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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Extreme Innovation at Tong Hsing

My last blog entry was on the challenges of diversification in the micro and nano-electronics manufacturing markets. I compared the natural diversification opportunities of parts and sub-system suppliers with the overwhelming challenges of diversification for highly specialized semiconductor tool manufacturer.

Yesterday, I saw another version of the diversification story on a visit to company that has made leading-edge, niche markets its prime domain. Its business strategy is to find customized applications in promising markets--typically served by hard-to-find, underfunded start-ups—and develop novel and innovative packaging solutions. Entering into long, complex development cycles in risky markets and difficult applications is its forte.

Nestled among the narrow streets of Tauyuan area, between Taipei and Hsin Chu, Tong Hsing Electronic Industries is developing some of the world’s most innovative micro modules and custom semiconductor packages. The company specializes in PA front-end modules, MEMS packaging, thick film and thin film ceramic substrates, and other advanced microelectronic packaging.

Heinz Ru, senior vice president of marketing and innovation contacted me after reading my name a SEMI press release announcing the Extreme Electronics section of SEMICON West that focused on MEMS, high brightness LEDS and printed and flexible electronics. Heinz had a feeling I would enjoy the Tong Hsing story and he was right.
Tong Hsing specializes in Extreme Electronics, providing advanced packaging to some of the most successful companies and products in the world. Their core expertise is in material science on interconnect applications and they have been enabling some of the most difficult and successful applications in MEMS, including displays, inkjet printers, accelerometers, gyros, and microfluidics. Heinz described a wide variety of successes; their provide modules for fuel cells that fit in your pocket or power your neighborhood; MEMS ink jet heads that can put a printer in your cell phone; high performance PV modules with high-voltage, thick copper substrates. They are the world leader in providing module substrates to HB-LEDS (hundreds of millions of units) from factories in Taiwan and the Philippines. About 80% of their business is from the US.

Their expertise is focused on solving packaging and system problems in ways that can be economically scaled to mass production. They are skilled at process development, yield enhancement, and customized reliability testing. Their mission is to become the leading foundry service provider of RF Modules, SiP and MEMS packaging in Asia Pacific. Tong Hsing is currently focused on doubling the production scale of metallized ceramic substrates used in HB-LEDS, adding production capacity for thick film substrates and hybrid modules used in the automotive industry, and ramping up ink jet printing heads lines.

Unlike many companies in the semiconductor supply chain, Hong Tseng isn’t diversifying into high-risk, niche markets as a way to soften the boom and bust of the chip cycle; this is a company that embraced innovation in emerging adjacent microelectronics markets as a way of life.

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