Finetech en-gb Copyright Fri, 13 Sep 2019 03:29:21 +0200 Fri, 13 Sep 2019 03:29:21 +0200 news-168 Thu, 09 May 2019 16:47:06 +0200 // Technology in Bio-Medical Applications Earlier this year, Finetech participated in the IMAPS Advanced Packaging for Medical Microelectronics Workshop in San Diego, and it did not disappoint. It was great to see that several technical presentations referenced Finetech in multiple, equally interesting bio-medical applications. A Lawrence Livermore National Labs presentation described the development of an artificial retina which utilizes semiconductor technology to deliver a bio-compatible electronic package containing the electronics for stimulating the retina. I also learned more about glucose sensing technology embedded onto a contact lens, where a small glucose sensor, in combination with a chip and antenna, are used to help diabetic patients wirelessly monitor their glucose levels. Other technical sessions discussed some of the challenges of bio-medical applications, including encapsulation and the process of getting FDA and other government regulation approvals completed and ready to manufacture in a higher volume.

In 2018, Finetech’s die bonding technology helped accelerate catheter capabilities.  A catheter is defined as a thin tube made from medical grade materials that is inserted into the body to perform a wide range of surgical or diagnostic functions - they access the inner reaches of our bodies without painful, invasive open surgeries.  The solution consisted of bonding multiple ultrasonic transducers onto a flex cable that was approximately 1.5 meters in length. These small MEMS die are bonded and bundled into a catheter, with each die providing a different function. As you can imagine, anything of that length will likely be inserted through an artery in the leg and moved up to the heart. Handling a flex circuit of that length always proves to be a challenge. Most equipment on the market was developed to handle more traditional, rigid printed circuits boards (PCB’s). Flex PCB’s are not “new” technology but today’s cutting-edge applications - like a smart catheter that shows real time 3D rendering of the organs inside the body - is truly evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Die bonding to flex or other types of circuits is not at all foreign to Finetech. Challenges always come into play when customers develop a new product utilizing established processes, like Thermo-Sonic or Thermo-Compression bonding but include a new “twist”. Reviewing a Bill of Material (BOM) is always our first step to help our customer understand what is and what’s not possible in terms of process and product development.

Our die bonding expertise covers a full spectrum of applications and bio-medical is one of many business sectors that require precise die attach. Is bio-medical really any different from say, a LiDAR application? From our perspective, sure, but many similarities cross over the industry segments. Our first priority is to help customers understand process related solutions so they can be first to market. First to market is a big deal for investors and more importantly, for patients needing medical technology solutions. We are always up for a new challenge and ready to provide the time sensitive support often needed in the medical market.

news-154 Thu, 08 Nov 2018 14:20:58 +0100 // A few “small things” about SMTAi 2018 There is a saying that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  I had this expression in mind throughout my trip to Rosemont, where I would speak at the SMTAI conference technical sessions. I was invited to join the rework session and to present a paper on rework practices for microLED and other highly miniaturized SMT components.  Finetech has long been the leader in presenting complete rework solutions for small component repair.  But the definition of “small” has changed over the years, or maybe not?  

We were first to offer 0201 passive rework solutions and then on to 01005 and 008004 devices.  So this is certainly a topic that Finetech has years of experience with.  I looked back in my files to see that I had presented on 0201 rework practices at Semicon in July of 2004.  Yes, that is correct.  Then our 01005 solutions were presented worldwide throughout 2007.

For some in the audience, working within this component range is a new challenge; it is a real “change”.  But for Finetech, it is a bit more of the “same” with further miniaturization.

However, this is a good thing.  Finetech’s depth of experience has allowed us to quickly offer solutions to the new emerging microLED market.  That is where I tried to focus the presentation and paper.  This new volume manufacturing is producing displays with millions of LEDs.  Rework is inevitable, but a daunting challenge.  This requires novel solutions for tooling, site preparation, paste deposition, very precise thermal management, as well as high accuracy and optical resolution.  Oh yes, and please do it quickly!  More to come on that topic in the near future.

