May 2017

TDK expands sensor business

Extensive sensor competence from a single source

The expansion of networking in the world of electronics demands that its senses are sharpened and extended: a growing number of physical properties must be detected and measured by an increasing number of sensors with ever greater precision. Across all industries, the demand for sensor technology is rising accordingly. TDK offers a wide range of innovative solutions.

Regardless of whether for a smart car, smart grid or smart home: TDK offers an expanding range of sensors and sensor solutions, not only for the markets of the future such as IoT and Industry 4.0, but also for established automotive and industrial application fields. The portfolio includes products for sensing temperatures, pressures, currents, and magnetic fields, and thus positions, angles, acceleration rates and much more.

TDK had begun to expand its range of sensors significantly as early as 2009, when its magnetic field sensors were joined by the broad range of EPCOS temperature and pressure sensors. As part of its growth strategy, the company has now been concentrating even more intensely on sensor technology.

Technology offensive in sensor market

Early 2016 saw the acquisition of Micronas, the manufacturer of Hall-effect sensors. By combining its own expertise in tunnel magneto resistance (TMR) sensors with Micronas' competence in Hall sensors, TDK is now expanding its business in the field of magnetic field sensors. The high-sensitivity Hall and TMR sensors enable both dynamic and static magnetic fields to be sensed, making them ideal for determining positions and angles.

TDK sensor and applications portfolio

In December the acquisition of a majority share in Tronics Microsystems followed, which specializes in inertial sensors and MEMS solutions. Thanks to its new technological competence and innovative strength, Tronics is opening the door to the fast-growing market for inertial sensors, with which acceleration and rotational speeds can be measured, among others, enabling multi-sensor functionality to be implemented in a single component. TDK is working on the assumption that integrated systems will continue to establish themselves as key components in industrial and automotive electronics, avionics and in the IoT.

In May 2017 TDK acquired InvenSense, a provider of MEMS sensor platforms. InvenSense combines MEMS sensors such as acceleration sensors, gyros or compass sensors with integrated systems for the sensing of movement and sound, and also with its own algorithms and embedded software. This optimizes the precision of the results obtained from the sensor systems.

The focus on sensor technology and the continually expanding range of products is also now reflected in the company structure. In April 2017 TDK consolidated its sensor activities in the newly established Sensor Systems Business Company (SSBC). "Sensor technology is a multi-faceted market with enormous growth potential. By 2020 we want to quadruple the sales of TDK sensors to about 200 billion yen, i.e. more than 1.6 billion euros," says Noboru Saito, Director of the TDK SSBC.TDK is marketing its continually expanding portfolio of sensors under the umbrella of the SSBC, which includes not only temperature and pressure sensors and magnetic field sensors, but also MEMS microphones and IoT systems. Combined sensor products with multiple sensor functions also increase the attractiveness of the TDK sensor portfolio, which is currently being marketed under the product brands, TDK, EPCOS, Micronas and Tronics (see Table).

TDK on the way to becoming Sensor Solutions Provider

In order to offer customers even more competitive advantages TDK will in future rely increasingly on modular sensor solutions and innovative packaging technologies – including the relevant software and ASICs, depending on the product. TDK is strengthening its activities in this field and has acquired ICsense, an ASIC specialist. In addition, TDK is leveraging its existing sensors and technologies in order to develop innovative sensors for new applications – such as MEMS inertial sensors for automotive and industrial applications or magnetic field sensors for consumer electronics. 

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