The MEMS industry’s two major annual market research studies both report dramatic growth from 2005 to 2006. According to the German firm WTC, the worldwide contract MEMS foundry business expanded by 30% last year. Yole Developpement, based in France, reports an even greater expansion: 35% for MEMS foundry and contract manufacturing. California-based Innovative Microsystems Technologies (IMT) posted the sector’s most impressive growth rate-a whopping 50% (the company told Small Times that it produces 96% of the MEMS switches used for telecommunications applications).
Yole explains that “while the MEMS foundry business accounts for a limited part of the global MEMS business today, these companies are at the very heart of the next MEMS developments.” And, the French research firm adds, “We anticipate a similar market growth in 2007 and for the next three years.”
Several articles in this issue illustrate this expansion. Our cover story (see “Semi suppliers court MEMS, PV, emerging markets,” p. 8) by Tom Cheyney, Small Times’ senior contributing editor, explains how traditional semiconductor tool suppliers are serving MEMS developers. And in his survey of MEMS manufacturing services (p. 18), Roger Allan summarizes the effect of so many recent facility-expansion announcements: a broader range of options for an increasingly fabless development community. Two other articles-“LIGA moves into the mainstream” (p. 24) and “Simulation software speeds microfluidics development” (p. 26)-highlight other aspects of this phenomenon.
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand the expansion these reports illustrate. In May, Tom Cheyney and I toured the Santa Clara, Calif., location of Fujifilm Dimatix, which is perhaps the largest provider of piezoelectric ink-jet printheads and fluid dispensing micropumps in the world. Santa Clara is home to the company’s expanding Deposition Products operation, which designs and manufactures micropumps that additively print functional fluids. Tom and I also toured the cleanrooms of SVTC Technologies, which boasts a unique ability to integrate MEMS and CMOS-and reportedly handles 35 elements on the periodic table.
Then I had some hands-on cleanroom experience during Cornell University’s Nanotechnology for Journalists Workshop, which preceded The Future of Nanotechnology symposium-a celebration of the Cornell NanoScale Science & Technology Facility’s 30th anniversary. If you missed National Public Radio’s Science Friday coverage of Cornell’s research, you can catch it online at www.sciencefriday.com/pages/2007/Jun/hour2_061507.html.
I found MEMS fabs Silex Microsystems, Micralyne, and Tronics Microsystems-all of which have recently expanded-at Sensors Expo, as well as Bennington Microtechnology Center and Infotonics Technology Center, which specialize in MEMS packaging and systems integration.
To paraphrase Yole, I’ve touched on only a part of the MEMS sector-which in turn, is only a part of small tech. But I’m happy to report vibrancy.
-Barbara G. Goode