Natsume Optical Corporation started business as a plating company in 1947 and we are happy to announce our 70th anniversary.
Our company was founded by Tetsuzo Natsume in the poor period after World War II to support his family. With a lot of effort and hard work of our predecessors, we have grown into a specialized optics manufacturer with 240 employees. We would like to thank all our customers, partners, employees and the local society for all the support and kindness, which we gratefully appreciate.
As a team, Natsume Optical Corporation will passionately continue challenging in development for new products and technology to create new values.
Our goal is to become a reliable all round optical manufacturer, which can support the society with solutions.
President: Yoshiharu NATSUME
Founder, Tetsuzo Natsume
A scrap bicycle remodeled into a lens grinding
machine by Tetsuzo Natsume.
April 1947, after losing in World War Ⅱ, Japan was experiencing a poor period and various goods were in short supply. Tetsuzo Natsume came up with an idea of removing rust and re-plating goods such as spoons, forks and bicycles to re-make them good like new.
He bought a plating machine sold off from the military and founded “Iida-Seisakujo”, which is the starting point of Natsume Optical Corporation.
However, after the outbreak of the Korean War, prices of plating materials began to rise rapidly and became difficult to obtain. Furthermore, cheap plated goods started to appear in the market and Iida-Seisakujo instantly faced a managerial crisis. But that situation turned out to become a big opportunity. One day, Tetsuzo heard on the news that a major camera manufacturer was looking for a power source for anodized aluminum. He offered his electrode for plating and received a used lens polishing machine in exchange.
Polishing equipment for mass production of binocular lens.
The automated machine “TN method” was named after the founder, Tetsuzo Natsume. “TN-method” made production of 500,000 lenses per month possible.
Various ideas of lens processing were written in the【Natsume Lens Polishing Textbook】
In the early 1960’s, Japan entered the period of high economic growth.
Mass production of binocular lens started and kept expanding rapidly which lead us to having 60% of the domestic share. However, suddenly in 1967, about 90% of our customers went bankrupt continuously. Natsume Optical Corporation was very close to going bankrupt with all the unpaid bills, but with the help and support from local societies and banks, we were able to avoid bankruptcy.
We learned an important lesson from that experience and shifted our business from mass production in small variety to production of various items.
Development of original various optics, sales channels and expanding sales regions has been our mission.
The thankfulness for the help and support we received is passed on in our company spirit.
Pick-up lenses which were used for CD players.
The world’s first CD player with Natsume’s
lens built in. (Still in active use)
In this period, we started to receive requests from companies in various fields.
Requests from electronic companies for sensor applications had very high requirements compared to our past business with optical manufacturers. One request was to develop a lens to pick up the optical light from a CD. After a continuous process of trial and error, we succeeded to develop a cylindrical form lens. At that time, cylindrical lens was a specialized lens, which Natsume Optical Corporation could only achieve and we received many business requests. In the year 1982, the world’s first CD player released and we were very proud to be a part of the project.
Thereafter, we succeeded in developing other specialized formed lenses such as ball lens, rod lens, prisms and axicon lens, which expanded our product lineup range.
Fly-eye lens, developed and supplied as a pioneer in the market.
Succeeded in mass production of high precision ball lenses.
In the 1990’s, computers became widespread around the world.
Demands for mass production of semiconductor devices and increasing the capacity and speed of them increased rapidly.
We became a pioneer of supplying fly-eye lens, which is used in lithography systems for semiconductor manufacturing. Lithography technology is also applied for production of LCD panels and printed circuit boards. Due to the rapid growth, our lens supply to these fields grew to become our main business line with a major part of our business sales.
The rapid spread and evolvement of computers built a big demand for increasing the speed and capacity of data communication networks.
Mass production of high precision glass ball lens were required to build an efficient network with optical-fiber cables.
To supply for the strong market demands, we established a partnership with a bearing manufacturer, TSUBAKI NAKASHIMA CO., LTD. in 2003 and developed a process together to achieve mass production of several million pieces per month.
We currently have the top world share for ball lens used in optical communication systems.
R&D at the Technology Center developed production processes for aspherical lens.
Technology Center (Iida City, Kawaji)
Approx. 8km from the head office.
July 2005, Technology Center was built as our new R&D site to perform further technological development for specialized formed and ultra precision items. Large investments were made to control the environment such as temperature, humidity and vibration control. With the controlled environment, we research and develop the world’s leading edge optics.
At the Technology Center, developing optics for next generation industries such as X-ray, space, automotive and high power laser processing are performed daily to become the world’s leading edge optical company.
In 2016, we have expanded our Technology Center to add development of optical designing and lens assembling into our business range. We will accelerate our R&D to provide the most advanced photonics solutions to our customers.
Beyond this point, a steep and high mountain of technology is challenging us in our path.
Serious effort and strength is needed to climb up.
If we are able to climb up with our own strength,
we will be able to become the world’s best lens maker.
We must challenge and climb because the mountain is there in front of us.
From Tetsuzo Natsume
70 years has passed,
but one thing hasn’t and won’t change…Passion for Technology.