(Bloomberg) -- Canon Inc. has begun selling its nanoimprint semiconductor manufacturing systems, seeking to claw back market share by positioning the technology as a simpler and more attainable alternative to the leading-edge tools of today.

The Tokyo-based company’s new chipmaking machines can produce circuits equivalent to 5-nanometer scale when using extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV), a field dominated by industry leader ASML Holding NV. Canon expects its device to reach next-generation 2nm production with further advances and improvements, it said in a statement on Friday. Like domestic peer Nikon Corp., Canon has fallen far behind ASML in the EUV race, but its nanoimprint lithography approach may help it close the gap.

Canon’s machinery may also add a new front in the US-China trade war, as the import of EUV machines — so far the only reliable method for fabricating 5nm chips and smaller — into China is prohibited by trade sanctions. The Japanese firm’s technique skips photolithography altogether and instead impresses the desired circuit pattern onto the silicon wafer. Because of its novelty, it’s unlikely to be expressly forbidden by existing trade curbs.

A spokesperson at Canon declined to comment on whether the new equipment would be subject to Japan’s export restrictions.

Nanoimprint lithography has long promised to deliver a low-cost alternative to optical lithography, and it has been promoted in the past by memory makers SK Hynix Inc. and Toshiba Corp. Kioxia Holdings Corp., Toshiba’s former memory division, tested Canon’s nanoimprint machines before they reached commercial maturity. Canon will now have to prove that it has solved the problems, such as high rates of defects, that plagued past efforts.

ASML, Europe’s most valuable tech company, has seen five straight quarters of revenue growth and surging orders. The Veldhoven-based company is the go-to EUV supplier for the world’s leading chipmakers and expects a 30% rise in net sales this year.

Shares in Canon have gained 26% this year, aided by a wider rally in Japanese stocks and the boost to chipmaking equipment demand brought about by artificial intelligence applications.

Canon, which has until now focused on products used to make less advanced chips, acquired nanoimprint pioneer Molecular Imprints Inc. in 2014 and has spent almost a decade working on the technology. A supplier to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Canon is building its first new plant for lithography equipment in two decades in Utsunomiya, north of Tokyo, to go online in 2025.

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