Here is what we are hearing:

The solar saga continues: Siemens flees solar market

(GigaOm) Energy giant Siemens is leaving the solar market after investing heavily in solar technology and power plant construction. The decision is bad news for startups looking for corporate VCs. The decision reflects the poor outlook for the solar market by an energy giant, which had previously raced to tackle various segments of the business—including manufacturing, equipment sales and power plant engineering and construction—in order to compete with its big nemesis, GE. But the growth of the global solar market hasn’t met expectations, Siemens said in a statement, adding that changes in government policies and slim profit margins are among the chief causes. Siemens’ exit also likely means it will not be actively looking to invest in any more solar startups, for the time being. The company has poured money into startups by either buying an equity stake of the company or by acquiring products from them. Siemens has invested in North Carolina-based Semprius, which developed a new way of producing highly efficient solar cells, and solar energy equipment to use those cells.

Guardian launches Magnetron glass coater

The installation of Guardian Industries UK’s £35 million magnetron coater at its Goole plant is complete. All elements of the coater installation have now been signed off ahead of schedule and handed to Guardian’s Process Group and Production Team. The coater is now operational on three shifts. Over the next few weeks, Guardian’s Process Group and Production team will be working on the characterisation and calibration of all the cathodes ready to produce ClimaGuard A+. The product will undergo product testing at its R&D centers ahead of the start of production in October. David Younker, Guardian Vice President of Engineering, said: “The Guardian team has done an amazing job with the new Coater installation, it is incredible that they have managed to fit such technically advanced equipment into such a restricted area, it is literally like fitting a 12-ounce egg into a 6-ounce shell”.

New Goodfellow ceramic and glass division emerges

Dedicated solely to materials and finished components in ceramic and glass, the Goodfellow Ceramic and Glass Division is a newly formed division of Goodfellow, an international supplier of metals and materials for research and industry. “The new Goodfellow Ceramic and Glass Division is a natural extension of our strength as a full-service materials supplier,” says Stephen Aldersley, managing director of Goodfellow. The company has launched a dedicated website to provide technical data, case studies and other information about the ceramics and glasses offered. Goodfellow ceramic specialists can also be reached through the website, by email. In late September, the company also moved facilities from Oakdale to Coraopolis. Pa. Although this is only around 10 miles, the new bigger, facilities will allow the company to expand our shipping operation within the US, and ship from the US to anywhere in the world. Its toll-free phone and fax numbers remain the same, and the company team look forward to helping customers from their new location.

Owens Corning expands glass reinforcement production capability in Russia

Owens Corning announced that its new furnace in its Gous-Khroustalny, Russia, glass reinforcements facility is operational. This is the latest step the company has taken to increase its global capacity to produce composite material and particularly to service the Russian and CIS markets. Owens Corning is a leading global producer of glass fiber reinforcements for composite systems and residential and commercial building materials. The Gous-Khroustalny plant, now with double production capacity, will manufacture Owens Corning’s corrosion-resistant Advantex glass locally. The facility will produce roving and wet use chopped strands as well as other products.

Zontec releases Synergy 2000 multi-function toolbox version 2.0 to make data automation seamless regardless of equipment

Zontec Inc., a developer of statistical process control software solutions, announced an update to its Synergy 2000 Multi-function Toolbox. The Multi-function Toolbox automatically collects data in real-time from programmable logic controllers, coordinate measurement machines and similar plant hardware. The Multi-function Toolbox also enables companies to seamlessly transfer legacy data from other applications or databases, integrate data from manufacturing applications such as enterprise resource planning, laboratory management systems, supervisory control and data acquisition systems as well as serve as a communication bridge between open platform connectivity (OPC) servers and the Synergy 2000 OPC client. Features include: Ability to conntect to multiple OPC servers, save selected tags as a group in OPC client, import data from any database through open database connectivity, setup data transfers for multiple comma-separated values files and updated to lastest version of Microsoft Net 4.0.

World’s most advanced mirror for giant telescope completed

Scientists at the University of Arizona and in California have completed the most challenging large astronomical mirror ever made. For the past several years, a group of optical scientists and engineers working at the UA Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory underneath the UA’s football stadium have been polishing an 8.4-meter (27 ½ feet) diameter mirror with an unusual, highly asymmetric shape. By the standards used by optical scientists, the “degree of difficulty” for this mirror is 10 times that of any previous large telescope mirror. The mirror surface matches the desired prescription to a precision of 19 nanometers —so smooth that if it were the size of the continental US, the highest mountains would be little more than a half-inch high. This mirror, and six more like it, will form the heart of the 25-meter Giant Magellan Telescope, providing more than 380 square meters, or 4,000 square feet, of light-collecting area. The Giant Magellan Telescope will lead a next generation of giant telescopes that will explore planets around other stars and the formation of stars, galaxies and black holes in the early universe.