Ultimately Hanking wants to be a MEMS IDM making components under its own badge, although it may then run a mix of 70 percent own-brand and 30 percent foundry wafers, Sparks said. However, before it can do that it will likely need to start by offering foundry services to eastablished MEMS manufacturers.
Sparks said that he has been looking at partnerships with MEMS IDMs and foundries. A contract to be a China-based manufacturer on behalf of a MEMS maker would let Hanking install a "copy-exact" equipment line and begin to learn its MEMS skills while making product for someone else. "We've been talking to a couple of potential strategic partners," said Sparks but he declined to reveal names.
Sparks said that he was also talking to MEMS foundry Memscap SA (Bernin, France) about bringing the MUMPS system to China. MUMPS is a system of standardized process modules that enables the sharing of wafer area by multiple customers, similar to multiproject wafer (MPW) runs in CMOS.
MUMPS stands for Multi-User MEMS Processes. It is a program that was originally developed at the University of California Berkeley in the 1980s before moving to Microelectronics Corporation of North Carolina (MCNC) and brought up as a means of providing academics with access to MEMS prototyping. The service was transferred to Cronos Integrated Microsystems Inc. including a wafer fab in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, which was then acquired by Memscap in 2003. Memscap uses the facility to provide customers with access to MEMS prototyping and then transition to volume manufacturing.
Sparks said that a lot of small companies in Chinese could be interested in MEMS if they could access such a low-cost access system. Hanking also has offices in Cleveland, Ohio. "We've started doing some designs there to get things off the ground," said Sparks.
Sparks added that Hanking Electronics is also looking to re-label and some electronic products in China in the area of wireless sensor networks as a means of building up its sales and marketing infrastructure.
Hanking is not the first company to build a MEMS fab in China. Memsic Inc. (Andover, Mass.), a 1999 spin-off from Analog Devices Inc. constructed a back-end fab in Wuxi that worked with processed CMOS wafers from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
Before taking up his current position with Hanking Electronics in October 2011, Sparks had worked with MEMS company Integrated Sensing Systems Inc. (Ypsilanti, Michigan) for ten years and prior to that had worked on automotive MEMS for 17 years at Delco which became Delphi.
It was while Sparks was at Delphi that he hired a Chinese MSc. graduate from Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio), Lucy Huang, who subsequently landed the top job at Hanking Electronics.
About 25 years ago Nippon Mining & Sumitomo Metals ( both Japanese ) got into semiconductors. Sumitomo is one of the largest suppliers of raw Si wafers to Fabs. They even have a factory in the US.
The Chinese are merely copying with assistance from US veterans ( as reported here like this Mr. Sparks, ex Delco ) made homeless by Wall St.