© Cree Electronics Production | May 07, 2019
Cree to pump USD 1 billion into silicon carbide capacity
North Carolina-based Cree Inc. has announced plans to invest USD 1 billion into the expansion of a state-of-the-art, automated 200 mm silicon carbide fabrication facility and materials mega factory at its Durham campus.
The company described the allocation as USD 450 million for its existing silicon carbide facility (“North Fab”); USD 450 million for a materials mega factory; and USD 100 million toward “other investments associated with growing the business,” in a company press release. The focus of the expansion is Cree’s Wolfspeed silicon carbide and GaN on silicon carbide business. Upon completion, scheduled for 2024, the company’s silicon carbide materials capability and wafer fabrication capacity will see a “30-fold increase,” allowing wide bandgap semiconductor solutions that enable the technology shifts underway within the automotive, communications infrastructure and industrial markets. “We continue to see great interest from the automotive and communications infrastructure sectors to leverage the benefits of silicon carbide to drive innovation. However, the demand for silicon carbide has long surpassed the available supply. Today, we are announcing our largest-ever investment in production to dramatically increase this supply and help customers deliver transformative products and services to the marketplace,” said Gregg Lowe, CEO of Cree. “This investment in equipment, infrastructure and our workforce is capable of increasing our silicon carbide wafer fabrication capacity up to 30-fold and our materials production by up to 30-fold compared to Q1 of fiscal year 2017, which is when we began the first phase of capacity expansion. We believe this will allow us to meet the expected growth in Wolfspeed silicon carbide material and device demand over the next five years and beyond.” The plan delivers additional capacity for its industry-leading Wolfspeed silicon carbide business with the build out of an existing structure as a 253,000 square-foot, 200 mm power and RF wafer fabrication facility as an initial step to serve the projected market demand. The new North Fab is designed to be fully automotive qualified and will provide nearly 18 times more surface area for manufacturing than exists today, initially opening with the production of 150 mm wafers. The company will convert its existing Durham fabrication and materials facility into a materials mega factory. The expanded campus will bring more high-tech job opportunities and serve as an advanced manufacturing workforce development initiative. Cree plans to partner with state and local community and four-year colleges to develop training programs to prepare its workforce for the long-term, high-quality employment and growth opportunities the new facilities will present.