Glass micro bonding, based on a laser, can be used to hermetically seal electronics inside a glass wafer, for example. Only one business in the world can do this. Applications range from medical equipment to components used in space.
Established in 2010, the Tampere-based company Primoceler has developed a technology that bonds glass to glass tightly and with high precision. In practice, the glass is not heated at any point outside the join. A laser melts the glass to a width of around 50 micrometres, enabling the creation of joins with extremely high precision on micro parts. The result is a hermetically sealed bond.
Using traditional methods, glass parts are joined using glue or by fusing metal additive layers, but these cannot be hermetically or lastingly sealed. In addition, the seams are never optically clean or precise.
Nowadays, Primoceler primarily sells services, including the design and manufacture of the entire glass package. In addition to glass, the company’s equipment can be used for bonding glass to silicon – which is a big deal when combining electronics and glass.
Inside people and into outer space
The company has focused on products that need to be highly reliable. These are made in low volumes, but are very demanding. They include implants and medical equipment implanted into the human body.
CEO Ville Hevonkorpi lists these devices, which include endoscopes inserted into the gastrointestinal tract and various optical sensors which use light to measure pressure. The first of these were implanted in human subjects early this year; in the field of medicine, it takes years for new solutions to be approved in human trials.
“Such devices are often made of titanium, but the problem is that radio waves cannot penetrate titanium. For this reason, a titanium cover always includes some plastic, or has a separate component through which the device’s battery is charged and the device can be connected up. This makes the device more complex and lead-throughs are always risky.”
Primoceler is developing technology for European Space Agency (ESA) projects, including protection for satellites’ optical sensors and a camera’s CMOS cell. ESA has also been an excellent reference for the company.
The current financial year is looking almost twice as successful as the last one. The company has been able to finance its own operations, with funding also from former Tekes, current Business Finland, and Finnvera in addition to ESA. Through the Global Access Program of Business Finland and the highly rated UCLA, Primoceler gained the assistance of experienced professionals in evaluating its market potential in the USA.
“This is all Made in Finland, from basic research on lasers to technical solutions for our welding equipment.”
Text and illustration: Jari Mäkinen