Concurrent Product Development Drives Lab Tech Growth in Fractured Market

Background

A U.S. lab equipment provider needed to advance its wafer characterization and inspection technology to address increasingly diverse customer requirements. The public company relied on Boston Engineering to develop two measurement products with the flexibility for use as either separate standalone products or as an integrated offering in high-volume production facilities and research labs.

Strategy

The company’s instrumentation technology platform provides non-contact, full-surface scanning of semiconducting and semi-insulated wafers. Boston Engineering developed the following two products concurrently by applying an integrated product engineering strategy:
• A fully automated system with an integrated robot and pre-aligner
• A manual bench-top product

Boston Engineering directed the project through concept development, engineering, prototyping, supply chain development, and transfer to manufacturing. Boston Engineering’s design for manufacturing (DFM) methodology features a system-level approach to ensure cohesion across front-end industrial design and back-end engineering (electrical, mechanical, and software engineering). In addition to designing for serviceability, product specifications included:
• High-precision materials measurement including Si, GaAs, InP, SiC, and Ge
• Class 10 internal environment (HEPA)
• Vibration control frame architecture
• Optical character recognition (OCR)
• Support for custom measurement software with tabular and 3-D reporting

Impact

Boston Engineering worked closely with the client to achieve the following results:
• Built an alpha system in six months
• Accelerated commercialization by developing the two products simultaneously
• Expanded the company’s market reach by addressing multiple customer/market segments
• Cut manufacturing and assembly costs for both the beta and production systems
• Developed technology that is a cornerstone of the company’s continued market segment success