Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 357, June 1999

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American Companies in Japan


SCIVAC, a supplier of vacuum sputtering equipment used in the production of such products as hard disks, has licensed its basic technology to ULVAC JAPAN, LTD. The Kanagawa prefecture firm, which also is known for its vacuum expertise, plans to use the San Jose, California firm's know-how to develop equipment to manufacture optical disks and LCD-related products. By maintaining a vacuum state between each deposition step, SciVac's equipment prevents deterioration from oxidation and, thus, produces an exceptional surface. It also is said to work three to five times faster than conventional sputtering equipment. The licensing agreement prevents Ulvac from making production equipment for hard disks since that would impinge on SciVac's main product line. However, this spring SciVac gave Ulvac exclusive Asian distribution rights to its Sci-Clone 2000 sputtering system for manufacturing hard disks. Priced around $6.6 million, this equipment can turn out 4,500 to 5,000 2.5-inch disks an hour. Ulvac hopes to sell five systems a year, although it is precluded from selling the Sci-Clone 2000 to American companies operating in Asia.

Manufacturers of printed circuit boards that have been looking for a large, dual-access system to expedite the testing process now have that type of equipment available. TEST TECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL, INC. of Carson City, Nevada has given TAIYO INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. rights to sell its Model 6000, a large, dual-access universal grid-bare board tester. It can handle a grid of 19.2 x 16 inches on both the top and the bottom and provides 30,720 test points on each side. Wakayama prefecture-based Taiyo Industrial, which makes one-sided PCB bare board testers, has priced the standard configuration of the Model 6000 at $643,400. It is targeting sales of five systems a year.

Three new modules for the HP 16600A and the HP 16700A general-purpose logic analyzers not only make these debugging tools the fastest on the market today, says HEWLETT-PACKARD CO., but also easier for designers of high-end computer, networking and communications systems to use. The modules offer up to 333-MHz state analysis and as much as 2-GHz timing analysis. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. expects to sell a combined total of 1,000 or so modules in the first year. The add-ons list for $14,300 to $19,900.

Over the coming year, the subsidiary of world machine vision systems leader COGNEX CORP. believes that it can sell 3,000 of the next-generation MVS-8200 Series of high-performance embedded machine vision systems. These hardware platforms for PCI, Compact-PCI and VME architectures are designed to solve alignment, guidance, inspection and identification problems in semiconductor, electronics and a variety of other manufacturing processes. More important, they answer the need for faster embedded vision performance in order to keep pace with higher throughput production equipment. MVS-8200 Series pricing starts at $9,800.

SHIFTWORK SYSTEMS, INC. tapped KANSAI TECH CORP. of Osaka to develop the market in Japan for the Circadian Lighting System. This computer-driven lighting system calculates optimal dynamic lighting conditions in the work environment in order to enhance productivity and cognitive performance. It has been found to be particularly beneficial in night-shift operations. The system consists of customized software, a controller and lighting hardware. The technology was developed by Harvard Medical School, which gave Cambridge, Massachusetts-based ShiftWork exclusive worldwide licensing rights to the know-how. Kansai Tech, a KANSAI ELECTRIC POWER CO., INC. affiliate that participated in a multinational demonstration of the CLS's effectiveness in night-shift work, calculates that it will cost anywhere from $163,900 to $245,900 to install the system in a 1,075-square-foot room. It hopes to find three or four buyers a year among government agencies, hospitals, banks and the like.

Shipments of MICRO THERAPEUTICS INC.'s peripheral blood clot therapy products have started to CENTURY MEDICAL INC. Under an agreement signed last fall, the Irvine, California company, a supplier of minimally invasive medical devices for the diagnosis and the treatment of vascular disease, gave the big medical products distributor exclusive Japanese rights to all its current and future neurovascular and peripheral vascular products (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 19). In the interim, Century has invested in MTI $3 million of the $5 million that the pact allows.

MHW approved for marketing ENDOSONICS CORP.'s Vintage balloon catheter. FUKUDA DENSHI CO., LTD. expects to begin sales shortly. It has rights to distribute the Rancho Cordova, California company's angioplasty products as well as certain of EndoSonics' intravascular ultrasound imaging products.

With MHW marketing approval in hand, KOBA-YASHI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. has launched sales of ARTHROCARE CORP.'s Coblation-based arthroscopy products. The Sunnyvale, California firm's Coblation technology uses radio frequency energy to remove tissue through a significantly cooler process than is possible with traditional electrosurgery or laser surgery. ArthroCare expects a significant market to develop for its products since more than 200,000 arthroscopy procedures are performed annually in Japan.

With big hospitals in Japan increasingly recognizing the efficiency and quality benefits of medical imaging information networks, at least two American suppliers anticipate an expanding market for their products. IMAGRAPH of Sunnyvale, California and CODONICS, INC. of Middleburg Heights, Ohio use the same distributor, TOYO CORP. Through it, Imagraph released a video capture board, while Codonics introduced its DICOM-compliant network printer and a color imager. In time, Tokyo-based Toyo hopes to develop products with the pair of U.S. firms that are customized to the Japanese market's requirements.

An exchange rate of ¥122=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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