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ABQ’s 3D Glass gearing up for mass production

Post Time:Nov 30,2015Classify:Company NewsView:384

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 3D Glass Solutions, an Albuquerque startup that created a new type of glass to make advanced semiconducting chips, is gearing up for launch next year of its first standard product line.

The company, which launched in 2006, has been using its proprietary glass ceramic, dubbed APEXGlass, to do custom design and production of semiconductor chips for electronics packaging. But now, with many big industry players seeking to replace traditional materials like silicon with glass to make electronic circuits, 3D Glass believes its time has come to brand itself with standardized products and high-volume production to carve out an early stake in a rapidly emerging market.

“We’ll launch our own products in the first quarter of 2016,” said 3D Glass founder and CEO Jeb Flemming. “Our first product will be inductors that help remove noise and interference in wireless communications. We already have some large customers in the cell phone and defense space lined up to evaluate our product.”

The company, which currently employs about 15 people at a 5,000-square-foot space near the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park, expects to triple its workforce in the next year. It will either expand its current facility or move into a new, larger space to manage the move to high-volume production, Flemming said.

“We’ll do it all right here with a standard product and stocked inventory,” he said. “We’re fully capable of scaling up production in Albuquerque with no outsourcing.”

In preparation for the ramp up, the company recruited Kirby Jefferson in October as a special adviser to its board of directors. Jefferson is the former site manager for Intel Corp.’s facility in Rio Rancho. He retired from Intel last spring, ending a 35-year career with the global chip-making giant that included setting up Intel’s semiconductor factory in Dalian, China.

“It’s a challenging task to scale up manufacturing, so we wanted to surround ourselves with people who have done it before, and Kirby Jefferson is bar none one of the most successful at it,” Flemming said.

Jefferson said 3D Glass has positioned itself to break into an emerging market, and he wants them to stay in Albuquerque.

“They have proprietary products that really can make a difference in a variety of high-tech markets,” Jefferson told the Journal. “It’s great to have a local, homegrown company doing this, and I don’t want to see them go anywhere else.”

3D Glass is ahead of many competitors thanks to its creation of APEXGlass, a glass ceramic material that allows it to easily etch three-dimensional electronics components into chips at the microscopic level in a way that’s difficult to do with things like silicon or laminates that are traditionally used in semiconductor chips.

“We can create very complex structures in our glass, putting cavities, trenches and other 3D components on the surface at the microscopic scale,” Flemming said. “Other materials today require lasers to do those things, but our glass is photosensitive, which means we can take lithography and put it on the glass, allowing us to easily etch structures into it.”

Through its process, the company says, on average, it can reduce the package size of its products by 66 percent while decreasing power consumption and increasing data transfer by 10-fold.

“It’s about making devices faster, better, cheaper and smaller,” said 3D Glass Business Services Manager Phil Ferguson. “The bottom line is, we can put more value in the widgets for mobile, cell phone and smart phone markets by getting them into the smallest, most-powerful form.”

Industry is just beginning to embrace glass packaging for electronic components and circuit boards, giving 3D Glass an early niche in the market.

“Silicon has been the king for a long time,” Ferguson said. “We’re helping to introduce glass into the industry just as its value is being recognized more and more. We’re getting inquiries from the big boys in the industry and all their suppliers.

The company raised an undisclosed amount of venture investment with a Florida-based firm last year. It’s now raising under $10 million more in another round to scale up manufacturing.

Source: http://www.abqjournal.com/682359/biz/biz-most-receAuthor: shangyi

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