The Plasma Etching Equipment Market is expected to register a CAGR of 8% over the forecast period (2020 - 2025). Plasma etching is a sophisticated, versatile technology that is used to create a wide range of devices.
- Today, industries have started to switch to the plasma etch system from traditional wet etching. It consumes less chemical and is most suitable for automation and single wafer manufacturing. Increasing demand for compact, energy-efficient, and electronic devices having improved performance is boosting the need for developing miniature semiconductor integrated circuits (IC's). For miniaturizing IC, the circuit has to undergo an advanced circuit fabrication process with small geometries and thus requires precise pattern transfer.
- Plasma etching is used extensively in the semiconductor and microelectromechanical systems industries. For instance, in the manufacturing of printed circuit boards (PCBs), isotropic etching is used to plasma clean circuits after machining (a process termed desmearing) and before electroplating. Anisotropic etching is used to form circuit patterns in wafers. This anisotropic plasma etching in this application is highly energetic and called reactive ion etching (RIE).
- Moreover, enormous technological upgradation taking place in the IoT application to offer technologically advanced smart devices to different consumers across the globe is also predicted to accelerate the demand of advanced semiconductors, thereby affecting the market's growth positively. With the growth in IoT applications, smart devices are increasing, giving rise to miniature semiconductors, thus raising the demand for plasma etching.
- In August 2019, Micralyne Inc. announced the purchase of a Versalis fxP Cluster System from SPTS Technologies, a KLA company. The company will use the Versalis fxP equipped with a Rapier plasma etch module to increase production capacity to meet increasing customer demand for its biomedical, optical, and industrial MEMS. Hence more such adoption is expected to create opportunites for the market.
Key Market Trends
Consumer Electronics Segment is Expected to Witness Significant Growth
- The overall demand for plasma etching is also driven by smartphones and other applications across the consumer electronics industry, automotive industry, etc., which require semiconductor ICs. These industries have been inspired by technology transitions, such as wireless technologies (5G) and artificial intelligence.
- Also, the trend of increasing numbers of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is expected to force the semiconductor industry to invest in this equipment, in a bid to attain intelligent products. As per SEMI, in 2019, the silicon wafer shipments reached 13,090 million square inches, which indicated a 5.2% increase over 2018. Enormous technological upgradation is leading to an increase in the number of IoT applications. This is driving the growth of smart devices, giving rise to miniature semiconductors, thereby, increasing the demand for plasma etching.
- Moreover, the continuous advancements in consumer electronics and the use of sensors in various electronic products are proliferating the applications of plasma etching in smartphones and their demand across almost all the industry sectors. The South Korean government announced to invest USD 1.34 billion for the next ten years to support the development of next-generation semiconductor technology, to support Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix. The investment will help Korean companies, such as Samsung and SK Hynix, to enhance their semiconductor manufacturing capabilities.
- Plasma etching equipment are further expected to gain traction with the growing demand for electronic products. Technological advancements have made it possible for next-generation high-precision equipment to become the standard features in production lines. These are fitted with active process control systems and contribute to the stable market growth of semiconductor etching equipment.
Asia-Pacific is Expected to Witness Significant Growth
- Asia-Pacific is one of the prominent markets for plasma etching equipment, primarily attributed to the growing demand for advanced technologies across numerous end-user industries, high growth of the consumer electronics industry, and supporting government policies for the semiconductor industry in the region.
- Growing demand for smart and portable devices is anticipated to boost the demand for miniature integrated circuits (IC's), which in turn is expected to fuel the demand for plasma etching equipment market rapidly over the forecast period.
- In May 2019, Taiwan Semiconductor announced the opening of a new branch in Beijing. The opening of a new branch indicates that the company plans to accommodate the rapid growth in China and engage local talent in its business development efforts. According to the founder of China Micro Semiconductor Equipment, Yin Zhiwei, the future production rate in the field of the etching equipment is expected to reach 50%.
- The emergence of new technologies in Asia-Pacific has boosted the demand for innovative and user-friendly smart devices. There has been a rising demand from South Korea and Taiwan in particular, for semiconductor wafers, due to the large production of consumer electronics, like televisions, tablets, and monitors.
- The governments in many countries in the region are supporting the semiconductor industry. From the policy perspective, China has continuously introduced policies to support the localization of the semiconductor industry and has invested more than CNY 100 billion to boost the development of the semiconductor industry chain since 2014. "Made in China 2025" provides a clear roadmap for the localization of semiconductor equipment by 2020.
The plasma etch equipment market is competitive with the presence of a limited number of plasma etching equipment vendors. There is huge competition among the vendors owing to the strong market penetration of some existing players in the market. Some of the major players include Applied Materials Inc., Lam Research Corporation, and Tokyo Electron Ltd., among others.
- August 2019 - Lam Research Corporation announced new solutions to help customers increase chip memory density, which is needed for applications such as AI and machine learning (ML). With the announcement of VECTOR DT for backside deposition and EOS GS wet etch for film removal on backside and bevel, the company continues the expansion of its stress management product portfolio. This VECTOR DT system is the newest addition to the company's plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) product family.
- October 2018 - Tokyo Electron Limited announced the launch of Impressio 3300 PICP, a dry etch system with a high-density plasma source that enables high-resolution processing of G10.5 (2,940 mm x 3,370 mm) glass substrates. This newly announced Impressio3300 PICP is a unique dry etch system that introduces the PICP module to G10.5 panel processing and can be used for producing high-definition LCDs and OLED displays.
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