ficonTEC Service GmbH, of Achim/Germany, reaffirms its commitment to its North American customers from 2022 through expansion of the Sales & Service teams, and establishment of a new facility as a Soft Landing client within the Photonics Incubator housed in CREOL (The College of Optics and Photonics) at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The new facility also gains a dedicated Applications Lab that is designed to provide both process engineering support to customers, as well as assist in manufacturing-related photonics R&D together with the many renowned research groups located at CREOL, through collaborations with companies in the Florida Photonics Cluster, and with the broader US photonics industry.
Over the last 3 years, ficonTEC Service GmbH, of Achim/Germany has seen record order development across all regions for their automated photonic device assembly and test systems. At the same time, we are currently experiencing shifts in the way business activities can be pursued, how technology can be shared, as disruption in the supply chain, and as constraints as to how individuals are allowed to move. So, while system orders are growing, a challenging landscape of production and travel-related issues are hampering the timely installation at customer facilities.
According to ficonTEC CEO Torsten Vahrenkamp, “We realized fairly early in 2020 that we would need to meet this challenge globally. North America in particular is proving pivotal in leading greater adoption of integrated photonics for communications, data centers and 5G, for sensors and automotive lidar, and for consumer 3D sensing, so we needed a dedicated expansion of the regional Sales and Service operations. With recruitment already initiated for 2021 and training completed at ficonTEC HQ in Germany, we now have a growing team of field service and application development engineers ready to get the job done.”
Following negotiations with UCF initiated in 2020 and completed late summer 2021, the US team will operate with immediate effect out of a new facility located at CREOL, The College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida (UCF), where ficonTEC joins as a Soft Landing client within the CREOL Photonics Incubator. For Vahrenkamp, “I am absolutely thrilled – we could not have hoped for a better environment from which to re-launch our USA activities.”
The new location additionally gains its own regional ficonTEC Applications Lab. The new Apps Lab will be equipped early in 2022 to specifically suit the needs of integrated photonics assembly and test development in the expanding North American market.
According to David J. Hagan, Pegasus Professor and Dean at CREOL,” The benefits in partnering with ficonTEC became quickly clear. It brings a new dimension to CREOL’s established photonics R&D groups, to the Florida Photonics Cluster, and to the broader US photonics industry. Equally importantly, it will provide UCF students with an unmatched opportunity to learn the techniques of photonics integration. And by also providing regional support for process engineering for industry with the new Apps Lab, we anticipate many other new benefits and synergies, even funding opportunities. We are really keen to get started.”
While ficonTEC has previously sold a number of systems into university environments within the US & Canada (see, for example, AIM Photonics), there has, until now, been no combined resource of ficonTEC systems and engineers in a university setting. Together with research groups led by Peter Delfyett (ultrafast photonics communications), Sasan Fathpour (PICs, integrated photonics), Rodrigo Amezcua Correa (fiber optics), Stephen Eikenberry (astrophotonics), Axel Schulzgen (fiber lasers, fiber sensors), and others, the cooperation with CREOL thus represents a unique US-based academic/industrial alliance in the area of photonic device assembly & test.
Furthermore, the new center at CREOL complements a network of regional but nonetheless globally oriented joint research initiatives that ficonTEC both serves and supports – AIM Photonics in the US, PIXAPP together with the Tyndall Institute at University College Cork in Ireland, a JRC T3 PIC test initiative with the Photonic Devices Group at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy, as well as many other previous and current EU-funded collaborative projects. Other initiatives include ‚Design For X‘ (with X representing e.g. ‘manufacturing’ or ‘test’) to accelerate customers’ time to market of new products, and the implementation of AI and Machine Learning approaches to improve the performance of systems designed for volume manufacturing.
Stefano Concezzi will lead the new US operations center as CEO of the newly incorporated ficonTEC, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of ficonTEC Service GmbH. Soon Jang, having very successfully led the development of all ficonTEC US activities from 2007 until the present, will remain as a vital key account partner at least until 2026.