The micro-machined ultrasound transducers market is taking off. Why now?

Extracted from: Ultrasound Sensing Technologies for Medical, Industrial & Consumer Applications report, Yole Développement, July 2018


  • New applications along with manufacturing capabilities and technological readiness are driving the takeoff of micro-machined ultrasonic transducers.
  • Ultrasonic sensing modules: a US$2 billion market in 2017, poised to reach around US$6 billion in 2023.
  • Major MUT challenges solved - an industry ready for production.

LYON, France – July 25, 2018: Ultrasound has a very old history. The ecosystem is mature and there are numerous applications and technologies. As part of this ultrasound industry, the semiconductor technologies supporting micromachined ultrasonic transducers were developed a long while ago, but the market never responded.
However, today the ultrasound sensing market is showing an impressive resurgence: new applications along with improved manufacturing capabilities and advanced technological readiness are driving the impressive growth of micro-machined ultrasound transducers.
Yole Développement (Yole), the market research and strategy consulting company, has revealed the total ultrasound modules market recorded sales of US$ 2.1 billion in 2017, and expects a significant CAGR of 18% between 2017 and 2023. The market in 2023 should reach US$ 5.7 billion. Yole’s analysts propose today a comprehensive technology and market report dedicated to ultrasound sensing technologies: Ultrasound Sensing Technologies for Medical, Industrial & Consumer Applications report. This analysis provides an in-depth understanding of the ecosystem and its players. It points out the key technical insights and technology trends and related challenges. This report also details the forecast metrics of the ultrasound transducers.
Micro-machined ultrasonic transducers are finally coming to market: why now?

For decades, micro-machined ultrasonic transducers, either in the form of PMUT or CMUT, have been knocking at the door of mass-markets. “At last, mass-market is about to happen,” confirms Dr. Marjorie Villien, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. “At Yole we identified four concurrent factors explaining this timing”.
First, applications are pushing for these technologies. Medical ultrasonic imaging will democratize into general practitioners and even homes, thanks to cheaper and smaller probes. In parallel, in consumer applications, ultrasonic fingerprint sensing allows for under-the-display operation, resulting in all-screen smartphones just 10 years after the iPhone removed the keyboard.
Secondly, the technology is ready. “PMUT, which requires a thin, controlled piezoelectric film, has benefited from this technology’s increased usage for inkjet printhead,” explains Dr. Alexis Debray, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. “Meanwhile, CMUT also requires a delicate manufacturing process with large and thin membranes, in which mechanical stress usually remains.” 

Thirdly, several industry players have consistently invested in these technologies, thus readying the supply chain: Hitachi and Philips for CMUT, Dimatix and STMicroelectronics for PMUT, and GlobalFoundries and Silex for both.
Last but not least, assembly is an important part of manufacturing, especially if mass-market is targeted. Companies like Tong Hsing Electronic, Philips, and SilTerra have readied the supply chain. This alignment of favorable factors, similar to an arrangement of fortuitous stars, has set the stage for MUT's arrival in several applications and markets.

“The impressive growth is coming from emerging applications: fingerprint and medical..."
Jérôme Mouly, Technology & Market Analyst, Yole)

In 2017 the biggest ultrasonic sensing market was park assist with about US$2 billion, followed by automation with more than US$ 550 million the same year. “The impressive growth of the ultrasound sensing modules market is coming from emerging applications; fingerprint and medical,” asserts Jérôme Mouly, Technology & Market Analyst from Yole. And he adds: “Therefore, fingerprint sensing will achieve the biggest growth, and with the integration of PMUT is poised to see the largest changes in terms of technology. From a small market in 2017, fingerprint sensing will reach US$2 billion in five years thanks to its integration into smartphones.”
The medical ultrasound  market will also see many changes with the arrival of new products like the US$2,000 Butterfly IQ ultrasound probe. This handheld, low-cost device will reshape medical ultrasound usage, with new customers such as primary care, emergency physicians, and nurses being able to use imaging as an everyday tool. Ultrasound might be the new stethoscope!

To discover a full description of the Ultrasonic report on i-micronews.com, MedTech reports section.

MUT: Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers
CAGR : Compound Annual Growth Rate
PMUT : Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers
CMUT : Capacitive Micro-Machined Ultrasonic Transducers

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