Medical applications have long held great appeal for RF/microwave electronics manufacturers. Companies selling non-magnetic components into magnetic-resonance-imaging (MRI) systems, for example, have found such medical applications to be small in volume but generous in profit margin. Of course, not all medical applications fit this model, especially with the growth of devices for use in wireless personal area networks that must be low enough in cost to be essentially disposable.

With the tightening of commercial purse strings, however, RF/microwave electronics manufacturers must reach beyond their traditional safe havens of military and industry markets and find new opportunities among such markets as healthcare and homeland security. While not all opportunities in those markets will match the security and return of multiple-year government/military contracts, they will provide much needed diversification for an industry that still depends too much on cellular handsets and network build-outs.