It was great see a lot of colleagues that I have worked with since joining this industry in 1995.  Many faces are still familiar despite more grey hair and some talk of retirement. I was also happy to meet recent graduates who are new process engineers, sales engineers, and product specialists.  It certainly had me thinking a bit nostalgically about what has changed and what has stayed the same. 

To learn more, click the link to SMTAI:

news-145 Wed, 04 Jul 2018 09:13:43 +0200 // LED Bonding Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are by definition a two-lead semiconductor light source, which release energy in the form of photons that have the color of light. What color? Well, likely the most popular are Red, Green, Blue (RGB) and now White and other colors (Orange, as an example). Using different materials determines the color of an LED. For instance, Red, Orange and Yellow LEDs are made from Aluminum Gallium Indium Phosphide, whereas Green, Blue and White LEDs are made from Indium gallium Nitride. In 2014 Dr. Shuji Nakamura was awarded the Nobel Prize for the invention of a White LED. Other colors had already been developed, but it’s been said that Nakamura’s LED success at the University of Santa Barbara was as noteworthy as Edison’s invention at the turn of the 20th century. Pretty significant.

Though LEDs produce more lumens (measured light) compared to incandescent lamps, halogen lamps, etc, there has long been a debate as to whether or not LEDs will be around long term.  A big concern has been the environmental waste that results from LED manufacturing.  Regardless of environmental concerns, LEDs appear to be here to stay.  They are replacing incandescent type products and are used in nearly every market that requires light - from cell phones and smart watches to the illumination in a refrigerator or automobile.  

So what are the advantages of LEDs versus incandescent or halogen bulbs?  LEDs are so much more efficient than other light sources. Take for example Christmas lights. To illuminate a 500 foot string of C9 bulbs, it would require approximately 3,500 watts of power. Compare this to only 480 watts of power for LEDs -- roughly 7x more efficient than the incandescent bulb.

As this industry evolves, Finetech equipment is playing a key role in the development and implementation of innovative LED technology. We work with companies large and small, from startups to Fortune 500s that are looking to capitalize on a market that seems to have very high potential.  At the development level, Finetech systems may be involved in die bonding the first sample set from a wafer, or reworking µLEDs.  Our ability to place and bond die as small as 0.03 x 0.03mm is unique, as well as our expertise in reworking individual pixels without disturbing neighboring LEDs.  And we provide excellent thermal management and optical resolution, both critical factors when working with these devices.

Manual to automation…we have it covered!  Check out how we helped an Asian display manufacturer improve its production yield for small SMD LED carrier boards.  


news-143 Tue, 22 May 2018 14:58:10 +0200 // Micro Assembly Day 2018 a Success On May 17, 2018, around 50 European professionals from industry and science followed our invitation to join the Micro Assembly Day 2018. This annual one-day conference in Berlin is a platform for active knowledge-sharing and an exchange of experience on the latest trends in advanced packaging and micro assembly. Things kicked off with a get-together dinner on the eve of the Micro Assembly Day where our guests had the chance to meet and break the ice. Sitting at the Humboldt Terrassen restaurant in Berlin-Mitte, enjoying good talks while taking in the impressive sight of the Berlin Cathedral, was the perfect start. Another highlight was a guided tour at the Humboldt-Box information center that gave us a better understanding of the enormous efforts to rebuild the world famous Berlin City Palace.

On the next morning, we reunited at the Finetech headquarters for a series of presentations covering a wide spectrum of topics. Numerous guest speakers provided insights into their latest application solutions and new technological achievements and gave examples of practical implementations in different industries and markets. Meanwhile, Finetech Product Managers presented exclusive previews of upcoming hardware and software solutions for our high-accuracy die bonder line.

A recurring theme during the Micro Assembly Day was the transition of R&D processes into automated manufacturing. In line with Finetechs "From Lab to Fab" approach, many presentations and discussions involved strategies to scale up challenging high-accuracy applications to meet the requirements of automated series production.

