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A bright future

The focus in photonics is on the production, ­control, measurement - and above all - the use of light in almost all ­socially and economically important areas. © Pixabay

Photonics – a key technology of the 21st century: Austrian innovations are in high demand at the world’s largest meeting of the photonics industry in San Francisco.

This year was already the second time that ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA was represented with an Austrian pavilion at the SPIE Photonics West (Feb. 16th - 18th in San Francisco/California), the world’s biggest meeting of the optics, photonics, and laser industry. A total of more than 20,000 industry visitors and 1,300 exhibitors participated in this event. Visitors appreciated the open architecture of the Austrian stand - which was financed by the Austrian Economic Chamber and the Austrian Ministry of Economics as part of the go-international export initiative - as a networking platform.
“The photonics industry is a very attractive field of activity for start-up companies because it drives innovation in a broad range of industries. This is why the fair’s organisers pay particular attention to the integration of start-ups. Austrian start-ups should use this “wild card” opportunity and present themselves and their innovations in front of a top expert audience at the next Spie Photonics West,” says Rudolf Thaler, the Austrian Trade Commissioner in Los Angeles.

Strong Austrian innovational presence
Many of the ten Austrian exhibitors at the Austrian pavilion are niche champions and their innovations were in high demand. Thaler: “These companies used the fair to launch their innovations, to analyse the market and competitors, for networking with potential partners, and to participate in the conference’s comprehensive program.”
n Bartenbach GmbH was looking to find which technologies could be interesting for light engineering in the future. The Tyrolean lighting specialist already collaborates with renowned American research institutions.
• Dr. Bohrer Lasertec GmbH is the world’s leading full-service partner for ultra high-speed laser engraving for the security and packaging printing industry as well as the automotive industry.
• JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungs GmbH presented research results according to the motto “Nano Goes Macro”, which in this case means the extensive application of nanotechnologies, for example for airplane surfaces and ships’ hulls. Further application areas are self-cleaning windows and plasters without adhesives.
• MONTFORT Laser GmbH introduced its customised laser systems.
• Photonic Optische Geräte GmbH & Co KG is a specialist for lighting technology for microscopy and endoscopy, and supplies several renowned microscope manufacturers.
• Wild GmbH is a specialised contract manufacturer for the optomechatronics sector.
• Photonics Austria presented the diversity of the photonics cluster at Austrian companies and research institutions.
• plasmo Industrietechnik GmbH is the world’s leader in process monitoring for laser welding. Its products measure the laser beam’s wavelength to deliver valuable information for industrial users.
• RIEGL Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, the world’s leading specialist for laser scanning systems, is looking for new products and manufacturers to complement its supply chain.
• Swarovski Optik KG presented customised solutions for the 3D laser scanning sector as well as industrial image processing and display projections.
• Trotec Produktions- und Vertriebs GmbH, the world’s market leader in the field of laser plotters, used the fair to network.
• In-Vision was at the Texas Instrument stand as one of the DLP-chip user solution partners and presented industrial projection solutions.

Photonic success stories “MADE IN AUSTRIA”
Austria can look back on a huge number of various success stories in the photonics sector, ranging from small start-up companies to large projects.

Laser ignition system for European space vehicles
Following successful bench testing, the Austrian CTR Carinthian Tech Research is working on a laser ignition system to be used in space, based on their HiPoLas® laser system.
Funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), the laser ignition system could be used in the Ariane 6 launch vehicle, which is currently being developed by the German-French company Airbus Safran Launchers. “For us, this is unique recognition of the research and development work we have been doing over the past few years. In close cooperation with our partners, we have adapted the HiPoLas® laser ignition system many times for various different piston engines for cars, to power turbines in planes and most recently for engines in satellites and launchers. The system has also successfully undergone extensive testing. We now intend to integrate the ignition system in a combustion chamber for cryogenic fuels and adapt it to the extreme demands required for its subsequent use in space,” says CTR project manager Gerhard Kroupa.

New laser display technology enabling glasses-free 3D outdoor displays
TriLite Technologies, an image display company, develops technologies for glasses-free 3D screens for outdoor digital signage, as well as fully miniaturised RGB laser modules for pico projectors.
“We are taking the next step in the evolution of large scale outdoor digital signage screens by ­enabling viewers to see the screen´s images in 3D without having to wear 3D glasses,” stated Ferdinand Saint Julien, CEO of TriLite.

Laserhybrid by Fronius
Fronius LaserHybrid, Fronius’ laser MIG method, combines the advantages of MIG and laser welding methods, which are used on an industrial scale, without the respective disadvantages of these methods.
LaserHybrid welding combines laser and MSG welding processes, creating a new technique that unites the advantages of both processes. This technique is called “LaserHybrid” and is characterised by its good gap bridging between MIG and MAG welding as well as incorporating the advantages of laser welding – such as high energy density, which results in high welding penetration depths and/or high joining speeds.
As soon as the laser beam hits the work piece’s surface, it heats the respective area to evaporation temperature. This results in a vapour capillary with the desired effect of deep and narrow weld penetration. The requirements for expensive laser energy of the LaserHybrid process is almost exclusively limited to this so-called deep welding effect, which also allows users to join thicker metal sheets. All further energy requirements are covered by the cost-efficient MSG process, which provides better gap bridging with its consumable electrode and therefore delivers better tolerance compatibility. Both partial processes focus their energy on the same process zone, which significantly increases welding depths and welding speeds in comparison to the respective individual processes. (BO)