LightPath Targeting IR Market
ORLANDO, Fla., April 6, 2012— Optics maker LightPath Technologies Inc. said it will focus on products for the infrared market under its new growth strategy.
Under the plan announced Tuesday, LightPath will concentrate on low-cost molded infrared optics for thermal imaging, security and surveillance, automotive, sensing and defense applications; laser optics for high-volume, growing industrial applications such as laser tools for construction, medical instruments and telecommunications systems; and optical assemblies for laser light collection and management through fiber optics for industrial and laser instrumentation.
"Applications of infrared and thermal imaging technology have grown dramatically over the last ten years into various markets including industrial inspection, automotive safety, chemical and biological sensing, and security and surveillance," LightPath CEO Jim Gaynor said.
One reason LightPath is targeting the IR market is that research indicates US defense spending on unmanned systems equipped with infrared sensors will reach $3.6 billion by 2013, the company said. Also, the market for biological and chemical sensors is expected to be worth $13 billion in 2013 and grow to $21 billion by 2016, LightPath said, adding that the growth of this market will generate significant demand for infrared optics such as those used in mid- and long-wave IR lasers.
The company said its new strategy will also benefit from the market for automotive safety and awareness equipment employing infrared technology such as night-vision systems, blind-spot detection and lane departure warnings. That market is expected to reach $3.3 billion in 2012, LightPath said.
"Cost is now a major barrier to further expansion into mission-critical defense and high-volume commercial applications. LightPath has a process that when completely developed will reduce optics cost by 35-40 percent or more. This should have a significant impact on the market and our business," Gaynor said.
"In addition to the outlook for emerging applications like infrared, which is now close to a $5 billion market, our strategy is supported by significant opportunities that are already making their way through our new product development pipeline for specific customer applications," said Dr. Brian Soller, Lightpath vice president of corporate development. "These include optics for revolutionary new medical devices, state-of-the-art industrial laser rangefinders and fiber optic laser transmitters that support new wireless standards like 4 G."
LightPath relied heavily on the telecommunications capital equipment market from 1998 to 2002. After that market fell, in 2003, the company consolidated its headquarters and production in Orlando to reduce costs. In late 2005, it formed LightPath Optical Instrumentation in Shanghai, and its 16,000-sq-ft manufacturing operations there allowed the company to increase its production capacity and compete for larger contracts for optical components and assemblies.
Between 2006 and 2008, LightPath restructured manufacturing operations to reduce costs, moving most of its manufacturing to Shanghai, converting its tooling to a less expensive ceramic system, and introducing lower-cost glass materials, among other cost-reduction moves.
For the first half of fiscal 2012, the company posted a loss of $542,000, compared with a loss of $1.23 million for the same period in fiscal 2011.
For more information, visit: www.lightpath.com