they can be broken down into several variants according to the type of product and the sector of photonics. Principally, though, you will either buy your product direct from a manufacturer or via a distributor.

The direct route is often not that direct. It is rarely a case of picking a product off a shelf or calling the manufacturer direct and expecting the product to arrive next day. That does happen, of course, but the complex nature of the photonics industry means that unless you know exactly what you want - and that it is available as a standard product - you will find that the route to market involves a few more twists and turns.

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