ASML, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chip-making lithography equipment for the computer industry, is growing in Wilton.
The company announced in October that strong demand for its Deep Ultraviolet Lithography systems, which are the workhorse of the computer chip lithography industry, and its Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography systems, to print on wafers or even smaller objects, is driving the growth as shipments continue to ramp up in support of customer plans.
The company now employs more than 1,200 in Wilton at 77 Danbury Road. It will add several hundred more employees over the next couple of years, said Bill Amalfitano, general manager, who runs the development and manufacturing center.
“I would say as of right now we’ve hired 180 this year, and have roughly 180 jobs still open, so we expect to hire probably another 200 or so next year and then probably another 100 the year after,” Amalfitano said, explaining that the jobs are a mixture of engineers and manufacturing workers.
Amalfitano has been with the company since 1975, when it was part of Perkin-Elmer. He said the average employee has worked there 12 years, and lives in either Fairfield County up to New Milford or New Haven County down to Milford.
He talked about the push for self-driving cars and the desire for ever more powerful cell phones as factors that are helping to grow the business.
“In our industry, every couple of years computing power doubles in capacity as chips become smaller and smaller, packing much more information, so there is always a drive for more computing power,” he told The Bulletin. “The markets that are driving it in the future include the whole interconnectivity thing, in homes and at work, which drives a lot more storage capacity. You see in your homes how many things are getting connected, from heating and air conditioning to lights, and having everything connected to your home. There is so much computing power.
In the future, there’s also this whole thing about driverless cars. The automobile industry in the next five years or so will be building a computer network on wheels. It will have the computing power of nine personal computers in your vehicle. That’s an awful lot of computing power to do the advanced processes with the sensors and make the capabilities for the car to go driverless. That’s a new market that will be quite big in the future, looking beyond 2020.”
The company’s roots are in Perkin-Elmer. The Wilton plant was spun off from Perkin-Elmer in 1990 and went to the Silicon Valley Group, which sold it to Netherlands-based ASML in 2001.
ASML itself started in 1984, and was spun off by Phillips Electronics in the 1990s.
The Wilton site is the home of both research and development, which hires engineers, and clean manufacturing, which hires technicians.
“So out of 1,200 people, we have more than 700 engineers,” Amalfitano said. “It’s a very high-tech organization. The technology is very stimulating. It’s very challenging, because every couple of years you’re coming out with much more advanced products than two years ago. There are a lot of challenges for the workforce. It’s a very exciting technology. It’s what attracts and keeps a lot of the employees.”
The company’s lithography equipment is one of the most critical processes in semiconductor manufacturing. “It allows you to keep shrinking every two years so chips don’t get bigger, but just pack much more into the same-size chip,” he said.
“Our system allows all these products like the iPhone to get developed for their customers. When you think of the impact we have on the world, it’s unbelievable.”
The lithography modules are designed and built in Wilton and shipped to the Netherlands, where they are integrated into the final machine that goes to customers.
ASML is a multinational company with offices in 60 cities in 16 countries, headquartered in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. It employs more than 18,000 people on payroll and flexible contracts.
ASML is traded on Euronext Amsterdam and NASDAQ under the symbol ASML. For more information about ASML and career opportunities, visit www.asml.com.