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 exclusion seal.
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:
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 manufacturers.
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 coating processes.
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
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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