More Rare Earth Rumblings


It’s time to look at the market for rare earths again. Rare earths are chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust. These elements, which are critical, are used in cars, consumer electronics, computers, communications, clean energy and defense systems. So why worry about them? China produces and controls 80% of the world’s rare earths. Other nations depend on China for these materi... » read more

Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test


Materials Wesfarmers, an Australian diversified firm, has made an unsolicited bid to acquire Lynas, one of the world’s largest suppliers of rare earths outside of China. Rare earths are chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust. They are used in cars, consumer electronics, computers, communications, clean energy and defense systems. The big market for rare earths is magnets. In semicond... » read more

The Hidden Cost Of Tariffs


The impact of tariffs on the semiconductor industry is just now being assessed, but there's a lot more to this picture than import and export duties. In fact, the biggest and longest-lasting effects may have less to do with taxing imports than what happens across the global supply chain that includes everything from manufacturing equipment to materials to investment capital. Import duti... » read more

Too Many, Too Few Rare Earths


A team from Japan recently made a major discovery—they found massive deposits of rare earths on the ocean floor off the coast of Japan. The team of Waseda University, the University of Tokyo and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) found a deposit that equates to 16 million tons of rare earths. Rare earths are a group of critical materials used in various ele... » read more

Trump Wants Critical Metals


In recent times, President Trump has taken an active role in the electronics and related sectors, notably the U.S. administration’s move to block Broadcom’s unsolicited, $117 billion takeover bid for Qualcomm. The Trump administration has also raised eyebrows by blocking other deals as well. And with little or no fanfare, the administration is also taking a role in another area—critica... » read more

Can A Supply Chain Be Too Efficient?


The semiconductor industry is a model of efficiency—literally. When other industries look at adding smart manufacturing into their operations, they often look to chip manufacturing as a shining example. After decades of business gyrations, semiconductor companies have figured out how to instill efficiency into every aspect of making chips. This is evident in device scaling. At 90nm, the co... » read more

Politics And (Low) Power


This week the entire semiconductor market woke up with a severe political hangover. Aside from the initial shock of the election results themselves, the winning platform of "America First" could have far-reaching implications for an industry that has spent decades optimizing a global supply chain the way it has finely tuned other processes to reduce the cost per transistor. There are many un... » read more

Trade War Looms Over Materials


It’s time to pay close attention to rare earths and raw materials--again. In fact, the supply chain teams and commodity buyers at aerospace, automotive and electronics companies may have some new and potentially big problems on their hands. For some time, the European Union (EU), the United States and other nations have been at odds with China over rare earths. China, which accounts for... » read more

The Week In Review: Manufacturing


NuFlare Technology wants to enter a new market. The e-beam giant and NGR are jointly collaborating on a development program for next-generation electron-beam wafer inspection and metrology. It’s unclear if NuFlare is developing a single- or multi-beam tool, however. Don’t look now, but a fab tool downturn could be on the horizon. This comes amid a slowdown in PCs, tablets and smartphone... » read more

Still Searching For Rare Earths


There is both good and bad news for buyers of rare earths. The good news: It’s a buyers’ market. Prices for rare earths remain depressed amid a glut in the marketplace. The bad news: The supplier base is shaky. China still accounts for 85% of the world’s total production of rare earths, but most Chinese suppliers are operating at a loss. And two of the main non-Chinese suppliers, M... » read more

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