Comet Group is confident it steadily continues to generate value added in the future.
Plasma Control Technologies
For 2018 the semiconductor market anticipates continuing strong demand. The biggest driver remains the need for powerful memory chips, which enable the next big technologies in the fields of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and big data. The Chinese market, where new semiconductor fabrication plants are now being built, will grow in importance. PCT also sees much promise in the display market. In order to prepare for handling the impending high growth, and to create the basis for growth after 2020, PCT is investing in all its processes, and especially in the expansion of production capacity and in innovation. Following the recent additions to capacity in San José and Shanghai, the next steps are the expansion of the Smart Lab and of vacuum capacitor production in the new enlarged facility in Flamatt. For 2018 in Germany, it is also planned to move into a new site where PCT's next-generation RF generators will be developed and, using highly automated processes, will be tested and manufactured.
IXS is positioned in markets where digitalization and related trends create additional opportunities for growth: The miniaturization and complexity of components, for example, will continue to rise. More than just detect flaws, customers want to learn from the monitoring and analysis of the manufactured parts immediately, right in the production process, and thus manufacture ever more reliably – something made possible by automated process control. The measuring (metrology) of internal structures based on high-resolution 3D data directly in production lines will thus gain in importance. IXS will continue to invest in innovative products that address these market needs and will press ahead with its associated growth and development initiatives in 2018: the marketing of its metrology systems launched in 2017 and the EVO systems, and the further work on adjusting products to harmonize with standardized software protocols. As one element of its sharpened strategic focus, Yxlon will further expand its software capabilities. In the development of products and systems, the segment is emphasizing a more modular approach. This way, Yxlon will reduce complexity, gain velocity and entrench itself in the market as a solution provider for smart factories.
The new iVario™ generator platform bolsters the market position of IXM on the products side. For the coming years it creates an excellent basis for further sales growth in non-destructive testing in the automotive, aerospace, oil and gas industries as well as in security inspection. Next on the agenda is the focused and continual expansion of the product platform, the broadening of the product family and the steady integration of new software-based functionalities. An important growth opportunity for the future is the screening of baggage and packages by means of more powerful technology. After the strong growth in 2017, IXM believes 2018 will be a transition year for it in the security inspection market, at the existing high absolute level. The aim of the IXM segment, which since January 2018 is led by its new president Stephan Haferl, will be to take the ongoing joint projects with partners to market readiness and thus lay the foundation for further strong growth from 2019.
EBT will invest as planned in the further development of existing and promising new applications, expanding them in the medium term outside the existing target markets of food and printing. In the print sector, EBT will work on the marketing of GAIA, search for additional partners for ebeam inline curing, and strive to sensitize brand owners regarding safe food packaging. In food applications, the demonstrator developed with Bell Food Group for bacterial inactivation on the surface of hatching eggs will enter field testing. The collaboration with Bühler currently focuses on the development of the first commercial machine for the inactivation of bacteria on dry foods – a project to which ebeam Technologies will give its fullest support. Now that the product portfolio of the systems business has been realigned, the next priority, in a competitive environment, is to successfully bring the revised systems to market.