The multi-year cooperation between Lithuania’s laser sector and German scientific institutions and industry may be entering a new phase. Femtika, one of Lithuania’s fastest-growing laser sector companies, has announced plans to open its first international division in Germany. Ekspla, one Lithuania’s largest laser solutions companies, also looks to strengthen its presence in the German market.
Lithuania’s achievements in the field of laser technology are known far and wide. Some 90 of 100 of the world’s top-ranked universities use lasers developed in Lithuania for their research. They’re also chosen by the key scientific research institutions and laboratories, from NASA and CERN to the Max Planck Institute and MIT. Lithuania has over 40 companies specialising in laser technology development, which cover the entire value chain: from R&D to solution implementation and manufacturing.
One of these companies, Femtika, has worked closely with its partners in Germany since 2015 and is planning to open its first international division there in the nearest future. The company’s German customers using its highly adaptable laser micro-fabrication systems range from Berlin’s Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) to companies specialising in the development of micro-sized precision tools for medical applications.
“Germany, along with France and Switzerland, is one of our key export markets. German companies are highly advanced and innovation-driven. In addition, Germany has a sophisticated business culture and strict regulations, which makes cooperation with German companies very productive indeed. This is why we’ve chosen this country as the home for our first division outside of Lithuania,” says Vidmantas Sakalys, CEO at Femtika.
One of Femtika’s main export products is the Laser NanoFactory workstation, enabling 3D technology application for creating micro-sized objects such as valves used in hypodermic needles or catheters, devices for brain surgery, or even diagnostic micro-robots that can travel in human veins.
Another flagship of Lithuania’s laser technology sector, Ekspla, has been operating in the German market for more than two decades. The company specialises in developing femtosecond, picosecond, and nanosecond lasers, and also tunable wavelength laser, spectroscopic, and high-intensity laser systems, and industrial ultra-fast lasers. The company has also launched the world-first industrial femtosecond laser with dry cooling, which ensures smooth operation 24/7 with near-zero maintenance.
“Germany was where our first exports went to and, at the same time, where our success story began. We’ve gained many partners and friends through the years. Our products are currently used by authoritative German institutions including the Max Planck Institute and Heidelberg University.
Germany’s photonics market is the largest of its kind in the European Union. The country has strong scientific and industrial sectors. And we’re bringing a product portfolio that reflects this. For scientists we offer comprehensive systems adapted for their specific needs and intended for fundamental and applied research in fields such as laser spectroscopy, materials research, life sciences, and plasma physics,” says Mantvydas Jašinskas, CSO at Ekspla.
One of the company’s proudest achievements, according to Jašinskas is the PhotoSonus line of lasers for photoacoustic imaging. They can be used in non-invasive, high-resolution, and high-contrast imaging of skin and subcutaneous tissue, one of the fastest-growing fields of research. One if its main field of application is in early diagnosis of cancer.
“In the field of industry, on the hand, we offer ultra-fast lasers for material processing. One example here would be our latest solution, a laser featuring the Direct Refrigerant Cooling technology. What makes this technological solution unique is that it uses gas instead of water for cooling. This ensures a long and reliable lifespan. The cooling system employed in the laser itself ‘is borrowed’ from the military industry, meaning that it has undergone testing in harsh environments and proved reliable (its MTBF* is 90,000 hours). Thanks to the new cooling system, the laser requires zero maintenance and can operate in a 24/7/365 mode,” Jašinskas says.
In recent years, Lithuania’s laser sector has been changing gears from a niche scientific research to application of its technological solutions in a variety of fields. German companies may benefit from this as an opportunity to make an even better use of most advanced laser technology solutions and open their door for innovation even wider.
*MTBF, or Mean Time Between Failure, indicates the time of continuous operation of a piece of machinery until its first stoppage.