- Posted by doEEEt Media Group
- On July 28, 2020
The European semiconductor industry has been demanding low-cost plastic packaging for low to medium volumes. High volume plastic packaging lines for outsourced assembly and test (OSAT), mostly based in Asia, are dominated by consumer, mobile and automotive applications.
Users requiring prototype assembly or with low to medium volume applications such as medical, industrial and aerospace are struggling to find plastic package assembly at reasonable costs. They are never likely to reach volumes which are attractive to high-volume OSATs in Asia. Small batches requiring numerous set-ups and stop-start of production lines make factories inefficient, in an age where efficiency is critical to survival and cost structures.
In parallel, the European space community are rapidly adopting COTS components in plastic packages for use in low earth orbit and constellation applications to reduce cost, size and weight. The use of COTS limits component selection to OEM line cards and there is little or no provision for customised components or emerging technologies (ASICs, MEMS, sensors, compound semiconductors, etc) at a low price point. Also, traditional quality requirements such as traceability, inspections and testing are not serviced by COTS providers. Plastic packages have become more attractive since leading-edge alternatives are not available as space-qualified products.
As the demand and use of non-hermetic and plastic-encapsulated microcircuits for space have increased, the scope of what future missions are capable of has also widened. This activity feeds into other business within ATG with regards to New Space and COTS devices.
A joint development, partially funded by a grant from the European Space Agency, involving Alter UK, Alter France and Alter Spain to develop a European source of the high-reliability plastic package has reached an important milestone. The project has completed its design review phase, and all components have been procured and are now in stock. The final piece of the jigsaw is for Alter UK to take delivery of a plastic mould system which will allow us to develop the process and assemble the prototype parts. Colleagues in Alter France and Alter Spain will be responsible for the test and qualification to ESCC standards to enable us to deliver Europe’s first space-qualified plastic package line. Alter UK have invested in the capital equipment required to realise this plastic package line.