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industry  sapphire substrates


Vertical integration streamlines sapphire production


It’s great for a business to adopt a holistic approach to sapphire manufacturing.When a firm begins with the processing of raw materials and ends with wafer polishing, it enables a trimming of manufacturing costs, the application of proprietary processes to many steps used in sapphire substrate production, and improvements to the reliability of product supply,argues Raja Parvez from Rubicon Technology.


M


ost companies rely on other firms to provide materials, components


or process technologies. But there is another way – vertical integration. This delivers several benefits in competitive markets, including enhanced cost efficiencies, far greater control of the quality of crucial production inputs, and the ability to provide customers with assurance that their orders will be delivered on schedule.


It is not a new idea to adopt a vertically integrated approach to running a manufacturing business. Back in the 1800s, US Steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie introduced the concept by owning virtually every part of the steel-making value chain, from iron ore through steel mills to the building of railroads. By the 1920s, Ford Motor Company was also employing a vertically integrated approach – it decided to make the steel for its cars. And since then, vertical integration has been applied to almost every type of manufacturing around the globe – including sapphire.


At Rubicon of Bensenville, IL, that’s what we do. We have created the most vertically integrated business model in the sapphire industry to reliably and cost- effectively provide ultra-pure, defect-free material with diameters of 6-inches or more.


50 www.compoundsemiconductor.net March 2013


Sapphire and solid-state lighting Our biggest market is that of substrates for the production of LEDs. These solid-state sources are needed for the backlighting of displays and the new wave of energy efficient LED lighting. The backlighting market is much more established: According to Displaybank, in 2012 total LED penetration stood at 41 percent, and it is forecast to reach 95 percent in 2014.


In comparison, the LED lighting revolution is still in its infancy. Market research firm DisplaySearch calculates that the total average LED penetration in general illumination was 1.4 percent in 2010 and forecasts that it will reach 9.3 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, IMS Research estimates that the overall LED market reached nearly $10.9 billion in 2012 with $2.9 billion coming from lighting. By 2015, this analyst projects that the LED market will reach $13.9 billion, with the lighting market nearly doubling to $5.8 billion two years from now. This mass adoption of the LED will be accompanied by significant reduction in the price of solid-state lighting systems and components. This begins with the LED – including the sapphire wafer and chip.


One significant opportunity for LED chip manufacturers to trim their costs is to transition to


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