Custom-Designed, Photo-Etched Lead Frames Said to Meet Requirements of IC Manufacturers
MILFORD, Mass.--Photofabrication Engineering (PEI) recently announced that it has expanded its manufacturing capabilities for custom-designed, photochemically-etched surface-mount and insert-mount lead frames for integrated circuit manufacturing. The lead frames are used in applications that include semiconductors, glass-to-metal seals, and relays, as well as such medical applications as hearing aids.
Using base materials such as Kovar, nickel-iron alloys, copper alloys, and pure nickel, PEI can plate lead frames in their entirety or selectively. Lead-free plating materials include silver, nickel, gold, or tin, depending on the customer's specific electrical and thermal conductivity requirements. Because the lead frame is the main conduit by which heat flows from the chip to the printed circuit board, PEI selects the manufacturing material to maximize the device's operating life for any given application or environment.
Photofabrication Engineering manufactures high-density lead frames with acute profiles and ultra-fine pitches, allowing for high pin counts. Single- or double-sided lead frames are etched without incurring the stresses associated with typical machining methods, the company says. The process can also be used for lead frames that are too complicated for stamping. Dimensions can be held to extremely tight tolerances, with no burrs or other surface irregularities.
The company's lead frames range in thickness from 0.5 mil (0.0127 mm) to 40 mil (1.575 mm), with features as small as 4 mil (0.10 mm) on 0.010 in. (0.254 mm) centers. They are said to be strong enough to be handled, yet flexible enough to allow bending when necessary.
A significant advantage of photochemical etching is the ability to reproduce large quantities of parts without tooling "wear"--the millionth part is exactly the same as the first part, according to PEI. Changes to tools can be implemented quickly, and photo tools are significantly less expensive than traditional tools, a situation that's well suited for manufacturing plates from prototype to production quantities with short turnaround times (about 10% of those for stamped frames).
Photofabrication Engineering, established in 1968, has approximately 50 employees and is ISO 9001:2008; AS9100, and ITAR certified. More information on the photo chemical etching process is available at www.photofabrication.com/etching-process, or by viewing the short PEI YouTube video.
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