Vertically integrated ceramic crucible producer Ceradyne is expanding capacity in China to meet global demand for crucibles used in the production of multicrystalline ingots for the PV industry. Ingot production is being rapidly expanded across fully integrated PV manufacturers as well as pure-play wafer producers. Ceradyne is a leading supplier of advanced ceramic crucibles to the PV industry.
Specifically, Ceradyne is increasing its capacity during the first half of 2010 at its existing facility, Ceradyne Tianjin Technical Ceramics. The 98,000 square foot facility in Tianjin, China became operational in June 2007. Construction of a new 218,000 square foot facility in Tianjin for Ceradyne Tianjin Advanced Materials is already under way at an estimated cost of US$34 million and is expected to come onstream in early 2011. The company also has production capacity in Atlanta, Georgia.
When this phase of expansion is complete, the combination of existing and new capacity will enable Ceradyne to remain a leader in global supply with the ability to readily distribute crucibles to any location in the world, the company said. All three facilities will have the capability to supply the traditional crucible sizes such as for 450kg ingots but are also equipped to produce custom and next-generation sizes as well.
Consistent with its existing facilities the new plant will incorporate proprietary technology to apply a silicon nitride release coating to any crucible as an option for customers who desire the flexibility to cost effectively optimize their internal facility utilization.
Ceradyne in recent years has developed a proprietary silicon nitride coating designed to act as a barrier between the molten silicon and the crucible, eliminating ingot sticking and fracture which promotes improved production consistency and reduction in wafer losses.
Ceradyne Tianjin Advanced Materials will also include technology and equipment from Minco and ESK, two of Ceradyne’s other global entities. From Minco’s facility in Tennessee, which supplies engineered systems to the precision investment casting (PIC) industry as well as all fused silica raw materials for crucible production in both China and the U.S., grinding and blending technology will be incorporated.
ESK, headquartered in Kempten, Germany, will supply process technology to the facility for silicon nitride and boron carbide ceramic components and coating systems.