Tech

Shortage of components also affects chip manufacturing machines

The shortage of components affects all sectors related to electronics. To counter it, production chains must be increased. For this, manufacturers must equip themselves with specific machines. However, the main supplier of these machines is also the victim of a shortage. He explains that he will be unable to meet demand before 2024.

A wafer seen through a lens. Credit: ASML

We regularly talk about the shortage of components. And for good reason: it affects many sectors of activity that we cover in our columns. Whether it’s smartphones, graphics cards, video game consoles, electric cars, tablets or even computers. This shortage has been blatant since the arrival of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and it has now lasted for more than a year and a half. Three main reasons explain this shortage.

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First, the health crisis world that has paralyzed factories and supply chains. Even if the situation is improving, the transport of goods remains very complicated today. Then, households have invested heavily to equip their homes, in order to work remotely and entertain at home. Television. Console. Computer. etc Finally, new industries have massively purchased electronic components. This is particularly the case of automotive industry where all manufacturers are expanding their catalog of electric cars to prepare for the end of thermal engines. And they carry many components.

Leading lithography equipment supplier is out of stock

Demand is therefore strong, whether at the level of brands or consumers. Chipmakers were caught off guard and didn’t have time to think ahead. Today, all manufacturers are announcing a strong increase in their production capacities. Samsung has announced that it wants to create a chip production plant in the United States. Foxconn also made a similar announcement. The same for Intel. But when will they be operational? According to an article from FinancialTimesnot for now.

The American daily has indeed published an interview with Peter Wennink. He is the boss of a company called ASML. You certainly don’t know her. It is, however, a very important company: it is the world leader in lithography equipment for the manufacture of electronic chips. Thanks to these machines, the factories engrave the electronic circuits on the silicon discs. Simply. In this interview, Peter Wennink confesses that he is in theinability to respond to request factories wishing to open new production lines.

machine shortage of electronic components
A lithographic machine from ASML

He explains that the demand is so strong that he will be out of machine at least ” next year and next year “. That is until 2024. However, it will deliver more machines in 2022 than in 2021. And it will deliver more in 2023 than in 2022. But, to meet demand, he would have to increase his production rate by more than 50%. ” To achieve this, it takes time “. Time is needed for ASML, but also for its suppliers. Because they too must respond to demand.

Equipment for creating components is suffering from a shortage of components!

The article evokes the case of Carl Zeiss. The German optician manufactures the glass lenses which are used in the lithographic machines. They are used to transport the light which will print the electronic circuits on the silicon substrate. Carl Zeiss cannot supply enough lenses today for the needs of ASML and its competitors. The company therefore wishes to increase the number of production lines. But it must first obtain certain authorizations, in particular for clean rooms. Then it must build these rooms, equip them and hire staff to operate the machines. And from that moment, she can start the lens manufacturing process. Then we have to wait another year before the new lenses leave the factories and are delivered.

ASML’s testimony is very interesting. It simply demonstrates that solving the chip shortage is nowhere near complete, even if major component makers are investing a lot of money in factories. Because, even if the latter come out of the ground in the coming months, they will certainly remain empty.

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