A complete overview of topics and speakers can be found here:

We would like to say thank you to all our visitors, speakers and Finetech staff that contributed to making this year's Micro Assembly Day a success and hope to see you again soon.

news-85 Wed, 21 Feb 2018 21:23:00 +0100 // Is Rework a Commodity? Finetech has been a leader in SMT Rework and Repair equipment since the company was founded more than 25 years ago. You know what’s crazy? The very first machine we manufactured, and which we still sell today, has a placement accuracy of +/- 10µm.  No, I am not kidding. That being said, more than 25 years later, the question in the title of this blog is quite valid. There are many rework systems on the market, some with vision, some without; some equipment based on pure IR as a heat source and some convection. There are new technologies, such as vapor phase, which seem to have some advantages and disadvantages. In other words, so many options, so many price points. It begs the question, what factors other than accuracy, heat source, optics, etc. do you use when deciding which technology works for your application needs?

IPC/APEX Expo, the largest SMT exhibition in the US, will be held next week at the San Diego Convention Center. I personally look forward to this event each year so I can see the competition and of course have an opportunity to meet with potential and existing customers. One of the biggest thrills of the event is speak with people who continue to work on cutting edge technology. From our perspective, we continue to be a leader in SMT Rework and APEX is a great place to foster our connections and solutions.

Let me refer back to my first point - our equipment is able to place at +/- 10µm. Our inaugural machine far exceeded other rework systems on the market and, quite honestly, not one company was able to offer this sort of placement tolerance as a requirement. So it was considered a “freebie”, a “perk”, if you will. As technology has evolved, the need for this type of accuracy has become and will continue to be significant when looking to future proof an equipment purchase.

Just take a look at hand held devices – the guts of a cell phone board are vastly different when comparing the early days to present. Today, PoP devices and small passives the size of sand fill a PCB and the simple rules of physics are - if you can't see it, how can you rework it? LED Rework is a huge market now, especially single LED Rework. This includes removal, dispense and replacing known bad LED’s.  These are mainstream products that are being built by the millions and believe me, even if OEM’s conceal the fact that Rework is a process within their factory, it most likely is. Now, don’t get me wrong, we all strive for high yield. Especially when cranking out tens of thousands of boards per week, it’s difficult. Vertically stacked devices, GPS or small projectors in a new cell phone are absolutely mainstream today. All of these “features” take up board space.

Real-estate is a huge factor when designing next generation products and having a rework system that can repair/replace the smallest devices without disturbing neighboring components is essential. And visa versa. For instance, if the goal is to rework a QFN and there are 01-005 devices surrounding the QFN, not only does the machine need the optical resolution to rework both, thermal management is also critical. When it comes to the volume of air/N2 on convection systems, the software allows “low/medium/high” as set points. This makes very little sense to me. No quantitative volume of control. Well, at least with most convection systems. We do things a bit different. This begs the question, what about IR instead of convection? IR presents a completely different set of challenges, mostly with regard to its absorption-to reflection ratio.
I could talk about this all day. Come see us at IPC/APEX – there we can have an open and clear dialog about the advantages of Finetech and anyone else there. After all, that’s the reason we attend these events, right? To learn and discover what technologies are available to help in making our products the best.

news-66 Wed, 03 Jan 2018 14:05:00 +0100 // LiDAR Everywhere! Is it me or is everyone in technology talking about LiDAR these days? So what is it and why is everyone talking about it?  Well, the “what” part is easy. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, which basically says it’s similar to Radar, but instead of detecting “something”, imagine the signal that’s sent back to your LiDAR device as a full area scan – an image of an object.

This type of technology is very powerful as it can be used for many types of image scans or as its known in LiDAR land, a survey. Have you ever been caught speeding by a police officer pointing a radar gun at you? LiDAR is similar to the way that the officer is measuring the speed you are traveling at. But the radar gun has no method to determine if you are driving a sedan, a motorcycle, etc. With LiDAR, the sensor that is surveying the area can detect other vehicles near you and can also determine if its a human or dog crossing into oncoming traffic.

There are so many technologies where LiDAR can be utilized. In this blog, I will talk about autonomous vehicles and mapping.

Autonomous Vehicles

In and around my neighborhood (Chandler, Arizona), there is a fleet of autonomous vehicles driving the streets all the time! Early mornings, late evenings, you get the point. My understanding is, the fleet is capturing data and going through its alpha and beta testing. Thousands of hours are being put to the test in residential areas and busy intersections, hoping to prove out the “bugs” of LiDAR algorithms.

