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News / Business / Clark County Business

SEH America plans 300,000-square-foot expansion to Vancouver campus

The Super X project would be located in a new building on the SEH America silicon wafer manufacturing campus

By Will Campbell, Columbian Associate Editor, and
Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: August 12, 2022, 11:21am

SEH America Inc. is planning a major expansion of its silicon wafer manufacturing operation in Vancouver, according to preliminary documents filed with the city of Vancouver.

The proposed expansion, which goes by the name Super X, will establish the new automated crystal wafer manufacturing facility in a 300,000-square-foot building to be constructed on SEH America’s campus on Northeast 112th Avenue in east Vancouver. It will allow room for additional crystal growing, wafering, polishing and cleaning.

Further details were not available about the Super X project, including a timeline for construction, the potential for new jobs and whether it will benefit from the recently approved Chips and Science Act — also known as the CHIPS Act — which dedicated $250 billion in federal spending for American science and technology research, development and manufacturing.

An SEH America executive said in a email that the company was unable to provide comments on Friday but may have more information next week.

SEH America is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Shin-Etsu Handotai Ltd. It primarily manufactures silicon wafers for use in the semiconductor industry.

During a call with investors in June, a company spokesperson reported SEH expects demand for wafers to continue.

Demand for silicon wafers is high — higher than suppliers can produce. SEH is one of the top suppliers of silicon wafers in the world, especially 300 mm wafers, which are used in everything from cars to smartphones. The supply is so low that there’s expected to be a shortage that could last for years.

“During the past two years, there was a move to build up inventory due to supply chain disruptions and others,” SEH officials said on the investor call. “However, customers were unable to accumulate inventory of 300 mm and 200mm wafers because wafer manufacturers’ capacity increases were limited. Therefore, we view that trends differ between devices and wafers, and we do not anticipate a significant decrease in demand for 300 mm wafers at this point.”

The spokesperson went on to say that demand for 300 mm wafers specifically is expected to increase.

“We will gradually expand capacities based on long-term agreements with our customers,” they added.

SEH’s Vancouver facility produces the much sought-after 300 mm wafers.

“This expansion is great news for Washington state and for manufacturers and consumers across the country who depend on semiconductors every day, for everything from cars to tractors to phones and computers,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “When we passed the CHIPS and Science Act, this is exactly what we intended to see — more companies deciding to invest in America. This investment will create even more focus on Washington state and its growing role in strengthening this critical industry.”

The plans filed with the city also show a new additional support building of up to 40,000 square feet. No new parking is planned due to a surplus of available spots already on the campus at 4111 N.E. 112th Ave.

The Super X building will manage the chemicals in the same way as in SEH America’s existing building, and air pollution control devices will be installed to minimize the risk of exposure of hazardous chemicals to neighbors. All the pipelines that carry chemicals are either above ground or insulated with concrete and fiberglass, according to the company’s plans.