Intel donates $17.5M in tools for MEMS fab

Feb. 17, 2003 — Intel Corp. is donating $17.5 million worth of equipment to a public-private economic development group for a MEMS fabrication facility in New Mexico.

Albuquerque’s Next Generation Economy Inc., which promotes regional growth through MEMS and several other industry clusters, said it will build a fab at the University of New Mexico’s Manufacturing Training and Technology Center. The fab will rent time to companies interesting in making microdevices, including 27 MEMS firms in the Albuquerque area.

“It’s too expensive for small companies to get much traction unless you have some communal effort,” said Mike Skaggs, NextGen’s president and chief executive. “If they can (rent time) for $25 to $100 per hour, versus spending $17 million on tools … that’s what it’s all about.”

Intel donated 74 pieces of equipment, including 6-inch semiconductor manufacturing tools it no longer used at the company’s Rio Rancho, N.M., plant. The company recently completed a new facility for making 12-inch wafers in Rio Rancho.

NextGen, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, said the department helped make Intel’s donation possible by providing nearly $700,000 for insurance, storage, maintenance and additional equipment.

Skaggs said the fab could be running by summer, once policy issues are worked out with the university. Those include accurately assessing the university’s operating costs and determining the time devoted to commercial projects and research.

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