In the News

Increases in Silver Prices Affect Material Costs

With silver prices almost double what they were in the fourth quarter of 2005, materials costs are starting to be affected. Currently at $14 per troy ounce, silver has gone as high as $16 per troy ounce, with no clear end in sight. Several U.S.-based materials providers to the electronics industry are examining price structures.

Patrick Trippel, president of the electronics group Henkel, announced that the company is incorporating a modification pricing structure for its line of silver-bearing pastes and die-attach materials. Pricing will be adjusted based on silver trading levels and new products will be indexed against metal prices data from the London Metal Exchange. “Customers may rest assured that when silver prices stabilize or decrease, Henkel will alter our product pricing to also reflect any reduction in silver costs,” said Trippel.

Indium Corporation has also begun sharing the cost increases due to the magnitude of the changes, notes Rick Short, director of corporate communications for Indium. Short says the price increases are necessary for the company to maintain a certain level of quality, technology, service, and support. He anticipates that prices will be altered if the price of silver comes back down.

“Customers are complaining about the high cost of Ag, but most understand that we cannot influence that,” notes Christina Kistler, manager of marketing services at Haraeus Inc., Contact Materials Division. Kistler explained that with their thick-film pastes and hybrid pastes, Haraeus has always added a precious metal adjustment to orders on the day of shipment to absorb costs, so costs regularly fluctuate with the market prices of silver.

Cookson Electronics Assembly Materials has rolled out surcharges on silver-bearing solder pastes in a series of tiers linked to the current price of silver in comparison to the previous trading range. “There is no way of predicting how long silver prices will remain at current levels, or whether it will accelerate into new, higher price levels.” said Steven Corbett, chief executive officer of Cookson Electronics. “This surcharge is designed to minimize daily fluctuations for our customers and allow price relief if and when the price of silver returns to previous levels.”

StratEdge Promotes Casey Krawiec

SAN JOSE, CA – StratEdge announced that Casey Krawiec has been promoted to VP, North American sales. Krawiec joined the company in August 2002 as senior account manager. “Casey has been instrumental in the growth of StratEdge and in focusing the direction of the company,” said Tim Going, StratEdge’s president and CEO. “I congratulate him on his promotion and look forward to continuing to work with him as he moves into his new role.”

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Krawiec’s experience includes engineering and sales in the microelectronics and telecommunications industries, especially with high frequency semiconductor packaging and assembly. Previously, Krawiec held positions as an offshore sales manager and sales engineer at Kyocera America, and as a design engineer and engineering project manager for the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Louisville, KY.  Krawiec holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kentucky and an MBA from the University of Louisville.

MEPTEC’s Annual MEMS Packaging Symposium Examines Market Growth


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SAN JOSE, CA – Janusz Bryzek, CEO of LV Sensors, listed in-vitro diagnostics, gyroscopes, chemical sensors, optical switches and RF devices as the fastest growing MEMS applications during a presentation at MEPTEC’s 4th Annual MEMS Packaging symposium, May 17-18 in San Francisco. The symposium was expanded to two days to include a market overview, packaging trends, and new technology and applications. Portable spectrometers for analyzing solids, liquids, and gases for applications covering environmental, security, industrial, medical, and consumer markets are a potentially huge market. According to Bryzek, a one-dollar spectrometer on a chip could be feasible if the volumes were high enough.

Mathieu Potin, market analyst, MEMS and compound semiconductors, Yole Developpment, presented an analysis of the MEMS market and cited migration from MEMS devices to MEMS-based modules, including integration of MEMS and ICs; and increased penetration of MEMS into the consumer market as two major trends. New companies like MemsIC, Invensense, and Kionix are leading the way into cell phone, MP3, and optical projection applications due to the differing cost structure and design requirements that make it difficult for established MEMS companies to move from the automotive to the consumer markets, noted Potin. He explained that automotive and aerospace markets will continue to demand custom packaging, while standardization efforts will be focused on the consumer market, where there is more incentive to “break the MEMS law” of “one product, one process.”

There is interest in leveraging IC packaging for MEMS devices. Technologies such as chip scale and wafer-level packaging are well-suited to MEMS, explained Elizabeth Logandirector of packaging and assembly, LV Sensors. MEMS devices sealed between two wafers need only a layer of interconnect to be ready to mount to a PCB. The most popular package types for MEMS include cavity packages, molded plastic packages, and chip-on-board or chip-on-flex. Systems-in-package (SiP) also offers an opportunity for incorporating MEMS devices.

New package materials are being developed for MEMS devices. Mike Zimmerman,founder and CTO, Quantum Leap Packaging, demonstrated an air cavity package made from a new liquid crystal polymer material that withstands high temperature assembly, is moisture-resistant, and its coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) and dielectric constant can be tailored to the application.

AP Editorial Board Welcomes SUSS MicroTec’s Amir R. Mirza

NASHUA, NH – Advanced Packaging Magazine is pleased to welcome Amir Mirza, Ph.D., international product manager for SUSS MicroTec, to its Editorial Advisory Board. Mirza’s 20 years of experience in the MEMS industry includes the development of silicon micromachined products such as accelerometers, gyros, pressure sensors, optical MEMS, and microfluidic devices. He joined SUSS MicroTec from Innovative Micro Technology, a MEMS design and fabrication foundry, where he held program management responsibilities for new product introductions.

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Mirza received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Sheffield, UK, in 1984. He has authored technical papers and patents in the field of silicon micromachined devices, and has served as a panelist as a MEMS industry expert.

SUSS MicroTec and IBM Complete Initial C4NP Reliability Testing

MUNICH, GERMANY – SUSS MicroTec and IBM announced the successful completion of the first round of reliability tests for the C4NP wafer bumping technology developed by IBM.

A high-volume manufacturing C4NP tool set is being built by SUSS for IBM in preparation for production use.

No failures were attributed in this reliability testing, in which 300-mm wafers were bumped with SnCu and SnAg solders using a 200-µm pitch with 1.3 million bumps-per-wafer test vehicle. 14.7-mm square chips were joined to organic buildup chip carriers and subjected to a battery of tests that included JEDEC moisture level 3 preconditioning, shock and vibration, deep thermal cycling (-55 to + 125 C), HAST and THB moisture stressing, high-temperature storage, electromigration, wettability, construction analysis, and alpha emissions.

DiBcom Celebrates DVB-H Chips

PALAISEAU, FRANCE – DiBcom, a fabless semiconductor company, announced the shipment of their one millionth Digital Video Broadcast Handheld (DVB-H) chip, designed for cell phone broadcasting use. DiBcom claims that reception of up to 150 km/hr on UHF frequencies helps to make the DVB-H a viable commercial reality. Khaled Maalej, CTO, speculates that the mobile digital TV trend will result in high chip performance criteria becoming a requirement for cell phone networks. DVB-H chip manufacturers are developing markets in Finland, Italy, France, and China.


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