Pulsar Photonics and Schunk take off together.
"Entirely new possibilities"
Lesezeit: 7 Minute(n)
Datum: 24. November 2022
Optical Industry

Partnership at eye level

Since Pulsar Photonics has become part of the Schunk Group, the laser micromachining specialist has been able to fully develop its potential - also thanks to joint projects with other Schunk companies.

"Schunk's financial strength and the technology company's existing networks around the world open up completely new opportunities for us to further develop our cutting-edge technologies and market them globally," Dr. Jens Holtkamp, one of the three founding managing directors, said happily last June. At that time, the Schunk Group acquired a majority stake in Pulsar Photonics, the Aachen-based full-service provider for laser micromachining with short-pulse and ultrashort-pulse lasers.

Partnership at eye level

An interim balance sheet after just over a year of group affiliation confirms this initial outlook: New partnerships have developed as a result of the Schunk acquisition. The Schunk Group primarily opens up the further development of optical and sensory solutions in the field of laser micromachining to Pulsar Photonics. In the current fiscal year, the company, which was founded in 2013, was therefore able to record strong growth in incoming orders.

Particularly during the Corona pandemic and the associated supply bottlenecks, Pulsar Photonics benefited from the financial strength of the Schunk Group. Pulsar Photonics was thus able to ensure continued strong growth despite challenging times. "We work on an equal footing with Schunk's management, which gives us the flexibility and entrepreneurial freedom we need to further develop our products and expand our business areas," explains Dr. Stephan Eifel, also co-founder and Managing Director of Pulsar Photonics.

"As part of the Schunk technology company, we can make investments more easily, which means that projects with increased technical risk can also be presented," says Dr. Frank Zibner, department head of the plant engineering group at Pulsar Photonics. As soon as a potential is identified, the company is willing to seize the opportunity and, with foresight, develop a technology that holds an advantage in the future, according to the machine builder.

Wide range of applications within the Group

With its ten business units, Schunk is broadly positioned and active in numerous industries, from automotive to electronics, life sciences, aerospace and logistics. For Pulsar Photonics, this offers a wide range of applications and opportunities for development projects within the Group, from which external customers can also benefit.

The commissioning of a new laser machine for Schunk Gerhard Carbon Technology (SGCT) marked the completion of the first Pulsar project within the Schunk Group at the end of October 2022. The company, based in Obernzenn, Franconia, is also part of Schunk - as a joint venture since 1996 - and has been developing solutions made of customized materials for the automotive, household and slip ring industries for more than fifty years. Specializing in laser-welded carbon springs, SGCT with its 60 employees mainly serves the automotive industry with about 170 million serial parts per year.

Against the backdrop of an ever faster growing order situation accompanied by the desire to produce a correspondingly larger volume of product faster, more cost-effectively and more effectively, contact was made with Pulsar Photonics. "The idea was initially to obtain a system that would give us added value in the areas of welding, cutting and - if possible - marking, in order to be able to respond more flexibly and at shorter notice to requests from the industry," explains Thorsten Graf, technology expert in applications engineering at SGCT.

The new system from Pulsar Photonics with built-in CW fiber laser from Aachen can perform the application laser cutting and laser welding using fixed optics in the development process of carbon springs for both flat planar parts and round bodies in a three-axis system. The machine with its large working area opens up the greatest possible travel paths and good accessibility while maintaining a compact design.

The RDX2Fiber laser machine was handed over to Schunk Gerhard Carbon Technology GmbH at the end of October. (©Daniel Keller, Pulsar Photonics GmbH)


"We had the idea, and Pulsar implemented it. The tools of the trade have to be right! Until now, we simply didn't have the tools to offer our customers a solution at competitive prices, as the initial investment in punching tools often accounted for more than half of annual sales. Together with Pulsar, we are closing the gap," summarizes Lars Borgas, Managing Director of SCGT.

"We would not have been able to develop this business area and solve the problems at this speed on our own," says Borgas, who sums up the venture as a "great project." He is very satisfied with the successful and speedy implementation and the solution-oriented cooperation. In the course of further automating his production, Borgas already sees potential for future projects.

Laser-welded carbon brushes are used in the automotive industry, among others, and must be able to withstand high current densities. They form a sliding contact in electric motors as well as in generators, for example, and thus establish electrical contact with the rotating part of a motor, the commutator or rotor. (©Daniel Keller, Pulsar Photonics GmbH)

Networking with OptoTech opens up scope for further development

Pulsar Photonics has entered into another promising cooperation with OptoTech. The technology company is also part of the Schunk Group, is headquartered in Wettenberg, Hesse, and is the technological and process engineering world market leader for optics machines.

The advantage of the collaboration here is the combination of OptoTech's many years of experience in optics manufacturing with Pulsar Photonics' expertise in laser micromachining, particularly in the development of new laser processes. An initial joint project with a German technology group could even develop into a new line of business for both companies.

"We are pleased to have Pulsar Photonics in the group of companies. Pulsar's combined experience in ultrashort pulse laser processing and OptoTech's in precision optics processing creates amazing synergies," says Matthias Pfaff, head of OptoTech's Strategic Business Area Fine Optics. "For example, we have already been able to initiate a first joint project with one of our major customers that will be challenging and pioneering in every respect. New products and processes are being created here that would not have existed in this way without the cooperation."


Success factors of the cooperation

Synergies are also available for Pulsar and Schunk in completely different areas. For example, both have bundled their recruiting activities in the high-tech region of Aachen and are jointly presenting themselves to talents as an attractive employer. They have already appeared together at the Digital Career Day Hidden Champions and the company contact fair Bonding, both at RWTH Aachen University, where they promoted not only the excellent career opportunities at Pulsar Photonics in the Aachen area, but also at other Schunk Group locations.

Pulsar Photonics and Schunk presented together at the Bonding university fair at RWTH Aachen University. (©Pulsar Photonics GmbH)


Whether working together at university fairs or in joint projects with OptoTech or Schunk Gerhard Carbon Technology, the success factors remain the same: working at eye level, short decision-making and communication paths, and sharing key competencies and knowledge.

"Partnerships between technology companies are not about reinventing the wheel, but about complementing each other," says Dr. Holtkamp. "In the end, it's always about opening up new application areas through further exchange and jointly addressing tomorrow's topic areas. We are confident that our association with Schunk will continue to be successful in the future, that we can benefit from each other within the Group, and that Pulsar Photonics can put these growth impulses to work for its customers."

About Pulsar Photonics

Pulsar Photonics' range of services includes the development, production and sale of laser machines for materials processing with short- and ultrashort-pulse lasers. The core competence of the high-tech company is also the sensible integration of tool and measurement systems for material processing, adapted to the respective requirements of the customer application.