Its always interesting for me to see these vehicles because as a supplier of high accuracy bonders, Finetech is involved in the development of these exciting new technologies. Whether its one of the four sensors on each corner of the vehicle or the spinning sensor on the top of the vehicle, the goal is to achieve a lower accident to passenger ratio. Because according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 13 out of 100,000 people will have a fatal accident. Those numbers are frightening. Not only that, but just imagine if autonomous vehicles really can cut down on accidents in general. Imagine the savings all of us will see when it comes to auto insurance.

Mobile LiDAR (Mapping)

Not only do we want our automobiles to be safer, LiDAR has and will continue to play big roles in Mapping, commonly known as Mobile LiDAR. Whether this is mapping traffic or geographic areas (bridges, water, etc), or whether the mapping is done by plane or drone, the data collected will help scientists understand our planet and help city managers better control traffic flow during peak times. The term “Mobile LiDAR” is purely based on the fact that the mapping is collected from a mobile vehicle. Just to clarify, not the same as an autonomous vehicle.

 This crazy world we live in is ever changing. I remember watching the Jetsons cartoon as a little boy – with the outlandish flying cars. So here we are today with self -driving cars. Flying cars next? We could be getting much closer.

Let us know if you want to partner with Finetech for your LiDAR assembly and other die bonding needs. We are experts when it comes to die bonding, whether it’s an Edge Emitting Laser, VCSEL, Fiber Coupled device, or maybe an Optical Phase Array (OPA), we have the process covered. Thermocompression bonding? UV Cure? Sure, no problem - from manual to fully automated, always done with the highest precision and reproducibility.

From Prototype to Production. That’s our motto and we are sticking to it!

news-24 Thu, 31 Aug 2017 15:35:00 +0200 // Laser Assist and Laser Bonding Achieving a void-free eutectic Gold/Tin (e.g. Au80Sn20) bond for laser bar bonding is a pretty straight forward process. Conventional bonders use some method of conduction to heat both the substrate and die to achieve a void-free bond, without damaging the integrity of the finished assembly.  This means there is no thermal shock to the substrate or die while bonding one to the other. Again, in a traditional process using conduction, this is pretty straight forward. Purging the environment with a forming gas will help eliminate oxidation of the solder - this is a key variable to achieve maximum performance of the assembly and a requirement for a void-free bond. 

How does using a laser as the heat source play into the integrity of the bond? 

Not all substrates and/or die have the same thermal absorption ratio, so it may be necessary to heat one or the other…or both at different ramp rates in order to heat the solder uniformly and to avoid thermal-mismatch. Using a laser as the primary heat source eliminates this necessity because either the die or substrate is heated via laser. In addition, the ramp rate of a laser is exponentially faster than conventional conduction heat. (see bonding profile graphic)

Using a laser as a primary heat source will have other variables to keep in mind: 

Material must be suited for eutectic (e.g. Au80Sn20) bonding process – 

  • Substrates should be made of thermally conductive materials.  Using substrates made of AlN or Si would be considered ideal, unlike materials made from Al203 (ceramic)…though we may have had success with Al203   :-)
  • Deposited solder is always the preferred way to go. Using this method of solder deposition is much more uniform and consistent in comparison to pre-forms.
  • Finally, none of the surfaces of the die or substrate should be reflective or polished. This will likely cause challenges and inconsistencies in trying to create a process with highly reflective surfaces.

Laser parameters should be adaptable with process and materials –

  • When using a laser, it’s important to be able to slightly penetrate the device being heated (thermal absorption). That means the chosen laser must be at the appropriate frequency for that particular material. In other words, the power and wavelength, in combination are equally important.  
  • Typical lasers emit as a circular shape…but die and substrates rarely do. So, the spot diameter relative to the heated surface area must be somewhat similar. Otherwise it would be nearly impossible to achieve the uniform heat described previously. Imagine bonding an edge emitting high power laser and the edges of the die never fully reflow? That could spell trouble.

