June 16, 2006 – Cabot Microelectronics Corp. Aurora, IL, a developer of chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) polishing slurries, has agreed to purchase all the assets of QED Technologies Inc., a developer of polishing and metrology systems for high precision optics, in an effort to expand its “engineered surface finishes” lines outside the semiconductor market.
QED’s main product, “magneto-rheological finishing” (MRF) has particular use in precision optics, and can predictively improve both figure and surface finish simultaneously, the company claims. It has an installed base of more than 100 systems worldwide. QED also has developed metrology technology, “subaperture stitching interferometry,” which provides an accurate map of the optical surface being measured by interferometers. Future products are expected to extend the functionality to include aspheres and freeform shapes. Combined, the two products can achieve repeatable, efficient automation in producing precision optical surfaces, the company claims.
Financial terms of the deal are $19 million in cash, with eventual price of up to $23.5 million if the QED business achieves certain levels after two years. Cabot also will take on about $2 million in liabilities, and will record a pretax charge of approximately $2 million for writeoff of in-process R&D. QED posted about $12 million in sales in 2005 and “is presently a profitable business,” according to the two firms.
“The pervasive and growing precision optics market is placing increasing value on high quality surface finishes and high precision form factors. The industry has clearly articulated, unmet needs involving complex geometries, unique materials and pristine surface finish requirements,” stated William Noglows, chairman and CEO of Cabot Microelectronics. “We expect that the QED business will leverage CMC’s expertise in polishing chemistry to enhance the development of MRF consumables, and that our global infrastructure will accelerate QED’s entry into new markets.”
“Just as CMP is an enabling technology for the semiconductor industry, we believe our patented processes allow precision optics manufacturers to achieve greater performance and improved efficiency,” added QED president Don Golini. “We believe that combining the complementary strengths of QED and Cabot Microelectronics will present new and exciting solutions for the precision optics market, as well as new opportunities for the growth of our products and services.”