May 11, 2009

Acoustic components: EPCOS acquires microphone technology from Technitrol

  • Acquisition of development of MEMS microphones and patents
  • Opening up future-oriented applications, especially in mobile phones
  • Packaging technology from EPCOS allows up to 80 percent miniaturization of the microphones

EPCOS, a leading manufacturer of electronic components, modules and systems, has acquired the development activities of MEMS microphones from Technitrol, Inc. (MEMS Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems). The asset transfer agreement concluded between the two companies also includes patents; the acquisition sum is in the mid single-digit million euro range.

This acquisition opens up the growth market for miniaturized MEMS microphones to EPCOS. They are used especially in mobile phones and Bluetooth headsets. The market volume of these applications is already in the triple-digit million euro range.

In the future EPCOS will develop, manufacture and sell MEMS microphones worldwide. In contrast, Technitrol will no longer offer MEMS microphones, which were originally established on the market under the brand Sonion, except to fulfill certain limited commitments.

Growth opportunities thanks to an extended product range

The new MEMS microphones mean that EPCOS is extending its value-added share, especially in mobile phones. The EPCOS range will cover not only the radio frequency but also the audio frequency range for voice and sound. EPCOS has been world market leader in RF filters for mobile phone applications for many years already. The product range comprises discrete filters as well as integrated modules for use in the transmit and receive systems of mobile phones, for example.

In addition to mobile phones, MEMS microphones can also be used in notebook computers and digital cameras.

EPCOS packaging competence opens up enormous miniaturization potential

EPCOS combines the know-how developed by Technitrol in MEMS microphones with its own competence in manufacturing highly miniaturized electronic components. Thus, the cost-effective chip-sized MEMS package (CSMP®) technology developed by EPCOS will be used for the packages of the new microphones. MEMS microphones in CSMP technology are up to 80 percent smaller than conventional types. Their antenna effect for electromagnetic interference fields is also lower, as the CSMP package shields the microphones from interference fields.

In contrast to conventional electret microphones, silicon-based MEMS microphones can be processed with SMD placement systems and RoHS-compatible reflow soldering. This allows customers to simplify their manufacturing processes and reduce costs. They also improve the environmental balance of their equipment, as disposal of the MEMS microphones no longer produces any hazardous substances.

Glossary

Bluetooth

A standard for short-range wireless connections, for example between a mobile phone and headset or a PC and printer. It allows these devices to communicate without cables in the 2.4 GHz short-range radio frequency bandwidth. Bluetooth uses a radio technology called frequency-hopping spread spectrum, which divides the frequency band into 79 frequencies. Since Version 2.0 + EDR (enhanced data rate) Bluetooth can achieve a data rate of up to 2.1 Mbit/s.
SMD   Surface mount devices are components without wire leads that are designed for mounting directly onto the printed circuit board by means of solderable contact pads. SMDs are suitable for highly automated production lines.

About EPCOS

EPCOS AG is a leading manufacturer of electronic components, modules and systems headquartered in Munich. With its broad portfolio EPCOS offers a comprehensive range of products from a single source and focuses on fast-growing and technologically demanding markets, in particular in the areas of information and communication technology, automotive electronics, industrial electronics and consumer electronics. The EPCOS Group has design and manufacturing locations and sales offices in Europe, Asia, and in North and South America.

Electronic components are found in every electrical and electronic product and are indispensable for their flawless operation. Products from EPCOS store electrical energy, filter frequencies, and protect against overvoltage and overcurrent.

In fiscal 2008 (October 1, 2007, to September 30, 2008), EPCOS posted sales of EUR 1.48 billion. At the end of the fiscal year, the company employed about 21,200 people worldwide.

About Technitrol

Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania/ USA, Technitrol, Inc., is a worldwide producer of electronic components, electrical contacts and assemblies and other precision-engineered parts and materials for manufacturers in the wireless and wireline communications, hearing, medical, military/aerospace, automotive and electrical equipment industries.

In fiscal 2008 ending December 26, 2008, Technitrol posted sales of USD 1.1 billion. At the end of the fiscal year, the company employed approximately 21,400 people worldwide.