23 Jul 2007
Osram, Showa Denko and Nichia are investing in new production facilities in a bid to meet growing demand for high-performance LEDs.
Showa Denko is to expand its manufacturing capacity for GaN-based blue LEDs to 200 million units per month after receiving orders “far exceeding original expectations” in 2007.
Current production at the Japanese company’s Chiba site is steady at 60 million units per month, but work is already in progress to raise this to a monthly volume of 100 million by the end of 2007. Further expansion will double this figure by the end of 2008, requiring an additional investment of ¥5 bn ($41 m).
A source at Showa Denko says a similar expansion of its red/orange/yellow/green LED facilities, previously growing at the same rate as the GaN line, may not be far behind. This acceleration of LED manufacture is part of the company's Passion Project business strategy, which set a ¥20 bn ($164 m) annual sales target for ultra-bright LEDs in 2008.
Driving the expansion is the emerging display backlight market, which Showa Denko says is expected to grow by 20% annually over the next five years.
Meanwhile, in Penang, Malaysia, Osram Opto Semiconductors has broken ground on its 30,000 m2 LED chip fab. The ceremony was performed by Osram Opto CEO Rüdiger Müller and chief minister of Penang, Koh Tsu Koon.
Highlighting the relationship behind Osram’s creation of another 800 jobs in Malaysia, Müller said, “This is only possible because our many years of cooperation have meant that we have the utmost trust in the quality, motivation and skills of the local workforce and community.”
And the Japanese news agency Nikkei.Net reports that Nichia plans to dramatically accelerate its commercial introduction of white LEDs that deliver an industry-leading efficacy of 150 lm/W. These devices were originally slated for release in 2009, but Nichia says that these high-efficacy products will now be available by the end of this year.
Nichia indicated that the products would be based on the low-current laboratory devices announced in December 2006, which deliver a 4600 K colour temperature and a 9.4 lm luminous flux at a driving current of 20 mA. Although efficacy is impressive, actual lumen output per chip is much lower than the 100 lm devices recently introduced by Cree and Lumileds.
The move is believed to be part of an attempt to broaden the appeal of LED solutions to car manufacturers, following Nichia's collaboration with Koito Manufacturing Ltd, who are mass-producing LED-based headlights for Toyota's luxury Lexus brand.