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No. 361, October 1999

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American Companies in Japan


The exclusive distribution agreement that Lightcaster microdisplay provider DISPLAYTECH, INC. signed in August 1998 with NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. has been broadened to include microdisplay components that result from an alliance between the Longmont, Colorado firm and HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. The first Displaytech-HP product is a full-color, fully illuminated quarter VGA (video graphics array) microdisplay. Targeted at such applications as viewfinders in digital cameras and the like, the low-power QVGA combines Displaytech's ferroelectric liquid crystal technology and HP's system design expertise. MIYOTA CO., LTD. will make the FLC microdisplays at its dedicated plant in Nagano (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 17).

The Rockwell Automation unit of ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL CORP. licensed electrical control equipment manufacturer MEIDENSHA CORP. to assemble and market in Japan its high-voltage inverters. The American manufacturer will supply semiconductors, printed circuit boards and other components to the Tokyo-headquartered company for inverters that control 3-kilovolt and 6-kv motors. One likely market for these products is pump controls at water-processing facilities. Meidensha expects to sell 20 of Rockwell Automation's inverters a year under its own brand name. It makes low-voltage inverters but believes that energy-conservation efforts will boost demand for high-voltage inverters.

AERO-ELECTRIC CONNECTOR, INC. named MEIHO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. to distribute five of its connector lines. The Torrance, California manufacturer's products are available in a range of coupling configurations and shell sizes. The families sold in Japan, which are priced from $18.50 to $92.60 each, include circular connectors that provide aerospace performance and reliability for general-purpose power interconnection requirements; threaded connectors for situations with excessive moisture, fluids, shock and/or vibration; connectors for instrumentation applications where space is at a premium; connectors that provide greater vibration protection; and connectors that deliver improved interface protection in the presence of a variety of liquids.

Two new products from K-TRON INTERNATIONAL, INC., a Pitman, New Jersey maker of materials feeders for production equipment, are available through distributor SHINWA CORP. The Smart Control Module, which combines motor drive and control unit functions in a small box that mounts right on the feeder, operates a feeder for both batch and continuous processes. An infrared data link lets users perform configuration work or diagnostics with a notebook computer without attaching connector cables to the SCM. The Smart Commander, the second product, gives operators an easy-to-use Windows NT interface for controlling or monitoring up to 30 feeders on as many as seven process lines.

Three consumer electronics companies, described only as major players, now are evaluating AER ENERGY RESOURCES, INC.'s patented zinc-air battery technology by means of a prototype 6-volt primary battery (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 15). The Smyrna, Georgia R&D firm's system, which provides a long run time for portable electronic devices, consists of zinc-air cells and a patented air manager that allows air flow to the cells during discharge and blocks it during charge and when the battery is not in use.

An exchange rate of ¥108=$1.00 was used in this report.

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