© Fotoatelier Robert Frankl


AT&S continues international expansion

A lot has happened for the Styrian high-tech company AT&S over the past three months. In May, AT&S announced

, a decision that garnered criticism. Some say the plant is being closed because the Austrian company is having more and more product manufactured in China. “That has nothing to do with it. In fact, if we were not present in China, our Leoben-Hinterberg plant – one of the most profitable plants in the group – would suffer,” Gerstenmayer said. “One-sided circuit boards were manufactured in Klagenfurt. And since this technology has come to the end of its life, we have exited this market segment for economic reasons.” According to the CEO, refitting the plant would be equivalent to building a new plant.

Success with IC substrates
The first good news came from AT&S in June.

They will supply the IC substrate market together. “This is an enormous opportunity for us,” Gerstenmayer said. IC substrates permit smaller electronics and are used especially in mobile devices, and will also play a major role in the “Internet of devices.” They will be produced in the new AT&S plant in Chongqing, China, starting in 2016. Test production will start in 2014. It will be nearly three years before the first IC substrates are shipped, but new technologies cannot be installed overnight, Gerstenmayer noted. “Many politicians fail to understand that; there is not enough patience for this in Europe,” Gerstenmayer criticized.

Decisions for the future
According to its CEO, AT&S recognized early on that there is enormous potential in HDI circuit board technology and has become one of the world’s top producers that supplies most major smartphone manufacturers. “But we have to keep looking ahead, because according to Moore’s law, processor power doubles every two years – and the hardware is becoming smaller and smaller.” This is why

and the chip embedding technology (ECP) that AT&S patented are the right decision for the future, he said.

The new ECP trend
Gerstenmayer talked about another success in the futurezone interview: AT&S is cooperating with another major player on the electronics market. The company will be supplying the chip embedding market together with Japan’s TDK group. This means that while circuit boards were fitted with individual components in the past, they are now built on modular structures. This means shorter development times for new devices, because pre-developed modules can be used.

World market leader
“We are one of the leading, if not the leading, provider of embedding technology,” Gerstenmayer said. The market for embedded components is veritably exploding, and AT&S already holds over 60 percent of it. According to the company, the potential is enormous because of the current modularization trend in the electronics industry.

Better than Asia
The new partnership with TDK-EPC is opening up a market that is currently dominated entirely by Asian companies. “We are taking this challenge on because we, and I am also speaking as a European company here, can do it better than companies in China, Taiwan and Korea,” Gerstenmayer said. “AT&S has earned a reputation as a company that can prepare and implement new technologies.” According to the CEO, the partnerships with Intel and TDK also have a second aspect: The company is not only collaborating with the big players on the market, it is also shaping the market. “With one or two strong partners, you set standards for the market. You can’t do that alone.”

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