Magnetic fluids, or ferrofluids, were developed in the 1960's through
the sponsorship of NASA, to address the unique requirements of moving
liquid fuel in a gravity-free outerspace environment. Recognizing
the potential for commercial applications using ferrofluids, Ferrofluidics
Corporation was founded in 1968.
After several years of research and development, and applications
engineering, the company introduced the first commercial application
of ferrofluids, a 100% leak-free, no-wear vacuum rotary seal for
use in the manufacture of semiconductor wafers and other vacuum
processing applications. Today, Ferrofluidic® sealing
technology is used in the manufacture of the majority of semiconductor
wafers, the heart of all high-tech products.
Ferrofluidics' early 1970's efforts to identify new applications
for ferrofluids also led to the successful synthesis of ferrofluids
that enabled loudspeaker manufacturers to improve audio speaker
performance. In this application, which takes advantage of a ferrofluid's
heat transfer property, the fluid is magnetically positioned in
the air gap of the driver assembly. This protects the speaker voice
coil from thermal failure. Today, Ferrofluidic technology is used
in ~100 million loudspeakers per year, of which approximately two
thirds are automotive speakers.
New applications for this unique sealing technology continued to
be found, and in the late 1970's the company pioneered a leak-free
sealing system for computer disk drives that prevented contamination,
increased memory capacity and improved processing throughput. Today,
many sealed computer disk drives have a Ferrofluidic technology-based
In the late 1970's the company also developed a ferrofluid based
viscous damper that improved the performance of stepper motors.
These applications require a high degree of precision, quiet operation,
and minimum transit time between the various work functions. When
attached to the motor, a Ferrofluidic damper reduces settling time
and significantly increases accuracy.
In 1981, in response to its wide acceptance in the global marketplace,
Ferrofluidics became a public company (NASDAQ: FERO).
In the same year it acquired the product line of a major semiconductor
crystal growing manufacturer. For the next 15 years, Ferrofluidics
was at the forefront of crystal growing technology and was responsible
for many developments and innovations in this business. This division
was divested in 1998.
By the late 1980s, Ferrofluidic sealing technology was expanding
from its semiconductor roots into other sealing applications. In
1989 the company produced a large diameter, low power-consumption,
hermetic seal that permits smooth operation of airborne targeting
cameras despite the harsh environments of military aircraft. The
product has since been integrated into major helicopter lines and
fixed wing aircraft
This continued in the early 1990s with the company's expansion
into industrial sealing applications where the inherent hermetic
qualities of a Ferrofluidic seal make it ideal for hydrocarbon processing,
nuclear and other hazardous environments.
In 1997, Ferrofluidics developed a "value added" program
with its extensive customer base, offering fully integrated Ferrofluidic
sealing sub-assemblies. Today, The company is providing outsourcing
services to a growing number of top-tier semiconductor equipment
In the 1990s, Ferrofluidic seals also became widely used in optical
coating applications, and by the late 1990s Ferrofluidic seals were
being developed for use in the rapidly growing area of DWDM filter
In 1998, the company entered into another market - supplying ferrofluid
for use in DVD optical pickup actuators where the ferrofluid damping
greatly improves the actuators settling time and vibrational characteristics.
In addition to these products, over the years many additional applications
for ferrofluid have been developed by the company and in conjunction
with other individuals and companies. These include technology ranging
from power transformers and materials separation and reclamation
to ferrofluid bearings, quiet solenoids, sensors and switches. New
applications are always being examined, and the company is happy
to partner with other organizations on a confidential basis to develop
new uses for ferrofluid.
In early 2000 Ferrofluidics merged with Ferrotec Corporation and
on July 16, 2001 Ferrofluidics changed its name to Ferrotec (USA)
in order for the company to present a common identity worldwide.
Ferrotec Corporation is a Japanese company which was a former subsidiary
of Ferrofluidics until a management buyout in 1987. Since then,
Ferrofluidics maintained its position as market leader in the US
and Europe, and Ferrotec became one of the leading suppliers of
magnetic liquid feedthroughs and audio fluids in Asia. Ferrotec
also diversified in to non-ferrofluid-based products such as thermoelectic
modules and contract manufacturing.
The merger has brought together 2 companies with complimentary
products, capabilities and distribution networks. This will lead
to better ferrofluid technology globally as R&D and engineering
knowledge of the two companies are combined, as well as truly worldwide
sales, service and technical support.
The global company has over 1800 employees and over 1 million square
feet (100,000 m2) of design, manufacturing, sales and
service area. With sales offices over 3 continents and an ever increasing
range of innovative high quality products, Ferrotec is well positioned
to serve you now and in the future.
read more about the merger
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Investor Information - Ferrotec Japan