Kuka Systems joins US$1 billion wafering equipment market with technology acquisition

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

With the explosive growth in crystalline silicon production capacity over the last few years, the wafering equipment market exceeded US$1 billion in sales in 2008, according to data from VLSI Research. This had attracted major equipment suppliers such as Applied Materials, Komatsu and now Kuka, via its Kuka Systems Division to acquire established players in this expanding market.

Recently, Kuka Systems acquired the ‘Slicing Technology’ of Czech-based mechanical engineering company Themis a.s. for an undisclosed sum. Key technology purchased included IP, experienced workforce as well as process equipment for sawing and shaping ingots and wafers.

“The consistent extension of the value-added chain in the photovoltaics production field and the extension of our product portfolio for the renewable energies sector mark a further important step on our route towards the diversification of our range of products and services” commented Albert Vontz, Product Group Manager Solar Technology at Kuka Systems.

Kuka, like its new rivals is planning to leverage its expertise in robotics and manufacturing automation to further develop the equipment portfolio to compete in the market.

The acquisition of the Themis sawing technology also means that Kuka is now able to supply customers with almost the full range of equipment from start to finish that is required for the automated production of crystalline PV modules.

In June, 2007 Applied Materials purchased major Swiss-based wafering equipment supplier, HCT for approximately US$475 million. Just over a year later, Applied had expanded HCT’s production capacity and debottlenecked the assembly operations in an effort to reduce equipment lead-times and better compete with major rival, Meyer Berger, which had already been investing heavily in capacity expansions and shortening lead times as it gained market share.

Applied also introduced its ‘MaxEdge’ wire saw system which it claimed was the first in the industry to employ a dual-wire management system that doubled throughput and load capacity compared to competitive systems.

In early 2008, Japan-based Komatsu solidified its 30% stake in wafer sawing specialist Nippei Toyama, purchasing the company outright for approximately US$400 million.  

Since then, Meyer Burger responded at the beginning of August, 2009 with the acquisition of Diamond Wire Technology, based in Colorado, USA for an undisclosed sum. Meyer Burger said at the time that incorporating Diamond Wire’s technology would make a significant impact on reducing the total costs of ownership in wafering.

With large-scale suppliers now controlling a major share of the wafering market, competition and technological advances could reach new heights as the PV industry returns to growth over the next few years.

28 September 2021
Solar Solutions International is the largest trade show for solar energy in Northwest Europe. Now the solar market has grown up, it's time for the next step. Solar Solutions International displays more than 500 innovations and over 100 practical seminars concerning the latest in energy storage, smart products, and an ever evolving array of solar panels. As an exclusively B2B trade show, Solar Solutions International offers both exhibitors and visitors the chance to network at the highest level. Duurzaam Verwarmd, the largest trade show for sustainable HVAC technology in the Benelux, is held simultaneously. This way your one visit gets you up to date with all of the developments in both sustainable energy and heating.
6 October 2021
Intersolar Europe is the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry. It takes place as part of The smarter E Europe – the continent’s largest platform for the energy industry. Under the motto “Connecting solar business,” manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers and project planners and developers from around the world meet in Munich every year to discuss the latest developments and trends, explore innovations firsthand and meet potential new customers.
6 October 2021
The future is bright for a new era of US solar and storage, and the 8th annual Solar & Storage Finance Summit will provide opportunities to discuss solutions to the industry’s challenges and provide a networking platform designed to bring together the top minds in the industry to do business. With a mix of high-level, informative presentations and panels, a stellar cast of speakers and audience members with deal-making capacity, the 2021 edition of the event will be a sell-out success.
18 October 2021
Intersolar South America, South America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry, takes place at the Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, Brazil on October 18–20, 2021, and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. At the accompanying Intersolar South America Conference, renowned experts shed light on hot topics in the solar industry.
19 October 2021
This year’s EV World Congress will hold a special role, not only as the first live EverythingEV event in over a year – a chance to renew your connections and re-engage with the EV sector face to face – but also as a chance to share insight and inspiration as world starts to look towards move on post COVID towards hitting ambitious decarbonisation goals in 2030 and beyond. As ever, we will be bringing world leading organisations, cities, and technology providers to the UK to inspire EV innovators, and delve into the challenges facing the sector as the UK looks to revolutionise road transport.
20 October 2021
Utility-scale solar is evolving, shaped by higher power modules and demand for increasingly lower levelised cost of electricity (LCOE). Those trends are also changing project requirements elsewhere, with inverters capable of delivering high power density and power capacity in strong demand. In this webinar, FIMER will detail how its innovative high-power, multi-MPPT string inverter and modular conversion solution can both meet those demands and transform the utility-scale solar sector for the better.

Read Next

September 24, 2021
Independent power producer Catalyze has acquired commercial and industrial (C&I) solar developer Sol Alliance, expanding its presence in the northeast of the US and taking on an 80MW project development pipeline in the process.
September 24, 2021
California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a US$15 billion package to fund programmes to tackle drought and climate change in the state
PV Tech Premium
September 24, 2021
Concerns have been raised that new measures introduced by Spain’s government to limit windfall profits of renewable energy plants could dent investor confidence and impact the stability of the country’s solar sector.
September 24, 2021
DNV-owned solar monitoring firm GreenPowerMonitor is to integrate Alteso’s solar analytics tech platform into its offering after striking a deal to acquire it.
September 23, 2021
A project that bids to combine up to 20GW of solar PV with the world’s largest energy storage battery and a 4,200km-long subsea power cable has moved a step forward after Indonesian authorities greenlit its proposed transmission cable route.
September 23, 2021
US national residential and C&I solar plant performance assessment company Omnidian has completed a US$33 million Series B raise.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021