Strategically Blogging

Lasers in Medical Imaging: The Forecast Looks Very Bright

Allen Nogee 07/11/2014

Almost all medical imaging to date has used one of three technologies: X-rays, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound. X-rays alone have been used for almost 120 years now, and although today’s imaging technology has improved vastly over the many years, the fact remains that x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetism are all technologies that, due to many factors, produce coarse images, at least by today’s standards. But what if a very coherent light source was used instead, maybe a laser?

Actually, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), which produces images based on the reflections of coherent light, is not a new technology. OCT has been used since the early 1990s, especially in the area of ophthalmology, where the images produced by OCT are 100 times finer than standard images produced by ultrasound. In just the last five years, OCT has become one of the most important retinal imaging techniques used today.

The Impact of the Epistar Acquisition on the LED Industry

Martin Shih 07/09/2014

Epistar (2448.TW) announced a plan to fully acquire Forepi (3061.TW), the second-largest chipmaker in Taiwan, through a share swap (1:3.448), implying 18% share dilution to Epistar. The effective date will be the end of 2014, and Forepi will be delisted from the TAIEX.

After the merger, Epistar will become the world’s largest LED chip maker in terms of capacity with a global market share of 15%, which will better position the company to lead in future technology development.

EPA's New Emissions Cutting Plan Could Have an Effect on LED Lighting

Philip Smallwood 06/30/2014

On June 2nd, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. The EPA will finalize the proposal in mid-2015 and then give states a year to design their own plans to meet targets. The organization will let states meet emission targets for power plants in several ways, including through plant upgrades, by switching from coal to natural gas, by improving energy efficiency, or by promoting renewable energy outside the plant site. This approach will give states greater flexibility in designing plans to meet the EPA’s targets.

Where's the Glare?

Shonika Vijay 06/13/2014

LIGHTFAIR, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference, took place in Las Vegas last week. I wanted to share my thoughts on what I saw that was of the most interest. The 3 main things I saw were: a lot of LED luminaires, more use of optics in products, and lighting controls being present in nearly every booth. To read up more on controls, please see our blogs: Let's Talk Controls and Lightfair International Gets Smart. I will focus on what I saw in terms of optics and LED luminaires.

Lightfair International Gets Smart

Stephanie Pruitt 06/10/2014

At Lightfair International 2013, it seemed only a handful of companies had a booth with a smart lighting solution - Philips, TCP, and Samsung were among the more recognizable ones that I noticed. Fast forward one year and it seems that smart lighting could be found at almost every booth; even the non-name brand booths seemed to have some sort of solution. Whether this was wireless controls to dim lights or change color through your smart phone - or even gesture control...

IPG makes moves

By Tom Hausken
IPG seemed to make a vertical move into machine tools this week, with its announcement that it acquired Cosytronic . Well, it turns out that it’s not exactly a vertical move. In fact, it’s a pretty narrow acquisition, but an interesting one. Where does this put IPG on the longer term roadmap?

IPG has done well so far in kilowatt lasers, selling mainly to systems integrators for metal welding. But the huge majority of welders use good old-fashioned electrical welders, not laser welders.

IPG aims to change that. Cosytronic has 20-some years of experience in resistance welding, from the “Welding Valley” in Germany. It has a tool that can make seam welds with a laser head that swaps with the head of a resistance spot welder. The aim here isn’t to take on resistance spot welders. The aim is to increase the pie for laser welding. For IPG, it’s about the application, not making systems per se.

I should mention that IPG's main competitor, TRUMPF, aims to do the same thing, of course. But TRUMPF has a machine tool business and lots of internal expertise. IPG is working on that.

It’s a very different story in sheet metal cutting, by the way. That is the grand prize in materials processing. But, several big tool vendors make their own CO2 resonators for their tools, or have loyal relationships with independent suppliers of resonators, mainly Rofin and Fanuc. It’s hard for a new player to break in with a new type of laser. Nonetheless, IPG is making progress there too. IPG plans to continue to work with the systems integrators to gain share in that segment, rather that to make a vertical move.

This is IPG's 2nd acquisition in 2010, by the way. It acquired little-known Photonics Innovations, of Alabama, in January. That acquisition is also narrowly strategic, aiming at materials and the mid-IR range.

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