Cleanrooms to clean up in ’04 and beyond

September 10, 2003 – A new report proclaims that a turnaround is waiting in the wings for cleanroom equipment makers, thanks in large part to a brightened outlook for the semiconductor industry.

McIlvaine Company’s online report, “Cleanrooms: World Markets,” claims that after sinking 25% from 2000, sales of cleanroom hardware will rise from $3.4 billion in 2002 to $3.8 billion in 2003, and up to a record $4.4 billion in 2004. By 2007, McIlvaine predicts sales will blow past $6 billion.

What’s driving this renewed growth? Nearly a dozen 300mm fabs are expected to be operating worldwide in 2003, with at least that many coming online next year, and they’ll all have to obey strict environmental control and cleanliness requirements. McIlvaine predicts these facilities will look to spend more than $500/square foot on cleanroom equipment, and more than $2000 for each wafer.

Another factor adding to sales growth will be flat panel monitors, the fastest-growing segment of the cleanroom industry, according to the study. Chi Me Optoelectronics’ fifth-generation TFT-LCD plant in Taiwan, for example, is scheduled to begin operations next year with a cleanroom of 380,000 square feet, one of the largest in the world.

Other industries contributing to cleanroom sales growth are pharmaceuticals, disk drives, medical devices, and aerospace. McIlvaine pegs the US as the largest cleanroom market, followed by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, which is expected to purchase nearly $400 million of cleanroom equipment by 2006.

For the cleanroom consumables niche, McIlvaine sees further consolidation along the lines of ITW/Texwipe (now the top cleanroom wipes supplier) and Dupont Nonwovens/White Knight Engineered Products, which makes disposable and reusable cleanroom apparel.

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