Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nanotech - the Eyes Have It at Broken Arrow's Access Optics

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nanotech - the Eyes Have It at Broken Arrow's Access Optics

Article excerpt

The future growth of Broken Arrow-based Access Optics LLC is, appropriately enough, a matter of perspective and scale, founder Bob Hogrefe said.

"The usual question that venture capitalists ask is, 'What stage are you in? Are you a startup or what?'" he said. "And the answer is: I'm not sure. It feels like we're constantly in a startup mode, even though we're already seven years old."

Hogrefe described the optical components his company produces as the sort of lens you might find in President Abraham Lincoln's eye - on a penny, that is. Access Optics deals with optical glass for many high-precision uses, ranging from the aerospace and petroleum exploration industries to the microscopic scale in endoscopic surgical equipment.

The company was one of five that received development funding under the 2007 Oklahoma Nanotechnology Application Project sponsored by OCAST, or the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Markets for endoscopic equipment traditionally have been controlled by large, original equipment manufacturers' suppliers, Hogrefe said, but Access Optics has been working on the in-house production of metal-to-glass lens seals to pierce that barrier.

"This is about as far from traditional glass as you can get. We're talking about very sophisticated components. ... One of our materials of interest is synthetic sapphire, which is supremely durable," he said. "So when you hear about the miracle of modern surgery, with minimally invasive techniques, the kind of device they're using employs our optics."

Hogrefe and his wife, Pam, worked in the optics industry for several years before deciding to strike out on their own. Bob Hogrefe said he still good-naturedly fields others' assumptions about Access Optics' origins as a "mom-and-pop shop."

The company, now with about 25 full-time employees, is expected to break ground soon on an 18,000-square-foot facility with completion scheduled for January. …

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