Working with your MEMS foundry partner
Once you have your technical team in place, clarify the mode and frequency of your communications. How often should you meet in person or talk by phone? Will your foundry team respond to emails on a daily basis? Is there more than one go-to person on the foundry team who shares ownership of your project, or are you dependent on a single point-person for your communications? The more you understand about how and when to communicate with your foundry, the better.
Each foundry is unique, offering varied equipment sets and process technologies that will likely differ from what you used during your proof-of-concept phase. Partner with your foundry in developing a manufacturing process that takes full advantage of their expertise and equipment set. Also, remember to collaborate on short-loop tests, which can prove valuable for developing a production-worthy process.
In addition to process transfer expertise, a foundry should also support small design revisions as your technology is improved and adjusted. The right foundry should improve device reliability and increase yield.
As you move into production mode, manufacturing times will decrease and so will the cost per die. This gives your team more time to focus on packaging, building a strong supply chain, developing customers, and producing your next-generation device.
While there is no guaranteed matchmaking process that will help you to find the right foundry partner, there are steps that you can take to improve your chances of building a successful relationship. Be clear on the type of expertise you need from your foundry. Is there a particular process technology or production line that you require? Do you need a foundry with a track record in working with particular types of MEMS devices? Ask plenty of questions about the foundry’s IP and how they will treat any technology that you deem sensitive. Build a technical team that will allow you to achieve your goals.
Above all, keep the lines of communication open!