Semiconductor photomask sales are the latest in a long line of semiconductor related sales to break records in 2017 hitting $3.75 billion USD, according to SEMI. Sales figures show a 13 percent increase year-on-year, leaving photomasks third in expenditure behind silicon and semiconductor gases. Taiwan remains the largest market, with Korea rising to become the second largest consumer of photomasks.

As more fabs move toward advanced sub-45nm manufacturing processes, photomask sales are projected to continue growing in 2018 and 2019 with 5, and 4 percent, respectively. The highest share of photo mask spending on record was in 2003, when the segment represented 18 percent of the materials market.

SEMI further reports that captive mask shops take the lion's share of the 2017 market at 65 percent, at the expense of merchant suppliers, with captive mask shops having held as little as 31 percent of the photomask market in 2013. The 2017 figure also sees annual growth of two percentage points from 2016's 63 percent market share.