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TFT equipment market to reach $1.14B in '07, says DisplaySearch

Posted: 10 Oct 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DisplaySearch? TFT? array exposure equipment?

The TFT array exposure equipment market is expected to reach $1.14 billion in 2007, and is forecast to range around $1 billion per year through 2009, according to the latest report of DisplaySearch.

The report said that array lithography tool prices have risen faster than any other systems, and exposure machines now account for approximately 25 percent of all array equipment spending, making it by far the largest single equipment segment. For these reasons, the industry is keen on developing alternative or replacement lithography technologies. Alternatives to conventional lithography include direct write, EGIS, applying proximity printing to array patterning, reduced mask processes, ink-jet, laser ablation and more, DisplaySearch said.

The total costs of a 60,000 substrate per month Generation 8 factory are expected to exceed $3.3 billion for array, cell, module and color filter equipment as well as facilities and land, the report added. TFT and Color Filter capacities are also growing at similarly high rates on heavy investment by panel manufacturers and the continued to shift to larger and larger substrates.

Additionally, the use of array repair has grown dramatically with ever increasing substrate sizes due to greater yield concerns from more random particles and the fact repair is still a semi-manual process. Also, in-process deposition repair has become a common practice after Open/Short testing. Repair tools are now the most commonly used array system with the market reaching 187 zap units and 43 deposition type machines in 2006.

Although the history of TFT LCD manufacturing has been characterized by the move to ever larger glass, the future may focus on other cost reduction technologies, the firm said. In array, this will translate to process evolution of mask reduction, use of proximity exposure, Super lines and new automation schemes.

Meanwhile, both color filter and cell will see the most revolutionary changes. In color filter, all lithography may be replaced by direct patterning techniques of laser ablation and ink-jet printing. Holistic approaches to achieve all possible cost reduction and performance improvement will help to keep LCDs on a continuous downward price curve, driving demand to new heights, predicted DisplaySearch.

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