How we innovate
Tell us it can’t be done. We dare you
How do you know something’s impossible if you don’t try it?
How we innovate
Innovation is never a straight line. But we know that even the biggest challenge can be overcome by chipping away at it, if necessary with hundreds of people over many years. We persevere.
To accelerate our product development, we engineer in parallel what might usually happen sequentially, all the while guarding our products’ reliability, manufacturability and serviceability.
A collaborative ecosystem
We don’t innovate in isolation. In our ‘Open Innovation’ philosophy, we see ourselves as architects and integrators. This means that we develop our technology in close collaboration with our customers to ensure we build today what they need tomorrow, while we trust our supply chain to manufacture most system parts and modules. Our global network is key to our success, and we share both risk and reward. We work hard at developing long-term relationships with our partners, listening to each other and pushing each other to continuously innovate.
Our research teams collaborate with a wide network of external technology partners to create solutions that our experts can tap into when developing new systems or improving our existing models. Our partners include imec in Belgium; the Shanghai Integrated Circuit Research and Development Center in China; and the University of Twente and the Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography in the Netherlands.
Our lithography systems are made up of thousands of parts, and most of them are made by our suppliers. Relying on outside suppliers was a necessity in our early years, and since then our ecosystem of nearly 5,000 partners and suppliers has turned into one of our company’s most prized strengths. In this ecosystem of innovation, long-term collaboration is based on trust.
Our customers are the world’s leading microchip manufacturers, and our success is inextricably linked with theirs. For this reason, we engage with our customers at all levels: building partnerships, sharing knowledge and risks, and aligning our investments in innovation. We design our machines based on their input, engage in helping them achieve their technology and cost roadmaps, and work together, often literally in the same team, to make sure our machines are running smoothly in their fabs.
Ever since ASML produced and sold its first microchip manufacturing machine (the PAS 2000 Stepper) in 1984, it’s never simply been about ‘making it work’; it’s been about making it work reliably in the customer’s production process. We support our customers with a broad range of applications, services, and technical support products to maintain and enhance our systems' performance.
Inside our 40,000-square-meter cleanrooms in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, the work comes together and a lithography system is assembled. The assembly of a system can happen within weeks but engineers then spend several more weeks calibrating the system into a finely-tuned machine that works with nanometer accuracy.
We innovate across our entire product portfolio at the same pace as our customers through large and sustained investment in R&D.
Nowhere is the power of ASML’s R&D more tangible than at our yearly Technology Conference. The event is normally held in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, and in hubs in San Diego, Silicon Valley and Wilton, Connecticut, with over 7,000 people attending. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire event became one global virtual experience with more than 16,000 employees and R&D partners able to attend.
What started out 20 years ago as a small knowledge-sharing event among engineers has now grown into the largest developer event worldwide. In addition to presentations and a poster gallery, we award the title of ‘ASML Fellow’ to a select few experienced employees at the conference. This award is given to people who have made an outstanding technical contribution to ASML and are recognized both within and outside the company as top technical authorities.