SLX laser mask writer series

Introducing SLX laser mask writer series for semiconductors

Text: Mycronic

Photo: Mycronic

As a response to the growing demand for new low-end segment mask writers, Mycronic introduces SLX – a next generation semiconductor laser mask writer series. The launch of the SLX also marks the company’s re-entry to the market of laser-based mask writers for the semiconductor industry.

For over a decade, Mycronic have focused on the development of leading-edge mask writer technology for photomasks within display manufacturing (in TV’s, smartphones and tablets etc.), as well as for applications within the multipurpose market – a broad segment comprising many different application areas.

Based on the same advanced technology, the SLX laser mask writer is designed to meet the rising demand for photomasks for mature semiconductor nodes. With this new series of machines, Mycronic intends to support an upcoming replacement and modernization cycle within the industry and meet the need for additional capacity.

Trends driving market transformation

The trend towards making everything smarter – consumer goods, cars, Internet of Things, medical devices, and even industrial manufacturing equipment – is driving new demand for low and mid-range semiconductors. Industry projections point to more than 90% of all new growth in the industry stemming from these fields, rather than traditional sources like computers and smartphones.

The rapid pace of change in the semiconductor industry has led to a strong investment focus on keeping up with the leading-edge, rather improving the efficiency of more mature node production. Still, due to speed and lower dollar-to-mask costs, laser photo masks are preferred whenever they can meet the technical requirements. Out of the over 600,000 photomasks produced in semiconductor industry each year, 70-75% of these are written using laser-based mask writers, demonstrating how these remain critical for semiconductor production – especially in mature design nodes.

New demand creates need for replacement of old machines

Although Mycronic hasn’t launched any new offerings in the semiconductor arena recently, the company never left the space. Service of the existing installed base of semiconductor mask writers Sigma and Omega secured a close contact with the industry.

Through our relationships we’ve seen the growing demand in the mature semiconductor segment, while learning about the limitations of the current generation of production technology. By now, most systems have been in service for some 15-25 years, making production slow and costly, with machines difficult to maintain. In short – these are rapidly approaching their replacement cycle. Adding to this, the semiconductor market build-up in China is driving new needs, both for leading-edge as well as low-end equipment.

Shared base technology for ultimate performance

The SLX series is based on the same technology as the display mask writers, including writing principles and the recently launched Evo control platform. The precision of the leading-edge mask writers used for the display industry are already well within the requirements of the mature semiconductor arena. Sharing a base technology platform between display and semiconductor mask writers will leverage synergies within current and future technology development – fully utilizing the existing service organization.

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

Text: Mycronic

Photo: Mycronic

Published: 23 October 2019

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