More than an alternative technology, UV LED technology finds its path

Now established in UV curing, UV LED technology will find growth opportunities in disinfection and purification and new applications by 2017/2018. Under its new technology and market analysis entitled “UV LED – Technology, Manufacturing and Application Trends”, Yole Développement (Yole) the “More Than Moore” market research, technology and strategy consulting company, reviews and details the traditional UV lamp business and its current transition to UV LED technology. Indeed industry players confirm their interest for cheaper and more compact technology.

UV LED market

Yole’s report presents a comprehensive review of all UV lamp applications including a deep analysis of UV curing, UV purification and disinfection and analytical instruments. It highlights the UV LED working principle, market structure, UV LED market drivers and associated challenges and characteristics, the total accessible market for UV LEDs. In this report, Yole’s analysts also detail the market volume and size metrics for traditional UV lamps and UV LEDs over the period 2008-2019, with splits by application for each technology.

Thanks to their compactness and low cost of ownership, UV LED technology continues to make its way in the booming UV curing business, through replacement of incumbent technologies such as mercury lamps.

“Thanks to this an overall UV LED market that represented only ~$20M in 2008 grew to~$90M in 2014, at a compound annual growth rate of 28.5 percent,” explains Pars Mukish, Business Unit Manager, LED activities at Yole. Such growth is likely to continue as LED-powered UV curing spreads across ink, adhesive and coating industries. And Pars Mukish from Yole, explains: “By 2017/2018, the UV LED market should also see part of its revenues coming from UVC disinfection and purification applications, for which device performance is not yet sufficient. The UV LED business is therefore expected to grow from ~$90M in 2014 to ~$520M in 2019.”This market’s evaluation takes into account only standard applications, where UV LEDs replace UV lamps.
Pars Mukish adds: “The potential is even greater, if we consider UV LEDs’ ability to enable new concepts in areas like general lighting, horticultural lighting, biomedical devices, and in fighting hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).”

Even this is just scratching the surface of UV LEDs’ real potential. While the new applications do not yet have a strong impact on market size, Yole expects them to possibly count for nearly 10 percent of the total UV LED market size by 2019.

In 2008, Yole started its investigation on the UV LEDs technologies. The consulting company highlights: “Less than ten companies were developing and manufacturing these devices at this time.” Since then, more than 50 companies have entered the playground, over 30 of these between 2012 and 2014, mostly attracted by the high margin when the overcapacity and strong price pressure from the “LED TV crisis” had taken its toll on the visible LED industry. These were mostly small and medium enterprises.

And recently some big companies from the visible LED industry – namely Philips Lumileds and LG Innotek – have also secured a foothold in the UV LED business. According to Yole’s analysis, the entry of these two giants will help to further develop the industry, the market and the technology based on their strong experience of the visible LED industry.

A good example of this is that they have made a nearly full transition of their process to 6” sapphire substrates. “Compared to a 2” based process, this can provide at least a 30 percent overall productivity increase, which would help to further reduce manufacturing cost…” comments Pars Mukish.


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