SUSS MicroTec equipment in Russia
Mark Tober: Our latest development is the light source for mask aligner on the basis of UV-LEDs. Compared to traditional mercury vapor lamps, LEDs have higher service life, less energy consumption and does not require additional time for warm-up and cool-down. All this allows to make the alignment more efficient, environmentally friendly and safe. In addition, the use of LEDs provides for greater flexibility in process design.
Another news is the extension of our solutions portfolio by laser surface imaging systems, which has been specially developed by our European partner. Laser surface imaging can be used for resist structuring, lithography mask production, micro-ablation and metrology in electronics, microfluidics, micro-optics.
What are the current trends in the international and Russian markets?
M.T.: Key areas for us are advanced packaging, LED and MEMS. If the development of advanced packaging technologies is the issue of the future, the other two markets are fairly stable.
In Russia, the RF electronics is the most developed segment, MEMS production is stable, but without much growth. As for the LEDs, it is difficult to develop their production in Russia, because, in addition to price competition with Chinese companies, there are problems in the supply of high-purity gases and other materials, which in our country are not made.
What types of equipment are most in demand in Russia and which projects would you like to mention?
A.T.: The manual and semi-automatic equipment is most in demand, because of large number of research laboratories. However, we have installed seven automatic machines for the coating and developing of the resists, including the four new ACS200 Gen3 systems. We can predict that by the end of this year the number of installations of automatic systems will reach ten.
Among major customers is Istok, which is one of the leading Russian manufacturers of RF devices for both civil and military purpose. This plant uses approximately 10 units of SUSS MicroTec equipment, including devices for coating and developing of the resists, explosive photolithography, alignment and exposure. It should also be mentioned Rostov-on-Don Research Institute of Radio Communication, which also deals with RF devices.
How do you assess the state and prospects of Russian market?
M.T.: Currently, the low rate of the ruble against the euro resulted in lower demand for equipment, but we hope that the situation will change and market will recover.
A.T.: The market downturn opens up new opportunities for the development of services. Over the past 10 years, the Russian companies have installed a lot of equipment, but for the most part have not paid adequate attention to its maintenance and training of personnel. Now this equipment is beginning to break down, therefore, because of lack of money to buy a new, dramatically increased the demand for service. Heads of enterprises began to realize that to invest relatively little money in maintenance is more profitable than every five years to buy a new equipment with average price of one million euros. The increase in the number of contracts for after-sales service indicates a change in mentality. For our part, we have increased the number of engineers and have regularly organized their training in the factories of equipment manufacturers. Our engineers can service the most complex systems, have a long experience of repair and maintenance of machines. Thus, the development is possible in a period of recession.