Acquisitions have included Genetic MicroSystems for slide-based microarrays and scanners and Neomorphic for bioinformatics. In 2000 Perlegen Sciences was spun out to focus on wafer-scale genomics for massive data creation and collection required for characterizing population variance of genomic markers and expression for the drug discovery process.
Affymetrix makes quartz chips for analysis of DNA Microarrays. These chips are sold under the trademarked name GeneChip. Affymetrix's GeneChips assist researchers in quickly scanning for the presence of particular genes in a biological sample. Within this area, Affymetrix is focused on oligonucleotide microarrays. These microarrays are used to determine which genes exist in a sample by detecting specific pieces of mRNA. A single chip can be used to do thousands of experiments in parallel. Chips can be used only once.
Affymetrix sells both mass produced GeneChips intended to match scientifically important parts of human and other animal genomes. Affymetrix manufactures its GeneChips using photolithography. The company also manufactures machinery for high speed analysis of biological samples.
Competitors in the DNA Microarray business include Illumina, GE Healthcare, Ocimum Biosolutions Ltd, Applied Biosystems, Beckman Coulter, Eppendorf Biochip Systems , and Agilent. There are also various inexpensive plastic-based technologies under development in small companies and laboratories around the world. It has been widely speculated that mass-produced plastic chips can be produced at lower prices than Affymetrix's quartz chips.
Affymetrix has established a licensing program to make its intellectual property accessible to stimulate the broad commercialization of genome analysis technologies. They have several collaboration relationships with other companies that utilize their patented GeneChip technology.