Stencil innovator expands manufacturing facility - Embedded.com

Stencil innovator expands manufacturing facility

LONDON — Following its spin-out from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, additional investment has now enabled MicroStencil to expand its stencil manufacturing process at its headquarters in Livingston, near Edinburgh, with the installation of a class 100 cleanroom environment and customised production equipment based on the semiconductor manufacturing processes.

The company provides a new type of electroformed stencil which allows the fabrication of sub-100 micron aperture pitch with outstanding quality, a major breakthrough for the microelectronics packaging industry. The product has the potential to deliver considerable advantages in the field of interconnecting technology and offers particular benefits in screen printing for wafer bumping and chip bonding.

MicroStencil has developed a process which forms high tolerance apertures with extremely smooth sidewalls. Such stencils are beginning to enable printing at sub-150 micron pitch, a realm which was traditionally dominated by alternative, more costly and time-consuming techniques. While current methods of applying solder bumps using stencil printing cannot cost-effectively get below a 150µm aperture pitch, severely restricting the use of flip-chip packaging, MicroStencil, via the use of innovative fabrication technology, is able to push the limits down to 10µm aperture size and 10µm web space. The company is currently working with major chip manufacturers, wafer bumping developers, leading contract electronic manufacturers, fine pitch substrate users, emerging technology developers and a number of R&D institutions.

Chief technical officer Robert Kay, one of the inventors of the technology, said, “MicroStencil’s product is a truly enabling technology. Our enhanced manufacturing process removes the current limitations on stencil printing, offering the industry ultra fine pitch sub-100 micron stencils which provide considerable cost savings and higher yield.

In addition to manufacturing, MicroStencil also provides advice, service and training centred on stencil printing to ensure its technology can be integrated seamlessly into client applications. The company has received SMART-Scotland and SPUR awards from the Scottish Executive and in April 2005 attracted significant funding from Braveheart Ventures, Alice Ventures, Alice Lab and the Scottish Co-investment Fund.

It has also received assistance from the Scottish Enterprise High Growth Start-Up Unit which aids the creation of new technology businesses in Scotland. The unit provides hands-on support to turn embryonic ideas into high growth businesses and is complemented by a range of private sector experts with specific technical, commercial, legal, intellectual property and corporate finance experience.

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