fredag 12. mars 2010

Despite advances, LED market probably volatile for two more years

Unquestionably, the major obstacle for indoor, or household-friendly light-emitting diodes is price. No matter how long a bulb lasts, nobody wants to spend $30 on one light. Exacerbating the situation, there are too many competing uses for LEDs, according to electronics market research firm iSuppli, slowing their development for home use.
Back-lighting for televisions is a huge growth market for LEDs, with 2.5 million LED-lit sets manufactured in 2009, and an estimated 25 million to be built this year. Estimates range up to 100 million LED-lit TVs to be made in 2014. All this demand has created a shortage of LEDs for other uses.
In response, LED makers are buying up the MOCVD (metal organic chemical vapor deposition) systems that manufacture LED materials. Aixtron and Veeco are two prominent MOCVD makers. Between them, an estimated 120 MOCVD systems will be shipped this quarter. With so much new production capacity being scaled up, one might expect the shortage to end quickly.
But this isn’t the case. Once Veeco or Aixtron ship a MOCVD system — already about five months after it is ordered — the purchaser must customize it for its own LED chip design. This takes an additional three to four months, as Jerald Kolansky writes. There is typically a ten-month gap between new production equipment being ordered and the actual start of production.
Since LEDs are growing so explosively (the prediction is double-digit percentage increases over the next three years), most LED companies are looking to boost production capacity. In two years or less, the LED shortage will be over, and the LED glut will likely begin, analysts say.
Kolansky writes that an over-supply situation “is likely in 2011″ — unless lighting moves into mass production. In order to do so, LED makers will want to satisfy their immediate customers first, which brings us back to LED-backlit televisions. TVs use up to 500 lights per panel, whereas a notebook computer uses 50. With demand so high in these areas, it may be difficult for lighting companies to drive prices lower.
This is especially true when one considers the bulk purchasing power that TV makers have. It would take an awful lot of light bulbs to equal the purchase of just one TV. If manufacturers have to devote resources to one of the two markets, one proven and one emerging, the new guy is likely to be left out. In other words, LED lighting is unlikely to take off until after the display market is stable. This could lead to a period of market saturation, with LEDs being overproduced for display applications and under-utilized for lighting.
Aixtron and Veeco are both planning to double production capacity by the end of 2010. The LED market itself is expected to more than double by 2014.
Companies: Aixtron, Veeco

Ingen kommentarer:

Legg inn en kommentar