Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers' trade show, held July 21-23 in San Diego.
BFGoodrich reports increased Zeonex use
Digital applications and biomedical uses are driving increases in domestic consumption of the amorphous polyolefin Zeonex for high-performance optics, Joseph McDaniel said.
The 1997 commercial entry of competitor Hoechst AG's Topas into the market made more users aware of the advantages of this class of cyclic olefin copolymers.
Hoechst's Ticona technical polymers business unit said July 28 it will build a plant in Oberhausen, Germany, by mid-2000 to manufacture production quantities of Topas.
``The number of evaluations, the kinds of evaluations and the commitment to commercial programs have increased dramatically in the last 18 months,'' McDaniel said.
Nippon Zeon Co. Ltd. manufactures Zeonex resins in Mizushima, Japan. McDaniel is manager of Zeonex sales and distribution in Brecksville, Ohio, with BFGoodrich Co.'s Specialty Chemicals unit, which handles those two functions in the United States.
Disposability demand drives plastic optics
Continued growth in the specialized market for disposable research instruments may create a new niche for plastic optics in five to 10 years, according to a manufacturer of spectroradiometers.
End markets include petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, particularly in areas with a high level of contamination and an inability to recycle instrumentation, said Luc Rochette of Quebec-based Bomem Inc. Rochette is product manager for research instrumentation for remote sensing applications.
Typically, an instrument costs $20,000-$25,000. The transition to plastic optics from glass may occur once production volumes exceed 2,000 units a year, he said.
WaveLength Optics buys Sierra Machine
Security systems provider WaveLength Optics Inc. of Sacramento, Calif., has purchased the injection molding and toolmaking business of one of its principal former suppliers.
WaveLength bought Sierra Machine of Stateline, Nev., from Ken Mellberg, who joined WaveLength as a board member and vice president in charge of manufacturing operations. The transaction closed June 1.
The shop in Nevada employs two, operates an 80-ton Arburg press and occupies 1,700 square feet. A new, 85-ton Sumitomo press is to begin operating this month.
WaveLength President Fernando Erismann formed the company in October 1996. WaveLength designs and manufactures lenses and lens arrays to detect motion, and diffractive optical elements to reduce the number of lenses in a conventional image system.
The firm also makes light pipes and imaging systems. End markets include security, illumination and lighting controls.
WaveLength has designed and is producing a new lens system for fingerprint-identification devices.
``The plastics lens and housing in three pieces [are] replacing an aluminum and glass assembly that was three times as costly as what we provided'' to the initial customer, Erismann said.
WaveLength products use mostly acrylic and high density polyethylene. In addition to the Nevada operation, WaveLength employs nine in a Sacramento office.
ZC&R coating method keeps optical quality
ZC&R Coatings for Optics Inc. is using a new ion-assisted-deposition technology to apply low-temperature thin-film coatings to sensitive polymer substrates for optical measuring instrumentation.
``All kinds of optical systems [are] transitioning to plastic elements and defractive optics'' for low-volume systems, said Michael Fulton, ZC&R research engineer.
Fulton said he has found ways to drive the temperature of depositions down to less than 220§ F and to maintain optical quality in the same way as glass at higher temperatures.
Carson, Calif.-based ZC&R processed the first production lots in May.