Dr. Robert Molenaar, Contributing Editor
PARIS – European buyers are rubbing their hands over the low prices that hundreds of Chinese optics manufacturers are charging for their products. But in contrast, many end users – having learned the hard way – see it more akin to a minefield after experiencing products of varying quality. Some have even received parts made from old, uncertified glass, with lead and other poisonous elements added to the melt. On the other hand, others have received products of perfect quality.
Now, four Institut d’Optique graduate students have taken up a project to map the wilderness of Chinese optics offerings. Two of the students, Alexis Malandain and Xunyou Ge, have founded a company called C3O Qualité. Having finalized internships at IBM in the US and at Jenoptik in Germany, respectively, they have equipped themselves with practical experience for the project.
Several leaders in the French laser industry, including Philippe Aubourg from Quantel Group, have hired the company to examine the optics they purchase from Chinese manufacturers. The open access to an extensive range of optical test instruments at the institute enables the students to compile a large database of manufacturers and products, and of measured quality.
The involvement of Chinese student Xunyou steers the project clear of any language problems and aims at benefits for both the Chinese manufacturers and the European buyers.