The founders of Raylase have received the EPIC Phoenix Award 2016, which recognises entrepreneurship in photonics. The award was presented on 21 April during the European Photonics Industry Consortium’s (EPIC) AGM in Zurich, Switzerland.
Raylase, with headquarters in Weßling, Germany, produces components, sub-modules and software to deflect, modulate and control laser beams. The equipment is used in laser systems for applications such as marking, drilling, cutting, engraving and welding.
Peter von Jan, CEO; Thomas Baab, head of production; and Erwin Wagner, VP new technologies received the award from Kurt Weingarten, general manager of Lumentum in Switzerland, and member of the board of directors of EPIC.
‘We are really proud to receive this EPIC Phoenix award. For us, it is an honour and recognition to be elected by such a remarkable group of European entrepreneurs in photonics. From the very beginning, we believed in the importance of photonics. We worked hard and focused to overcome all the obstacles and achieve our goals. We will continue with our efforts to grow and remain a very successful and important member of EPIC,’ said von Jan.
Raylase was founded in 1999 as Scanpro Technology by five former employees of General Scanning Inc. At that time, the new company managed by von Jan got a lot of encouragement from European companies, which wanted to buy scan heads to deflect and control laser beams.
The founding team was very enthusiastic but short on capital. Fortunately, it was possible to collect first orders from important customers based on preliminary drawings and product specifications. Based on these orders, they were then able to convince private and venture capital investors to do a first financing round. They generated sufficient money to rent offices in Krailling, near Munich, hire employees and slowly start with R&D and production. They developed XY-scan heads, three-axis systems with pre-focusing optics, control cards and software. At the same time they changed the company’s name from Scanpro Technology to Raylase.
In 2000, the company completed a second investment round while at the same time beginning a challenging programme to develop opto-mechanical solutions to measure and keep output power of CW CO2 lasers stable. The company’s Powstab technology was also designed to control the laser power related to the velocity of the focus in the processing field.
In 2003, Raylase moved to a larger location in Weßling. In 2004, it received an innovation award from the Bavarian Government for its Powstab Technology and was elected as one of the three most successful start-ups in Bavaria from 1998 to 2002.
In 2007, the company opened a representative office in Shenzhen in China. In 2009, it suffered as many others from the economic crisis and sales dropped significantly. But the firm avoided cutting staff, instead reducing working time to 50 per cent. In parallel it intensified activities in China to compensate for the loss of business with their main customers in Germany.
As markets continue to change rapidly and additional competitors from China show up in standard marking applications, Raylase focuses on its key competences, which include 3D technology in combination with vision control, and offering more application solutions instead of pure components. These activities are supported by local application labs in Germany and China and certified repair and service centres in St Petersburg, Russia and Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Today, the Raylase Group is a growing successful and profitable organisation with more than 100 employees worldwide and an excellent international network.
‘The story of Raylase is an example that success is no accident, it is hard work, determination, perseverance. The EPIC Phoenix award is a symbol of the challenging realities that entrepreneurs face and the journey that this entails, I am honoured to present the award to the founders of Raylase,’ commented Weingarten of Lumentum.