Some real advantages of the laser are obvious. The expected throughput should be much faster than traditional conductive methods, as the laser has the potential to increase by up to 1000º/second. In addition, because the solder reflows so quickly, there is not much of a window to oxidize, which eliminates the need for forming gas.

Obviously safety could be an issue.  Anyone working with lasers understands the need for safety and as long as procedures are followed, this should not be a concern.

Look, we understand this process and the inherent variables in great detail. We’d love to hear from you if this is something you are considering.  It would be interesting to us to know if your interest is based on speed or another reason. 

news-67 Mon, 15 May 2017 14:24:00 +0200 // Bonding Materials and Methods It’s always interesting to learn about the chemistries our customers will use in next generation bonding technologies. There is so much to take into account. The diversity and properties of materials varies greatly -- low or high viscosity, and thixotropic media are a few parameters that need to be addressed when selecting a material that will perform well in your application. More importantly is investing in equipment that allows you to step through the entire bonding process and build a profile that will ensure a seamless roadmap to your production process. Here is where Finetech can make an impact in your R&D efforts.

Take epoxy bonding for instance. For a growing number of assembly processes, adhesives are now the preferred material. This is based on an extended spectrum of applications and improved processing methods. Significant progress has been made to achieve stronger resistance against rough environmental conditions - such as extreme temperatures, air humidity and UV radiation - as well as better compatibility with other substances.

Design or application limitations can require adapted hardware and tooling solutions designed to apply such material.  Flux trays, stamping tools, heated needles are some of Finetech’s die-bonding process accessories.  However, it is the flexibility of Finetech’s table-top manual R&D die bonders that allow for users to conduct diverse tests with epoxy under various thermal conditions (i.e., top heat and bottom heat & UV) to understand how epoxies perform under a specific bonding conditions.  Finetech’s side observation cameras record video and snap pictures of the entire bond process, capturing real-time validation of potential fillet results exposing die attach contamination or die lifting and cracking.

Finetech can provide automated and manual dispensing solutions to apply materials which can reproducibly apply glue with spot diameters of 200 µm and less.  We can integrate time/pressure, Auger and jet dispensing - all on the same bonder.

In production environments, adhesives have become an essential material for mechanical, electrical, thermal and optical bonding and sealing. Glue is also used as a compensation plane for bonding partners with differing expansion coefficients.

Customers find that our bonders are extremely versatile when it comes to handling a wide range of materials, using various technologies.  

news-68 Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:32:00 +0100 // Moving from Prototype to Production During the Fall of 2015, we introduced the FINEPLACER® femto 2 to the world - a fully automated, sub-micron die bonder which expanded our proven base model into an enclosed system providing a cleanroom quality process environment. Our existing customer Ultra-Communications recently purchased two femto 2 systems, truly moving from a prototype to production solution. And we could not be more proud. Ultra-Comm specializes in designing and manufacturing opto-electronic devices that are used in the most rugged environments - Outer Space!  

When Finetech is approached with a demanding application, we gladly accept the challenge. Not under the mindset that a solution always exists, but with the approach of, "lets see how we can incorporate our technology and solve a tough application or create new technology to provide the answer".  Many times, including with Ultra-Comm, we had long meetings, drilling down to the smallest details related to a design and a plan to assemble these complicated and novel devices. With Ultra-Comm, it has been challenging. It has been intense at times. Nonetheless, both companies focused on the technical details, collaborated, and communicated effectively until we could reach a resolution. Years later, after delivering a product that seemed nearly impossible to assemble, Ultra-Comm is moving into a production environment. And how exciting is that? Not only for our customer, but for Finetech as well.

Communication - a 13 letter word that is essential in all aspects of life. With kids, relationships and in business. At Finetech we never try to over simplify our die bonding technology.  We have evolved as a company because of customers like Ultra-Comm and we continually improve because of these types of challenges. Open and effective communication is key to these successes.

