March 21, 2007 – Nearly one year to the day after acquiring overlay metrology firm Soluris Inc., metrology equipment supplier Nanometrics Inc. says it is closing the firm’s Concord, MA facility and consolidating all of its overlay metrology production at a facility in Asia.
The decision essentially closes down Soluris’ Concord, MA headquarters, and shifts production of all of Soluris’ IVS product lines into one location in South Korea, where Nanometrics already makes its Orion and Caliper systems. The company says engineering and design resources will be pooled at the Korea site, though advanced overlay development will continue through a team in York, UK. The move is expected to be completed by 3Q07 and save more than $1 million annually.
“By consolidating our overlay manufacturing operations into one central facility in Asia, we are able to focus dedicated resources and improve manufacturing systems, providing our customers with enhanced product consistency, reliability and overall quality,” said Bert Plambeck, Nanometrics’ director of overlay product marketing, in a statement. “We see this convergence as a key factor in our ability to continue to provide best-in-class overlay metrology systems to our customers worldwide.”
Soluris was formed in 2003 through a management buyout of optical and electron metrology assets of Schlumberger Ltd.’s semiconductor group. The company’s flagship IVS 155 product, used for 200mm semiconductor overlay and CD measurement, boasted a user base of 150 installed systems worldwide.
The Nanometrics buyout of Soluris — just a month after it snapped up other complimentary technology with scatterometry pioneer Accent Optical Technologies — officially ended Soluris’ other project, Yosemite CD-SEM technology, which had drained all the company’s profits and faced a long uphill battle vs. entrenched and far larger competitors.