Samsung and Sumitomo Chemical to make sapphire substrates for LEDs

Production of sapphire crystals and wafers for LED manufacturing is expected to commence in Korea in 2012.

Samsung LED Co., Ltd., the Suwon, Korea-based LED maker is to establish a joint venture in Korea with Tokyo, Japan-based Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. The JV will carry out research & development, manufacturing, and sales of sapphire substrates for LEDs.

Various press reports say that two companies will invest a combined 80 billion won ($72 million) and have an equal stake in the venture, which will start mass production of sapphire ingots and wafers in early 2012.

Sumitomo Chemical’s press release says that the joint venture will initially start with an LED sapphire substrate business, aiming to become a comprehensive provider of LED-related materials in the future.

Demand for sapphire substrates and related materials is anticipated to increase, says Sumitomo Chemical, due to LED market growth in applications for LCD television backlights, interior lighting, and automobiles.

Sumitomo Chemical provides materials such as high-purity alumina used as a raw material in sapphire substrates, as well as liquid-crystal polymer used in materials for LED packages.

Last year, Sumitomo Chemical’s wholly-owned subsidiary Dongwoo Fine-Chem, headquartered in Seoul, Korea, commenced development of sapphire substrates, and is devoting efforts to upgrading its production facilities to start commercial production as early as possible. Meanwhile, Samsung LED has plans to invest in strategic expansion.

By cooperating to generate synergies in technological development, marketing and other areas, and to strengthen competitiveness, both companies seek to expand their businesses in the area of LEDs, which is forecast to continue to see significant growth.

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