23 March 2010


SAFC Hitech expanding TMG capacity in UK plant

Chemical manufacturer SAFC Hitech of St Louis, MO, USA (a business segment of SAFC within the Sigma-Aldrich Group) says it plans to invest $2m (about £1.2m) to expand production of trimethylgallium (TMG) at its manufacturing plant in Bromborough, Wirral, UK.

The expansion is supported by Wirral Council and The Mersey Partnership (TMP), which helped to secure additional funding in the form of a £300,000 Grant for Business Investment (GBI) from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) as part of ‘Solutions for Business’, the UK Government’s package of publicly funded business support designed to help companies start and grow.

The investment is expected to enable SAFC Hitech to strengthen its position as a global supplier of TMG and satisfy the growing demand for the material in the production of high-brightness LEDs (HB-LEDs) for use in applications such as backlighting in flat-panel television sets and energy-efficient lighting.

The trends to reduce energy consumption and extend energy efficiency are driving the global electronics industry to provide more energy-efficient products and systems, says SAFC Hitech. Demand in the lighting industry in particular has seen improvement with the deployment of LEDs to replace incumbent incandescent light bulbs, fluorescent lighting and compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) derivatives. The industry is hence at the start of a phase of increasing mass-production of HB-LEDs.

TMG has been manufactured at the Bromborough facility for many years, primarily to supply the global semiconductor industry. However, as TMG also fulfills the technical criteria for devices designed for the LED, laser, communication and other markets, the boom in demand for LEDs has led SAFC Hitech to conclude that expanding the plant — with its expertise and specific manufacturing knowledge for the process — was required to meet demand.

“Expanding our TMG capacity not only draws on our Bromborough facility’s core competencies, but also reinforces Sigma-Aldrich’s overall strategy of leveraging proprietary technologies and capabilities into new, fast-growing market segments, thus differentiating ourselves and our materials offerings through technical innovation," comments Dr Geoff Irvine, VP business development at SAFC Hitech. “This investment is expected to accelerate the delivery of TMG to a growing market position and reinforce our position as a leading global manufacturer and distributor for the growing LED market worldwide, as well as create jobs in the area, which is positive news given the current economic climate.”

See related items:

HB LED demand to grow 61% in 2010, outstripping supply

HB-LED consumption to triple to $15bn in 2015

ATMI and SAFC Hitech to co-market solid-source vaporizer to both silicon and compound sectors

SAFC Hitech and AWI extend compound semiconductor and silicon R&D services collaboration

See: SAFC Hitech Company Profile

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