Grundfos recently produced the first chip for micro sensors in the production facilities for semiconductors set up at Farum (Copenhagen) one and a half year ago as the first production facilities for semiconductors in Denmark.
The facilities were established after several years of research conducted by Grundfos in co-operation with the Micro Electronics Centre of the Technical University of Denmark.
The semiconductor chip is made from silicon wafers, and a special coating, developed as a Ph.D. project and subsequently patented by Grundfos, makes the chip resistant to water and other liquids.
Unlike traditional pressure sensors the Grundfos micro sensor is so tiny that, in principle, it can be integrated in even the smallest pumps. In the short term the production of micro sensors is aimed at use in Grundfos’ own products, but in the long term micro sensors will also be relevant in other products as it is suitable for measuring pressure, flow and temperature in liquids in general.
Grundfos started the production of microchips with 10 employees in September 2001, and today there is a staff of 24 employees at the Farum facilities. Microchip production does not require large resources of raw materials, but on the other hand it requires well educated staff and big investments in production equipment. This means that this kind of production is very suitable for Denmark, and Grundfos regards this field as a strategically important basis suitable for integration in the pump company. Whereas the microchips are produced in Clean Room facilities at Farum, the pressure sensors in which the chips are integrated are produced in Grundfos Electronics at Grundfos HQ in Bjerringbro in the western part of Denmark.
The first silicon wafer with microchips was sent to Bjerringbro in early March this year, and mass production of pressure sensors will start towards the end of the year. In the beginning Grundfos expects annual production to amount to some 2m pressure sensors.
Grundfos has spent some 1.9 billion DKK on research and development in the past five years. The investments at Farum amount to a little over 100m DKK.