Founders of Next Scan Technology Receive EPIC Phoenix Award 2017

EPIC President Benno Oderkerk presents the EPIC Phoenix Award 2017 to Lars Penning and Ronny De Loor during the EPIC’s annual general meeting in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, on 6. April. (Source: EPIC)

Next Scan Technology is a leading supplier in polygon scanner systems providing an overview in emerging ultra-short pulse laser applications. These systems are particularly advantageous in large format laser processing applications ranging from patterning display surfaces or scribing solar cells, to micro-drilling and processing of semiconductor wafers.

“Myself and Ronny De Loor are really proud to receive this EPIC Phoenix award. For us, it is an honor and recognition to be elected by such a remarkable group of European entrepreneurs in photonics. From the very beginning, we believed in the opportunity to address an uncharted area in laser material processing. Since timing determines the necessity of an enabling technology, we are encouraged and convinced that we grow with our partner Scanlab addressing the markets of the future and make further contribution to the EPIC community”, says Lars Penning, CEO and co-founder of Next Scan Technology, after being presented with the prestigious award.

In 2006, Lars Penning bought a large format laser cutter and engraving system to explore the business potential of production services for the creative industry. The large footprint laser machine was moved in Penning’s garage where he spent his free time in the weekends and nights on laser cutting and engraving of different materials – starting with decorative plastics, engraving of wine boxes and ending up with welding and cutting of medical devices.

Since it was a challenge to make a profit with this expensive machine, Penning decided to ask his friend Ronny De Loor, who mastered high throughput laser scanning during his career in graphic arts for help: “With some of his designs based on polygon scanning and tacit knowledge on fast scanning I asked him, ‘Can’t we develop a polygon scanner for CO2 lasers’? It wasn’t that easy. Beside the substantial resources required for engineering and prototyping, there was a challenge on the modulation performance of high power lasers. For fast scanning the laser requires pulse frequencies in the Megahertz range where state-of-the-art was 100 kHz.”

But things changed in 2009. As an engineering service, Penning and De Loor showcased some scanners at the Laser World of Photonics exhibition in Munich. With its different optical architecture and high performance, they got interesting questions from leading research organizations, renowned system integrators, and laser manufacturers. “We found out that the laser material industry was interested in higher scanning speeds to unlock the potential of high powered ultrafast pulsed lasers”, says Penning. “After leaving the engineering company, I focused full time on market research and business modelling where Ronny converted market requirements into a product solution. With a unique scanner concept Ronny and I founded Next Scan Technology in 2010. With personal investments, loans, and allocating available free time of the engineers, a demonstrator with innovative mirror optics was developed and introduced at the 2011 edition of Laser World of Photonics in Munich.”

The interest was overwhelming, leaving Penning and De Loor no other option than to get the industrial product development funded. Next Scan Technology launched the product at the 2013 Munich show – and received received interest from system integrators in Asia as well as the first orders. Validation projects were initiated and new requirements were materializing. However, it was a challenge to convert R&D related projects into a stable cash flow: “Cashflow management required to offer engineering services on the side, however, if we wanted to enter the next level, we needed to focus our efforts full time on the scanner business. With the market potential in Asia we faced the challenge of professionalizing the organization. We needed to find a strategic partner offering credibility and funding of required investments besides input on lessons learned in this challenging industry. End 2015 Next Scan Technology was acquired by Scanlab. By teaming up with the market leader we are ready to continuously provide innovative and distinctive products that offer competitive edge to our customers,” states Penning.

“The EPIC Phoenix award symbolizes the innovative entrepreneurship, that eventually leads to success stories of innovative European Photonics Companies” says Benno Oderkerk, CEO of Avantes in The Netherlands, and President of the Board of Directors of EPIC. (Source: EPIC)

Links: EPIC – European Photonics Industry Consortium, Paris, France • Next Scan Technology BVBA, Evergem, Belgium

Further reading: Scanlab Expands Polygon Scanner Business, photonicsviews.com, 15th December 2015 • Raylase’s Founders Receive EPIC Phoenix Award 2016, photonicsvies.com, 2nd May 2016

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