LED makers to spend less on MOCVD in 2012, more on other LED fab tools

January 11, 2012 — Worldwide light emitting diode (LED) manufacturing capacity will reach 2 million wafers in 2012 (4" equivalent per month), a 27% increase over 2011. More wafers do not neccessarily mean more LED fab equipment, however. Global LED manufacturing equipment spending will fall 18% from "massive" numbers in 2011, shows SEMI’s Opto/LED FabWatch and Forecast.

2012 will be the first time in over 5 years when overall LED equipment spending decreases — blame a 40% decline in metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) tool purchases. Spending for non-MOCVD LED fab equipment — lithography, etch, test and packaging tools — will increase in 2012, as manufacturers optimize their production lines and improve product designs. "Future equipment and capital spending will drive LED cost reduction through larger wafers, automation, and dedicated equipment specifically designed to improve to LED manufacturing yield and throughput," said Tom Morrow, EVP, Emerging Markets Group, SEMI.

SEMI recorded 29 new LED fabs in 2011. For 2012, SEMI forecasts 16 new fabs coming on-line.   

Regional equipment spending shows China holding the lead with an expected $719 million planned for 2012, followed by Taiwan ($321M), Japan ($300M) and Korea ($260M). Taiwan will continue to lead in capacity at 25% of the world LED capacity, followed by China (22%).

LED makers have seen several years of rapid capacity expansion, driven by TV backlighting demand for high-brightness light-emitting diodes (HB-LEDs), as well as government incentives and economic development funding in China. HB-LEDs used in liquid crystal display (LCD) TV backlighting units (approximately 40% of the total HB-LED market) failed to reach growth expectations in 2011. Growth targets were missed for total TV unit sales, and for LED penetration into LCD TVs.

HB-LED demand continues to grow in solid state lighting. LEDs used in solid state lighting, currently totaling approximately $2.5 billion, may exceed $30 billion by 2020, according to many estimates. LED manufacturing capacity and technology investments will correspond, long-term, with demand for key applications: primarily solid state lighting, said Morrow, who added that this mirrors other microelectronics industries.

Looking at the back-end of the LED market, the recent Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook by SEMI and TechSearch Inc. shows very strong growth in LED leadframe shipments. Following the 69% unit shipment growth in 2010, LED leadframe shipments are estimated to have increased by another 10% in 2011. In 2012, shipments are forecasted to reach almost 83 billion units. Data are based on shipments reported by sixteen leadframe suppliers.

Table. Estimated LED leadframe units shipped globally (in billions of units).
2008 2009 2010 2011F 2012F
35.7 39.5 66.9 73.6 82.7


The SEMI Opto/LED Fab Forecast tracks over 250 Opto/LED fabs activities worldwide, with detailed information on fab construction and equipment spending, key milestone dates, capacity and ramp up schedule, and more. For more information, visit: www.semi.org/en/Store/MarketInformation/OptoLEDFabForecast.

SEMI is a global industry association serving the nano- and microelectronics manufacturing supply chains. For more information, visit www.semi.org.

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