With the aim of contributing to society as a development-type company, Micro Engineering has succeeded in fostering solutions not only for wafer polishing and cleaning, but also countermeasures against infectious diseases.
“We take a very positive and constructive view of partnerships with external and international companies.“
Hajime Tomizawa, President & CEO, Micro Engineering, Inc.
Founded in 1976, Micro Engineering has been making and selling manufacturing machines for the production processes of chemical products since its inception. A key goal has always been to contribute to society as a development-type company, based on the original principles of ‘challenging craftsmanship’ and ‘listening directly to the voices of customers in the market, fulfilling their requirements through technological development.’ This philosophy has been continued to this day through the work of current president and CEO, Hajime Tomizawa.
Since its founding, Micro Engineering’s business has continued to evolve over the years. The company started out in polishing machines for semiconductor manufacturers, but as customer needs have changed, it has focused on meeting various new demands.
“When we sold the polishing machines to our customers, we received a request from a customer asking if we could make a cleaning machine to wash the polished products. So we manufactured and provided that machine,” says Mr. Tomizawa. “When we manufactured and sold the cleaning machine again, we found that customers had requests for an inspecting and measuring machine for the products after the cleaning. By continuing to respond to further requests from our customers, we have been able to develop and manufacture inspection and measuring machines, and factory automation systems.”
Underlying Micro Engineering’s product development is the constant pursuit of technological innovation as well as consideration for the environment.
“We are focusing on combined energy solutions,” says Mr. Tomizawa. “One of the composite energy systems we have is an ultra-fine bubble generator, which is one of the core technologies that can improve polishing and cleaning performance while reducing the amount of slurry and detergents used.”
Although this technology has been around for over a decade, further opportunities continue to emerge, he states. “Originally it was developed for the purpose of agriculture and it is also used in the fishing industry, but we have succeeded in eliminating heavy metal contamination, which was a major issue for expanding into the semiconductor field. In the future, we would like to apply this technology to technical fields beyond those related to polishing and cleaning.”
Expansion has already seen Micro Engineering tap into the medical field, as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold, with the manufacture of the CIRCULA suction hand dryer, for which the company applied its semiconductor equipment manufacturing know-how.
“We had been investigating technologies and products to reduce infectious diseases from various perspectives,” explains Mr. Tomizawa. “We examined our own technology and data to assess if there was any COVID-19 pandemic countermeasure that we could help with. This included consideration for the development of a human body cleaning machine, since we already manufactured wafer and FPD (flat panel display) cleaning machines.
“However, there were major challenges in achieving this, such as finding a cleaning agent that didn’t contain chemicals that were harmful to the human body. In addition, it was far from certain if there would be a continued requirement for this type of machine in the future, so we made the decision not to proceed with the development.”
Sales of the CIRCULA suction-type hand dryer have only been realized in Japan thus far, but the company president also aims to sell the product in other countries and regions where it is needed, despite the certification hurdles that may come with its launch in overseas markets.
“We are considering Europe as the next overseas base to aim for. We have a lot of customers in Europe, including the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Ireland and Germany, whom we visit from Japan. If we had a business base in Europe, we could listen to them better and meet their demands accordingly.”
As the company approaches its 50th anniversary, Mr. Tomizawa has a clear message. “In the coming years, many things in society will evolve further, and it will become increasingly essential to incorporate digital transformation into businesses. This is one of the things we have to do to grow sales and profits with the optimal number of staff in our company.
“In addition, the demand for some products and commodities will decline or become obsolete over time, so it is always necessary to develop cutting-edge technology.
This is a very difficult challenge, but the DNA behind our founding philosophy has permeated into our management team and employees, and we will continue to faithfully implement this as we take our business forward.”