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Presstek Creates Diode Unit

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2000
Gaynell Terrell

Digital imaging company Presstek Inc. of Hudson, N.H., is solving a supply problem by becoming its own supplier. Presstek announced in June that it had formed Lasertel Inc., a captive laser diode manufacturer, in Tucson.

Laser diode manufacturers have worked overtime recently to supply the rapidly expanding optical telecommunications industry. "With demand created by telecommunications, Presstek can't buy diodes at the price it needs," said Thomas Dearmin, Lasertel's president, adding that graphics diodes are more sophisticated than diodes used for telecommunications.

There's also a reason why the new company is called Lasertel, but Dearmin wasn't talking about that. He expects to begin shipping the diodes by late August and to meet Presstek's demands by the end of the year while seeking new markets.

Initially, Lasertel will employ about 50 people, 70 percent of whom were hired to start up the company. Not coincidentally, Dearmin formerly served as senior vice president of diode maker Opto Power Corp. of Tucson, a major Presstek supplier. He rejected the notion that he recruited from his former employer, but he said business contacts from around the world signed up, including some from Opto Power, and were rewarded with generous salaries and stock options.

Opto Power General Manager Alfred Feitisch shrugged off news that his customer may soon be his competitor for both market share and engineering talent. "In this day and age, everybody recruits from everybody. There is a shortage of trained photonic workers," he said. "If some of our people did move to Lasertel, it wouldn't be a surprise. That's just stuff that happens."

Opto Power itself was created because parent company Spectra-Physics Lasers Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., had an internal need for a steady diode supply. An industry insider said those companies could be marginally affected if Lasertel aggressively pursues telecommunications customers. It's a big market out there.

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