[Source: Gaogong LED 's " LED Research Review" magazine March issue reporter / Liu Qiaomei]

“The market has changed too fast, far beyond our expectations, and it was unexpected. The most worrying closures have finally happened.” A responsible person of a sapphire substrate manufacturer in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces expressed their feelings to the reporter of “High-tech LED”. .

Zhang Hongbiao, research director of the High-tech LED Industry Research Institute (GLII), believes that the domestic sapphire substrate project should stop at least 50% in 2013, which means that at least half of the more than 60 projects previously under construction will be forced. drop out.

A shuffle battle in the field of sapphire substrates has begun quietly.

Corporate capital chain break

The reporter learned that from the end of the year of 2012, domestic sapphire substrate manufacturers have been discontinued.

A few days ago, a report from an internal employee of Shanghai Shikete Optoelectronic Materials Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Scott Optoelectronics") disclosed that the company is currently in a state of full breakdown of the capital chain. Previously, the company's industrial park project in Henan has also been completely discontinued, and it has owed several months of salary to employees of Henan and Shanghai companies, as well as Henan project funds.

"At present, enterprise management has been in a state of chaos. As for the future of the company and the placement of employees, the company has not given any explanation, resulting in almost all of the company's front-line employees leaving." The employee revealed that the company was powered by Shanghai Chaori Solar (ST Super Day) , 002506) Investment.

As the global PV market environment continued to weaken in 2011, the European debt crisis further intensified. The development of the photovoltaic industry has not yet emerged from the “cold winter”. The overcapacity phenomenon is serious, resulting in a sharp drop in the price of solar modules, and the operating situation of the photovoltaic industry. Very serious.

According to public data, Shanghai Chaori Solar was frozen due to the indictment of suppliers, banks and other creditors. At present, the company's liquidity difficulties have not been alleviated, a large number of overdue bank loans, major bank accounts and assets have been frozen, etc. have not improved. Recently, Shanghai Chaori Solar was even reported to file for bankruptcy protection.

"High-tech LED" reporter tried to understand the details of Liu Shiwei, vice president of Schott Optoelectronics, but the phone could not be connected, and the company headquarters phone has not been answered.

The reporter learned that Schott Photoelectric was established in July 2009, mainly engaged in the production of sapphire substrate, MOCVD epitaxial wafer and chip, sapphire window processing. The company is headquartered in Shanghai, with Fengxian District R&D Center. And two wholly-owned subsidiaries, Shanghai Shi Kete Optoelectronic Materials (Zhumadian) Co., Ltd., which is engaged in the growth and processing of sapphire crystals, Shanghai Shi Kete Optoelectronic Materials (Kunshan) Co., Ltd., which is engaged in the production of MOCVD epitaxial wafers and chips.

In September 2011, the signing ceremony of Shanghai Shikete Optoelectronic Industrial Park was held in Luanping County, Henan Province. The total investment is planned to be 2 billion yuan, and 500 sapphire crystal growth furnaces will be introduced.

In October 2011, Schott Optoelectronics announced that six equity investment companies have jointly invested 180 million yuan in the company for production base construction and equipment procurement.

In just over a year, both companies reported news of bankruptcy, mainly due to the break of the capital chain.

The disaster really came.

2011 is the most crazy year for investment in domestic sapphire substrate projects. It is not uncommon for companies like Shikot Optoelectronics to enter the field with high-profile money. According to the monitoring data of the High-tech LED Industry Research Institute (GLII), in 2011 alone, there were as many as 35 new sapphire investment projects in mainland China.

The sapphire substrate project is so irrational, it is derived from the temptation of high profit margins.

"In 2010, the price of sapphire substrates was too high, and huge profits attracted the entry of various capitals." Wu Longzhen, general manager of Yunnan Blue Crystal Technology Co., Ltd. once told the reporter of "High-tech LED". "At that time, it was indeed a huge profit. I sold it for $30. I sold it myself. In fact, we only sold it for up to two months, because it is really surprising to rise to this price. But the profit is not Good things mean that disaster is coming soon."

Starting in the second half of 2011, the price of a 2-inch sapphire substrate fell as a roller coaster, falling from a high price of $35 to about $10. Throughout 2012, the market price of 2-inch sapphire substrate sheets was basically around $8. At the Munich Shanghai Expo held on March 19, 2013, some sapphire substrate manufacturers in South Korea and Taiwan even shouted a price of 2 inches and 6 dollars, which made the mainland manufacturers laugh and cry.

"The price of mainland manufacturers can not imagine, it must be a loss, how much to lose. South Korea, Taiwan must be a lot of manufacturers can not support it will be so crazy price cuts." A mainland sapphire substrate manufacturer responsible for "high Worker LED reporter complained of bitterness.

The person in charge told reporters: "The Korean sapphire substrate manufacturer is also in a difficult situation. I went to a certain equipment factory in Seoul, South Korea. Originally, the Korean side sent three people to our company. As a result, only one person came. The result of the day was only two days. "You can think how urgent the budget will be and how difficult it will be." ”

The main reason for this sapphire substrate price hike crisis is the decline in the operating rate of MOCVD equipment in mainland China in addition to overcapacity.

The Gaogong LED Industry Research Institute (GLII) report shows that in 2012, the number of MOCVD in China increased from 803 in 2011 to 917, a net increase of 114, the total is close to 3 times in 2010, and the total capacity exceeded 2010. 10 times. However, the market demand is sluggish, resulting in a capacity utilization rate of only 30% in mainland China in 2012, and the operating rate is less than 50%.

New market opportunities

In the LED field, the sapphire substrate factory began to lay out non-LED fields, such as the mobile phone touch protection screen market.

In December 2012, Zhejiang Shangcheng Technology Co., Ltd. announced that it has received orders for tens of thousands of sapphire mobile phone screensavers in the European and American markets, mainly facing mid- to high-end smartphone users such as Apple, Samsung and HTC.

The recently launched iPhone5 and iPod cameras have begun to use sapphire lenses. At the same time, 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.

In addition to actively exploring new areas, Shangcheng Technology related people said: "The company has not given up the original LED business, and the previous supply is still continuing to supply. If it is not available, the market share will be handed over."

When the future sapphire substrate reaches the balance between supply and demand, Wu Longzhen believes that the first is that the terminal market is recovering vigorously, and the MOCVD in place is running. Second, the sapphire substrate manufacturers have been eliminated by the survival of the fittest, and the excess capacity has been eliminated. In this way, the supply and demand relationship of the industrial chain can be matched.

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