Photonics: key technology for smart factories

Photonics: key technology for smart factories

Lasers: efficient, sustainable and low-cost manufacturing
Lasers are one of the most widely used photonics tools. They are ideal for manufacturing strong lightweight constructions, such as wind turbine blades or crash-safe car chassis. But also the production of batteries, fuel cells and solar cells requires laser technology. And every semiconductor chip today is manufactured using optical lithography, a form of laser technology.

Sectors that benefit most from the product qualities, innovation and lower cost of lasers are energy conversion, electronics, hybrid materials, lightweight construction, mass costumisation and rapid manufacturing, print technology and product marking.

Innovations in photonics laser technologies increase the efficiency of a range of devices, such as pholtovoltaic (solar) cells and energy storage devices. The latter are a key ingredient in the electric cars of the future. Another advantage of lasers is that they are more sustainable, using less energy and producing less chemical waste than other manufacturing processes.

Photonics: key technology for smart factories
Industry 4.0 – also called the smart factory or the industrial internet – is seen as the next innovation phase in manufacturing. Combining data connectivity, sensor technology, speed and artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0’s mission is to create smart, highly efficient factories where autonomous machines will do almost all of the work. Yet Industry 4.0 would be nowhere without photonics.

Photonics provides smart factories with optical fibres for high-speed, reliable data communication, fibre lasers for production and sensors for intelligent feedback. One of the most promising developments is the ‘smart laser’, that understand what material it processes, how the process develops and when it is finished. Smart lasers are highly flexible and can adapt to changes in the material, such as shape, reflectivity, thickness and orientation.

VSCEL is an innovative laser that drives and enables the advancement of fast-growing digital technology markets, such as high speed data transmission, 3D recognition, optical sensors and digital industrial thermal processes. Philips Photonics has discovered how to manufacture VCSELs in high volume and quality.


Network with photonics experts and business peers to learn how your company can stay ahead of the innovation curve. Exchange your market demand with professionals from the photonics industry and see how they can help you, instead of the other way around!

Whether you are part of a company, branche organisation, research institution or event organising platform, feel free to organise your own activity during Photonics Applications Week. An activity can take any form, for instance a workshop, hackathon, conference, meeting or demo.