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Creating New Value and Solving Social Issues Through Business ActivitiesSupporting Industrial Innovation

Canon is promoting sustainable economic growth by applying proprietary optical and image-processing technologies to manufacturing.

Supporting constant innovation to adapt to changing conditions is essential to the realization of a sustainable society. Amid growing adoption of IoT, big data, AI and robot technologies as part of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, there exist widespread possibilities for personalized, made-to-order or customized products and services. Committed to the expansion of B-to-B operations as part of Phase V of its Excellent Global Corporation Plan, Canon aims to create new value by using proprietary optical and image-processing technologies developed over many years in the industrial machinery field.

In semiconductor manufacturing, building on conventional lithographic approaches as device manufacturing moves into the IoT era, Canon is aiming to establish nanoimprint technology to realize chip manufacturing at higher resolution and lower cost. In other sectors, OLED production equipment (Canon Tokki) and sputtering equipment (Canon ANELVA) are essential elements in supporting affluent consumer lifestyles. In addition, leveraging the latest sensing and 3D image recognition technologies, we are developing a state-of-the-art “3D Machine Vision System”, which acts as an eye for the robot, to help increase industrial manufacturing productivity.

Economic growth rates for advanced economies and emerging markets

  • Source: IMF “World Economic Outlook, April 2018”

Technology supporting affluent lifestyles

As the brains of electronic equipment, semiconductor devices are essential parts in the IoT era when everything is linked to the Internet. This trend is driving the growth in demand for flash memory used in mobile handsets and the development of a range of automotive applications for semiconductors. We supply lithographic equipment for semiconductor manufacturing. The functionality and memory capacity of semiconductors continue to increase as chip manufacturers adopt more complex circuit patterns and large-scale integration. Our aim is to use nanoimprint lithography, a ground-breaking technology that stamps circuitry onto wafers at high resolution, to support ongoing process migration and reduce manufacturing costs, thus contributing to gains in the performance of electronic devices as well as IT advances. In 2017, we installed semiconductor lithography equipment using nanoimprint technology at leading chip manufacturer Toshiba Memory Corporation.

Elsewhere, Canon ANELVA makes sputters and other film-formation apparatus for use in semiconductor production, based on high-vacuum thin-film process technology. The firm is also the world’s sole supplier of sputtering equipment for hard disk drive (HDD) head production. Moreover, equipment supplied by Canon ANELVA is helping to boost performance while dramatically reducing the cost of production for communications devices used in high-speed 4G and 5G networks.

With demand for OLED displays on the rise, the OLED production equipment developed and manufactured by Canon Tokki has become a critical component in production processes. Thinner than LCDs and capable of delivering brighter colors, OLED displays can also be molded into curved forms. Roll-up OLED displays may also be a reality in the future. Based on overwhelming technical superiority compared with rivals, Canon is creating original value in response to the growing demand for OLED displays for use in smartphones, TVs and other products.

Semiconductor lithography equipment using nanoimprint technology installed at Toshiba Memory

Technology supporting innovation in manufacturing

Various types of robots are used today in manufacturing processes. This shift has created a new bottleneck since the piled parts traditionally delivered on bins must be arranged to facilitate their use by production line robots. This can offset the benefits from automation in terms of shortening production processes. Canon is developing the 3D Machine Vision System for picking out parts from a pile with high accuracy and speed. The system acts as an eye for the robot based on 3D image recognition technology. Since the system is compatible with existing robots, it can help automate the processes for feeding parts. We are developing it to cope with small, medium or large parts so it can boost productivity across a range of manufacturers in industrial sectors such as autos, electrical machinery, metals, plastics and chemicals. In the future, 3D machine vision technology is also expected to apply the automation of assembly processes.

We have also introduced software for use with industrial cameras or Canon-made network cameras. This software can help raise operational efficiency in production facilities by monitoring for emergencies or faults and supporting a quick recovery if such events occur. Other software uses image-processing technology for reading barcodes or inspecting materials.

The 3D Machine Vision System can pick out parts from a pile