Building PCBs in Reverse
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Aug. 2, 2007 -- A Sunnyvale, Calif., company is building electronic assemblies in reverse, which it said promises to dramatically improve electronics manufacturing.
Verdant Electronics, a provider of technologies for use in the production of electronic products, said the solder-free electronics assembly process -- called the Occam process (in honor of the 14th-century philosopher whose words inspired it, the company said) -- reduces the number of steps used to make electronic assemblies.
Initial process demonstration module, using various types of components with and without leads. Inset, lower left: copper termiations ready for connections
"The idea is to build and interconnect electronic assemblies in reverse order from the traditional methods," Verdant said in a statement. "Rather than having components mounted on PCBs and soldered, fully tested and burned integrated circuit (IC) packages and components of all types are placed on a carrier, encapsulated and subsequently plated with circuits making direct connection-to-component terminations without solder."
Inspired by bare-die multichip module technologies of the 1990s, the process is significant and far-reaching in its implications, Verdant said. "For example, the three currently defined sectors for electronics manufacturing include PCB, components and assembly. With the new method, these three sectors are now reduced to two, since printed circuit manufacture and assembly are essentially fused into one continuous manufacturing operation."
Joseph Fjelstad, Verdant's founder and the developer of the process, said, “This technology builds on a foundation of important technologies that were developed for microelectronics, including IC and module packaging in the 1990s by GE and others, but which were constrained from broad deployment by die-yield problems. By moving to the use of tested and burned in IC packages, the yield problems associated with traditional solder assembly technologies, which is where the problems now lie, virtually disappear.”
It said the concept will lead to the elimination of inefficient processes associated with PCB fabrication and assembly. "A huge benefit is the elimination of solder from the assembly process, which has become a highly contentious and frustrating issue as the industry moves to 'lead-free' soldering technologies," he said.
Fjelstad said it will also obviate the many problems associated with lead-free solder while creating electronic products that are manufactured using less energy and fewer materials, use no restricted materials and that ultimately are smaller, lighter, less costly and more reliable.
"This is a very 'green' technology that uniquely supports the global movement toward more environmentally friendly electronic products," he added.
A white paper on the technology is available at: http://verdantelectronics.com
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