Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Institute of Circuit Technology Annual Symposium
Article Type: Exhibitions and conferences From: Soldering & Surface Mount Technology, Volume 23, Issue 4
The 38th Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology was held on 1 June 2011 in the impressive TechnoCentre of Coventry University. Professor Martin Goosey, ICT Chairman, welcomed the many delegates with a brief look at the institute which is now in its 38th year. The institute has 230 members, is continuing to grow, and offers a wide range of services to members and non-members alike. He reported that the PCB Manufacturing Foundation Course at Loughborough University had attracted 20 delegates this year and had run very well indeed. There had been no less than eight ICT events in 12 months, and apart from regional seminars the next major event was the IeMRC Annual Conference at Loughborough University on 21 September, which is to be sponsored by Ventec Europe.
Professor Richard Penty from Cambridge University gave the keynote speech, entitled “Polymer interconnects for Datacom and sensing on FR4 substrates”.
Optical interconnects within buildings are now commercial and that is where they started. The move from electrical to optical interconnect is progressing rapidly, and 10G chip-to-chip requires optical connection, with lower costs.
As speeds go up and costs come down, optical interconnect becomes the most advantageous method. The integration of photonics onto circuit boards has certain requirements. As a substrate, siloxane polymer has shown to be a suitable medium, with high thermal and environmental stability, and is used to make the waveguides which have a 50 micron wide channel, and 250 microns between them. He illustrated a 10 card optical back plane, with one bend, with low insertion loss, and 10 GB/s transmission speed with no dropped packages. There are various people involved here, notably IBM, Fraunhofer, Fujitsu and Daimler Chrysler, with IBM moving smartly to meet the future demands on their supercomputers. Professor Penty illustrated how the OE PCB was constructed; speeds are impressive, the board incorporates low-cost optical sensors on multi-modem waveguide components with excellent transmission properties. This is a promising technology for short-reach interconnects between high-speed chips on super-computers. Applications on gas and bio-fuel sensing are being developed, and there are some initial early studies towards printed wave guides taking place.
Now with considerable experience on taking a concept through to birth, not without labour pains, Stuart Hayton of MutrACx spoke about Lunaris as a future PCB imaging solution. Lunaris is the name of the project and MutrACx is the company behind it; they own the IP for industrial inkjet applications for PCB manufacture. Lunaris is disruptive digital technology for the imaging of inner layers at 30 per cent lower cost than traditional manufacturing processes, with a guaranteed 100 per cent yield. No mean feat, and thus (so far) there is no competition. It was Océ who started it all, but MutrACx have the ball and are running with it. At present primary imaging is done with traditional photolithography; this has 15 different steps, and accounts for 95 per cent of production now. Lunaris allows imaging to take place from CAM to etch in 5 min.; Lunaris has good (inkjet) head alignment to provide excellent sidewall definition, i.e. 7.5 μm. Gaps and tracks are now down to 75/75 μm and it is all yours for a mere $1 million.
Describing the system, Stuart explained that the image size at present is 21×24″ but a 24×30″ model is being considered. The system can produce 60 cores (inner layer cores) per hour, and with a new head under development some 120 cores per hour are claimed. The first machine is to be installed in November, with Europe (the UK, Germany and Italy) and North America (West and East Coasts) taking prime position as market entry points, and Asia only when 24/7 support is in place. Taiwan and China are seen as good potential markets, but not Japan. The cost of ownership will be attractive as the customer only pay for the cores produced, not the machine. More news is awaited, and November with keen interest.
The future of PCB manufacturing and the internet were two topics that had been exercising the mind of Wendy Heyes of CCE Electronics. Wendy reflected that we should all have been doing this ten years ago, and whilst it was good to see ICT and Intellect co-operating more, we should all be raising the voice of all UK manufacturing. Although the 50 PCB companies left in the UK had done a good job, she is fearful for the industry, she does not want it to die of ignorance – we are not competitors, we are survivors. Communicate, now matter how, be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, keep an open mind on how this will impact your business, and how we can interact to build up UK manufacturing again.
So, we need to change to stay ahead, and at CCE Electronics they had noted that company intelligence was “locked in” in people, and wanted to have that knowledge transferred to a marketing tool. At her company they carry out 1,200 quotes a month – for what? In their case, about 50 per cent of these convert to an order, so the per cent is not bad, but what about the other 600 quotes? How about something to excite the customers? They have a new USP; they have something to excite the customer. It is new software, which makes many things possible for a customer; it allows a customer to see where their order is in the factory; it allows a customer to see what is in stock; it allows the customer tot see what capacity is available. Reallocating the time of requirement is also helpful. Of their average 30 jobs a day, some 20 of them are new which needs tooling, and 80 per cent of the new jobs never return. Time lost here can be reallocated if you know where it is wanted, and so getting customers to their site makes a difference. They have a customer portal. Here a customer can be given a quote immediately, and once they know when the order will be placed they can say when the time will be allocated to it. Wendy described the simplicity with which a customer can now connect with their supplier, and how a supplier can offer a better service to the customer.
