The trend in lowered prices in the LED market has not changed. With LED chip prices expected to drop substantially in the next few years, packaging is also facing pressure to lower costs. According to current LED component costs, package costs make up 60 percent of the overall cost. U.S. DOE estimates that LED package costs will drop 50 percent by 2016. Advantages in Epoxy Molding Compound (EMC) lead frames in galvanizing high electrical currents, having UV resistance, and ability to withstand high temperatures has draw the attention of package manufacturers. Philips Lumileds plans to introduce high volume EMC lead frame LED package components in 2014.
The Industrial Economics and Knowledge Research Center (IEK) held a LED and Module Development Seminar on October 30th in regards to the lowered price trend in LEDs. According to information gathered, costs for LED components are higher than packaging making up 63 percent of total costs. Epitaxy makes up approximately nine percent of the total cost. DOE expects reaching its goal of cutting LED package costs by 50 percent or more by 2016 and expect to further reduce costs by 80 percent in 2020.
With the rise of EMCs during the low LED price trend, Nichia launched the high performance/price ratio 757 series which incorporates EMC lead frames, was deemed the most promising product by the LED industry this year. The trend of mid-power LEDs overtaking high-power LEDs in the market is speeding up package manufacturers shifts towards EMC lead frames. According to information from IEK, manufacturers that have begun using EMC lead frame material includes Nichia, Seoul Semiconductor, Samsung, Philips Lumileds, Osram, Everlight, and Lextar. Philips Lumileds EMC lead frame products and product series production will expand in 2014.
In regard to LED package lead frames, polyphthalamide (PPA) are currently on top due to low water absorption rate, great adherence, light resilient, and water proof. In addition, material cost for PPA frames is low. They are suitable for use in 0.5W-1W. The downfall for PPA frames however is that they are not thermal resilient under high temperatures and have yellowing issues due to rising temperature. In comparison, EMC lead frames have the upper hand in high heat resistance, while also being UV resistant, climate resistant , and conductive high electrical currents. EMCs are suitable for use in 1W-3W LEDs. Although material cost for EMCs are higher and have potential patent problems, package manufacturers are still eager to move towards the direction of EMC in the next few years as mid-power start to replace a part of the high-powered LED market.