If you have a challenging application, give us a call!  We can work together to develop a plan -  starting in prototype and development.  And when your needs change, we can move you to a production solution. Put us to the test.... Ultra-Comm did... and years later, we continue to build on the foundation of communication and innovation.

news-69 Thu, 21 Jul 2016 14:38:00 +0200 // A Toast to Cool Customers One of the best things about working at Finetech is we get to see some really incredible new technologies that our customers are trying to bring to market. We work with many startups where there is often huge pressure on R&D engineers and their prototype efforts.  Getting a glimpse of the latest ideas in micro-electronics during the early phase is really COOL.  More about that choice of words in a minute…  

Often we cannot talk about our customer applications due to confidentiality.  That is why we took great satisfaction to see the recent Jim Cramer interview with Tony Atti, CEO of Phononic Devices – talking about their thermoelectric semiconductor technology.

Phononic is #18 on 2016 CNBC Disruptive 50 Companies List for transforming the fridge – with thermoelectric cooling that uses 25% less energy with no moving parts.  Currently, Phononic’s medical grade fridges are found in hospitals and science labs.  A new partnership with Haier is developing an innovative wine cooler. Other applications include CPU coolers and LED display signs.  The semiconductor components are manufactured in a fab and assembled at a facility in Durham, North Carolina.

It was roughly 5 years ago when a key Phononic engineer flew to Finetech’s New Hampshire office to see if our bonders could help them get to the next level.  He came to our lab carrying samples we had never seen before.  Within 45 minutes of his arrival, he was placing and bonding on his own.  We had a purchase order very quickly - signed by Tony Atti.  When I checked in with that same engineer recently, he mentioned that their Finetech bonder is used every day in support of the thermoelectric devices.

That indeed is very COOL for all of us at Finetech. Congratulations to Phononic and do check out Tony Atti talking about Phononic's technology and having a cold beer with Jim Cramer:
Phononic CEO: Transforming The Fridge | Mad Money

news-70 Mon, 20 Jun 2016 14:44:00 +0200 // Active Alignment in Photonics With two recent optical conferences behind us (Optical Fiber Conference and Photonics West), it’s clear that one of the most intriguing applications with regard to optical device packaging and silicon photonics packaging is active alignment.  We were asked about this topic several times at both events.  This gave me the idea to share some insight on the challenges of active alignment and encourage a dialogue with our customers.  The inquiries we heard pertained to VCSEL and edge emitting laser bonding.

VCSEL Bonding- There are two types:
Single Emitter VCSELs - Active alignment is unnecessary because the alignment precision of Finetech is +/- 0.5 micron. Most single emitters are bonded onto TO headers, which include a lens bonded on top of the VCSEL to collimate the light (photons). In the event that multiple single emitters are being bonded to one another, this is known as a "face up" process and does not require active alignment.

VCSEL die with multiple emitters (multi-mode VCSEL) - could be 4 channel, 12 channel or a custom die with more than one emitter. Most VCSEL applications use a lens or some sort of collimator to capture and focus the photons before launching into a fiber. The lens ensures the coupling gradient is effective so the VCSEL current is maintained and keeps the device safe from over current. Each VCSEL aperture has "modes" where the light exits the VCSEL. The modes are often not in the same place. For instance, if you check the current of channel #1 compared to #4, you might see a difference is its performance. This could simply be because the modes from channel 1 to 4 are emitting light from different positions (microns). If the modes are in different locations because of how the wafer was grown, it begs the question, how to compensate for this with active alignment? To answer this, you need to understand the application - and we can help with that!

Laser Bar/Diode - Pre-checking or "binning" each laser diode before it is bonded onto its C, Cs, Cu or other type of mount is pretty typical.  And it is common to check the performance of each laser die prior to bonding, to achieve maximum performance. Active alignment for laser bar/diode applications is achievable when assembling other optics (beam splitter, output couplers, etc). These optical devices are, for the most part, transparent and bonded with UV epoxy.  Lasing while placing these discrete optical devices is possible. Within this capability, there must be a feedback method while lasing and placing to ensure maximum performance of the laser during placement.  Once the laser die performance is maximized, the UV epoxy is cured. It is important to cure the epoxy while the feedback is being monitored to ensure the epoxy shrinkage does not change the position and/or performance of the optical devices. A slow process, but yes, it does work.

