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Alexander Matukhnov Sapphire Manufacturing is Not Overnight Success
2014 March 27th Thursday

Alexander Matukhnov, General Manager from At-Vac, a Chinese sapphire manufacturer, busts myths on quickly profiting in the sapphire industry in this article.

LED lighting remains the largest market for sapphire application. LED has become a huge competitor for traditional lighting despite of higher costs. High prices, however, are a temporary problem. We believe that continual advancement of epitaxial wafer technology and LED lighting equipment’s current price fall trend will help lower retail prices.

Manufacturers use several methods to grow sapphire crystal. Kyropoulos (KY) is currently the only method that can be used in commercial application (heat exchanger method (HMI) is the reverse of KY, but cannot control the initial crystallization). Two other methods include vertical crystallization and STC's vertical horizontal gradient freeze (VHGF) method. KY remains the best method, however, for producing high quality sapphire. The world’s leading sapphire manufacturers all employ this method. I am confident that this method will produce high quality (low deficit) sapphire.

Sapphire production is complex and requires advanced technology due to the unique nature of the material. Once sapphire prices increase, manufacturers  expanded their capacity in swarms. Therefore, only a minority of manufacturers that invested in sapphire production t profited.

Sapphire manufacturing requires time and diligence. Although, it is not entirely impossible, quickly entering the market and profiting rarely works. In order to enter the high-tech industry, manufactures need to be highly professional. This is the only way to guarantee success. Manufacturers need to remember that technology requirement in this field is 100 percent effort. One cannot succeed even if only one percent is overlooked.

Due to sapphire’s physical properties, crystal growth is a very long process, and requires long periods of time before the growth technology can be in full control.  I It takes 200 hours to grow a 60 kg sapphire crystal and 15 days to manufacture. Patience and professionalism is a must. Therefore, manufacturers need to be aware that sapphire production does not mean overnight profit or success. Installing the equipment today is not equivalent to buying a hen that lays golden eggs.