A state grant for the purchase of a high-tech laser for use in micro fabrication has been awarded to Wright State University and Mound Laser & Photonics Center, Inc., Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro announced.
The $232,918 Non-Credit Job Training Capital Improvement Facilities grant will be used to buy a femtosecond pulsed laser, a piece of high-tech machinery used in advanced manufacturing. The grant was announced Oct. 25.
Mound Laser (MLPC) uses lasers to fashion miniature devices for the defense and medical device industries. The devices are so small that they can be inserted into the heart, brain and ear or applied to the construction of a micro air vehicle. The demand for these important products is so strong that Mound Laser–which has watched its workforce mushroom from four employees to more than 40–will have record sales this year.
Wright State announced July 18 that it is taking the unusual step of embedding a faculty member in the Dayton-area company as part of a novel business agreement.
“The idea is to speed commercialization of research and quickly translate ideas into products and services that will help grow Ohio’s economy,” said Petro. “Wright State University and Mound Laser & Photonics Center are commended for this partnership and for the innovative ideas which will evolve, such as having a faculty member embedded in the company.”
To win this grant, institutions must demonstrate the presence of industry partnerships with one or more companies in Ohio or demonstrate support from an industry organization that can attest to the training needs.
The award to Wright State and Mound Laser will be used to purchase a Jenoptic JenLas D2 femtosecond pulsed laser. Some matching money will also be contributed by the company.
The four-watt, diode-pumped, solid-state laser is a state-of-the-art system for micro fabrication. The ultra-short pulse transfers very little heat to the part being machined and produces clean features allowing it to be used with a wide range of materials, including some which are too delicate for conventional laser micromachining.
“We do things here that no other company is able to do. Some of the things we do are pushing technology to the limit,” said Larry Dosser, president and CEO of Mound Laser. “We are an extension of the university, and the university is an extension of us.”
The laser will support and further the formal collaboration between Wright State and Mound Laser that is designed to enhance education in advanced manufacturing by teaming up with industry.
“The program is designed to accelerate the commercialization of technology, which translates to hiring more people at all stages of the company, all with a focus on quality and time to market,” Dosser said. “All this means enhanced growth and jobs for our young people. Simply put, this model is another step towards building the advanced manufacturing workforce of the future.”
Both the university and Mound Laser will publish and patent joint intellectual property that comes out of the relationship while still protecting trade secret information. The Wright State professor to be embedded will be jointly selected by the university and Mound Laser.