Site: Kyocera Corporation
5-22 Kitainoue-cho, Higashino
Yamashima-ku, Yamashina, Japan
Date Visited: November 18, 1994
Report Author: F. Leonberger
Kyocera is a manufacturer of diversified products related to ceramics. The company is relatively young, having been founded in 1959; it had 1993 sales of 427 billion yen(~$4.27 billion). Today Kyocera's products range from ceramics to cameras to cellular phones.
One of the company's stated goals is for telecommunications to be its core business, with a vertical integration strategy ranging from materials and device products to network services. Kyocera's original products were fine ceramic parts for industrial use, but its two largest products groups today are electronic components (i.e., resistors, hybrids, and capacitors) and semiconductor components (i.e., ceramic packages and modules). The Electro-Optic Division, which the JTEC panel was visiting, is a new business organized out of the company's Fine Ceramics Group and its Semiconductor Components Group. While this division accounts for less than 2% of corporate sales today, it is considered key to Kyocera's future. The division has specialized in ultraprecision ceramic ferrules for fiber-optic connectors and package parts for diode lasers and photodetectors. Today Kyocera is the world's leading supplier of these critical components, with more than a 60% market share.
Kyocera's fiber-optic products include ferrules for connectors, fiber connectors, fiber assemblies, microlens assemblies, isolators, WDM/couplers, laser diode and photodiode package parts and assemblies, and single crystals (the newest product will be LiNbO3). The company provides custom packaging services through a worldwide set of design centers. The optoelectronic packaging activity is an outgrowth of the company's extensive microwave packaging business of metalized products.
The Electro-Optics Division draws its staff from a variety of research and development, engineering, manufacturing, sales, and administrative groups throughout the corporation. The division is self-supporting and invests 8 to 10% of sales in R&D (compared to a corporate average of 4%). In addition, the division draws on the R&D services of groups in three separate corporate research organizations. This latter activity is supported by other corporate funds. (The research labs are the Yokohama R&D Center, the Keihanna R&D Center, and the Kokubu R&D Center.)
In the ferrule product area, Kyocera manufactures 1.2 million units/month; this will soon be increased to 2 million units. The company obtains micron-scale precision using special tooling that is designed and built internally. Kyocera builds 90% of the ceramic tooling used in the company.
Kyocera makes a large variety of laser diode and photodiode package parts. The company produces, for example, flat packs with 50 ohm feedthroughs for multigigabit transmitters, various submounts, sapphire windows, and CATV/microwave photodetector packages. The company has moved to Al3N4 submounts and away from Be2O3 with its toxicity problems. In developmental packages, it makes V-grooves for fiber/laser arrays from ceramic and silicon and are prototyping packages for WDM (FTTH) hybrid optoelectronic modules. In Kyocera's manufacturing/assembly activities, it has automated alignment and laser welding systems and automated optical/electronic inspection systems, which it designs and builds internally.
Kyocera has developed a variety of sophisticated modeling tools for optimizing the microwave performance of its packages and parts, including three-dimensional electromagnetic analysis. It is now developing similar software (e.g., BPM techniques) for optical packaging problems such as fiber-to-chip coupling.
Kyocera has a strong focus on working with customers for special packages. Much of this work is with U.S. companies. It has an Integrated Packaging Service, which includes maintaining design centers around the world, organizing technology exchange seminars, and doing assembly by request. In general, the company's assembly activities are aimed at serving customers and becoming more expert at component design; it does not compete with its customers (i.e., it doesn't intend to enter the packaged laser diode business).
One of the new electro-optics business areas for Kyocera will be LiNbO3 wafers, as an outgrowth of its single crystal business. The company intends to focus on higher-purity optical grade material, since the other companies that sell the material focus primarily on wafers for the SAW business. The company has a new furnace design and growth technique that it feels will enable it to grow a family of high-quality optical crystals, not just LiNbO3. Kyocera researchers are also beginning research on higher grades of material, including Ti-diffused LiNbO3. This move into LiNbO3 is an example of the company's continued quest for new business areas in electro-optics that can be built on its present capabilities.
Kyocera representatives feel that a secret of the company's rapid growth and success is its ability to operate a new thrust like a small company. Company representatives refer to the process as "ameba-like," in that the organization grows and splits as it makes business sense. It has a special accounting system that allows for flexibility and tracking small "P&L centers." The JTEC panel's hosts contrasted their operations to those of the giant formalized Japanese electronics companies (in which decisions and changes happen much slower). The Electro-optics Division, with employees who are resident in larger organizations and facilities, is a good example of the process in operation. As technology progresses to maturation, it is common for engineers in Kyocera to move between facilities.
Kyocera is an impressive company that has used its expertise in ceramics and a fast and flexible business organization/culture to be a major supplier of critical package components for electronics and optoelectronics. The company continually seeks partnering relationships with its customers and personifies the approach of coinvesting in leading-edge technology today to build OEM production business for tomorrow.