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Chip manufacturing equipment vendor ASML reports fire at Berlin factory

Dutch lithography giant ASML has reported a fire at its factory in Berlin, Germany, acquired from optics company Berliner Glas in 2020.

No one was hurt and the fire was put out on Sunday night, it said on Monday, without giving any details about its impact.

ASML is the world’s largest supplier of photolithography systems, the machines used to manufacture integrated circuits. Its units – which cost tens of millions of dollars – use lasers to etch components into blank silicon wafers, to within an accuracy of nanometres.

Berliner Glas, where the fire was extinguished, was acquired by ASML in 2020, and says that over “1,200 employees” work at the firm, now known as ASML Berlin, developing and producing “several key components for ASML lithography systems, including wafer tables and clamps, reticle chucks and mirror blocks.”

These are key components for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and deep ultraviolet (DUV) systems. EUV, in particular, which helps ASML’s semiconductor-making clients print chips in much finer detail and at a lower cost, is seen as one of the drivers behind the firm’s predictions of a $1 trillion semiconductor industry by 2030.

The Dutch firm’s customers include TSMC and Intel.

ASML divested itself of Berliner Glas’s non-semiconductor businesses late last year after regulatory approvals.

In comments accompanying its most recent results, for Q3 ended 20 October 2021, the firm said: “In our EUV business, we had a record quarter in terms of shipments and revenue, due to the volume as well as the share of TWINSCAN NXE:3600D systems.”

Its third-quarter bookings came in at €6.2bn, with €2.9bn of that from EUV systems. CEO Peter Wennink noted in an investors’ call: “The demand continues to be high. The ongoing digital transformation and current chip shortage fuel the need to increase our capacity to meet the current and expected future demand for memory and for all logic nodes.”

Berlin’s fire department said last night that an automatic cleaning system had caught fire across an area of 200m² on the second floor of a three-storey “industrial” building in Waldkraiburger Strasse in Berlin’s Britz district in the Neukölln area.

Resources deployed at the site included a drone that could access the roof.

The Berlin company’s stated production area is 31,780m².

A spokesperson confirmed to The Register that a part of the Berlin factory was closed – but said other parts of the factory were still operating.

The firm’s stock price dipped 2 per cent on the news. That being said, the extent of the damage has not been confirmed and the stock is today worth 53 per cent more than it was in January 2021. Supply chain issues mean customers are still clawing for capacity, with the company saying it’s supplying orders booked up to 2023.

“We have a total backlog of €19.6bn, including EUV of €11.6bn, which is a reflection of the very healthy market environment we are in today and fully covers the planned EUV output for 2022 and the beginning of 2023.” ®

source: The Register