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Mycronic Launches A New Mask Writer For The Semiconductor Industry

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Mycronic AB has launched SLX, a new laser-based mask writer for the semiconductor industry. The introduction of the SLX also marks the company's re-entry into this market, with the first shipment expected around year end 2020. The SLX is launched to meet a rising demand for low-end photomasks for the semiconductor industry driven by long term trends as well as to support an upcoming replacement and modernization cycle. Estimates indicate a total market need of 5-8 new writers per year in the coming years, with the market for laser-based mask writers estimated at USD 30-50 million. Despite existing competition in this segment, Mycronic's long-term aim is to capture a majority of the upcoming opportunity.

Mycronic currently offers new mask writers for the manufacture of photomasks within different areas of application. These are display manufacturing (TV, smartphones and tablets) and applications within multi-purpose, a broad segment comprising many different application areas. Mycronic also services the existing installed base of the semiconductor mask writers Sigma and Omega.

Approximately 600,000 photomasks are produced yearly to support the semiconductor industry and 70-75% of the masks are low-end, written by laser-based mask writers. These mask writers thus remain very important in the production of semiconductors. Investments, however, have been focused on leading edge capability. In the last few years the market for laser-based mask writers has seen a positive development, driven by several long term trends. One is that mature design nodes experience new growth fueled by e.g. Internet of Things and automotive solutions, where reliability and cost are important. Another trend is the ongoing build-up of the semiconductor market in China, driving new demand for both leading edge and low-end equipment. In addition, there is an upcoming replacement cycle in the low-end mask writer segment. The installed base serving this market is typically 15-25 years old, difficult to maintain and faced with high running costs.

The SLX is based on the same technology as the display mask writers, which includes the recently launched Evo control platform. A technology platform shared between display and semiconductor mask writers leverages synergies within current and future technology development and utilization of the existing service organization.

“We have had a close interaction with leading players in the semiconductor industry and it is clear that we can offer customers a modern, attractive and cost-effective solution for the laser-based mask writer segment. By combining and leveraging the development for the display and semiconductor industry, Mycronic can assure long term partnerships with customers in both industry segments” says Charlott Samuelsson, Sr VP Pattern Generators.

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