Chip Shortage Leads Major Firm to Scavenge Semiconductors from Old Washing Machines

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The global semiconductor shortage has led a major industrial conglomerate to resort to buying up old washing machines and removing chips from inside for use in their own products, according to the head of a supplier of key technologies to chipmakers.

Peter Wennink, the CEO of ASML, a company that dominates the global market for machines used to etch circuits into silicon wafers, made the remarks in an April 20 earnings call, without identifying by name the conglomerate that was scavenging chips from washing machines.

Wennink said ASML had a record year in terms of sales and profit and was facing “unprecedented customer demand” across all sectors, including for its lithography machines that function as a kind of printing press for silicon chips.

“With this unprecedented demand exceeding our capacity, we are ramping our output capability to meet the strong demand,” Wennink said, acknowledging challenges like labor force constraints and the vulnerability of operating at full steam.

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