New Foundry Friends: MEMS device makers increasingly outsource fabrication

Contributed by Dennis Spaeth, Electronic Media Editor, MICROmanufacturing

Keeping up with the growing demand for microelectromechanical systems used inside devices such as smartphones will require MEMS makers to make some new fab friends—as in foundries that can fabricate the devices, help drive down costs and speed time to market.

A new MEMS piezoresistive, low-pressure sensing die design from All Sensors measures 2mm × 2mm and minimizes position sensitivity because it uses a boss-less structure. Photo courtesy All Sensors.

That’s the trend among a growing number of MEMS device manufacturers. Given the staggering costs associated with building their own fabs, these companies are going fabless—choosing to outsource fabrication of their devices despite having to share intellectual property with a third party.

Though protecting IP remains a stumbling block, many in the industry are convinced that the path to high-volume, low-cost MEMS manufacturing will include more “pure-play” MEMS foundries. And that, in turn, could trigger the adoption of MEMS standards, or at least de facto standards, that some say are required to keep up with the consumer electronic product cycle.

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