Beyond the wafers themselves, the semiconductor industry employs thousands of different kinds of materials. These range from the materials used in wafer manufacturing — chemicals and gases, photoresists and developers, anti-reflection coatings, CMP slurries, adhesion promoters, etc. — to the materials used in the manufacturing equipment and the wafer carriers. On the packaging side, materials include laminate substrates, leadframes, bonding wire, mold compounds, underfill materials, liquid encapsulants, die attach materials, solder balls, wafer level package dielectrics, and thermal interface materials.
The market for semiconductor materials is on the same level as capital equipment. In 2015, SEMI reported that the total wafer fabrication materials and packaging materials markets in 2014 were $24.0 billion and $20.4 billion, respectively. Comparable revenues for these segments in 2013 were $22.7 billion for wafer fabrication materials and $20.4 billion for packaging materials. The wafer fabrication materials segment increased 6 percent year-over-year, while the packaging materials segment remained flat. However, if bonding wire were excluded from the packaging materials segment, the segment increased more than 4 percent last year. The continuing transition to copper-based bonding wire from gold is negatively impacting overall packaging materials revenues.
For the fifth consecutive year, Taiwan was the largest consumer of semiconductor materials due to its large foundry and advanced packaging base, totaling $9.8 billion. Japan claimed the second spot during the same time. Annual revenue growth was the strongest in the Taiwan market. The materials market in North America had the second largest increase at 5 percent, followed by China, South Korea and Europe. The materials markets in Japan and Rest of World were flat relative to 2013 levels. (The ROW region is defined as Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, other areas of Southeast Asia and smaller global markets.)