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Sapphire substrate producers raise capacity amid high demand

04 Dec 2013

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The production capacity of sapphire substrate manufacturers increased in 2013 with the growth in demand from the industries of LED lighting and mobile devices, according to a report released by TrendForce subsidiary LEDinside. The "Global Sapphire Substrate Market 2013" report showed a 75 per cent year-on-year growth in monthly production capacity for 2-inch equivalent sapphire substrates among the top five manufacturers.

High demand in the LED lighting market, especially for LED bulbs, LED tubes and MR16, are significant factors pushing LED industry development. Companies including Korean manufacturer Seoul Viosys, Taiwanese manufacturer Epistar, and Chinese manufacturers San'an Opto and HC Semitek intend to continue boosting production well into 2014. Major chip manufacturers are also raising 4-inch wafer production capacity, which has led to 40 per cent production share in 2013, and is expected to reach 43 per cent in 2014.

In non-LED applications, sapphire substrates are drawing demand primarily from handheld devices. The trend started when Apple introduced sapphire substrate material into the iPhone5 and iPhone 5S camera lens, and into the 5S home buttons with the entry of fingerprint identification feature. LG followed suit with the incorporation of sapphire camera lens in its LG G2 smartphones. This will hopefully drive other smartphone manufacturers to use this material. LEDinside estimates the non-LED market application market share will reach 36 per cent in 2014, with handheld device application demands even rising to as much as 31 per cent.

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