I encourage questions about this challenge. We can explain why active alignment works or doesn’t work for a particular project and I’m optimistic about providing solutions, regardless of how difficult the challenge may be. This is a field we continue to learn about as well. Happy Bonding!

news-71 Sun, 20 Mar 2016 14:50:00 +0100 // Medical Imaging Sensor Packaging The medical industry is experiencing exponential growth in everything sensors and the range of imaging sensors used in medical applications is wide:  from extra compact cameras (i.e. for endoscopes) up to huge x-ray sensor arrays, visible light over Infra Red (IR) to different tomography sensors like X-ray & CT, Ultrasonic, Magnetic Resonance (MRT), Positron Emission (PET) and others.    As varied as the sensors are, we see diverse assembly tasks and bonding technologies:  full area bond to Focal Plane Arrays (FPA) with millions of bumps, micro optics assembly of endoscopes to placement of huge scintillator units with the highest co-planarity demands, and epoxy processes to reflow processes.  We have found that these applications have several packaging requirements in common:  the need for high precision (due to fine pitch), long term process stability and reliable conductive connections in micron or even submicron scale accuracy.  

As an example, bonding a large sensor array to a readout unit involves handling a large amount of bumps in the process.  Two electrical connections per sensor element are needed to process the signal.  A state-of- the-art, 1k x 1k pixel sensor array contains 2 million bumps.  To achieve good results, the bonding platform must offer extraordinary evenness of the entire system and keeping all parameters constant over a large area or distance can be very challenging.  

Considering that required bonding force increases with the amount of bumps, our customers are often faced with very high bonding forces.  High forces can easily lead to deformation of parts of the bonding system.  If the bonding system design is not optimized for maximum mechanical stiffness, the total value of all deformations will exceed the tolerable limits for low or medium force ranges.   Our bonders have the integrity to handle bonding forces up to 1000 N.  This, in combination with passive or active coplanarity control, provides an effective solution.

news-72 Thu, 21 Jan 2016 14:53:00 +0100 // Another Year! Wow! What a year for Finetech!  In Berlin, we moved to a new, state of the art factory, introduced two NEW Die Bonders (femto 2 and sigma) and were involved in many groundbreaking technologies. Each year we reflect on what we’ve learned from these new experiences and try to anticipate what may be emerging in the upcoming year.  Throughout 2015, I wrote about topics that we believe will gain momentum and continue to expand.  In addition to these areas, we have seen recent activity involving the packaging and assembly of Quantum Bits (otherwise known as Qbits), optical phase arrays, LiDAR, quilt packaging and X-Ray detectors.  This is happening within R&D and start-up phase companies, as well as established fortune 500 corporations. As we continue to innovate and create new die bonding modules (bonding in vacuum, high force up to 1000N, sintering, formic acid and others), we are optimistic that the coupling of these process capabilities with our ability to place die to 0.5µm will complement novel advanced packaging requirements on the horizon.

This month, while meeting with a customer that produces lasers for the Google Loon Project, it was apparent that our existing customer base not only needs our die bonder equipment technology, but also our process and application expertise. By procuring a bonder with far-reaching technical potential, our customers can to continue to push the envelope in terms of pioneering devices, such as Qbits.

2016 is expected to bring all kinds of new technologies to our doorstep and we are ready to accept the challenge and stand behind our creed -- "we SOLVE problems".  I’m excited to attend our first tradeshow of 2016 in February - Photonics West (San Francisco) and see the applications put in front of us. I hope to meeting with some of you, whether you’re just starting out or looking for a pathway to production with our newest die bonders. Put us to the test! Let us help solve problems – it’s what we do!

news-73 Thu, 19 Nov 2015 14:58:00 +0100 // Flex Circuit Bonding We are increasingly asked about die bonding to flexible printed circuits such as chip-on-flex and flex-on-glass.  Most of these inquiries come from medical companies or bio-medical researchers exploring creative ways to bond bare die to flex circuits. They are looking for flexible (no pun intended!) methods to use in the assembly of their products which often incorporate high density packages and the need to physically bend due to space constraints and design.

