SMD LED makers are increasing R&D efforts while boosting production capacity and acquiring patents to keep up with foreign rivals and buoy the line.
Encouraged by a broadening user base, China suppliers of SMD LEDs are directing R&D efforts toward models with smaller profiles and better performance. Many are developing superthin 0.4mm versions for portable electronics such as mobile phones and other miniaturized terminal products that embed extra functions. These components also make indoor LED displays realize higher resolution, simple structure, good white balance and wide viewing angle.
|This SMD LED from Guangzhou Hongli emits red and has a 120-degree viewing angle and 40mW power dissipation.|
Manufacturers likewise continue to roll out top diodes for the lighting and decoration segments. Through the plastic leaded chip carrier method, this variant delivers elevated luminance and lower attenuation than chip configurations. Products are available in PLCC-2, PLCC-3, PLCC-4 and PLCC-6 encapsulation forms, and monochromatic, bicolor and full-color kinds.
Targeting LED displays, Fahon Opto-Technology Co. Ltd is planning to launch 3020 and 3030 varieties this year. Guangzhou Hongli Opto-electronic Co. Ltd, meanwhile, is focusing on 1608 versions, its smallest diode at present, for LED tubes and strips. The manufacturer has also developed a 3528D series with PLCC-3 encapsulation. The model features a higher brightness of 9 lumens compared with 6 lumens of common types. Designed with superthin frames, the product boasts a smaller profile of 1.3mm and better heat dissipation than 1.9mm alternatives.
Penetrating new applications to broaden reach is also on makers’ agenda. Guangzhou Hongli, for instance, has introduced a range of SMD LEDs for grow lights. The company’s HL-A-3528S50FC-S1 model has fixed wavelengths of 638, 641 and 646nm that match the light waves plants need. It emits a red light and has a 120-degree viewing angle and 40mW power dissipation.
Suppliers are likewise improving overall performance to meet customers’ expectations. Some have launched
units with lead frames, which boast better anti-static property and moisture resistance. Several rolled out PCB-based types as well, and those with protection against UV, water and heat. Enterprises are enhancing light uniformity, color and brightness through controlling the voltage, wavelength and emission distance or area. They ensure color consistency by conducting strict inspections on sourced materials.
While developing new models and upgrading earlier kinds top R&D objectives, companies continue to offer conventional versions to serve a wider client base. In terms of size, they provide mainly 3528 and 5050 configurations, which currently account for 50 to 70 percent of mainland China’s total output for the line. The first emits an even, large-area round light, making it suitable for illumination applications such as LED strips. The latter is most commonly used in LED displays. The other form factors available are 1608, 2810, 3015, 5730, 3030 and 3020. The last is the main backlight source used in instruments and LED panels.
As regards color, white, warm white and RGB dominate output. Full-color units rule exports, but single- and bicolor varieties are still widely adopted in LED displays.
The chip is the key component of SMD LEDs, accounting for more than 50 percent of total costs. Companies source this from Taiwan enterprises such as Epistar, Genesis Photonics, Opto Tech, Arima and Formosa Epitaxy. Some purchase from Japan and US suppliers Toyoda Gosei and SemiLEDs.
The other materials are phosphor and sealants such as silicone and epoxy resin, which also come from Taiwan, the US and Japan. Cooling substrates, frames and wires, meanwhile, can be obtained locally.
Production equipment, mostly from Germany or Japan, includes die mounting, wire bonding, phosphor dispensing, encapsulation and binning machines.
Chip costs are expected to slide in coming months as providers accelerate capacity expansion. Epistar has signed an agreement with Skyworth and Delta to build LED chip plants in Guangzhou in Guangdong province this year. The first’s other projects in Xiamen and Changzhou in Fujian and Jiangsu provinces, respectively, began operations in 2010.
With the expected reduction in outlay, fierce competition and large-scale production, prices of SMD LEDs from mainland suppliers are projected to decline by 5 to 10 percent in coming months. A few makers, however, opt to retain quotes to secure stable returns.
|Fahon’s model R5050URGBW 5050 SMD LED delivers 400mcd red and blue and 900mcd green luminous intensities.|
Amid strong demand from LED display and lighting applications, companies are improving production capability and overall competitiveness to strengthen their foothold in the line. To take advantage of fast-growing orders locally and from abroad, many purchased new equipment and are now operating at more than 90 percent of capacity. Some, including Shenzhen Yuliang Optoelectronic Technology Co. Ltd, are planning to add automatic manufacturing lines in 2H11. Fahon will boost capacity by 50 percent by end-2011, while Ledman expects its output to swell by 2.5 times.
An increasing number of enterprises are also aiming to be listed on the stock market to attract investment. Ledman joined the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in early 2011, and Refond, Mason and Unilumin are planning to follow suit. The move is in response to Taiwan’s ongoing shift of production to the mainland, which is intensifying rivalry. Homegrown suppliers need more funds to raise capacity and remain competitive.
To gain recognition and widen client base, makers are taking part in exhibitions both locally and overseas. Many have attended the IISS held in Bombay, India, and are preparing to appear at the Viscom Paris.
Keeping prices low is likewise part of strategies to generate orders. Given the same characteristics, mainland vendors can offer models up to 50 percent less expensive than those from Nichia or Cree.
