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Queen’s supported startup goes international

Laser Depth Dynamics, founded by Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) and Roger Bowes (Sc’92) in 2012, has been acquired by a leading developer of high-performance fibre lasers and amplifiers.

Welding is an important manufacturing process across many sectors of today’s global economy – from automotive, to aerospace, medical, and consumer goods. When working on products like cars or pacemakers, where lives could be on the line, it’s important that every component is built as intended. This can be a challenge when spending an extra second per part makes a difference to the bottom line.

The Laser Depth Dynamics team, including chief technical officer and co-founder Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) (third from the left in the front row).
The Laser Depth Dynamics team, including chief technical officer and co-founder Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) (third from the left in the front row). (University Communications)

Enter Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) and Roger Bowes (Sc’92). In 2012, the pair worked with Queen’s to found Laser Depth Dynamics (LDD) and commercialize a technology Dr. Webster co-developed with associate professor James Fraser, who teaches physics. The technology, called inline coherent imaging (ICI), allows for direct measurement of weld penetration depth for laser welding. This is done using a near-infrared measurement beam to ensure high quality in real-time.

“The story of our company is one of bringing the right elements together to create success,” says Dr. Webster, LDD’s chief technology officer and co-founder. “We combined the support of a leading university with strong industry connections and the right intellectual property policies and technology transfer capabilities to create an impactful product which reduces waste for companies and improves product quality for consumers.”

Recently, the Kingston-based company was purchased by IPG Photonics Corporation, the world leader in high-performance fibre lasers and amplifiers. The company aims to incorporate LDD’s technology into its laser welding solutions to drive adoption of this advanced technology throughout manufacturing of metal parts. Becoming part of a bigger, international organization will mean even more global exposure for LDD’s products.

“LDD’s weld monitoring systems and accessories significantly enhance IPG’s portfolio of industry-leading beam delivery products and laser welding solutions,” said Felix Stukalin, IPG’s senior vice president of North American operations. “LDD’s ability to monitor weld quality in real time and ensure process consistency is increasingly important within automated production environments.”

Laser Depth Dynamics was initially formed with support from Dr. Webster’s thesis supervisor, Dr. Fraser; the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy; and PARTEQ Innovations, the university’s technology transfer organization that is now part of the Queen’s Office of Partnerships and Innovation. IPG Photonics was also involved from the early days, supplying equipment for the research and in helping LDD find early market potential.

John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) says success stories like Laser Depth Dynamics demonstrate the value of the research that is conducted at Queen’s.

“This is an example of a research idea, identified and advanced by a student and professor, funded by research grants, and, with support from the university’s technology transfer team, was patented, spun-off as a business, and was successfully commercialized,” says Dr. Fisher. “This story showcases the innovation ecosystem at work here at Queen’s, the important role our Office of Partnerships and Innovation plays in fostering economic growth, and how critical the support of the Ontario government is for our innovation programs. We congratulate the Laser Depth Dynamics team on this exciting news as they become part of a global leader in its field.”

With the purchase, Laser Depth Dynamics will become IPG Photonics (Canada), and will remain in its existing Kingston office location on Railway Street. About half of its employees are Queen’s graduates, and Dr. Webster suggests they may add more Queen’s talent in the future.

IPG Photonics is a global company and the leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance fiber lasers and amplifiers for diverse applications in numerous markets. To learn more about IPG’s purchase of LDD, visit www.ipgphotonics.com