Growth at Asia Pacific Microsystems came largely from the rebounding automotive sector, with one or two large customers moving from development into production. Meanwhile the company’s major business making ink jet heads for a variety of customers remains a stable revenue source, as end demand in developing markets remains strong.
The company expects the ramping of other automotive projects in the pipeline to drive further growth in 2011 as well, and for the longer term has a diverse selection of new products in development, including scanners, infrared sensors, and biomedical devices. But near term, it’s now cautious about the outlook because of uncertainty about the impact of a downturn in Japan on its end user markets. “At the end of last year we were very positive, with a lot of new projects coming along,” says Edward Chiu, deputy director of technical marketing. “But now conditions in Japan could impact end users markets. We are part of the supply chain. We can’t see clearly ahead, so we are cautious for this year.”
APM continues the modest expansion of its 6-inch capacity to fix some bottlenecks, but as of yet has no plans to invest in 8-inch capacity. It targets midsize customers with products that may start out at 100 wafers per month and then expand to hundreds of wafers per month, for whom 6-inch volumes are sufficient. “the bottom line for a foundry is having high enough loading to pay for its equipment, so we focus on high volume production for 6-inch,” says Chiu. “We want to focus on filling our 6-inch capacity, and don’t see the turning point to requiring 8-inch volumes yet.”
Step comb picture from APM.
(This is also published on the page 10 of MEMS' Trends April 2011.)