MEMS Pioneer VTI Technologies Celebrates 20 Years

VTI Technologies celebrates its 20th anniversary on 1 September 2011. The company has grown into a global supplier of MEMS sensors that in their end-use applications improve safety and quality of life.

VTI’s roots are in the company Vaisala, where research was carried out into capacitive sensor measurement technology already in the 1970s. The sensor business was split off from Vaisala with the foundation of Vaisala Technologies Inc, Oy on 1 September 1991. The company’s goal was to become a major automotive supplier.

“Today, exactly 20 years later, we can conclude that VTI Technologies has achieved and even exceeded its original goal,” says Mr. Markku Hirvonen, President and CEO of VTI. “We have grown from a small 16-person company to a MEMS specialist and global market leader in automotive low-g acceleration sensors with over 600 employees.” Although the automotive industry continues to be VTI’s largest business area, the company has grown into a significant supplier of sensors also for medical applications and various measuring instruments. The company is a market leader in motion sensors for cardiac pacemakers: every minute, somewhere in the world a pacemaker equipped with a VTI accelerometer is being inserted in a patient’s chest!

20 years of MEMS

Although VTI as a company is growing from small to big, the trend in MEMS products has been the exact opposite. Twenty years ago MEMS sensor elements and components were relatively big compared to today’s solutions. A small size companied with low power consumption and excellent performance has always been a major advantage offered by VTI’s unique 3D MEMS technology. The importance of a small size will continue to grow in the future, especially in consumer electronics products.

VTI’s production began in modest laboratory and clean rooms but has grown exponentially since. During the first year of operations, manufacturing a thousand sensor elements a week was a challenging target that was nevertheless achieved. Today, VTI processes almost a thousand wafers and thousands of sensor elements from each wafer each week.

VTI’s product assortment has also expanded considerably over the past 20 years. The company’s selection of acceleration sensors offers solutions not only for the automotive industry but also for many kinds of measuring instruments, medical and consumer electronics products. In recent years the company has focused particularly on the development of angular rate sensors, i.e. gyros. The product range now includes gyros and combined sensors for vehicles, navigation equipment, consumer electronics and other applications.

Continued growth

In accordance with its vision and strategy, VTI’s goal is to become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of MEMS sensors. How will this be achieved?

“Our advantage is our 100-percent focus on what we do best: MEMS technology and selected, highly interesting applications,” emphasizes Mr. Markku Hirvonen. “We have nurtured our leading expertise in selected business areas, and our technical support and in-depth knowledge of applications are appreciated by our customers. VTI has gained a leading position as a supplier of sensors for the automotive industry and medical applications, and in the coming decade we will grow into a major supplier also for consumer electronics.”

Mr. Markku Hirvonen points out that even smaller companies can grow into major players thanks to the hybrid manufacturing strategy selected by VTI: “Our product development and production of highly demanding MEMS solutions are concentrated at our own factory in Finland. For example, all of our sensors for the automotive industry and medical applications are manufactured in Finland and will continue to be so. For the consumer electronics markets we have developed a flexible and efficient mass production chain in Asia. In this way we are able to meet the demands of different business areas in the best possible way.”

VTI in brief
VTI Technologies is a leading supplier of acceleration, inclination and angular motion sensor solutions for transportation, medical, instrument and consumer electronics applications. In their end-use applications, VTI’s products improve safety and quality of life. The silicon-based capacitive sensors are based on the company’s proprietary 3D MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical System) technology. The company is owned by EQT and had net sales in 2010 of EUR 75.8 million. For more information, please visit www.vtitechnologies.com.

Further information
Mr. Markku Hirvonen, President and CEO, tel. +358 (0)9 879 181
 

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