Analyst: MEMS test equipment priorities: low-cost, standardized

Mar. 28, 2008 – In a sector dominated by expensive customized products, the best opportunities in the MEMS test equipment market are to develop cost-effective standardized technologies, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.

The report pegs the worldwide MEMS test equipment market at $56.5M in 2007, growing to $120.2M in 2014. But the high price of current tools (up to $1M) is a deterrent for many MEMS device manufacturers, and heavy customization requires more work by vendors, which further drives up costs. Also, there’s a lack of versatility in MEMS test equipment — most perform only either electrical testing or mechanical testing — and increasing complexity of MEMS devices will further push growth of lower-cost processes.

As a result, most manufacturers don’t employ MEMS testing unless it’s essential, and most end-users lack understanding about its importance, and have “a low awareness” of wafer-level technology and MEMS testing, the report notes.

“In today’s market, if it costs around $0.50 to manufacture a chip, it costs almost $0.40 to test it,” said Frost & Sullivan research analyst Sujan Sami, in a statement. Thus, the market is clamoring for low-cost test equipment, which is “compelling test vendors to conduct more intensive research in this area,” he said.

To overcome this marketplace perception, test vendors are focusing on educating end users and explaining benefits obtainable via MEMS testing, which is expected to help “significantly” increase adoption rates, the report claims. And once standardization improves, costs will drop.


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