Heidelberg Instruments

Heidelberg Instruments History – 30 years experience

1984 – 1990

  • Heidelberg Instruments GmbH is founded by researchers from the University of Heidelberg, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and other institutes with focus on multiple areas such as biomedical optics, confocal microscopy as well as wafer patterning and inspection.
  • Heidelberg Instruments Mikrotechnik GmbH became an independent company focused on integrated patterning tools for the semiconductor industry.

1991 – 1995

  • First DWL system is developed and installed in cooperation with INESC, Portugal and the Institute for Microelectronics, Stuttgart (IMS) under the umbrella of the European Strategic Program for Research and Development in Information Technology (ESPRIT).  Capabilities included direct patterning of CMOS layers with 1.2 μm node.  The system is called DWL 2.0.  First commercial system is installed at ML&C GmbH, Germany for photomask production.
  • Heidelberg Instruments installs the first large area exposure system capable of exposing an area of 800 x 800 mm with a resolution of 1 μm and an address grid of 25 nm at IMT, Switzerland.  
  • First system specifically designed for low volume, high precision direct patterning is developed for research institutes and universities.  This tool is called DWL 66, which is installed at the Imperial College of London.  The DWL 66 went through a number of modifications and today is one of the most successful maskless lithography systems within the R&D community with applications in MEMS, Micro-Optics, Life Sciences, as well as many other Nano and Micro technology related fields.

1996 – 2000

  • Heidelberg Instruments enters an OEM agreement with Gerber System Corporation, a well-known supplier of laser imaging systems to the electronic industry.  The OEM agreement covered large area exposure systems and ends after Barco Graphics purchases the Gerber Systems Corporation.
  • As a proven brand name, the company enters the Asian market with multiple installations in Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.  Local offices responsible for after installation equipment and application support are established in Taiwan and China.
  • Heidelberg Instruments established the North America service office followed by the direct regional sales and marketing.  Today the North American region is an important market with over 80 customers, including large and small corporations as well as a number of research institutes and universities.

2001 – 2010

  • Heidelberg Instruments establishes additional service and support offices in Asia including local units in Korea and Japan due to increasing installations and market expansion in the region.  The company also announces construction of local process and application labs to support application and research development with other partners in the region.  
  • Introduction of the Volume Pattern Generator (VPG) line of large area lithography systems, a reliable and an economical solution, ideal for high volume production of today’s demanding photomasks in electronic packaging, color filters, and other applications requiring high resolution features on large areas with excellent image quality and registration. This technology remains a continuous success and has become an industry standard platform.
  • Introduction of the table top systems, the µPG 101, an extremely economical, small, integrated and easy to use micro pattern generator for applications such as MEMS, Bio MEMS, Integrated Optics, Micro Fluidics or any other application that requires high precision, high-resolution microstructure.

2011 – 2013

  • Heidelberg Instruments extends its leadership in manufacturing of direct write lithography systems with the launch of µPG 501 table top maskless aligner system.  Designed with the focus on high performance at an affordable price, the μPG 501 is the perfect solution for prototyping various devices such as MEMS, integrated Optics, micro-fluids, Lab-on-a-Chip.  Company is on track to eliminate the need for mask aligner and photomask usage specially in low volume production.
  • Introduction of the VPG 200/400 family of systems, our advanced small and midsize Maskless Aligner Systems. These systems represent over 2 decades of application and process experience in small area lithography combined with advanced and field proven technology used on our industry standard large area VPG (Volume Pattern Generator) platforms.  Due to the high exposure speed, the VPG 400and VPG 200 can be also used as a Maskless Aligner for direct exposure on wafers or any other flat substrates coated with photosensitive material eliminating the need for photomasks and mask aligners.
  • Expansion of the Process and Application Lab in Heidelberg, including addition of state of the art fabrication, measurement, and process equipment.  The company also announces plans to open additional state of the art Process and Application Labs in China and United States.
  • After several consecutive years of double-digit growth in order-intake, revenue and profit, Heidelberg Instruments announces 40% growth in 2013 order intake compared to 2012. 

2013 – present

  • RAG-Stiftung Beteiligungsgesellschaft announces the execution of an agreement under which the RAG-Stiftung Beteiligungsgesellschaft acquires 100 percent of Heidelberg Instruments. According to Dr. Helmut Linssen, CFO of the RAG-Stiftung Beteiligungsgesellschaft, Heidelberg Instruments fits well into the investment strategy of the RAG-Stiftung Beteiligungsgesellschaft, which invests into specialized, medium-sized companies in the fields of mechanical engineering, automation and industrial technologies, serving international growth segments.
  • With the introduction of the MLA Series, Heidelberg Instruments brings a new generation of Maskless Aligner Systems on the market. The MLA is a high performance maskless direct exposure system specifically designed for easy operation and high speed patterning. It offers all the capabilities of a traditional Mask Aligner for single layer and multi-layer applications and even overcomes some of the limitations of photomask based exposure technologies. The MLA eliminates the need for photomasks and shortens development cycles significantly.


  • February 2018: Heidelberg Instruments acquires 70% of the shares of the Swiss high-tech company SwissLitho AG. This will allow Heidelberg Instruments to serve customers with an additional choice of tools and options in the Nano- and Microlithography field, while SwissLitho, through their collaboration with Heidelberg Instruments, will be in a position to develop new technologies and products to serve the R&D community as well as selected industrial applications.
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