President Biden Aug. 9 signed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which pledges to provide more than $52 billion in government subsidies for U.S. semiconductor research, design and production. A White House fact sheet issued the day Biden signed the bill noted that, since Jan. 20, companies had pledged $150 billion to expand microchip production in the U.S.
"More and more chips are being made," LaBorde said. "The U.S. has announced well over a dozen fabs are coming into the U.S. We are bringing a lot of it back and trying to get away from the chip shortage problem that we ran into (during and after the pandemic.) Now, (chips) are going to be made here in the states, and we are focusing on growing with those new additions."
One reason AGC is positioned to serve the burgeoning semiconductor industry is that it offers exactly the right materials. Specifically, AGC offers well-engineered FFKMs, ultra-low metal materials for sealing applications during the wafer manufacturing process, according to Innovation Engineering Manager David Lavanga.
"When you are fabricating and growing the silicone wafer, you want to minimize contamination in the chamber," Lavanga said " … They (FFKMs) need to be resistant to the plasmas used. And there are many different combinations of plasmas."
But AGC Chemical does something else that could allow it to take advantage of growth opportunities in the U.S.—in the semiconductor industry and beyond. When it comes to material development, AGC is always forward-thinking, Lavanga said.
"It's proactive R&D," Lavanga said. "So, besides the voice of the customer for requirements, we are talking about developing next generation (of materials) ahead of the need (for them)."
And those material developments could drive some additional growth for AGC, particularly in microchip and semiconductor adjacent industries where AGC has an established presence. For instance, demand for the company's fluoropolymer materials is rising in the electronics and wire and cable spaces.
"Fluropolymers is a mature market, but the semiconductor portion of it is growing, and that is where there are new opportunities to utilize materials that have been around for awhile," LaBorde said.