Chipmakers Surge: Insights from AccuRounds on Semiconductor Manufacturing

Semiconductor manufacturing is a complex process that hinges on advanced technology and precision parts to produce the critical tiny wafers essential to modern life. With the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, the U.S. government has pledged billions in subsidies to boost domestic microchip and semiconductor production. This legislation is expected to drive demand in the semiconductor industry, creating new opportunities for machine shops.

AccuRounds, a machine shop in Avon, Massachusetts, honored by the MMS Top Shops program in 2021, has over four decades of experience servicing the semiconductor industry. I recently spoke with AccuRounds President and CEO Michael Tamasi to gather insights for shops looking to enter this lucrative field.

MMS: Hi Michael. Could you give us a brief introduction to you and your shop?

MT: Hi, I’m Michael Tamasi, President and CEO of AccuRounds. We specialize in advanced contract precision machining for industries including medical, aerospace, semiconductor, oil and gas, robotics, and emerging tech.

MMS: Semiconductors are seen as a hot market today. Have you noticed increased demand for parts in this sector?

MT: The CHIPS Act has certainly raised expectations, but the semiconductor industry remains cyclical. We’ve seen a long-lasting surge over the past two years, though there’s been a recent softening likely due to over-ordering during COVID. However, I believe this slowdown will be short-lived, and we continue to receive substantial work from domestic sources.

MMS: So, it’s essentially a market correction?

MT: Exactly.

MMS: Has the CHIPS and Science Act made an impact yet?

MT: At a higher level, yes, but we haven’t seen direct effects yet. We anticipate that as orders start to filter down, we’ll notice a more significant impact.

MMS: Machine shops typically don’t produce semiconductors themselves. What kind of parts are they making for semiconductor manufacturing?

MT: Machine shops produce components for equipment that processes silicon wafers, such as parts that manage air flow, gas flow, and temperature control in the manufacturing chambers.

MMS: What processes should shops focus on if they want to enter this market?

MT: Standard tools like lathes and mills are essential, with an emphasis on advanced finishing. We’ve rebranded our finishing department as Advanced Finishing due to the high precision required.

MMS: What finish quality is typical in this industry?

MT: A 4 Ra finish is common. The high tolerances and intricate finishes on challenging materials demand significant R&D and careful tooling management to avoid excessive wear.

MMS: What should you look for in machine tools for this market?

MT: Flexibility in tool positioning is crucial, especially in Swiss-style machines. The number and positioning of tools for back-working are important. Mill-turn equipment with eight-axis or twelve-axis capabilities is often necessary to handle complex parts.

MMS: Any advice for shops entering semiconductor manufacturing?

MT: Be cautious and don’t underestimate the technical requirements. Build strong relationships with buyers, engineers, and quality groups. Start small, learn the ropes, and allow room for growth. Advanced finishing is particularly critical, so don’t overlook it.

Michael Tamasi’s insights underscore the intricate demands and opportunities within semiconductor manufacturing. As the CHIPS Act stimulates the industry, machine shops equipped to meet these precise requirements can thrive in this evolving market.

Original source MMS

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