At the NextFlex Technology Hub, members will scale new production capabilities by reducing investment risk through access to tested processes and tools that prove low-volume, high-mix production manufacturing and the ability to ramp to volume-manufacturing is viable. The Hub is also supporting the Department of Defense goals by providing access to engineering support for low volume requirements.
Traditionally, electronics assembled with lead-free solder processes are performed by a number of separate suppliers: IC packaging, component assembly, PCB manufacturing and box-build providers. But, due to the intricate form factor requirements of working with ultra-thin and flexible die, it is more advantageous to co-locate process steps such as die bond, functional printing, encapsulation, and passive printing at a single location - key capabilities that the new Technology Hub addresses.
“This equipment significantly increases our capability and we’re already running samples in the cleanroom,” said Jason Marsh, director of technology at NextFlex. “We’re very excited to see the Technology Hub come on line and expect to have a full end-to-end process in place by the end of 2017.”
Some of the new equipment recently received at the NextFlex Technology Hub includes:
• A Meyer Burger PiXDRO Printer, for digital printing of conductive inks on flexible substrates. This equipment was placed at the Technology Hub to support funded project work with partners DuPont, Eastman Chemical and Intrinsiq Materials, to enable materials and process prototyping for processing extremely small FHE device features.
• A BTU International Pyramax high-throughput reflow oven that features optimized lead-free solder curing for packaging, assembly and printed conductors. This machine is on loan to NextFlex from BTU.
• A Universal Instruments Corporation Fusion SC1-07, for surface mount, pick-and-place of discrete components and final assembly processes, which includes a multiple wafer feeder that enables bare die placement. This equipment supports funded project work with partners Binghamton University, GE Global Research, i3 Electronics and Lockheed Martin.
• A Nanotronics nSpec, for optical inspection of substrates and surface morphology for other materials.