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National Photonics Manufacturing Pilot Line

Tyndall National Institute and ficonTEC Service, along with other industry partners including Eblana Photonics, Faz Technology, mBryonics and Sanmina, have come together to build the National Photonics Manufacturing Pilot Line, an integrated photonics manufacturing ecosystem located within a single state-of-the-art facility and designed to advance disruptive photonic technologies from concept to commercialisation.

Peter O’Brien, Head of Photonics Packaging, Tyndall and Director of PIXAPP, Torsten Vahrenkamp, CEO of ficonTEC, Ignazio Piacentini, Director of Business Development at ficonTEC and Patrick Morrissey, Head of Photonics Operations and IPIC Centre Manager, all at Photonics West 2019 in San Francisco, CA/USA.

The National Photonics Manufacturing Pilot Line, located in Tyndall, with an initial investment of €6m and a team of 15, will engage with sectors such as MedTech, Life Sciences and Communications. Tyndall is already the location of the PIXAPP Pilot Line Gateway and the Irish Photonics Integration Centre, which collectively represents over 160 photonics researchers and provides access to leading-edge technology, highly-skilled trainees and valuable infrastructure.

An additional goal of the National Pilot Line will be to train the future photonics workforce in advanced manufacturing processes, with particular focus on MedTech. Ireland is home to one of the world’s leading clusters for medical device development and production, and with 29,000 employees and €12.6bn in exports.

Instrumental in this goal is the creation of a dedicated ficonTEC Service team at Tyndall, thus providing the necessary production system support and testing facilities, and the associated establishment of a unique facility to develop advanced photonics manufacturing equipment for emerging markets. For Torsten Vahrenkamp, CEO at ficonTEC, “I am really pleased that we can place a team together with systems from our new in-line-optimised production platform at Tyndall to both serve Ireland’s integrated photonics industry, and to further deepen our already extensive ties with this outstanding organisation. Through this additional collaboration we hope to gain significant insights into the integrated photonic assembly and testing needs of this flourishing industry, both within Ireland and for Europe as a whole.”

Together with the other commercial partners, this collaboration represents a unique partnership between world-class researchers, leading industrial equipment providers, manufacturing experts and product designers, and will ensure a sustainable integrated photonics manufacturing capability within Ireland and across Europe. Access to the Pilot Line is open to any and all companies around the globe looking to quickly realise future integrated photonics devices within a dedicated and experienced ecosystem.

The National Pilot Line will be led by Prof. Peter O’Brien, Head of the Photonics Packaging Group: ‘The pilot line will enable the transfer of disruptive packaging technologies under development in our research laboratories to high-volume production. The presence of ficonTEC on-site at Tyndall will enable us to develop new wafer-scale automated manufacturing processes, which are essential for emerging high-volume markets. Our focus on emerging applications, such as healthcare, complement developments in PIXAPP (the European pilot line) and will help ensure that we establish a sustainable manufacturing ecosystem in Europe. This will also benefit the Irish economy, as we specifically plan to increase the use of photonics in medical devices through engagements with the leading medical device companies based in Ireland.’

Funding is being provided by the Irish Government through its Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund (a €500m fund established under Project Ireland 2040), and is run by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland.


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