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No. 353, February 1999

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American Companies in Japan


In its largest single order ever, WATERS CORP. has won an $8 million contract from the National Police Agency for liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry systems. Forensic scientists at police laboratories across Japan will use this equipment to analyze the aftermath of poisonings, bombings and other crimes for residual trace chemicals. The Milford, Massachusetts company's subsidiary is working with NPA to train and support the scientists who will be operating the instruments, which will be delivered during 1999.

Continuing to make inroads in the market for computer-based testing and simulation equipment used by the automotive industry, MTS SYSTEMS CORP. has a $2.5 million order from a manufacturer of vehicle seats for a new crash simulation system. The cutting-edge simulation technology incorporated in the Eden Prairie, Minnesota company's product provides major improvements in the test setup and in the fidelity of reproducing crash pulses. It also minimizes the number of times the test must be run.

The world leader in solid imaging, 3D SYSTEMS CORP. of Valencia, California, has signed a patent cross-licensing agreement with NTT DATA CORP. and one of its majority-owned subsidiaries. Under it, NTT Data and its NTT DATA CMET CORP. unit have nonexclusive rights to produce and sell stereolithography systems in the Asian Pacific, while 3D Systems gained nonexclusive, worldwide rights to their stereolithography system know-how. 3D Systems and SONY CORP. have a similar arrangement. ASAHI DENKA KOGYO K.K., an investor in NTT Data Cmet and the supplier of stereolithographic systems to it, has a patented epoxy resin used to fabricate solid objects that apparently is of interest to 3D Systems. NTT Data acquired a 77.5 percent stake in what become NTT Data Cmet from MI- TSUBISHI CORP., which formed the company in 1990.

The first products to emerge from the early 1998 development tie-up between LECROY CORP., a manufacturer of electronic test instruments, and telecommunications equipment maker IWATSU ELECTRIC CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 342, March 1998, p. 18) are four additions to the Chestnut Ridge, New York firm's Waverunner series of digital oscilloscopes. The new models, all of which offer 500 MHz of bandwidth, include the two-channel LT342 and the four-channel LT344L. The former costs $8,400 in Japan, while the latter is priced at $17,500. The partners hope to sell 2,000 of the new Waverunner models in Japan in the first year and 5,000 units elsewhere.

SONY TEKTRONIX CORP. has introduced a line of low-cost oscilloscopes from Wilsonville, Oregon-based TEKTRONIX, INC. that incorporates the advantages of both analog and digital technology. The products' analog function allows users to monitor waveforms in real time, with digital analysis and storage of the signal information. The six models in the series range in price from $3,500 to $13,200. Sony Tektronix is looking for combined sales in the first year of 6,000 units.

For power measurements in the 50-gigahertz to 75-GHz frequency range, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is marketing the HP V8486A V-band power sensor. The product, which works with various HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. power meters, has a fixed SWR to minimize problems in radio frequency and microwave power measurements caused by a mismatch between the sensor and the source. The power sensor lists for $5,000. HP Japan is projecting annual sales of 60 units.

Working through a Tokyo distributor, OPOTEK INC. of Carlsbad, California has brought to the research laboratory market a compact, tunable laser system featuring its patented optical parametric oscillator technology. The VIBRANT system consists of a Nd:YAG (neodymium:yttrium-argon- germanium) laser and the OPO. Tuning ranges extend from 210 nanometers to 2.2 micron, with output energies up to 100 millijoules. The 40 percent conversion efficiency of energy from the pump laser to the OPO boosts the performance of the laser. Primary applications for the VIBRANT system include photobiology, photochemistry, medical diagnostics, remote sensing and combustion research.

DCH TECHNOLOGY, INC. has signed up a strong partner to market its line of sensors for gas detection and safety monitoring systems in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. HORIBA, LTD. is one of the world's top makers of analytical and measurement equipment and is especially big in emissions testing. It will distribute DCH's robust hydrogen sensor, thick-film hydrogen sensor, fiber-optic sensor and universal gas sensor. The Valencia, California company believes that the deal with Horiba could produce more than $1 million in annual sales.

A company has been formed in Yokohama to take over distribution and servicing of SELA USA INC.'s SEM (scanning electron microscope) and TEM (transmission electron microscope) sample preparation systems for the semiconductor industry. SELASTAR CORP. replaces INNOTECH CORP. Santa Clara, California-based SELA pioneered microcleaving technology for cross-section preparation, which supports applications in failure analysis, process monitoring and R&D. Marking the latest chapter in their 20-year relationship (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 7), FERROFLUIDICS CORP. has transferred responsibility for sales and support of its vacuum seal components in Asia from its Tokyo subsidiary to FERROTEC CORP. This business is worth an estimated $885,000 a year. Nashua, New Hampshire- based Ferrofluidics will continue to handle sales of these products in the United States and Europe, though.

X-RITE, INC. has opened an office in Tokyo to backstop sales of its color quality control instruments and software. The Grandville, Michigan company says that a local presence will help it better support its distributors while penetrating major accounts. X-Rite also plans to form a team of technical representatives that will work with dealers. Its products are designed for a wide variety of color applications, including corporate branding, medical diagnostics, consumer products and on-line commerce.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has approved for sale Troy, Michigan-based SOMANETICS CORP.'s INVOS 4100 Cerebral Oximeter patient monitoring system. The only commercially available system of its kind, it provides doctors with regional brain oxygen information on a continuous, noninvasive basis during surgery and in critical-care situations. The subsidiary of BAXTER INTERNATIONAL INC. has exclusive rights to distribute the INVOS 4100 Cerebral Oximeter patient monitoring system.

The December 1997 acquisition of VISITEC CO. by BECTON DICKINSON AND CO. has led to changes in the distribution of the company's ophthalmic products for eye surgery. These products had been marketed by Osaka's MATSUMOTO MEDICAL INSTRUMENTS, INC. Now, Becton Dickinson's subsidiary is handling VISITEC's products in addition to its own line of products for eye surgery. The VISITEC products are designed for use in cataract, vitreoretinal, oculoplastic, refractive and corneal surgery.

With MHW marketing approval in hand, OCULAR SCIENCES INC. is shipping its daily and weekly disposable contact lenses to eye-care practitioners. The South San Francisco, California manufacturer's contact lenses, which it says are easier to handle and more comfortable to wear than the competition's, are brand-differentiated by private label and channel. Japan is the world's second-largest contact lens market.

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

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