As optical technologies diversify into sensors, actuators, displays and processing, what used to be niche components have entered the mainstream, attracting manufacturing giants like Illinois Tool Works. Look for ITW to become a major supplier of integrated optical subsystems for automotive, industrial, medical and consumer applications. R.C.J.
Diversified manufacturer Illinois Tool Works Inc. is set to unveil later this month its ITW Photonics Group, which will combine its first three photonics manufacturing acquisitions. ITW Group (Glenview, Ill.) will combine Lumex Inc. (Palatine, Ill.), Cal Sensors Inc. (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Opto Diode Corp. (Newbury Park, Calif.). ITW claims the new group will enable it to cover the entire wavelength spectrum of photonics products. ITW also claims its corporate research and development efforts along with future acquisitions of photonics makers will help it expand into new photonic applications. ITW Group's optical backlight technologies are used in medical devices such as handheld X-ray devices (shown), defibrillators and respirators. Formation of the Photonics Group is intended to follow the design evolution of sophisticated photonic devices, which sense and also display their state, allowing users to make on-the-fly adjustments to automated processes