Expanded semiconductor capacity at world’s largest speciality gases facility

EMD Electronics will expand its semiconductor manufacturing capacities for the world’s largest integrated speciality gases facility.

Text by Merck

Stainless steels play a crucial role in the semiconductor industry. Image ©Merck

EMD Electronics, the Electronics business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the US and Canada, will expand its semiconductor manufacturing site in Hometown, Pennsylvania, USA. The expansion is part of the company’s Level Up growth program, announced by its electronics business sector in late 2021, which aims to invest over USD 3.5 billion in innovation and capacity expansion projects by 2025. The roughly USD 300 million investment in the Hometown site will create the world’s largest integrated specialty gases facility and support the success of the company’s Semiconductor Solutions business, one of its “Big 3” growth engines.

“Despite near-term cautions due to the industry’s cyclical nature, the demand for semiconductor materials remains very promising long term,” said Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and CEO Electronics.

“Having domestic production capacity for critical electronics components has become a high priority for many economies. As the brains of modern electronics, semiconductors enable technology critical to economic growth and global competitiveness. We’re poised to support our customers as the most local of global partners in the inextricable rise of semiconductor innovation.”

Growing business

“Together with EMD Electronics, we are planting a flag here in Pennsylvania and showing the rest of the country that we are going to be a leader in the semiconductor industry, helping our country produce vital high-tech products that power everything from our smart phones to our cars,” said stated Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro.

The agreement includes incentive targets associated with at least 68 new jobs and roughly USD 300 million in potential investments that will enable Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to capture and grow its semiconductor materials business in North America and Europe and provide supplemental capacity to supply Asia. “EMD Electronics has been an anchor manufacturing facility in Schuylkill County for decades during which time it has grown to be one of the most sophisticated industrial complexes in all of Pennsylvania”, noted Frank Zukas, President of the Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation.

“These planned expansion projects will allow our community to play a major part in the development of the semiconductor ecosystem in the U.S.” Level Up program continues to deliver critical capacity to fuel accelerated semiconductor growth in the US. Driven by the accelerated industry growth, the Electronics Business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is investing heavily in its Level Up growth program. It has announced more than USD 3.5 billion in innovation and capacities in the US, Germany, and Asia by the end of 2025.

As part of this investment plan, approximately USD 1 billion will be allocated to supporting R&D and manufacturing capacities in the company’s electronics business sector in the US, primarily in its Arizona, California, Texas, and Pennsylvania sites. For instance, by the end of the first half of 2023, the company expects to start operations at its new factory in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area for the manufacture of equipment for its Delivery Systems & Services (DS&S) business. The new site will enable the company to further grow its gas and chemical delivery systems business and provide key supplemental capacity to the semiconductor ecosystem.

Stainless steel in the semiconductor industry

Stainless steels play a crucial role in the semiconductor industry, contributing to the manufacturing of high-performance electronic devices. One of the primary applications is in the construction of process equipment. Semiconductor manufacturing involves numerous chemical processes, including etching, cleaning, and deposition, which often use aggressive chemicals and high temperatures. Stainless steels, particularly those with high chromium and nickel content, exhibit remarkable resistance to corrosion and chemical attack, ensuring the longevity and reliability of the equipment.

Additionally, stainless steels find application in the fabrication of critical components like chambers, fittings, and valves, which come into contact with various process gases and liquids. The inertness and corrosion resistance of stainless steels prevent contamination and maintain the purity of the semiconductor materials during the manufacturing process.

Stainless steels are also utilised in the construction of cleanroom environments which are essential for semiconductor fabrication, providing a controlled environment free from contaminants. Stainless steel panels, partitions, and furniture are commonly used due to their ease of cleaning, low particle generation, and resistance to chemical disinfection agents.

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