Semicon West 2008--Distributor Diversifies into Solar Market

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The third floor of the West Hall at this year's Semicon West 2008 was a bit surreal. Some booths seemed targeted at consumers; in fact, I learned a great deal about how to install solar panels on my rooftop and what types of energy bill savings I could expect over the ten years after installation. Two booths later, I met up with a thin film equipment supplier who clearly would rather talk to a photovoltaic cell manufacturer rather than a reporter.The fact is, this Intersolar 2008 floor generated the most traffic--and excitement--of any Semicon West hall. The floor was reminiscent of the old Nepcon days, when you couldn't see from one end of the show floor to the other because there were too many heads to look over.Nowhere did the photovoltaic-electronics manufacturing match make more sense than at the Applied Materials booth on this crowded floor. Of course, it was the largest booth on the third floor, but, more importantly, it touted the semiconductor equipment giant's intention to dominate the solar space by offering equipment for the photovoltaic manufacturing process. Tucked behind the Applied Materials booth, I ran into, what was for me, the strangest of booths. It was Technica, a West Coast-based equipment and materials distributor that I've known for years and years on the printed circuit fabrication side of the business. Sure enough, many of the logos on the Technica booth were familiar--Taiyo, Teknek, MacDermid and so forth. All of these are longtime PCB fabrication suppliers. I spoke with David Vaughn of Taiyo and Callum Campbell of Teknek--not about fabrication products, but about their solar offerings. Finally, I met with Frank Medina. Last year, Medina took the reins of Technica and started increasing distribution efforts in the photovolatic market.Click here to watch this video interview with Technica President and CEO Frank Medina. It's one of my favorites from Semicon West 2008 because it looks at how one distributor is pushing into the photovoltaic market while staying true to its electronics manufacturing roots.



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