LONDON Thick film microcircuits manufacturers in the U.K. and Ireland are being encouraged to join a new alliance that will provide engineers with a central resource of information on how to use this technology and maximise its benefits in custom electronics design.
Ten manufacturers have already attended exploratory meetings to discuss the set up of The Thick Film Alliance with more still considering the initiative.
“With the widespread availability of printed circuit board and surface mount technology, electronic designers and engineers have become less aware of the potential offered by thick film technology,” said Mike Bracher, general manager at Newmarket-based Micro Circuit Engineering, one for the founding companies. “We have formed the Thick Film Alliance to help raise awareness of the benefits this technology can offer designers and to provide them with a resource to help them get the most from it.”
Through its formation the organisations involved intend to raise awareness of how and where thick film microcircuits can be used and the benefits the technology can offer, as well as providing practical information on design best practice.
Thick film technology is currently used primarily in high reliability applications such as those required by the defence, aerospace and medical industries but can be used in other applications where they offer particular advantages.
Circuits made using thick film can achieve a high packing density and are low in weight when compared with other circuit manufacturing methods. They are also robust and offer long term reliability even when used in harsh applications.
There are also other, lesser known benefits of using thick film circuit boards including being biologically inert (making them suitable for use in medical implants for example) and recyclable.
The Alliance plans to help influence future generations of designers through establishing links with universities. The International Microelectronics Packaging Society (IMAPS) has also agreed to support the alliance through providing secretariat facilities and other support.
Companies that have already attended meetings include Biotron (Hitech Electronics), C-MAC MicroTechnology Ltd, Corintech Ltd, Extec Systems, Micro Circuit Engineering, Roxspu, Strix Ltd, Technograph Microelectronics, Welwyn Components Ltd, and Zarlink Semiconductors.
Companies that have already indicated they would like to attend the next meeting include BI Technologies, Bourns Electronics Ireland, Copernica Ltd, Cressell Resistors Ltd, Custom Interconnect Ltd, Morgan Matroc Ltd, Pelikon, Selex Sensors Ltd, and Thick Film Microcircuits Ltd.
More information on the Thick Film Alliance is available from Robin Bancroft.