Companies are also securing IPRs for in-house-developed technology to move up the value chain. Ledman designed SMD LEDs for outdoor displays this year, and has applied for its copyright. Guangzhou Hongli uses patented superthin frames to develop more compact diodes. The maker has acquired more than 100 patents, 32 of which are for SMD LEDs.
Manufacturers ensure products meet international standards such as CE, RoHS and TS 16949. Smaller players are improving quality management systems to be on a par with major suppliers.
Through all these efforts, enterprises are optimistic of continued sales growth in coming months. Shenzhen Yuliang, for instance, achieved 55 percent higher revenue in 2010, and expects another 80 percent jump this year. The positive projection can also be attributed to the sustained development in the LED lighting industry, which will account for 75 percent of the worldwide LED market by 2020, according to Philips.
Currently, the line in China consists of 30 to 40 companies, most of which are based in Guangdong province and offer related products such as LED displays, strips, lamps, tubes and bulbs. The majority of them churn out 30 million to 50 million units per month, while large operations have a capacity for a hundred million. Smaller players, however, have a faster response time and can accommodate small-volume orders.
More than half of the country’s output goes to the domestic market to fill requirements in lighting applications suchas LED displays, strips and tubes. Products exported are mainly shipped to Asia and Europe, but suppliers also cater to emerging markets, including India and South America.
Hong Kong manufacturers of SMD LEDs are increasingly rolling out bicolor and RGB variants under efforts to widen application range. They are hoping to raise penetration in backlighting, indicators, signals, switches, and commercial, residential, decorative, architectural and automotive lighting. Companies are also targeting multipurpose light strips. These diode types have multiple LED chips that can be controlled separately inside a single package. Among the popular dual-color combinations are red and green.
Single-color units, however, still rule output, with warm and pure white widely offered. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink are also available.
Products come in standard packages, including 0603, 0805, 1204, 1206, 1306, 1608, 2209 and 3216. These are supplied in various plastic leaded chip carriers such as PLCC-2, PLCC-4 and PLCC-6, while power varieties may have a ceramic package. Some versions of the last are designed with metal-core PCBs that help improve heat dissipation, thereby extending the service life of devices. The base, which is isolated electronically, is usually aluminum topped by another metal sheet. An extra heat sink layer is optional for high-power LEDs.
Suppliers can add other features to enhance customers’ applications. Some models can be fitted with a dome lens. Those for video displays can have packaging surface coated in black for enhanced contrast.
Most SMD diodes from Hong Kong manufacturers are compatible with infrared or vapor-phase reflow, and wave soldering. The packaging is in tapes or reels for easy handling and automated assembly. Nearly all companies comply with RoHS.
Toyo LED Electronics Ltd is among the experienced LED electronics OEM and ODM service providers in the territory. It has a monthly output of 20 million diodes, and supplies 3528, 5050, and 0603 to 2209 SMD LEDs.
Yes International Co. is a specialist in LED R&D and manufacture. It offers 0603, 0805 and 1206 SMD configurations in various colors and white diffuse or water-clear lens.
OptoSupply Ltd’s lineup includes SMD and through-hole LEDs, and LED strips and modules. It acquired a phosphor mixer and a high-power LED bin sorter in 2010 under efforts to boost product quality.
Taiwan suppliers of SMD LEDs are emphasizing high-brightness models as the type continues to dominate worldwide diode shipments because of its extensive use in various illumination setups. Applications cover general, room, architectural and automotive lighting, projection displays, signage and display backlights. The category currently makes up more than 80 percent of the global LED market. With the latter expected to have a 29 percent CAGR in 2009-13, according to Digitimes Research, the high-brightness LED industry is likewise forecast to enjoy significant development in coming years. Pushing demand are the LED lighting and backlighting sectors, which are estimated to grow by 97 and 63 percent during the period.
Everlight Electronics Co. Ltd is one of the makers that have introduced such units. Its high-brightness and -voltage diodes are specially designed for solid-state lighting integral or retrofit lamps.
Kingbright Electronic Co. Ltd offers leaded chip carrier and ceramic variants of the category. The first type has the advantage of high luminance in a small profile, while the latter is intended to solve heat dissipation problems.
The production of high-brightness LEDs, however, is currently hindered by the tight supply of MOCVD machines and sapphire. Enterprises are optimistic the backlog in the first will be resolved as two of the largest manufacturers Aixtron and Veeco expressed plans to expand capacity to meet market demand. Sapphire providers, on the other hand, are reluctant to raise output as growing the mineral is difficult and the fail rate is high. Taiwan diode makers are therefore cooperating with upstream vendors to secure sufficient reserves.
Despite these challenges, high-brightness units will continue to lead the island’s SMD LED output. Mainstream models have low power consumption, high efficiency, wide viewing angle and multiple colors. Products are offered by more than 100 suppliers, many of which conduct mass production in mainland China.
Taiwan ranks second to Japan as the largest LED production center worldwide in terms of revenue. It accounts for 25 percent of the global market, while the latter’s share is about 42 percent.
Aopec Automotive Electronics Co. Ltd
Goldenlight Electronics Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Yuliang Optoelectronic Technology Co. Ltd
Toyo LED Electronics Ltd
Yes International Co.
Note: This article "SMD LEDs with compact profiles, improved performance emphasized" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
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