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May 06, 1998 | General
TSE Stock Symbol: ATA

Cambridge, Ontario (May 6, 1998): In a strategic move to broaden applications for its automation systems and invest in a growing futuristic business, ATS Automation Systems Inc. today, announced it has formed an alliance with Micro Optics Design Corporation (MODC) of Irvine, California, a private company in the optical lens equipment manufacturing industry.Under terms of the agreements, ATS has been selected as a strategic supplier for Micro Optics Design Corporation's revolutionary new UltraLab Cut & Coat' System and has made a US$3.9 million investment to acquire a 10% equity interest in MODC. MODC concurrently raised an additional US$1.8 million in equity from other sources and eventually plans an initial public offering of shares.

In making the announcement, ATS President and Chief Executive Officer Klaus Woerner, who will now sit on the Board of Directors of MODC, said "ATS will benefit in several ways from its involvement.

"This alliance will see ATS participate in the design and manufacture of standardized, automated work cells for MODC as part of the UltraLabä product, so our company will gain a new revenue source in an industry with excellent growth potential. And the equity investment ATS has made gives us an interest in a very promising company with high quality management and proprietary technology. We've worked with MODC over the last year and we've now solidified the relationship. This is completely consistent with our strategies of expanding ATS' revenues from new markets and investing in futuristic businesses."

MODC's UltraLabä is a complete lens surfacing and coating manufacturing system designed to dramatically increase productivity, quality and consistency while significantly lowering the costs of manufacturing ophthalmic lenses. UltraLab™ targets the wholesale and retail optical laboratories' capital equipment market, which is estimated to be worth US $750 million per annum.

"Automation is critical to the economic viability and capability of the UltraLabä System," said David Wallace, Chairman and CEO of Micro Optics Design Corporation. "With this new agreement in place, we plan to make greater use of ATS' engineering, automation and manufacturing capabilities, to complement our own development efforts and to ensure our technology offers customers the ultimate efficiency and investment payback. "Our first UltraLabä System is now installed at a major U.S. lens wholesale laboratory. We expect to ship and install two more pre-production systems by the middle of June and have commercial systems available in July of this year."

"One of the important benefits of this agreement is the opportunity for ATS to apply further standardization to the UltraLabä workcell," said Mr. Woerner. "This will facilitate a faster manufacturing cycle time and allow ATS to obtain greater leverage from its engineering and manufacturing resources."

Micro Optics Design Corporation headquartered in Irvine California (Internet website address:, designs, manufactures, sells and services lens processing systems for ophthalmic laboratories worldwide. In 1997, it delivered the industry's first Cut & Coat™ technology introduced to eliminate the traditional fining and polishing steps associated with eyeglass manufacturing.

ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. (Internet website address: is one of North America's leading designers and producers of turn-key automated manufacturing and test systems, which are used primarily by multinational corporations operating in a variety of industries: automotive, computer/electronics, consumer products and healthcare. The company also makes plastic and metal precision components and sub-assemblies using its own custom-built manufacturing systems, process knowledge and automation technology. The company employs approximately 2,500 people at 17 facilities in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The company's shares are traded on The Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol ATA.

For more information:

Robert Winlow, MODC Vice President of Marketing
714 788-0005

Ron Jutras, ATS, Chief Financial Officer
519 653-6500