INCOM Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation
Charlton, MA-based INCOM, Inc., the world’s largest supplier of glass and polymer fused fiber optic solutions, is celebrating 50 notable years of continuous growth, product innovation and business accomplishments.
Since launching in 1971, INCOM has grown from a fledgling startup with an entrepreneurial spirit into a world-class leader in fused fiber optics at the forefront of technology. Driven by a passion for innovation and excellence, INCOM today has a loyal customer base spanning diverse markets, from genetics to the military.
INCOM’s track record of achievements throughout its 50 years proves that a tenacious drive for excellence reaps results. Decades’ worth of critical contributions to the worlds of medicine, dentistry, drug research, homeland security, genetics and the military reflect INCOM’s unparalleled commitment to developing advanced, innovative solutions to meet the most demanding technological challenges.
A Storied Background
INCOM successfully manufactured its first fiber optic faceplate in 1973. A Fiberoptic faceplate is a fused array of millions of optical fibers aligned in order to transfer images. This base technology became a core focus for the company and eventually paved the way for INCOM’s future technological advancements.
By 1978, INCOM’s technology enabled new products to emerge with state-of-the-art technological developments, including a fiber optic faceplate used for contact printing that allowed its customers to dominate the early stages of automated phototypesetting of newspapers, books and magazines.
INCOM’s foray into night vision began in 1985 when the company signed a license agreement with a major competitor to produce a fiber optic taper for image intensification in a viewer used in U.S. Army combat tanks. The company’s next development was the IRIS Input window, a unique micro-louver optic designed to eliminate glare inside of a night vision goggle. What could easily be considered INCOM’s most critical contribution to military night vision came in 1993. After a tragic helicopter crash during Desert Storm was blamed on fiberoptic distortion in the pilot’s night vision goggle, the military turned to INCOM to utilize its patented MEGAdraw technology to produce the first-ever distortion-free fiberoptic inverter. MEGAdraw instantly became the gold standard for distortion-free optics and has continued to this day.
In 2003, INCOM manufactured the largest diameter fiber optic taper ever produced, which captured imaging areas up to 200 mm in diameter with very high and unprecedented resolution. This innovation catapulted the digital revolution in X-Ray Crystallography, medical x-ray technology, electron microscopy and high-speed DNA sequencing.
A 2006 Small Business Innovation Research grant (SBIR) from the National Science Foundation facilitated the development of Microcapillary and Microwell fiber optic faceplates, which allowed for high speed, high density sampling. INCOM had developed a platform that is, in essence, a 3-D “laboratory on a chip” that exponentially increased the speed of human genome mapping.
INCOM acquired Paradigm Optics in 2012, which represented its continued investment and commitment to providing the most advanced fused fiber optic technology available. Paradigm’s next generation waveguide called Nanoguide supports three times the resolution of any glass fiber optic ever produced, a technology that is paving the future for military and commercial optics.
In 2017, INCOM’s microcapillary array plates were deployed in a new technology being developed by a company called Orca Bio to advance terminal blood cancer therapy and significantly increase survival rates. INCOM is proud to be part of developing a technology that has the potential to transform and save patients’ lives.
In 2020, INCOM brought to market the world’s largest and fastest MCP-based photodetector, the LAPPD (Large Area Picosecond Photodetector), developed in partnership with the Department of Energy, Argonne National Labs, and the University of Chicago to explore the elementary constituents of matter and energy, the interactions between them, and the nature of space and time.
“As INCOM prepares to celebrate its 50th Anniversary in November, we continue to embrace innovation with the energy and spirit of a startup company,” said Michael A. Detarando, President and CEO. “Our newest Nanoguide technology, used in conjunction with our legacy microwell products, will bring about new imaging platforms for next generation virus testing. The future for INCOM and its customers is very bright. While we are incredibly proud of our long history of contributing to next generation technologies, we continue to strive for new opportunities to leave our mark in the areas of science and medicine. As a world leader in commercial fused fiber optics, we move forward into the next 50 years with unbridled passion by exploring, discovering, and manufacturing products that will impact ordinary people in extraordinary ways.”