December 28, 2011 — Bosch crossed the 1 billion micro electro mechanical system (MEMS) production mark 3 years ago, and has now surpassed 2 billion made.
The first billion were made over 13 years, showing how quickly MEMS have ramped to commercial volumes recently, noted a Bosch representative. Production volumes are still growing, with annual production at Bosch hitting about half a billion units (1.3 million/workday).
Bosch developed bulk and surface micromachining in the 1980s, known as the "Bosch process," and began MEMS production in 1995. The company makes MEMS sensors for the automotive and consumer sectors, via its Automotive Electronics division and Sensortec and Akustica subsidiaries. Sensors from Bosch measure pressure, yaw, acceleration, flow rate, and magnetic force (direction). The devices incorporate micro springs, bars, membrans, and weights etched into a silicon substrate. Integrated circuits pick up signals from the MEMS structures and process, amplify, or convert these into digital data.
Bosch initially saw a market for MEMS sensors in automotive electronics, where the company produces several hundred vehicle-specific varieties of micro-mechanical sensor, with growing product lines and volumes. These are designed for accuracy and robustness. Automotive Technology is the largest Bosch Group business sector, with EUR28.1 billion in 2010 sales.
The company’s consumer-electronics MEMS are designed for lower power and smaller form factor, immunity to high-frequency signals from surrounding circuitry and displays, as well as cost-effective in high volumes. Bosch’s smallest Sensortec MEMS sensor has a 2mm edge by <1mm high, offers standby power consumption lower than the battery’s self-discharge rate. MEMS microphones for consumer applications are the specialty of Bosch’s Akustica subsidiary.
The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services in the areas of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods, and building technology. Additional information can be accessed at www.bosch.com.