Title
An Analogue ASIC for Laser Systems Control
Cost Reduction Based on Analogue ASIC
Technologies used

    Analogue ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    323 Audio and Telecommunications
    331 Medical Equipment
    332 :Instruments & Appliances for Measuring, Testing, Checking
Abstract

Vector Technology is an independent company established in 1989 and currently employs 26 people and with a turnover of 900 kEUR. They specialise in the design, manufacture and supply of laser systems for application in the textile, leisure, veterinarian medicine, security, measurement, transport industrial pointer and instrumentation markets.

The company has three major product areas involving the sale of laser driver modules, specialised laser detector modules and laser emitter/detector systems for specific customer needs. Over 90% of the company's business is involved in the supply of laser modules.

The company's current range of laser module designs is based on the use of discrete analogue components. These surface-mounted technology (SMT) components are assembled as ceramic hybrid or printed circuit board assemblies. Whilst the technical performance of the company's laser modules generally exceeds that of its competitors, the current device technology introduces cost and size disadvantages.

The rationale for the AE was to employ microelectronic technology in the form of an analogue ASIC to reduce manufacturing costs and improve competitiveness. The objective was to integrate the analogue electronics used for the control of the laser diodes into a single analogue ASIC device. The system design features provided by this ASIC are generating the following benefits:

  • Significant electronic component cost savings by the use of higher level integration.
  • Size reductions for the housing assemblies containing the electronic assemblies, with additional cost-saving benefits.
  • The addition of a laser detector circuit to provide analogue measurement facilities.
  • Improved market competitiveness through the unique market combination of high performance and low cost laser modules.

These factors will result in a significant increase in product sales, generating long term economic benefits for the company and its customers. The skills acquired by the company will allow the company to undertake further ASIC developments in the future generating further increases in sales and profit.

The overall duration of the AE was 15 months, but work was suspended for a period of four months owing to a key member of the team leaving the company and the AE extended accordingly. It also became necessary to find an additional sub-contractor when the semi-conductor vendor made a policy decision not to deal directly with companies designing their own 700 Series ASIC chips. This added to the complexity of managing the project. Finally, the first wafer was defective in manufacture, delaying delivery of chips.

The cost of the AE was 52 kEUR. The expected payback will be 11 months and this will show a return on investment over the expected life of the product of 600 % over a 3 year design life.

Company

    Vector Technology Ltd
    Roseheyworth Business Park
    Abertillery, Gwent
    NP3 1SP
    United Kingdom.


Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Analogue ASIC technology provided Vector Technology Ltd. with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.


Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
Univercity of Glamorgan
Mid Glamorgan
Pontypridd CF37 1DL
United Kingdom