15 June 2011

GT Solar completes expansion of sapphire manufacturing facility

GT Solar International Inc of Merrimack, NH, USA (a provider of polysilicon production technology as well as sapphire and silicon crystalline growth systems and materials for the solar, LED and other specialty markets) has celebrated the grand opening of its new sapphire production facility in Salem, MA, the site of the former Crystal Systems Inc (a crystalline growth technology firm manufacturing large-area sapphire substrates, acquired in July 2010).

The opening of the newly expanded plant concludes a project that began construction in October 2010 which triples the sapphire production capacity in Salem. GT invested $27m to create a high-volume production facility to provide sapphire material for the fast-growing LED market and other industrial material industries.

Picture: GT Solar’s expanded sapphire production facility in Salem, opened in June for production.

“The investment in this new plant is a testament to our belief in the growth of the sapphire market and our ability to capture a leadership position in this industry,” said president & CEO Tom Gutierrez. “We’ve leveraged 40 years of crystal growth expertise from Crystal Systems and combined it with GT’s successful track record of rapid scale-up of commercial crystalline growth technology to create a new state-of-the-art sapphire manufacturing facility capable of producing predictable and repeatable high-quality sapphire crystal run after run,” he added.

“We are also proud to be able to generate high-quality employment opportunities to the people of Salem and throughout the North Shore area,” said Cheryl Diuguid, VP & general manager of GT’s sapphire equipment and materials business unit. “Since the completion of the acquisition of Crystal Systems last summer, we have doubled our employment within our business unit. Our sapphire business is growing and, at a time of high unemployment for so many Americans, we are pleased that we are in a position to offer high quality manufacturing employment opportunities,” she added.

“Governor Patrick has focused on stimulating economic activity in our Gateway Cities and creating jobs in innovation sectors like clean energy and advanced manufacturing. This expansion project combines all three of those important elements,” noted Secretary of Housing & Economic Development Greg Bialecki.

The new 20,000ft2 manufacturing facility should ramp to full volume production over the next several months. GT Solar says that the highly efficient manufacturing environment uses the latest production control technology to produce high-yielding boules of consistent size and quality. The boules produce cores with diameters of 2, 4, 6 or 8-inch and beyond for downstream processing into wafers for the LED market and other material such as large-diameter A- and C-axis windows for other industrial markets. The firm also uses the manufacturing facility as an R&D center – testing advances in process technology and commercializing process knowledge and expertise for the firm’s growing list of customers for its advanced sapphire furnace (ASF) equipment.

See related items:

GT Solar’s full-year income doubles as revenue grows 65%

GT Solar launches ASF100 advanced sapphire furnace

GT Solar wins $91m in sapphire furnace orders from Asia

GT wins $218.9m sapphire furnace order from Haotian Opto

GT Solar buys sapphire substrate maker Crystal Systems

Tags: GT Solar Crystal Systems Sapphire crystallization furnaces

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