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Orders on the up at Electro Scientific

07 Aug 2013

Laser systems firm receives first customer acceptance on new ‘DiamondBlaze’ glass singulation technology.

Shares in Electro Scientific Industries (ESI), the Portland, Oregon, company that sells laser systems used in microelectronics manufacturing, have dipped in value – despite the firm reporting an uptick in orders.

For the three-month period ending June 29, ESI posted sales of $46.2 million, down 22% compared with the $59 million recorded during the same period last year.

That resulted in a net loss of $3.3 million, but CEO Nick Konidaris still described the quarter as a “busy and productive” one, and maintains his expectation that the market for laser microfabrication equipment will grow rapidly in the coming years.

Things appear to be looking up in the short term as well, with orders up 30% sequentially to $58.3 million – thanks in part to ESI’s recent acquisition of the semiconductor systems division previously owned by GSI Group.

“The quarter was also important strategically as we received customer acceptance on the first DiamondBlaze glass singulation system,” added Konidaris. “We booked and shipped our first order for dicing of ceramic substrates used in LED packaging, and reached agreements to place our 9900 advanced singulation platform at two major semiconductor manufacturers for technology development in next-generation thin-film scribing and interposer dicing.”

The DiamondBlaze system is designed for rapid cutting of a new type of toughened glass developed by Corning, and which is expected to find widespread use in consumer electronics applications.

ESI has also just launched a new laser scribing system based on an ultrafast source. According to Konidaris, the model “9970” combines the material removal qualities of a high pulse rate laser with ultrafast beam steering.

For the current quarter, he is anticipating a sharp upturn in sales to between $55 million and $60 million. But that seemingly failed to impress the market as ESI’s stock dropped by around 4% in early trading following the update.

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