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May 19, 2016

Laser Lines

Full colour security hologram

Holographic innovation with Laser Lines

We speak to John Wiltshire about how Laser Lines is his laser partner of choice when it comes to holography.

After spending over 30 years in the holography field, John Wiltshire’s industry knowledge and experience is comprehensive, to say the least. He was one of the original technologists at Applied Holographics (now OpSec, one of the major embossed holography companies in the world).

John is now CTO for Bowater Holographics, where he plays a key role in advancing the manufacture of full colour reflection holograms.

One of the issues that John came across in the early stages of his involvement with reflection holograms back in the 1980s was laser sourcing and laser usage. But the start of a long-standing working relationship with Laser Lines soon helped with this.


As John explains: “Steve Knight at Laser Lines introduced me to helium cadmium lasers for embossed holography. Ever since then, Laser Lines’ front-line advice, expertise and consultancy have been invaluable.”

It was when working on an exploratory contract into full colour reflection holograms that John was first made aware of Cobolt’s range of DPSS lasers, again through his relationship with Laser Lines.

Industry advances

full colour hologram
A full colour display hologram

John continues: “The advent of DPSS lasers paved the way for advances in the field of reflection holography, enabling the production of full colour reflection holograms of absolutely realistic images. In fact, so realistic are the images that it’s often difficult to say if it’s a hologram or an image of actual object.”

“The old infrastructure problems we used to have around the need for a three-phase electricity supply and water for cooling purposes are a thing of the past. The fact that Cobolt lasers will plug into 13amp mains, without any cooling problems has made a remarkable difference.”

So positive were John’s experiences of working with Cobolt lasers from Laser Lines that he didn’t hesitate in recommending to Bowater that it should be using this technology in-house. Something it has done to great success.

Mass production

Bowater’s use of Cobolt lasers has facilitated the development of a mass production machine, capable of producing millions of holographs. This ground-breaking machine houses two Cobolt lasers, which are the enabling technology of the device.

Filtering Cobalt laser
Filtering a Cobalt laser

As John explains: “It would have been impossible to use gas lasers inside the machine so really, the very fact that these compact Cobolt lasers exist has made the whole project possible.”

It’s not just the flexibility and performance of the lasers that makes them the go-to technology for John. As he points out: “The Cobolt lasers are extremely cost effective. They have an extended lifetime when compared to older gas lasers; one of our green lasers has now been working perfectly for over five years.”

“The cost is much more palatable, too, with the cost of a Cobolt DPSS laser half of what it used to cost us to replace the tube of our old lasers, which needed replacing every couple of years.”

Remote repair

John was also very impressed with the level of service provided: “When one of our lasers started to malfunction, the laser engineer was able to link up to our machine online, diagnosing and fixing the problem remotely, causing minimal disruption to operations. It was almost surreal to watch the laser characteristics being successfully changed on-line from another country!”

“I have nothing but good things to say about Cobolt’s DPSS lasers and Laser Lines as a business partner as well. The advice, products and technical knowledge offered by Laser Lines are, and always have been, of an excellent standard, and I look forward to continuing this relationship for the foreseeable future.”

For more information about any of our photonics products, contact Steve Knight or his team on 01295 672 588 or

Category: Photonics
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