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The Applications Laboratory:

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Learn the Questions Before Expecting Answers

Daniel C. McCarthy, News Editor

Explained simply, the application laboratory occupies the space between the esoteric staff in research and the pragmatic folks in sales. The applications engineer has a foot in both worlds, often helping to develop entirely new products tailored to a customer's needs in order to help close a sale. But customers seeking help from these engineers shouldn't expect to avoid getting their hands dirty. It's an interactive process.
The most candid advice came from Gideon Foster-Turner, sales manager at Oxford Lasers, which sells copper vapor lasers for applications such as micromachining and high-speed imaging. "Don't just approach one lab. There's clearly some potential for bias. A given laboratory may not tell the customer or may not even be in a position to tell them what kind of laser is best for their application. Some of it may be ignorance on the part of the lab of what certain kinds of lasers can do."
Despite their supportive role to sales staff, the fundamental aim of the application lab is not closing the sale but rather maintaining long-term customer satisfaction.

Photonics Spectra
Nov 1998

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