Indium Corporation's Powerful world-renown reputation rests on Bedrock Technology. Today, the company is the world's leading manufacturer of Indium Products. April Terreri mines the story.
Remember those Moon rocks brought back to earth by U.S. astronauts in the late 1960s? If you do, you also remember the concern about what possible strange and alien microorganisms might be on those rocks. Needing to find a manufacturer that could produce a superior hermetic seal, NASA went straight to Indium Corporation, with world headquarters in Utica, N.Y. “Our products have landed on Mars and the moon, and we have products on the space shuttle, on the Hubble Telescope and on literally millions of PDAs, laptops, cell phones and personal computers,” says Rick Short, director of corporate communications.
There’s a good chance most people have never heard of this company that manufactures products for other companies we have heard of, and whose products we use and rely on every day. But this doesn’t bother the folks at Indium Corporation. What’s most important to them is developing mechanical and electronic assembly materials to make their clients shine in the eyes of their customers. “We are our customers’ secret weapon working behind the scenes. We make our customers look good to their customers,” says Short.
Indium’s customers are the world’s leading OEMs and electronic manufacturing services in industries as diverse as consumer electronics, aerospace, telecommunications, personal computers, and medical equipment. You will also find Indium products in equipment used by the US military.
Technology Born and Bred
If one word could describe the Indium Corporation, that word would have to be ‘technology.’ Founded in 1934 by chemical engineer Dr. William S. Murray to focus exclusively on the element indium, the company quickly gained recognition as a leader in its field when, in the 1940s, the U.S. government awarded to Indium Corporation its prestigious “E” award for manufacturing excellence. “Within 10 years of our founding, we were honored by the military for excellence in the manufacture and production of high-tech materials, and we continue in this tradition of excellence to this day,” says Short.
Bringing the most advanced and cutting-edge technology to customers is what defines Indium. Short adds, “We offer our customers a superior return on their investment for our high-value-added products and services.”
From commodity metals trading of pure indium through sophisticated fabricated materials such as inorganic compounds like indium oxide, indium hydroxide or indium acetate, Indium Corporation delivers top-quality products to its discriminating customers. Other products include specialty solders, solder fluxes, electrically-conductive adhesives, fusible alloys, indium-containing fabrications of all types, and pure indium (from commercial grade through high-purity grade – 99.9999+percent pure), in addition to non-indium-bearing metal fabrications and materials.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, as the electronics assembly industry grew, so did the need for these innovative materials. “We were the very first company on the planet to produce specialty solders for this burgeoning industry. With our alloying technology and metal fabrication expertise, we were able to create unique solder alloys with very specific physical properties such as melting point or tensile strength,” says Short.
Also manufacturing inorganic indium compounds to serve the display and energy delivery markets, Indium’s products find their way into energy storage cells, battery cell assemblies, solar panels, liquid crystal displays used in flat-panel computer monitors, as well as a wide range of industrial monitoring and measuring hardware.
The company’s fabricated metal parts are often used for mechanical applications such as thermal fuses, hermetic sealants, and gaskets. Indium is used to seal the original U.S. Constitution in its hermetic vault.
R&D Spoken Here
Indium Corporation’s goal is to help its customers differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. “This is our total focus: to help our customers maintain their position of unchallenged best,” Short says.
“As a highly technological company, we must stay on the leading edge. We take seriously our responsibility to deliver above and beyond what our competition is able to bring to the market,” Short says, noting Indium invests heavily in employee technical support. “We must deliver consistently superior products and service, and we have a large staff of Ph.D. research scientists to help us achieve this,” he says. A testimony to Indium’s commitment to ever-evolving technology is the fact that Indium’s R&D lab is headed by noted scientist Dr. Ning-Cheng Lee, recently named ‘Member of Distinction’ by the internationally recognized electronics assembly trade group SMTA (Surface Mount Technology Association).
“Technology is very important to our company,” continues Short. The company is in the process of sending its technical support staff through a new certification program offered by the SMTA. “When we send a technical representative to one of our customers, we want them to be assured that our staffers are certified to the highest standards set by SMTA.”
Indium is committed to responding to the demanding and fast-paced environments in which their customers’ must function. “Our customers’ margins are being reduced, their competition is increasingly fierce, and their own customers’ demands change very rapidly,” says Short. “Add to this the fact that the economy is going through uncertain fluctuations. Our customers simply don’t have the time for a generic supplier who is just a ‘me-too’ kind of player. They need someone who can come in and, within a short amount of time, assess the situation, offer a full complement of information, skills, and expertise, and make a big difference. This is what our customers expect from us, and this is exactly what we deliver.”
The Indium Corporation excels at applied technology. That means they accomplish projects with the sophisticated knowledge and expertise they’ve developed throughout decades of advancing their technology. “We are a very practical team and we know how to wield the technology we create, bringing it to the marketplace so our customers can revolutionize their own products,” says Short. This philosophy is backed up by the fact that the Indium Corporation just earned the prestigious Omnimark Award from Gillette for their outstanding performance in quality and service in their work as a supplier to Duracell Battery.
‘Copy Exact’ Technology
When you are a major supplier to the world’s top tier of high-tech manufacturers, there is no room for error, and consistency must be the reigning king. “The principle of ‘Copy Exact’ is a manufacturing philosophy we follow so all our facilities throughout the world use the very same processes to produce our products. This means our customers get consistent quality each and every time in every one of our products, which are manufactured under a quality system certified to ISO 9001:2000 standards,” Short says. The company operates manufacturing and sales offices in Europe, Asia, and North America, employing 300 people worldwide. And speaking of employees, the Indium Corporation is dedicated to cultivating the best team in the industry. Several programs exist for employee training, education, and skill building. As a testament to these investments, the company boasts excellent employee retention – with some working there over 30 years.
Indium Corporation is aligned to maintain its position of reigning global technologic leader. The company expects some very challenging growth opportunities in the new wireless telecommunications market which will require innovative electronics assembly materials. “We can’t be sure of what this new arena will require and we embrace the challenge. We will continue to be recognized as the company that sets the standard for service and for materials quality and performance,” says Short. “This is really the keystone of our company. We lead in technology because it’s in our genetic code. This is how we operate at the Indium Corporation.”