PIB visits Demcon - visitors Report
12 June 2014
On 12 June 2014, over 60 people attended the Precision-in-Business day that DSPE had organised in Enschede, the Netherlands. The day comprised a company visit to the headquarters of Demcon, the mechatronic engineering spin-off from the University of Twente, which in just 20 years has grown into a high-end technology supplier with 200+ employees and a turnover of €25 million. Participants were given an overview of the challenging projects being tackled in the High-Tech Systems and Medical Systems business units and also enjoyed a tour of the premises, which featured project showcases and included a visit to production facilities and sister company Focal Vision & Optics.
CEO and co-founder Dennis Schipper kicked off with a short introduction on Demcon, highlighting its R&D business activities and its role as a system supplier in the fields of high-tech systems and medical systems. Demcon activities include mechatronic development and production (i.e. assembly and qualification). Demcon is also involved in OEM medical device companies and has a number of investments (e.g. minority interests in companies operating in complementary fields such as vision & optics, MEMS, simulations and metal injection moulding).
Demcon's headquarters are in Enschede, with regional offices in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Oldenzaal and Münster (Germany). The ambition is to grow to 300+ employees within the next few years and to extend the international scope with a clear focus on Germany, where the large high-tech OEMs are ready to outsource R&D activities and production to system suppliers such as Demcon.
Business unit manager Henkjan van der Pol introduced the High-Tech Systems business unit, which serves the semiconductor industry, the analytical and laboratory markets, the defence & aerospace sectors and the general equipment and machine industries. The central discipline in high-tech projects is mechatronic systems engineering, complemented by the mechanical, electrical and software engineering disciplines, as well as industrial design and quality and project management. Van der Pol focused on the so-called V-model for development projects, in which the seven stages of the V can be covered three times, i.e. for the concept phase, the prototype phase and the proof-of-principle phase. These stages run from functional specification/system concept right down to design and technical product documentation/module implementation and up to system integration and testing & debugging.
The showcases included a short-stroke stage for Mapper Lithography, a Coriolis flow sensor for Bronkhorst High-Tech, a wafer stage qualification tool for ASML and a direct electron detector camera for FEI.
To conclude, Henkjan van der Pol elaborated on VECTOR, a Seventh Framework Programme funded by the European Union, for which Demcon develops a compact, mechatronic handheld tool for making optical fibre connections. At the moment, this time-consuming precision job requires craftsmanship. Automation is required to accelerate fibre-to-the-home deployment. Demcon automated the six steps of this process (i.e. stripping, cleaning, cleaving, plasma treatment, inspection and connector placement), which involved disciplines such as optics, plasma technology and microfluidics. DEMCON handled everything from concept to prototype, invested a lot in validation and six-sigma proofing of the tool, and assists TE Connectivity in the industrialisation for large-scale production.