With 0 to CIOE 2019 Opening

Sapphire industry: More than just LEDs!

Time:2016-10-18 14:26:55

(Shenzhen. China, October 18)LED remains the dominant sapphire application in 2016. Overall, rates of usage in smartwatches have been disappointing and have decreased below 2015 levels. In parallel, smartphone display screen opportunities haven’t taken off. Within the highly competitive sapphire industry, players are chasing any opportunity to survive and optimize their cost structure (Source: Sapphire Market 2016: Substrates & Consumer Electronics Applications, September 2016, Yole Développement).

Once again this year, the consulting company collaborated with CIOE  to present a powerful program at the International Forum on Sapphire Market & Technologies, 2nd edition (Shenzhen, China - Sept. 6 & 7, 2016 – Agenda). Sapphire industry leaders attended the conference and discussed the latest innovations and market challenges.

What is the status of the sapphire industry? After the 2014 crash, the episode with Apple, and GTAT’s bankruptcy, are there still some survivors? What are their today’s strategies? Beyond existing applications, could we expect emerging applications? Yole’s analysts offer you an overview of the current sapphire industry and announce 2017 trends.

The LED sector still has the highest demand for sapphire. However, Yole’s analysts confirm: the expected volumes cannot sustain the one hundred or so sapphire producers currently competing in the industry.

As a consequence, some sapphire companies are leaving the most commoditized markets and shifting their development strategies toward niche markets with higher added-value such as medical, industrial, and military applications. Other business opportunities could materialize, including microLED arrays and other consumer applications.

In Shenzhen, China, at the beginning of September, more than 100 executives gathered and discussed the sapphire industry’s status. With an impressive program including 18 presentations, multiple debates and networking sessions, the sapphire industry’s future was defined and analyzed by sapphire leaders. Yole and its partner CIOE collected good feedback from attendees and are already thinking about a 2017 session. 

During this Forum, many relevant and exciting presentations took place, mainly focused on optimizing costs and identifying new markets.


Dr. Eric Virey from Yole highlighted the sapphire industry, its latest technical and market trends with a special focus on emerging applications. (See Dr. Eric Virey presentation – 2nd Int. Forum on Sapphire Market & Technologies).

In the same session, leading sapphire manufacturers Monocrystal and Aurora Sapphire also reviewed their insights as key sapphire market players.

  • Mikhail Berest, VP of Sales at Monocrystal, detailed Monocrystal strategies (Full discussion on i-micronews, compound semi. news)

  • Xinhong Yang, VP & Technology Director, Aurora Sapphire, presented the latest technology innovations. He also focused his presentation on the future of the sapphire industry. 

On the application side, Unionlight’s CTO, Huang XiaoWei, discussed military applications of sapphire in the last sapphire Forum session.

Reducing costs and improving quality were major topics discussed at the Forum. Fujian Jing’an Optoelectronics highlighted the importance of subsurface damages. Edouard Brunet, R&D Manager Grains & Powders Asia, Saint-Gobain High Performance Materials, introduced a 1-step polishing process with significant potential for cost reductions. Bernard Jones, VP of Technology & Product Development at Fametec, showed an innovative growth technology for large diameter LED wafers, and Ivan Orlov, Scientific Visual’s CEO, triggered extensive discussions after his presentation on automated ingot inspection and mapping equipment and standardization proposals.

“Once again, the International Forum on Sapphire Market & technologies brought together many players”, comments Jean-Christophe Eloy, President & CEO, Yole Développement. “It showed that in the difficult market environment we’ve experienced since late 2015, the industry needs to gather and exchange information in order to optimize ownership costs and enable new applications.”

“I was impressed by the quality of content presented at Yole & CIOE’s sapphire Forum 2016, which provided not only trend analysis but also deep insights”, says Margaret Connolly, VP of UBM Asia. “The event was well attended by the industry’s key decision makers. The collaboration between CIOE and Yole has been quite successful as the teams are committed to the common objective which is to support long term technology development and innovations. I look forward to attending the 2017 edition in Shenzhen.”

What can we expect for 2017 and the years after? Massive adoption of sapphire in display screens now seems unlikely… But key players are still investing. So, is there still hope for 2017? To answer that question, both Yole and CIOE are already working on a new sapphire Forum in 2017 in Shenzhen, China. Agenda & registration will be available soon. Stay tuned!

To submit an abstract and learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Camille Veyrier (veyrier@yole.fr).

A detailed description of Yole’s technology & market report, Sapphire Applications & Market 2016: LED & Consumer Electronics, is available on i-micronews.com, LED reports section

About China International Optoelectronic Expo (CIOE) 

Established in 1999, CIOE is the largest show of its kind in the world featuring over 3200 optoelectronic brands and their latest products in the area of 110,000 sqm at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center. There are concurrent specialized expositions focusing on Optical Communications and Sensors, Lasers and Infrared Applications, Precision Optics, LEDs, Sapphire Technology & Touch Screen and Smart City.

About Yole Développement 

Founded in 1998, Yole Développement has grown to become a group of companies providing marketing, technology and strategy consulting, media and corporate finance services. With a strong focus on emerging applications using silicon and/or micro manufacturing, the Yole Développement group has expanded to include more than 50 collaborators worldwide covering MEMS, Compound Semiconductors, LED, Image Sensors, Optoelectronics, Microfluidics & Medical, Advanced Packaging, Manufacturing, Nanomaterials, Power Electronics, and Batteries & Energy Management. Press Relations & Corporate Communication: Sandrine Leroy (leroy@yole.fr)