The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Applied soars; KLA’s tools; Firm buys last U.S. wafer maker.


Fab tool and material vendors
Applied Materials reported its results for the third quarter ended July 31. Net sales of $2.82 billion were up 15% sequentially and up 13% year over year. “AMAT reported impressive upside in July quarter and guided October quarter well ahead of expectations as the company is seeing sizable tailwinds across: 1) WFE uptick driven by foundry and NAND orders; 2) strong growth in display driven by OLED ramps; 3) China opportunity that should enable higher WFE is CY17 and 4) share gains across semiconductor (memory-centric),” said Amit Daryanani, an analyst with RBC.

KLA-Tencor introduced two advanced mask inspection systems for use at 10nm and below. The systems include the Teron 640 and SL655. It also rolled out the Reticle Decision Center (RDC). All three systems are key to enable the development of current and future mask designs.

The Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC), a university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies, announced that Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL) has joined SRC’s Nanomanufacturing Materials and Processes (NMP) initiative.

It’s a sad day for the U.S. electronics industry, as the last U.S. silicon wafer maker has been acquired. Taiwan’s GlobalWafers has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire SunEdison Semiconductor in a transaction valued at $683 million. For years, SunEdison was formerly known as MEMC. The company fell on hard times amid stiff competition in the market. SEH, Sumco and Wacker are the other big players in silicon wafers. SunEdison Semiconductor is the fourth largest silicon wafer maker, while GlobalWafers is sixth.

Linde confirmed it is “in preliminary talks about a potential merger with Praxair,” possibly creating an industrial gas supplier with more than $30 billion in annual revenue. Praxair carries a market value of around $35 billion, while Linde is valued at about $32 billion. Air Liquide, a common competitor of both companies, in May acquired Airgas for more than $10 billion.

Photronics has signed an investment agreement with the Administrative Committee of Xiamen Torch Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (Xiamen Torch), a national-level hi-tech zone in China, to establish a manufacturing facility in Xiamen, China. Under the terms of the agreement, Photronics will build and operate a photomask facility in that location. In return, Xiamen Torch will provide certain investment incentives and support.

In a blog, GlobalFoundries provides an update on its fab in New York. It has reached mature yields in high-volume production on multiple products. And in another posting, the company also discusses packaging.

Analog Devices, which is in the process of buying Linear Technology, has announced the acquisition of the Cyber Security Solutions (CSS) business of Sypris Electronics. This acquisition represents a leap forward in ADI’s ability to deliver secure high-performance analog solutions.

Intel solved a persistent problem in photonics, building a laser into the manufacturing process. The long-awaited move sets the stage for silicon photonics to become a mainstream technology, with Intel planning to include photonics inside of multi-chip packages sometime around 2020.

Market research
A total of 14,583 robots valued at approximately $817 million were ordered from North American companies during the first half of 2016, according to the Association for Advancing Automation. The number of units ordered in the first six months marks a new record to begin the year, growing 2% over the same period in 2015, which held the previous record.