Panasonic plans medical MEMS launch

April 13, 2011 – Nikkei — Panasonic Corp. will break into the market for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) for medical applications, with plans to develop and commercialize MEMS sensors and devices as early as this year, The Nikkei reported on April 12.

The company is looking to develop MEMS components for use in blood pressure sensors, micro pumps for measuring blood flow and bio-sensors for tracking changes in temperatures and enzymes.

Panasonic has already been manufacturing MEMS parts for mobile phones and other consumer products. With plans to add medical MEMS, the company is considering expanding the scale of MEMS operations at a production base of Panasonic Electronic Devices Co. in Fukui Prefecture.

Global demand for MEMS in Medical/BioMedical End-Use is expected to increase at a robust pace during 2007 through 2015 period, says analyst firm GIA, pointing out that "the value proposition revolving around patient comfort, ease of drug delivery, and ensuing patient compliance will drive demand for MEMS in this space."

Among Japanese firms, Dai Nippon Printing Co., Omron Corp., and Sumitomo Precision Products Co. are accelerating efforts to bolster their MEMS business. MEMS production is experiencing something of a resurgence in Japan, despite the impact of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Dai Nippon, which runs a MEMS foundry business, plans to invest roughly 1 billion yen and double its production capacity to the equivalent of 2,000 150mm silicon wafers per month by the end of this year. The company has set its sights on lifting the annual revenue from its MEMS foundry business by roughly 100% to around 6 billion yen by fiscal 2013.

The MEMS industry grew 25% in 2010, with $8.6 billion in total sales, says Yole Développement.

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