Atmel's new owner to keep its plant in Colorado Springs


Atmel Corp. said Friday it has sold its XSense product line to a subsidiary of a Texas competitor, which will continue to manufacture the product at Atmel's Colorado Springs plant and retain the roughly 60 employees involved in the operation.

In fact, a spokesman for the buyer - UniPixel Inc. of suburban Houston - said the company is poised for a "significant expansion" of the XSense operation in the Springs that likely will lead to more hiring.

"If you're going to expand manufacturing, it would make sense they'll have to add people," UniPixel spokesman Ron Both said.

However, Both said he doesn't know how much bigger the operation might become or how many more employees could be added.

Atmel spokesman Peter Schuman called the deal a positive step for both companies and local employees.

"They get to continue doing what they were doing - just for a different owner for now," Schuman said.

California-based Atmel, one of the Springs' largest private employers with 1,000 workers, has operated a semiconductor manufacturing plant for a quarter century at 1150 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd. on the city's south side.

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In late 2013, the company introduced XSense , a thin film imprinted with ink that contains copper and can conduct electricity. Designed for use in smart phones, tablets and other touchscreen devices, XSense was the first Atmel product made at the Springs plant other than semiconductors.

In February, however, Atmel announced it would sell or shut down XSense following a review of the operation.

In a news release Friday, UniPixel said its flexible transparent touch sensor technology is similar to that of XSense. As a result, the company said it "expects to substantially lower the production costs of the XSense touch sensors through the application and integration of UniPixel's manufacturing and material science technology."

Under terms of the deal between the two companies, UniPixel is buying the XSense equipment, inventory and other related assets at the Atmel plant, Both said.

UniPixel also will lease space in two Atmel plant buildings; each lease will run for 18 months, and can be extended for two additional six-month periods. That means UniPixel could be manufacturing the XSense line at the Atmel plant for 2 1/2 years. However, Both said, UniPixel is "very committed" to retaining and growing the operation at the Atmel plant, and will remain there "for the foreseeable future."

In its own news release, Atmel said it has licensed its XSense patent portfolio and other intellectual property to UniPixel. The intellectual property licenses have an initial five-year term, that can be renewed by UniPixel for an additional 10 years. Atmel said it will receive "minimum royalties during the initial five-year period equal to $16.25 million, of which $9.33 million is being prepaid in cash."