Companies move in on Asian cleanroom boom

BY STEVE SMITH

EAST HILLS, N.Y.-On the heels of a recent market study indicating that Asia is driving-and will continue to drive over the next several years-the cleanrooms hardware and garment market, filtration/purification developer Pall Corp. (www.pall.com) has opened a new manufacturing facility in Beijing, China, and has named Jon Weiner the first president of Pall Microelectronics Asia.

The 200,000-square-foot Beijing facility, which opened in January, will manufacture gas filtration and other microelectronics for the Asian marketplace. It features a Class 100 cleanroom for production of the company’s GasKleen gas filtration assemblies as well as a line of electronics-grade housings.

Pall also has a manufacturing operation in Japan, the base from which Weiner will lead the company’s Asian microelectronics business activities. Among his Asian accomplishments, Weiner has been responsible for the opening of company offices in Korea and China, and the launch of joint ventures with Japanese membrane companies.

Pall’s announcement is representative of a growing trend in the cleanroom industry, says the McIlvaine Company (Northfield, Ill.; www.mcilvainecompany.com) in its regularly updated online report, “Cleanrooms: World Markets.” Asian countries are leading the way in semiconductor and microelectronics development, says the report, and an expected eight percent annual growth in sales for cleanroom hardware and consumables over the next five years will be primarily because of rising Asian production.

The report claims that by 2008, Asian countries will occupy four out of five top decision-making positions for the purchase of disposable cleanroom clothing-a market that is expected to rise from $4.6 billion to $6.4 billion over the next five years. Further, the McIlvaine study says that while Western countries remain the leading purchasers of cleanroom hardware and consumables in the life sciences, Asian countries are leading the way in other contamination-control-related processes. China is the fastest growing supplier of semiconductors, Taiwan and South Korea have become leading suppliers of chips, and Japan is becoming a growing player in the purchase of semiconductor cleanrooms and equipment.

Steve Chisholm, president of Pall Microelectronics, notes that “in the past five years, Pall has seen a shift in the geography of our customer base to Asia,” and that the Asian division aims to bring the company’s Total Fluid Management technology to high-tech industries in the region. The Total Fluid Management strategy includes consulting services, such as full process plant audits, a review of contamination objectives, and a coordinated plan for all filtration needs-including feed and waste streams.

Demands for these and other cleanroom technologies, says McIlvaine researchers, will increase with the rapid growth of flat panel display and memory storage manufacturing. “These plants require huge cleanrooms; in fact, the largest flat panel display cleanrooms are even larger than the largest semiconductor cleanrooms,” says the report. Asia’s memory storage manufacturing alone, the study continues, is poised for growth in excess of 20 percent this year.

China in particular, says McIlvaine researchers, is not only becoming a leading purchaser of cleanroom-related products but also a major supplier of gloves, wipes, and disposable clothing.

Read more about the Asian cleanroom market in “Your market analysis” on page 12. III

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