If you’ve even had the pleasure of an MRI procedure, think about the circular contraption your body goes inside.  Or the space limitations of today’s super small hearing aids.  Behind the scenes, there are very complex electronics using flex circuits.  

SMT devices such as BGAs, QFNs, and passive devices (0402, 0201, 01005) are common in flex circuit layouts. This technology has been around for decades and is common in production cells. Chip-on-flex however proves to have significant roadblocks.

Die bonding in the traditional sense consists of Thermo-Compression Bonding of Au pads to Au bumps with a bonding temperature of 300°C. When attempting to bond die to flex at these temperatures, the glass transition (Tg) point of the flex has been exceeded and the flex becomes vulnerable to catastrophic failure.  Finetech has been asked about other methods of chip-to-flex bonding, such as the use of ultrasonic and thermosonic energy and/or conductive epoxies (silver or gold filled epoxy).

The latter works!  Conductive epoxies will allow an electrical conduit from the chip to the flex. But these types of epoxies have been known to lose their electrical conductive properties over time. Additionally, the high cost of epoxies with Silver or Gold is hard to justify for volume production.

Thermosonic bonding "could" be a solution - low temperature (150C) so there are no issues with Tg being pushed to the limits. Unfortunately, in order for an ultrasonic process to work, the substrate needs to be rigid. Flex circuits are organic materials and are simply not robust enough to withstand ultrasonic energy. I recently visited a customer wanting to try this process. Our bonder was able to produce 20W of ultrasonic energy for 4 seconds. All of the ultrasonic energy was absorbed into the flex because it was not rigid and, therefore, the substrate absorbed 100% of the energy of the ultrasonic transducer. Not one of the 60 bumps attached.

The most popular and successful method of chip-to-flex bonding uses anisotropic conductive film (ACF) or anisotropic conductive paste (ACP). There are subtle differences between the two, each having advantages and disadvantages. For high frequency devices, however, these normally are not a viable option. Please refer to blog #4 to understand this process in more detail.

We understand bonding.  And assembly to flex circuits.  Having issues or curious about how to this works?  Give us a call – we’re happy to share what we know.

news-74 Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:01:00 +0200 // Our New Baby! So why has our newest family member, the FINEPLACER® sigma, shaken things up? Finetech has developed a new bonder that diverges from our existing optics and alignment technology. Up until now, our portfolio of bonders has utilized a beam splitter to simultaneously overlay images of the die and substrate for alignment. Beam splitter technology is easy to understand so the learning curve to operate our equipment has always been "simple"… a word not often associated with the better than 1 micron alignment.  The new FPXvisionTM combines two optical systems to generate a real-time overlay image of chip and substrate.

Over time, we have progressed from manual configurations to semi-automated  and now to fully automated systems with full pattern recognition.  And now, fundamentally changing our optics is the most significant modification we’ve made to our equipment in the past 25 years and has opened many possibilities for our customers. They can increase and decrease the field of view (FOV) without ever losing optical resolution. This is important when aligning a large die with very small features.  Ramp rates are faster with our newly integrated software and hardware. And bonding can be done in a controlled environment (inert gas) or within a vacuum.

As I write this, I'm struggling to describe in words just how crisp and clear the FINEPLACER® sigma resolution appears, regardless of optic’s magnification.  Do you recall the first time you saw an HDTV? Perhaps you had a chance to view it next to an analog TV and could truly see the difference in resolution?  Our sensor assembly video does a good job of demonstrating the FINEPLACER® sigma's resolution, particularly in the section at 1:25 to 1:35, you can see the clarity.  

And then there’s force during bonding -- up to 1000N using the FINEPLACER® sigma bonder. Combine that with the option to fully automate the machine, place to 0.5µm, handle a 300mm wafer, and the ability to do thermo-compression or thermo-sonic bonding with a 10 minute change over.  There isn’t another bonder out there that can accomplish all this in one system, at our price point.  

As our company continues to develop products that quickly adapt to the latest technologies, our customers are able to realize their latest and most challenging applications.  Finetech continues to develop new equipment and modules based on our customers' requests.

FINEPLACER® sigma - Advanced Sub Micron Assembly Platform