The U.S. DoD Invests $170 Million Over SkyWater Technology
Recently, SkyWater Technology Foundry begun its construction on a 66,724-square-foot expansion. This construction is for its manufacturing facility at 2401 86th St. E. in Bloomington.
On Monday, the firm declared its plans for the expanded space. The area is a suite of new technological competences. The $170 million invested by the company is also supporting the plan.
The investment is to produce electronics toughened to serve in high-radiation environments, including outer space.
In an interview, SkyWater President Tom Sonderman indicated that this isn’t the first time SkyWater expanded.
Way back in 2017, Cypress Semiconductor has found success affiliating with the Department of Defense.
Moreover, Cypress, at one point, did shape a “rad-hard” semiconductor. This was after giving a call for DOD.
The phone call was only for protection on giant Honeywell to manage production in the early 2000s.
However, Honeywell uses an aluminum base for its electronics. Whereas, the recent SkyWater lines will make use of a copper base.
In an interview, Sonderman said, “We’re replacing aluminum with copper for some of our processing flow, and in order to do this in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the quality of our current manufacturing operation, SkyWater is expanding our facility.
He also added, “It is with a clean room so that we can place this new copper-based process and equipment in a more isolated area.”
Lastly, “That’s just because copper has some sensitivities to other semiconductor processing that we want to be cognizant of,” he said.
Challenges On The Manufacturing Series Of Actions
Even if copper carries additional challenges to the manufacturing process, Sonderman anticipates the DOD will grow its money’s worth.
In addition, SkyWater has confidence in its new 90-nanometer rad-hard electronics platform. They will also develop its performance by up to 100% over technology currently in use.
The military’s Defense Microelectronics Activity program considers SkyWater as already a “Trusted” manufacturer. The recognition is in part because it is the only U.S.-owned semiconductor foundry in the country.
On the flip side, the government won’t be the only client in line when SkyWater’s development comes online.
Meanwhile, Sonderman stated, “We will stand up a copper back-end capability with radiation tolerance and hardened processing that can be used for various military applications, but then we’ll also be offering this in a commercial sense to the commercialization of space again.”
In addition, “This is also very important for medical imaging and other energy-type applications, anything that really requires a harsh operating environment.”
The expansion will make up for 30 to 50 high-wage jobs, as well as engineering and maintenance technician roles. This is to work with the new copper conducting equipment.
On the other side, the project will also roll out in phases. This is with an $80 million DOD asset to establish the initial capability.
Moreover, the additional funding that exists to put further technological progress is in place after that.
By September or October of 2020, SkyWater anticipates the new production lines to be operational.
The production will be working with the government and other possible customers over next year.
Sonderman further stated that on day one, designs would be arranged on the production.