From the Floor of Transducers ’09 Day 2

Continuing coverage of Transducers 2009 from Paul Werbaneth, VP Marketing & Applications, Tegal Corporation.

Day 2 Afternoon: What’s Bill McClean from IC Insights been saying?  “Watch for the incremental improvements on the quarterly, or shorter, timescale to predict first signs of the upturn.”

Where is it equipment makers look for these signs?  Machine utilization rates and orders for tool consumables from systems in the field:  o-ring orders, replacement ceramic parts, new targets for PVD.

What did I hear today from a colleague in the PVD target business (typically three week lead times for target order to delivery, so a very leading indicator)?  “After November it got bad, but the target business is ticking back up.”

I’d like to think the dots connect…

If 80% of life is showing up then 75% of MEMS is DRIE, at least as I’ve heard repeated several times today – DRIE shows up everywhere.  It’s alive!

Day 2 Morning: … And a scary display case with objects (stuffed animals, birds, and the skeleton of some kind of tiny vampire/homunculus) that could have been collected by Charles Darwin during his famous voyage.  Remind you of The Museum of Jurassic Technology (http://www.mjt.org/) anyone?

Lots of talk throughout the day yesterday and into the evening about the long gestation times, from early development to full commercialization, for most MEMS products.  I hear twenty-seven years quoted as the average time-to-commercialization, which isn’t nearly a lifetime, but could certainly be most of a career.  Choose your racetrack:  RF MEMS, BioMEMS, Microfluidics, etc.; it seems to be similar for all.  Given the twenty-seven year average, we should be able to look backward from today to gauge which products will be rising stars over the next year or two.  Readers, thoughts?

The University of Michigan has stuffed a break-out room with abundant examples of their impressive work in multiple MEMS arenas.  I’m eager to learn more, which I hope to do at the dinner being hosted by Michigan tonight.

Professor Esashi (Tohoku University) and I run across each other in the exhibit area at 7:15am this morning, just long enough to say ohaiyou gozaimasu.  I’ll hope for more time talking with Esashi-sensei over the next couple of days – he looks busy.

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