ASPIS (“Aspis” (//; Ancient Greek: ) is the generic term for the word shield, and has been adopted as the title of an EU-funded project designed to preserve the surface of a nickel-gold finished PCB to improve reliability. The partners of this EU-funded project include Scionix, ICT, ITRI Ltd, EIPC, TNO (Holland), The Lithuanian Institute of Chemistry, The University of Leicester, Atotech, Merlin Circuit Technology, Graphic PLC, Somacis PCB Industries and Global Interconnection Services.
The project will investigate failure mode, develop an ENIG screening tool, and proscribe improved coating methods and materials, and provide compatibility with assembly method s and application. The LIOC in Vilnius had done some interesting work on black pad, enhancing corrosion resistance of nickel-gold and immersion gold finishes. The work this year is to determine weak boundary layers in the ENIG-Sn intermetallic layers; to assess ionic liquid plating with a range of metals, (IONMET), where an initial approach with ionic gold showed that further optimisation of the solutions is needed. ICT along with EIPC are tasked with exploitation and dissemination, and it was notable that ICT had got the project web site up and running by month 3, given a target of month 6. Also being used to inform were PCB007 and EIPC Speednews. On this topic, we were brought up-to-date by the Project Leader Professor Martin Goosey (Figure 4).
“Thermal management substrates” was the title of a paper from Ian Mayoh of Ventec Europe – thermally conductive PCBs are needed to keep components cooler, so that they last longer, and reduce the need for heatsinks and cooling fans. LEDs are driving this need; they are used in backlighting, and increasingly in the automotive field. LEDs could capture 46 per cent of the global lighting market by 2020, so that, is a lot of substrate. LEDs are now used in TVs, and over 60 per cent of all TVs produced will have a LED screen by 2015. Such laminates for LEDs are known as insulated metal substrate (IMS) materials. The role of dielectrics was illustrated, where there is a trade off between reinforced substrate with lower heat conductivity against non-reinforced substrate with high-heat conductivity. IMS laminates containing the best dielectric material can give 1.6-3.0 W/mK, even higher for non-reinforced laminates. Woven glass reinforced laminates have higher CTE. Thermally conductive PCB laminates are becoming the substrate if choice, said Ian.
What Len Pillinger does not know about WEEE, RoHS, Reach and anything else the EU commissioners have in mind to make the EU less competitive is not worth knowing, and so it was as always good to be brought up to speed by Len, this time with the new RoHS Directive. Well, it has been “recast” and will become UK law at the end of next year. Why has it been changed? Nothing sinister, Len hastened to add, it was due for revision, and there are now tougher WEEE recycling targets, and other materials such as HBCDD, DEHP, etc. have been added to the list. Monitoring and control equipment has been revised in the consumer and industrial sectors, and medical devices. Not included is military equipment, transportation, active implantable medical device, anything sent into space, and large-scale industrial tools and fixed installations.
Due diligence is encouraged by the threat of legal action, where you may be liable for errors committed by others. (“twas ever thus”). The RoHS changes will have little impact on the PCB industry, but on the other hand REACh information requests will now increase exponentially, taking up further non-productive time.
Jeremy Rygate is the Technical Director of Stevenage Circuits, a company who produce a wide range of circuit boards currently running 24/7. They have a project running in conjunction with a company in The Netherlands (QPI) which is entitled STELLA, which stands for stretchable electronics for large area applications). Why stretchable? There is an increasing demand for electronics, printed or otherwise, in the fields of medicine, sport telemetry, automotive and aircraft seating, virtual reality, biomechanics and fashion. In the medical field pressure and temperature sensors are required, and these would be located in a medium in contact with the patient, such as the foot, or the leg, or the head. In the fashion industry, the use of lighting has become popular.
Jeremy took us along the routes they have been following to obtain the desired results – polyurethane can be tricky as a substrate, and you need low-melting point solder or conductive glue to affix components. The maximum operating temperature is no more than 120°C, and they have found that laminating copper foil onto polyurethane with “rigid” inserts gives 0.37 Ω resistance, and 44 per cent stretch, and all the test results appear to be favourable.
PCBs can be made with stretchable materials, they can be s/s, d/s, flex/rigid, PTH and M/L. It all looks very promising.
The Times recently carried comments from an Indian director of Mittal Group who said that “British managers won’t go the extra mile”. He has obviously not been involved with the PCB industry in the UK. The ICT has over 200 members who have all gone that extra mile, or the ICT would not exist, and you need to attend one of their events is to understand the why and the how (Figure 5).
John LingAssociate Editor