Strategy execution continues on track

Strategic focus brings significant progress.

Despite unfavorable market conditions, Comet made significant headway in all dimensions of its strategy. The focus on the high-growth semiconductor and electronics market was further tightened.



Focus of the Comet strategy

Comet is 1 company developing 2 technologies – x-ray and RF power – as its 3 divisions focus on 4 markets: semiconductor and electronics, automotive, aerospace, and security.



In the sweet spot of digitalization and electrification

Digitalization and electrification are driving progress in industry and society. This is made possible by ever more capable semiconductor components – for the production and inspection of which Comet’s technologies are crucial. Back in 2019 when Comet formulated its current strategy, generating 70% of the Group’s sales with customers in the semiconductor and electronics industry was still only an aspiration for the future. By now, this industry’s share of Comet’s sales has already surpassed that figure, and is set to rise to more than 80% in the coming years. Both of Comet’s two major technologies, radio frequency (RF) power and x-ray, are driving this trajectory. Comet is one of the few companies worldwide to supply several mission-critical technologies for the entire value chain of the semiconductor industry.

Ambitious roadmaps and global investment in the semiconductor industry

The ambitious technology roadmaps of the leading semiconductor manufacturers show where the semiconductor industry wants to go in the future. Their plans call for the development of ever more powerful and energy-saving technologies. These new technologies, together with rising demand fueled by social trends, are driving further growth and infrastructure investment in semiconductor manufacturing.

The strategic importance of semiconductor components in the transformation to an electrified and digital economy and society, as well as the effects of supply bottlenecks in the recent past, have elevated the semiconductor industry to the status of a critical sector and prompted governments to invest in it domestically. These investments at home are intended especially to reduce global dependencies in an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape and to strengthen countries’ own supply chains. Based on announcements to date, a total of 129 further new semiconductor fabs are to come on stream in the USA, Europe and Asia by 2027. In the same year, the associated annual investment in RF power subsystems, which Comet develops and manufactures, is expected to reach a market volume of USD 2.5 billion. With the growing complexity of semiconductor components that are becoming ever smaller and more powerful, the industry’s spending on RF power subsystems as a share of its total expenditure on wafer fabrication equipment is rising at a disproportionately high rate. (Source: TechInsights).

Digitalization and electrification of the automotive, aerospace and security sectors

Comet’s traditional other core markets of automotive, aerospace and security are also following the trend toward digitalization and electrification. The automotive industry is now considered an important driver of semiconductor growth. Advanced and safe driver assistance systems (ADAS), as well as the increasing electrification of vehicles, require a rapidly growing number of different semiconductors ranging from sensors to actuators and microprocessors.

Industry analysts predict that the overall number of light vehicles produced worldwide will grow at a moderate rate of about 1.4% annually in the years to 2027. However, they expect an accelerated increase in the proportion of new cars with electric or hybrid drive systems from 8.5% of the total in 2021 to about 38.7% in 2027 (source: S&P Global Mobility, Jan. 2024). This also increases the proportion of x-ray-based quality inspections required, for which Comet’s two x-ray divisions contribute components, modules and systems. Much the same applies to the aerospace sector. Here too the trend is toward hybrid electric (environmentally friendly) propulsion systems and significant further improvements in operational safety through digital assistance features. Industry forecasters expect an annual increase in semiconductor technology sales to the aircraft industry of approximately 9.3% in the period to 2027 (source: Gartner Semiconductor Forecast Database for Q4 2023)

Comet is thus very well positioned, both as a driving force in products for the manufacture and examination of semiconductor components, and as a supplier of products for quality inspection in two of the semiconductor industry’s fast-growing downstream markets: automotive and aerospace. These “traditional” markets have gradually recovered since the demand decline associated with the pandemic.

Comet technologies enable critical manufacturing processes

Comet supplies critical technologies along the whole value chain of the semiconductor industry. At the front-end, the heart of the production process, Comet’s radio frequency components power the extremely precise control of plasma processes. In the so-called middle-end stage, where advanced packaging methods at wafer level are applied, and at the back-end, where the final assembly and packaging of microchips take place, x-ray modules and systems ensure maximum quality and process stability. With its leading technologies, Comet supports its customers in the semiconductor industry in solving one of their greatest challenges: increasing their manufacturing yield while continuing the rapid miniaturization of the semiconductor components.



Comet’s technologies along the value chain



Comet benefits from current technology trends

The current trends in semiconductor technology favor Comet, as they require more RF power and x-ray technology than ever before. Thus, producing the three-dimensional nanostructures of the latest generation of semiconductors demands ever more, and more precise, plasma process steps. As a result of the technological progress in advanced packaging, for example, the conventional non-destructive testing method of optical inspection is being pushed to its limits. X-ray technology has now evolved to the point where it is a viable option for nanoscale inspections. In e-mobility, key applications are in the manufacturing of advanced driver assistance systems, which require fail-safe electronics, and of batteries, where zero fault tolerance is becoming increasingly relevant and the need for inspection is ever-growing.