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Global Chip Shortage's Latest Worry: Too Few Chips for Chip-Making

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To capture demand, chip maker Wolfspeed’s recently opened factory in New York is aiming to ramp up more quickly than initially planned.

Credit: Wolfspeed

The drought in chip availability that has hit auto production, raised electronics prices and stoked supply-chain worries in capitals around the globe has a new pain point: a lack of chips needed for the machines that make chips, industry executives say.

The wait time it takes to get machinery for chip-making—one of the world's most complex and delicate kinds of manufacturing—has extended over recent months. Early in the pandemic it took months from placing an order to receiving the equipment. That time frame has stretched to two or three years in some cases, according to chip-making and equipment executives. Deliveries of previously placed orders are also coming in late, executives say.

As a result, hopes of quickly overcoming the global chip shortage are dimming as it stretches into its third year. What began as a pandemic-era aberration of supercharged demand for laptops and other chip-hungry gadgets has spiraled into a structural problem for the industry. Now many chip executives say the problem will persist into 2023 and 2024, or even longer.

From The Wall Street Journal
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