Little Lincoln Laser Plays Big in Scanning Gear

(Arizona Business Gazette - May 16, 1996)

It’s a Valley based supplier of sophisticated laser scanner components for customers like office machine giant Xerox.

Motorola? Intel? Honeywell?

No, it’s Lincoln Laser, a small high-technology company in Phoenix that ships thousands of its motor and mirror assemblies to a Xerox facility in El Segundo, CA, each year.

"We’re very flattered that Xerox relies on us as much as they do," said David C. Lincoln, chairman and co-founder of the company that bears his name.

Randy J. Sherman, co-founder and president is responsible for day-to-day management.

Vic Ciceran, procurement manager at Xerox in El Segundo, confirmed that Lincoln Laser is a longtime supplier of a “significant” volume of laser scanning parts, beating out a field of mostly Japanese companies in its high end niche. Xerox engineer Vinod Mirchandoni said Lincoln Laser supplies laser scanning technology for about half of Xerox’s high-end printers.

Lincoln Laser makes small, high-speed motors that spin specialized mirrors through which passes the light that creates a printed image. The mirrors and motors also are sold to a variety of customers who use them in laser scanning applications that range from medical imaging to bar coding.

Lincoln Laser has grown to a sales volume of about $10 million a year, and the company expects to continue annual growth in the 10 percent range for at least a few years, Lincoln said.

Neither Xerox nor Lincoln Laser executives would discuss whether Lincoln Laser will play a role in what is described as Xerox’s move to the lower-end, high volume sales sector of the copier market dominated by Japanese companies.

However, for Lincoln Laser to handle larger production jobs, “there may be a need at sometime to join with someone else to get the financing and the size and the stability to be able to take on a very major project”, Lincoln said. The company has no immediate plans to sell or restructure, he said.

Daniel C. Minchen, a Xerox spokesman in Rochester, NY noted that companies such as Lincoln Laser are survivors of a vendor-reduction process that pared the number of suppliers Xerox uses to about 500 now, compared with about 5,000 a decade ago.

Among Lincoln Laser’s innovations is an air-bearing, rather than ball-bearing motor. Ball-bearings work well up to the 16,000 to 18,000 rpm range, Lincoln said. But high-performance laser printers require a motor operating in the 25,000-rpm range, well within the capacity of the air-bearing motor.

In 1992 Lincoln Laser won an R&D 100 award from Research & Development magazine for its work on the air-bearing motor.

Part of the company’s business is supplying electro-optics subsystems, also referred to as ROS (raster output scanning) devices said Robert S. Nehrbas Jr. sales manager. The key customer in that market is Sterling diagnostics Imaging in Delaware, and its world parts center in Atlanta. Sterling, until recently a division of DuPont, uses the technology in medical devices, Nehrbas said.

The low end of the technology sector Lincoln Laser serves is bar-code scanning. Such scanners don’t read the black stripes of bar codes.

“They’re looking at the reflectivity of the laser off the white spaces between the black ones to relay back into the system, and that’s what the system sees,” Nehrbas explained.

One of Lincoln Laser’s biggest customers in bar-code technology is Accu-Sort Systems Inc., a Telford, PA, company that develops warehousing, shipping and materials handling bar-coding systems, Nehrbas said.

Other applications for Lincoln Laser technology include a mammography machine developed by a Florida company, Imaging diagnostics, that is awaiting federal Food and Drug Administration approval, Nehrbas said.

Founded by Lincoln and Sherman, Lincoln Laser began in January 1975 with Derald Hanson and Sherman as the first two employees, Lincoln said. C., Dwight Smith joined the company that summer, and today is vice president of research and development. Hanson, and engineer, also is still with the company.

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