(NECN: Peter Howe, Bedford, Mass.) - The chances are very good that with just about any smartphone or tablet you use today, the computer-chip brains that make it work don’t get manufactured without some critical help from a company called Entegris, based in Billerica, Massachusetts.
It makes a range of high-tech manufacturing equipment, including liquid filters used in super-clean semiconductor chip-making rooms that can filter out particles from liquid measured in nanometers, impurities as small as three hydrogen atoms.
And to keep taking advanced manufacturing to the next levels, Wednesday, Entegris officially opened a new $55 million research and pilot manufacturing facility in Bedford it calls the i2m, or “ideas to market” complex.
“This is by far the largest single capital investment that we've made in the last 15 or 20 years,” Entegris CEO Bertrand Loy said in an interview Wednesday morning.
That the company decided to build it in Massachusetts is a big deal for the state.
“We looked at many different alternatives in terms of where to make the investment,” Loy said. “We have a very significant global infrastructure with a very significant presence in Japan and Asia ... We looked comprehensively at our options and ultimately decided that Massachusetts was the best site and the best location for us,” thanks to the company’s existing talent base and the caliber of research and development and colleges and universities in the area.
The facility has created about 10 to 15 new jobs in advanced materials science and advanced engineering, and about 100 people in all will work at the Crosby Drive facility.
Entegris’s expansion is one more facet of a much bigger story – the comeback of manufacturing, especially top-of-the-line advanced manufacturing, in Massachusetts. Total state gross domestic product from manufacturing has jumped by nearly 20 percent since 2009 to $41 billion annually, according to the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Much of that is the comeback of the economy from the collapse of 2008-09, but also a growing backlash against unexpected costs and complexities of sending manufacturing offshore, especially of time-sensitive highly sophisticated products.
A survey by the Research Triangle Institute found 84 percent of Massachusetts manufacturers expect their business to grow this year.
Entegris recently closed a $1.1 billion acquisition of ATMI, based in Danbury, Conn., which added 800 more jobs to the now-3,600-person company.
“Looking at all of the alternatives available to us,’’ Loy said, “we felt that Massachusetts was still the best place for us to invest.”
With videographer John E. Stuart