Apr 6, 2017: The LED Executive Summit 2016, organised by SEMI in Taipei, Taiwan, brought forth many issues related to LED technology and the industry. The industry was concerned over “what is stored in the future for LED industry?”, or whether CSP LEDs will turn out to be popular as in general lighting domain. LED manufacturers were also concerned as no new and large scale LED applications are emerging.
LED manufacturers are eagerly looking for the next big application. With the LED market becoming increasingly competitive, manufacturers are rethinking their market strategies and are entering into new strategic partnerships to diversify product portfolios, or are considering to diversify in niche lighting markets where profits are more lucrative, for example IR or UV LED market.
Lack of emerging new applications
The LED market has become very challenging as no new applications are emerging. As a result, demand and supply ratio is becoming unbalanced, and the industry’s production capacity is not getting digested, said Titus Chang, Associate Vice President, Sales Center, Epistar. This leads to over supply in the LED market, which is estimated to range from 15-20%, he added. Usually, new applications emerged for LED chip and LED package every year, but large scale innovative LED applications have not emerged since 2013.
Market opportunities in CSP LEDs
LED manufacturers were hopeful about the market opportunities for CSP LEDs, which, of late, have seen demand in the LCD panel backlight sector. The regional VP of Sales, Lumileds Hong Kong, Alvin Tse said that CSP LEDs are theoretically a five-sided light emitter, which makes it perfect for backlight applications, but most likely not an ultimate light source for solitary directional light emitting luminaires like downlights.
Tse was positive that CSP LEDs removal of ceramic sub mounts will make it a perfect light source for high power streetlight applications. This technology provides good amount of protection for manufacturers, since it is harder to copy.
Is CSP LED a market hype?
But, the Product Definition Director of Osram Opto Semiconductors (Malaysia) Ralph Bertram felt that CSP LED is merely a market hype and said that this applies for few applications only. He further said that while CSP LEDs can help in saving costs by removing a number of LED packaging materials such as mould compound, leadframe, wire bond and so forth, miniaturization of the chip increases the price of the chip to over 50% out of the total package cost structure. In addition, smaller chip sizes make it all the more difficult for manufacturers to place and mount, whilst smaller chips make thermal dissipation more complicated.
Alternative options to CSP LEDs
Bertram said that there are other options to CSP LEDs in low to mid power LED applications. For instance, conventional LED package are also as competent as CSP LEDs. He further explained that while shortage of lenses in CSP LED designs can help in saving component costs, it is also one of the reasons that make the chip’s light emission less proficient than conventional LED chips.
Market opportunity in smart lighting
The industry was also expectant with regards to smart LED lighting that can provide business opportunities. Majority of the manufacturers are still not ready to go through this domain, while others are just beginning. For instance, Cree has teamed up with CISCO to develop smart LED lights that run on PoE.
Chen said that lack of industry partnership is preventing the penetration of smart lighting in the division.