Industrial filter market growing, but cleanroom segment still cyclical

Chris Anderson

SAN JOSE, CA—A recent market study by Frost & Sullivan forecasts the $1.13-billion industrial and commercial air filtration market will grow at a modest 5 percent clip through 2007. But the market for cleanroom filters remains a niche within the industry and is susceptible to the cyclical nature of the IC and microelectronics industries, says Caryn Sykes, industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan.

“While the overall use of HEPA filters has grown to represent about $100 million in 2000, much of that figure is strictly the use of these filters in commercial office buildings,” says Sykes. “Filters for cleanroom use is still a niche market and highly cyclical. How well each company selling into the cleanroom market is cushioned from the downturns depends on how much a company's business is in other markets.”

Still, that doesn't stop companies such as Louisville, KY-based AAF International Inc. from putting most of its eggs in the IC and microelectronics industry basket. “The next year is going to be down for us, but you have to learn to live through the downturn,” says Pat Paquet, cleanroom operations manager with AAF. “With the next slow down, we need to take time to define new processes and be ready when the market turns over again.”

During the next downturn, according to Paquet, AAF will also study ways to expand its presence in the cleanroom market in the pharmaceutical, automotive, healthcare and food industries. Still, he says when it comes to cleanrooms all these industries combined “will never catch up to the semiconductor market.”


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