Does The Printed Circuit Board (pcb) Industry Have A Future?

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As the time driven by market requirements for development, production, and subsequent obsolescence and exit from the market for an electronic module is rapidly decreasing, attempts to predict the technological processes of an electronic assembly for years to come sometimes seem futile.

Just a few years ago, TAB (Tape Automated Bonding) packaged components and the associated technology for preparing, mounting and soldering them seemed to have established themselves as the cutting edge of industry standard technology. 

Technology of Mounting Flip Chips

Today, the technology of mounting flip chips (flip chip) or BGA (Ball Grid Array) has significantly strengthened in the market and can also claim to be standard. It is impossible not to mention such a phenomenon as “non-standard components” (odd form components), which from time to time complicate the life of technologists, forcing them, in the literal sense of the word, to thread a needle with an eyelet three times smaller in diameter.

On the one hand, it is very difficult to keep track of all the nuances of the technological advantages of a process; on the other hand, the price of a mistake is very high.

Manufacturing companies cannot afford to develop technologies that end up being dead ends. One eye should always keep an eye on everything that happens inside the company, while the other should keep an eye on competitors. 

Advantages of a Particular Technological PCB Component

Meanwhile, a balanced assessment of the advantages of a particular technological component (respectively, a technical process) is carried out at the time of its inception and early development, and, with a positive consideration, measures are taken for the subsequent introduction of this new technology. 

Planning of this kind and the decisions resulting from it are ideally taken into account and in parallel with measures to develop the existing infrastructure according to standard assembly and assembly technological processes in relation to surface-mounted (SMC), lead-through (or through-hole components) (IMC) and non-standard components.

Global Electronic Assembly

In order not to mislead our esteemed reader regarding the terminology, we will briefly describe the groups of components named above. This is also useful from the point of view that these definitions have become standard in the global electronic assembly.

  • Surface Mounted Components (SMC or SMD). Their functional description is clear from their definition. This group includes well-known passive chip components in packages that differ in size (0805, 0603, MELF), and other ICs in basic technological packages SO, PLCC, OFP, BGA, etc. We also include specialized technologies, which have not yet become an electronic assembly standard or have become so relatively recently (TAB, flip-chip, COB, DCA), etc., as well as components that are not included in all of the above, but are also mounted on the substrate surface.
  • Output components (IMC or THT). This group of components, well known to domestic technologists, includes traditional passive components with axial (axial) leads, passive and active components with radial leads, as well as integrated circuits in DIP, SIP and other less common packages.

Non-Standard Components (OFC)

 To this group of components, which emerged relatively recently, we include output components that are not included in the IMC. This is the most varied group of components, including connectors, sockets, transformers, blocks, holders, screens, etc.

Depending on the specific assembly and assembly process, the same component can be considered both as an output and as a non-standard one, which makes the task of technologists even more creative. This group is the most dynamic, because with its constant replenishment, a number of non-standard components by the efforts of manufacturers either become surface-mounted or move into the category of standard axial-radial ones.

Returning to the topic of existing infrastructures using the main groups of components, since they developed along the same path as the entire electronics industry, therefore, the results of testing each of them for effectiveness are the key to understanding where the electronic assembly will end up, say, in five years. We can also learn a lot from this in understanding the main trends of today and analyzing the specifics of the development of each of the market segments.

PCB

The general trends that will generally be decisive in the process of assembling electronic modules in the next five years are:

  • moving towards smaller, faster and lighter electronic modules with ever increasing functionality;
  • the ever shorter life of the average product, in which the complete optimization of the range of components and the design of the printed circuit board is close to impossible;
  • an increase in the degree of integration of components (the number of input / output channels) and an increase in operating frequencies;
  • a gradual shift of direct assembly and assembly production from development firms and brand name product carriers (OEM) to specialized firms that deal exclusively with the technological processes of the assembly and assembly cycle.

The system of sales and mobility in the location of production will be considered by firms from a global perspective.

The Future of Surface Mounted Components (SMC)

The requirements for surface-mounted component assembly processes are becoming more stringent, following the general trends in the world of electronics. In turn, the general requirements of the electronics industry become more serious, especially when it is associated with the use of the advantages of the design of the element base itself.

Passive Components

The indisputable fact is that the global consumption of discrete passive components, or chip components, continues its rapid growth. If the current growth rate is maintained, the total consumption of the industry will very soon reach one trillion chip components. Of these, the largest percentages are in automotive electronics (30%), communications (20%) and computer technology (10%)1).

The relative number of chips as a percentage of the total number of components on a printed circuit board has also increased in recent years due to the increase in the number of I/O channels in the average electronic module. However, this trend may change, primarily due to the increased use of passive layers on substrates and increased silicon integration. 

