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No. 352, January 1999

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American Companies in Japan


PRECISION AND MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

The 24th IMATRON INC. Ultrafast CT (computed tomography) scanner, which is based on the South San Francisco, California company's scanning electron beam technology, was shipped to an unnamed Japanese customer at the end of 1998. The firm said that it found this order particularly encouraging because its business in Japan did not live up to expectations last year. The demand for Imatron's high-end CT scanners was there, but potential buyers had trouble arranging financing. Radiologists have an advanced tool in the KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE Computed Radiography System 400 Plus from EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s subsidiary. The system directly captures general radiographic studies as digital images and processes them so that differences in anatomic densities are perceived as equal differences in brightness across the full density range. That capability, Kodak says, delivers consistent, high-quality images that require little or no adjustment by the radiologist. Cutting-edge technology usually costs, though. For the CR 400 Plus system, it is $200,900.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has approved for sale AMERICAN BIOMED, INC.'s silicone balloon catheter product line. However, the Woodlands, Texas company's distributor, MEDICAL LEADERS LTD., still is waiting for MHW to clear for marketing American BioMed's OmniCath atherectomy catheter, which is used to remove atherosclerotic plaque from obstructed blood vessels throughout the body. .....Meanwhile, BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP.'s local operation is predicting annual sales of 10,000 units for a recently introduced balloon catheter used in percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. The catheter is available in diameters of 20 millimeters and 30mm. The former costs $2,400; the latter goes for $2,600.

Airports in Japan looking to add explosion detection systems to their automated baggage-handling equipment have a new option. INVISION TECHNOLOGIES, INC., the manufacturer of the CTX series of explosive detection systems, and its distributor have teamed up with TOYO KANETSU K.K., a major maker of baggage-handling and other materials-handling equipment, to jointly market the Newark, California company's products. The trio plans to establish a center to demonstrate their combined capabilities in the security field and a training facility where security personnel can be instructed in the use of InVision's systems. The three firms also expect to develop future electronic detection systems using the American partner's computed tomography technology for installation in Japanese airports. In addition, they will market InVision products for the commercial security market. InVision and Toyo Kanetsu worked together to develop an integrated security system for the new international airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The PurePulse Technologies unit of MAXWELL TECHNOLOGIES INC. has given SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. nonexclusive rights to sell its PureBright water- purification products for home and commercial applications in Japan. Sanyo Electric and San Diego, California-headquartered Maxwell also are discussing collaborative marketing efforts elsewhere in the world. As part of the Japan tie-up, PurePulse has the option of outsourcing production of high-volume PureBright products to the Japanese company

The Fisher-Rosemount unit of FISHER CONTROLS INTERNATIONAL, INC., a world leader in process control equipment and an EMERSON ELECTRIC CO. business, is going after 15 percent of the local mass flowmeter market. Key to this goal are Coriolis mass flowmeters used in plants that make chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food products. Sales of Fisher-Rosemount mass flowmeters are being handled by the renamed F-R INTEX CO., LTD., which Emerson's subsidiary acquired last fall (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 18). F-R Intex has opened a production inspection facility in Chiba prefecture to ensure that Fisher-Rosemount's products meet corporate Japan's exacting requirements.

Under an April 1995 partnership agreement, XMR, INC., a major manufacturer of excimer lasers used in the production of flat panel displays, and SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. have codeveloped a high-power (200-watt) excimer laser for volume output of low-temperature TFT LCD displays. SHI will make the complete system, eyeing a spring 1999 introduction. This is a first for the company. Until now, XMR has supplied the excimer laser and the optics critical to providing beam uniformity during the annealing process, while SHI, a minority investor in the Fremont, California firm and its exclusive distributor, made the other parts.

CANYON MATERIALS, INC., a supplier of gray-level masks, has tapped JAPAN LASER CORP. to represent it in Japan. At the heart of the San Diego, California company's product is its HEBS (high energy beam sensitive) glass. Its properties allow one-step fabrication of a true gray-level mask, with exposure achieved using a standard electron-beam writing tool. As a result, mask production costs are reduced. Moreover, HEBS glass is capable of resolutions in the molecular-dimension range, making the gray-level masks applicable to such fields as diffractive and holographic devices, miniaturized systems with micro-optics and micromechanics, and opto-electronic packaging.

The late 1997 opening of an applications center at VEECO INSTRUMENTS INC.'s Tokyo subsidiary and the establishment of a service center in the Osaka area seem to be paying off for the Plainview, New York process equipment manufacturer. The company has received orders worth more than $9 million for etch and deposition equipment from three major Japanese makers of data storage products. The orders are primarily for cluster tool combinations of Veeco's ion beam deposition, ion beam etching and physical vapor deposition products. The equipment will be used to make high-density magnetoresistive and giant magnetoresistive thin-film magnetic heads. Deliveries will be spread out over the first half of 1999.

NEWPORT CORP., a world leader in precision components and systems used in the development and application of laser and optical technologies, named HAKUTO CO., LTD. to market its MAT350, a 300mm (12-inch) wafer positioning motion platform. The linear motor-driven system, priced at $33,000, is designed specifically for the most demanding submicron semiconductor processing applications, the Irvine, California manufacturer says. Hakuto is projecting sales of $854,700 in the first year.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaaa

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