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BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG) President Jim Haden provides an update on the company, discussing the launch of the company's first suite of laser products, integration of the recently acquired fab facility and outlook for 2023.
Tim McGowen: We’re talking today with BluGlass Limited (ASX:BLG). The company is developing leading-edge semiconductor and manufacturing technology and devices. It's been doing this for more than a decade. It has an ASX code of "BLG" and a market cap of $72m. The company is a global provider to the GaN photonics industries, developing cutting-edge custom laser and LED development across the industrial, defence, display and scientific markets. We have with us Jim Haden, who is the President of BluGlass. Jim, nice to see you in Sydney. Thanks for your time.
Jim Haden: It's great to be here, Tim.
Tim McGowen: It's been a huge couple of months for BluGlass. You've been on the radar more recently with the achievement of several technical and commercial milestones. For those investors new to the BluGlass story, can you give us a quick overview of the company?
Jim Haden: BluGlass is the only vertically integrated semiconductor company in Australia and one of the few handful of visible laser diode companies in the world. And these visible laser diodes are used for things like quantum computing. They have biotech and biomed and also industrial processing capabilities.
Tim McGowen: Now, Jim, BluGlass launched its first suite of laser products at the Photonics West conference, which was earlier this year. Can you tell us what these products are and what the target applications and industries are?
Jim Haden: We introduced a product suite of six single-mode and multi-mode wafers in the wavelengths of 405, 420 and 450 – basically, violet and blue colours. And the applications range in from industrial applications for 3D mapping, 3D printing, and also machine vision. Those are the types of things we're seeing in industrial. Materials processing is very big. And then biotech industry, we have things like next-gen-sequencing and very good at killing bacteria, and also as you get deeper into UV, into killing viruses. And then in the research and scientific markets, they're used for quantum, quantum computers, quantum clocks, quantum sensing, things that are used in robotics.
Tim McGowen: And Jim, in that Photonics West conference, what sort of crowd does that attract?
Jim Haden: People who are in… and companies in the photonics industry. Photonics are things like lasers and detectors and so forth. We found the most interest in three key areas. It was in industrial and the biotech, biomed and in the research and science, particularly in the area of automation robotics, quantum.
Tim McGowen: Now, BluGlass has made an announcement today to the ASX. You've received your first customer orders of these commercial lasers. Congratulations. Can you tell us a little bit more about how these orders came about and what these customers will be using these lasers for?
Jim Haden: The first orders are pretty exciting for us, especially since we had the Photonics West event in the last day of January, first couple days of February, and a couple weeks after that we're already getting orders. That's pretty quick to move around, you know, requesting quotes. So they went right back from the show and started calling us. And we are obviously happy to work with them. They're leading customers and suppliers in the quantum areas and industrial areas. And so it's exciting to get into their product development with these small orders. And then we're expecting larger orders as the products qualify. And we'll just keep working with them and more customers as it matures.
Tim McGowen: Now, Jim, your fab acquisition has been transformational for BluGlass. Can you provide an update on vertical integration and what sort of benefits you're seeing?
Jim Haden: Basically, we are seeing that we can move more quickly and it gives us more ability to turn and learn. And so, as we're doing that, we're able to take experiments and put them into the lasers. And what we're doing is then improving, improving, and we get internal feedback. And then when we interact with customers, show them the data and so forth, it gives us external feedback. So, that's one thing. And then the next is quality. As we are, you know, handling all of the processes ourselves, we're able to see what leads to failures and feed it directly back into our line and improve the quality and the workmanship standards. And the people that we hired that have been working in this fab for decades are really, really well experienced people and operators. So, the quality immediately jumped up for us.
Tim McGowen: Now, it's obviously been a very exciting first half of 2023. What sort of milestones is BluGlass looking towards achieving over the rest of the year?
Jim Haden: We've launched our first suite of products, and we will have then continuous improvement on those. But we've got additional products. We showed alpha products that are earlier, higher power, same wavelengths, and we want to extend the wavelengths. Right now we're moving up into the aqua toward green colours from the blue. We announced what's called a single frequency laser. The first development we did. We're going to continue doing that development with UCSB. As far as we know, we're the first and only visible laser diode company to have a single frequency laser. That generated quite a bit of excitement at the show. And so we will continue to invest in those novel type of designs.
So, as we move forward and increase the confidence, we're going to have continued orders coming in. They're going to come into those main markets that we've talked about. And we also continue to do innovations and partnerships. As we've increased the confidence from customers, what we will see is customers that will want to accelerate our roadmaps, and they'll actually say, "Hey, can you move us forward in the queue? Or can we partner with you to get these types of products?" And so we are starting to see those kinds of conversations as well, and that'll be very exciting for us.
Tim McGowen: Jim, an exciting start for 2023 with BluGlass. Congratulations.
Jim Haden: Thank you, Tim. It was great to be here.
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