Taiwan-based VCSEL application solutions provider HLJ Technology has decided to invest NT$2.7 billion (US$90.08 million) to build a 6-inc epi wafer fab at its plant complex in northern Taiwan to better cash in on huge VCSEL application market potentials by integrating relevant epi chip design, fabrication, packaging and testing operations, according to company sources.
The company will issue 16 million new shares at a unit price of NT$90 to raise NT$1.44 billion in funds to support the first-stage land lot and equipment procurements, with the new plant slated to start volume production in late first half of 2019, the sources said.
In 2017, HLJ successfully tapped into the supply chain of AirPods as the sole supplier of VCSEL components needed for Apple's wireless earphones, through the assistance of Austria-based sensor maker AMS, now one of its four major shareholders and a supply partner for iPhone X 3D sensors, industry sources said.
At the moment, HLJ mainly relies on its 4-inch fab to process low-power VCSEL devices for AirPods, and its planned 6-inch fab will focus on production of high-power VCSEL components needed in a wide variety of applications including notebooks, robots, AI, big data, AR/VR, car-use LiDAR and ADAS, HDMI and security surveillance, the industry sources said.
HLJ also sees great market potential for VCSEL devices applied to the 3D sensors for smartphones and mobile devices, as the 3D sensor market sales are estimated to skyrocket from US$1.5 billion in 2017 to US$14 billion in 2020 for a CAGR of up to 209%. By leveraging the advantage of integrated operations at its new plant, the company believes that it can benefit more than competitors from the market growth.