Into the mobile phone field to solve the problem of surplus sapphire materials

Abstract Never-wearing sapphire screen phones will not be far away, and the cost difference may be only $20. "At present, the main application areas of sapphire materials are LED substrates and optical windows." On November 2, sapphire material manufacturers Yuanliang...
The never-wearing sapphire screen phone will no longer be far away, and the cost difference may be only $20.

"At present, the main application areas of sapphire materials are LED substrates and optical windows." On November 2, Huang Xiaowei, technical director of sapphire material manufacturer Yuanliang Technology, revealed to the "New Industry" that mobile phone screens will be the future application of sapphire materials. market. "For example, if a 4-inch smartphone uses sapphire material, its cost price will increase by about $20, and the price of a smartphone may be around 3,000 yuan."

Fang Jianxiong, president and CEO of Suzhou Haibo Crystal Co., Ltd., said that the sapphire material has excellent wear resistance and light transmission, which makes the application of sapphire material in the non-LED field very large, but it depends on the sapphire material production technology threshold. breakthrough.

Prior to September 25th, GT Advanced Technology (GT) announced that it had received a follow-up order for a $90 million ASF crystal growth furnace from a Chinese customer. The sapphire materials produced by this crystal growth furnace will be used in mobile equipment.

There are indications that the mobile device market, such as mobile phones, has allowed sapphire producers to start a new market application space. If all goes well, then the excess crisis of sapphire materials that the domestic industry is worried about may be completely solved.

According to the research data of the High-tech LED Industry Research Institute in May, as of the first quarter of 2012, nearly 60 sapphire projects have been put into operation, under construction and just planned, and the proportion of sapphire projects that have been put into production has exceeded 35%.

If the under construction and planned sapphire projects are all completed and put into production, the annual production capacity of domestic 2-inch sapphire substrates will exceed 300 million pieces, which is equivalent to 10 times of the global demand for sapphire substrates in 2010.

Excess crisis

The danger of "excess sapphire material" has actually lasted for nearly a year.

Even worse, the sapphire material is an important market for sapphire substrates. The LED chip market is still in the context of global overcapacity, and this overcapacity situation may last for two to three years.

Based on this, the number of new MOCVD equipment (LED epitaxial wafer production equipment) in mainland China in 2012 was only 93, far lower than the 242 in 2011. Moreover, the average operating rate of MOCVD equipment in mainland China is only 58.4%, and the capacity utilization rate is as low as 30%.

Everything seems to indicate that the Chinese sapphire production project has not yet fully put into production, and it will face the embarrassing situation of excess market.

As a result, manufacturers including sapphire materials such as Guizhou Haotian Optoelectronics and Tianlong Optoelectronics have begun to turn their attention to the mobile phone market.

Because the recently launched iPhone 5, 5th generation iPod touch and iPod nano camera began to fully use sapphire lenses. At the beginning of this year, the Italian car brand Lamborghini launched a mobile phone, the machine's touch mirror is also made of sapphire glass material.

“Compared with LED sapphire materials, the mobile phone market will be even bigger.” Ji Yong, chairman of Guizhou Haotian Optoelectronics, told “New Industry” that sapphire is applied to mobile phones with its first-class strength, durability and scratch resistance. On the screen, it will be an inevitable trend in the development of the mid-to-high-end smartphone market in the future.

Li Liuchen, general manager of Tianlong Optoelectronics, also said that the technical threshold of sapphire materials for mobile phones is lower than that of sapphire substrates, which makes the sapphire for mobile phones have huge market space.

"Once the mobile phone application market starts, it will face constraints such as insufficient production capacity and high cost of sapphire substrates. This is also the reason why sapphire has not been applied in the mobile phone market on a large scale." Huang Xiaowei said.

It is reported that Harbin Orient Optoelectronics, Yunnan Yuxi Blue Crystal Technology, Chongqing Silian Optoelectronics and Yuanliang Technology, several sapphire materials manufacturers have begun to supply small quantities to mobile phone manufacturers.

Cost pressure

“The application of sapphire materials to mobile phone products still has technical and cost problems.” Chen Zhengping, general manager of Taiwan Zhenghong International Co., Ltd. said that the current production process of sapphire materials produced by mainland manufacturers is not suitable for the production of mobile phone screen materials, resulting in very waste. Big. For the mobile phone screen market, the production process of mainland manufacturers must be adjusted.

Chen Zhengping showed the video of the mobile phone screen with sapphire material to the "New Industry", and said that mobile phone manufacturers such as HTC have already begun to try this aspect, but the amount is not large.

Fang Jianxiong also said that the key to the breakthrough of sapphire materials in the mobile phone market lies in the cost. The mobile phone products require that the price of sapphire materials is very low, resulting in a lower gross margin space than a sapphire substrate. "The sapphire market for mobile phones needs to reach a flash point. time."

Despite this, GT, as a manufacturer of sapphire material production equipment, is still confident in the future control of sapphire material costs. GT expects that as the sapphire material industry matures, its scale expands, its vertical integration continues to increase, and technological innovations in the sapphire crystal growth and manufacturing stages will effectively reduce the cost of sapphire materials.

GT also estimates that the price of a finished sapphire smartphone screen will only be $10-20 higher than the price of an existing screen solution, and consumers will be willing to pay $20 more for a non-wearing phone.

Market space

"New Industry" noticed that sapphire glass has high light transmittance and hardness higher than tempered glass, which can completely prevent the screen of the mobile phone from being scratched. At present, several sapphire material manufacturers in Taiwan have been deployed with mobile phone companies.

The latest report from market research firm Canalys Research said that in the second quarter of 2012, global smartphone shipments were 158 million units, and smartphone shipments in the Chinese market accounted for 27% of global shipments, ranking first.

According to the marketing department of Harbin Orient Optoelectronics Co., Ltd., the company currently has a wide range of applications for sapphire substrates, and there are already orders for sapphire for mobile phones, and the situation is good. Huang Xiaowei also revealed that Yuanliang Technology is coordinating with mobile phone manufacturers.

Yan Wei, the marketing department of Jiujiang Saiyu Sapphire Company, said that the current range of mobile phone sapphire is still very small, only used for mobile phone back cover and camera, but with the use of sapphire on the mobile phone screen, its usage will increase a lot.

"Sapphire for mobile phones is definitely a trend in the future. With the development of the market, the company does not rule out the development of mobile phones." Nanjing Jingjing Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. said.

Fang Jianxiong pointed out that compared with LED sapphire substrates, the technical requirements for sapphire materials for mobile phones are much lower, because only optical technology is needed. Therefore, a small number of sapphire substrate manufacturers have begun to transfer products that do not meet the requirements of LED substrates to mobile devices such as mobile phones.

Huang Xiaowei said that the technology of sapphire for mobile phones is not lower than that of LED substrates. On the contrary, because the compressive strength test of sapphire for mobile phones is higher than that of LED substrates, there is not much overlap between the application fields of sapphire materials.

The key to whether the mobile phone market can start is whether the sapphire material manufacturers can break through the problems of insufficient capacity and high cost.

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