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Volume LED Makers Reach For Lasers

Diamond is not the best friend of manufacturers seeking to upgrade LED production from 2 to 4 inch diameter wafers, according to Electro Scientific Industries (ESI).

The Portland, OR, equipment vendor reckons that those using diamond-tipped scribers in conjunction with 2 inch wafers will cast them aside as they reach for higher manufacturing efficiency.

CEO Nicholas Konidaris told analysts on May 12 that his company’s laser scribing systems are significantly more economical than diamond tools for larger diameters. He cites an LED manufacturer that he recently visited in Japan as saying that increased areas call for a proportionate increase in the number of – and therefore expenditure on – diamond scribers.

“At the same time, you miss the opportunity of being very perfectly aligned in your scribes, and therefore you lose area that you could have devices on," he said. Laser scribing offers more precise alignment, avoiding this waste, the company claims.

ESI partly experienced decreasing sales in the first three months of 2009, which it blamed on low levels of LED fab utilization, but says that this is now reversing.

Since it bought laser sapphire wafer scriber company New Wave Research in 2007 for $36 million in cash, ESI boasts that its AccuScribe 2112 system has been increasingly adopted. Offering 12 wafers per hour throughput, the system has been popular with LED manufacturers in Asia.

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