The burgeoning electronics industry Electronics are the heartbeat of the products and services of many industries – including aerospace, communications, entertainment, defence, and health – and, as a consequence, the global electronics market is valued at US$1 trillion worldwide.
The electronics market is a stage for intense competition, primarily among US and Asian firms. This in turn spurs rapid product obsolescence and demands high levels of investment in all areas of semiconductor, board, and assembly technologies, and at all stages of research and development (R&D). Electronic products are steadily becoming smaller, thinner, lighter, faster, and less expensive. Advances now occur so rapidly that, to cite just one example, portable communication products are conceived, designed, and produced in 12 to 15 months, compared to 21 to 27 months a few years ago. These trends are expected to continue and accelerate, thus challenging the foundation of today’s electronics technology. However, rapid change is possible only with an agile, responsive supply and manufacturing infrastructure. This article will look at only one aspect of this technological arena – high-purity water systems for the microelectronics industry –although the same general design principles apply in all areas of this high-tech market.
The manufacture of all electronic products involves the use of high purity water, frequently in large quantities. In the microelectronics industry, manufacturing processes are cumulative, meaning that each process in a facility is affected by the output of the previous processes. When particles and other impurities are present in the chemicals, water and gases used in the process, product yield is reduced.