Chip component sizes continue to decrease, but this trend is decreasing due to the increase in the cost of a component with a decrease in its size, as well as due to the loss of the reproducibility factor of many assembly systems when moving from.

Distribution of Passive Components

The wide distribution of passive components in the general range of electronic module elements has led to the emergence of new technologies for handling them when assembling printed circuit boards. An example is the renaissance of technologies for supplying chip components to assembly lines from bulk (to be more precise, from special cassettes).

 It reduces the cost of elements due to the cost of packaging, increases packaging density and reduces production waste due to the absence of residues packing tapes.

The production of IP for components in such a package was mastered by leading manufacturers in Japan and the USA a few years ago and is now becoming the standard for electronic assembly.

Integrated circuits in QFP packages with small and ultra-fine pitch

Worldwide consumption of microchips in QFP plastic packages reached almost 6 billion as early as 1995 and has been increasing annually by about 25% since then. This trend continued until the year 2000 and may continue to do so.

It should be noted the significant experience gained in Japan and the USA in the production of these components, as well as a very competitive "know-how", supported by appropriate equipment, which allows you to withstand the strict technical processes required to maintain high reproducibility factors when working with chips with pin pitch from 0.4 to 0.25 mm.

In the coming years, the most important issues in the production of QFP packages will be the following:

  • limiting the perimeter of an integrated circuit will continue to work against the natural desire of designers to increase functionality, or, in other words: either a larger component package, or a smaller pin pitch;
  • the process of applying solder pastes by screen printing to QFP pads will continue to be the main process causing a decrease in the reproducibility factors of the assembly system. This is already leading to the fact that automatic systems for optical inspection of the quantity and quality of solder paste application are becoming an integral part of even relatively simple automatic screen printing machines.
  • as now, special attention will be paid to the careful handling of the component during the forming of its terminals, testing and transportation to the assembly plant.

TAB (Tape Automated Bonding) Components

As you know, in the TAB technology, silicon crystals are attached to a polymer tape that forms the internal connections of the chip leads. Attaching the chip pins to the second-level assembly (bare PCB or other substrate) is achieved using the outer pins of the polymer tape. 

Contact soldering, hot gas soldering, or laser microwelding are commonly used to connect the outer leads of a TAB component to the substrate. TAB technology has been fully mastered only by a very limited circle of the world's leading technology firms.

Regarding the development trends of this technology, it should be noted that TAB periodically appears in the global electronic assembly, then again goes into the shadows.

The most widespread use of TAB technology in the US at the moment is the Pentium processor for portable personal computers (laptops). Outside of the US, significant applications of TAB are various types of liquid crystal drivers on glass. 

For the foreseeable future, TAB technology is likely to be phased out of the microprocessor industry by components such as the BGA (Ball Grid Array) or flip chip.

BGA (Ball Grid Array) Components

In recent years, the entire BGA infrastructure has developed rapidly, and many types of this standard size are now known, including plastic, ceramic, metal, glass composite, tape and others, as well as micro-mBGA, which most of all resemble open crystals, rather than traditional BGA.

When it comes to price competition between BGAs and other perimeter ICs, the answer to this question should be differentiated depending on the specific application, but BGA is the right solution where the number of IC I/O channels exceeds 256.

 Using a Package A BGA with fewer than 256 pins can only be justified by advantages in functionality, size, or overall cost of the electronics module. BGA soldering is a mature and very stable process with the proper processing equipment and materials. On the other hand, compared to other IC packages, repair of electronic modules and visual inspection of BGA pins is difficult.

Interest in BGA is much higher in North America than in Japan and Asia in general. More or less noticeable volumes in the production of these components were achieved in 1996, but amounted to only 50 million pieces. Since then, their consumption has grown very rapidly, as it is stimulated by the great interest of the world's electronics industry in complex components with a large number of I / O channels.

Conclusion

Take a look at the knowledge and technology that the global electronics industry has gained in the last two years, and the two years before them. Sometimes it's amazing how fast technology appears, grows, flourishes and becomes useless.

Leading professional organizations in the electronic assembly industry are trying to help make sense of these fast-paced processes. For example, our firm follows the path of organizing consortiums of leading technology users. The list of such consortia is quite impressive. 

Well-known world concerns participate. At the headquarters of Universal Instruments Corporation (Binghamton, USA) there is a research center with the famous Surface Mount Laboratory, which has become an incubator for the development and bringing to the standard industrial level of such currently popular technologies as BGA assembly technologies, DCA (Direct Chip Attach) and AART (Alternative Mounting and Reflow Technology).

For more information, please kindly contact Kingfordpcba. We will be happy to help you.

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