NEC to build low-cost satellites for developing nations with new factory

Japan’s NEC Corp. has revealed plans to invest 10 billion yen (approx. $114.5 million) to build a new factory in Tokyo that will produce space satellites at a low-cost for emerging nations. Sources say the technology company is looking to begin manufacturing in fiscal 2014, which begins in April of that year.

The plan is for the factory, to be built in the suburb of Fuchu as part of a joint effort with the central government, to help Japan win contracts from other countries that are looking to build and launch their own satellites. While the 10 billion yen figure is seen as relatively competitive on the global scale for building a commercial satellite factory, NEC has already been successful in lowering the costs of producing small satellites and related equipment to prices between 6 billion yen and 8 billion yen (from $68.7 million to $91.6 million).

Japanese engineering company IHI Corp. has developed a 3 billion yen ($34.4 million) rocket that can carry a small satellite into space, and when combined with NEC’s product, provides Japan with competitive pricing. While North Korea claims its long-range missile launch last month was successful in putting a scientific satellite into orbit, the international community still has doubt about what really made it into space and if it actually functions.

NEC to cut 10,000 jobs as iPhone conquers market

Japan’s NEC will cut nearly one in ten of its workers as the iPhone continues to gobble up the market for smartphones.

The company said this week that recent poor performance stemmed from the popularity of the Apple iPhone in Japan, an increase in the number of foreign rivals it faces in the IT infrastructure market, and trouble expanding beyond its home country, Reuters reported.

NEC forecast a loss of $1.3 billion (100 billion yen) for the year ending March 31, and said about 7,000 of the 10,000 eliminated jobs will be in Japan, with the company taking a $520 billion restructuring charge.

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Japan developing cheap satellites for emerging markets

Japan is developing a low-cost surveillance satellite to aid disaster relief and other purposes as it looks to expand its reach into emerging markets, government and corporate officials said Friday.

Japan’s trade ministry is collaborating with NEC Corp. and other companies to develop by 2012 a small satellite costing a fifth of current prices for conventional monitoring satellites, trade ministry official Shuichi Kato said.

NEC will contribute technology it developed for the Hayabusa asteroid probe programme, whose success in being the first to collect asteroid particles during a seven-year odyssey has captured the imagination of Japan’s public.

Kato said the satellite would be ready for launch in 2012 and sales would be aimed at emerging countries such as Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand as well as Dubai and Kazakhstan.

The government is also talking to Vietnam about providing the satellite as part of official development aid, he said.

The ministry estimates that the satellite system would cost about 10 billion yen (120 million dollars), about one fifth of existing satellite systems developed by European and American groups, he said.

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NEC Develops Biomass Plastic BLAH BLAH better than PLA

NEC Corp developed a biomass plastic whose mass ratio of plant-derived materials (plant ratio) is as high as 70%.

The properties of the new biomass plastic, such as ductility, impact resistance and heat resistance, will be equivalent to those of polylactic acid (PLA), NEC said. The company plans to continue the development of the plastic as a material for electronic devices, aiming to commercialize it in fiscal 2013.

Molded parts made of the new biomass plastic and pellets

The plastic is made by using rice straws (cellulose) and cashew nuts (cardanol).

The main raw materials of the new biomass plastic are cellulose, which is abundantly contained in plant stalks, and cardanol, which can be extracted from cashew nut shells.

via NEC Develops Biomass Plastic, Claims Superiority to PLA.

Japense Companies Team-Up on Future of Cell-phones

Four leading Japanese electronics makers said Monday they will team up with top network operator NTT DoCoMo to develop the operating system for its next-generation cellphones, due for launch next year.

Sharp, Panasonic, NEC and Fujitsu will work together with NTT DoCoMo and Japanese chip maker Renesas Technology to develop a platform compatible with systems such as Linux and Symbian.

The new platform will offer improved processing speeds for high quality video as well as enhanced 3D graphics processing for more advanced mobile multimedia functions, DoCoMo said in a statement.

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