An emerging trend within the microfluidic community is to standardize common parts in order to facilitate design and production activities. The goal is clear: to enhance interoperability and promote plug-and-play. A recent launch of a pan-European project, Microfluidic (MF) Manufacturing, has identified an item that is in immediate need of standardization: having in place geometrical specifications for MF connectors. In order to accelerate the adoption of such standards, there is a need to consider the pivotal role of standard documents. The purpose of this paper is to provide background information on document standards development. In addition, the future implications related to the MF manufacturing project will be discussed. A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis has been carried out to identify points of action. The findings show that although there is a need to publish under International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the actual realization of a full ISO standard document is not feasible. The recommendation is to initially publish via an ISO Workshop Agreement. Parallel to such activity, there is a need to encourage stakeholders help kick start a currently dormant working group that supports microfluidics under ISO to help pave the way for future standardization activities in the microfluidics community.
This presentation will address some of the latest market and technology developments for components using MST/MEMS such as portable consumer products, data storage devices etc. The impacts of these developments on the supply chain for MST/MEMS will be discussed. A MST/MEMS mantra is "there is no Moore's law in MEMS". This presentation will demonstrate that elements of MEMS roadmaps are appearing. Although the MEMS industry is highly diverse, sometimes trends can be identified which affect the industry as a whole. To identify and understand these trends is of the utmost importance for the service and equipment suppliers in the MNT/MEMS supply chain. These facilities have to invest in new technologies to be able to sustain their competitive position.
In a mature industry, all elements of the supply chain are available and are more or less in balance. Mainstream technologies are defined and well supported by a chain of product differentiation companies. Those focus companies offer services ranging from consultancy to manufacturing, where subcontracting is an essential element in the industrialization. Their specialization and dedication to one or a few elements in the technology increases professionalism and efficiency. The MOEMS industry, however, is still in its growing stage. After forming many companies aimed at the development of products and the production of components and systems, we see now many companies concentrating on the delivery of services to this industry. These services are: design and engineering, foundries, assembly and packaging, processing, and design simulation software. For manufacturing suppliers and customers, the lack of industry standards and mainstream technologies are serious drawbacks. Insight into the availability and trends in technology is important to make the right choices in the field of industrialization and production. This awareness was the reason we performed a detailed study of the companies supplying commercial services in this field. This work focuses on one important part of this study: packaging and assembly. This tends to remain a bottleneck at the end of the design cycle, often delaying and sometimes preventing industrialization and commercialization. For nearly all MEMS/MOEMS products, literally everything comes together in packaging and assembly. This is the area of full integration: electrical, mechanical, optical fluidic, magnetic, etc., functionalities come together. The problems associated with the concentration of functionalities forms a big headache for the designer. Conflicting demands, of which functionality versus economics is only one, and technical hurdles have to be overcome. Besides that, packaging and assembly is by nature application-specific, and solutions are not always transferable from one pr
Unlike electronic devices, where for analysis only electrical parameters need to be tested, Micro and Nano Technology (MNT) devices require precise measurement of multi domain parameters for characterization. Furthermore, the sensitivities require other or improved technologies. For instance, for testing a MEMS device, a stable supply of physical energy is required and must be transferred to the product in a reproducible way. Also a sensitive measuring technology is necessary to detect the electrical signal produced as a response to the physical energy on the device. Sometimes interactions between input and output make measuring difficult. A third point is that handling of the devices is difficult due to their non-standard sizes and small dimension. Also MST including MEMS and MOEMS devices require new types of reliability testing addressing stiction, and other specific failure modes. Thus, the testing of MNT devices is much more complex than standard electronic components. Currently standardized tests are often not available, neither is there sufficient background information available about MNT testing, as most of the companies regard testing experience, and especially product testing, as company confidential information. However, the MNT industry can utilise existing testing equipment. This article addresses the available equipment for MNT testing in relation to the industry needs. Examples of the instruments discussed include optical profilers for dynamic measurement of MOEMS/MEMS devices, such as gyros and accelerometers, and wafer testers for optical products.
Forecasters and analysts predict the market size for microsystems and microtechnologies to be in the order of $68 billion by the year 2005 (NEXUS Market Study 2002). In essence, the market potential is likely to double in size from its $38 billion status in 2002. According to InStat/MDR the market for MOEMS (Micro Optical Electro Mechanical Systems) in optical communication will be over $1.8 billion in 2006 and WTC states that the market for non telecom MOEMS will be even larger. Underpinning this staggering growth will be an infrastructure of design houses, foundries, package/assembly providers and equipment suppliers to cater for the demand in design, prototyping, and (mass-) production. This infrastructure is needed to provide an efficient route to commercialisation. Foundries, which provide the infrastructure to prototype, fabricate and mass-produce the designs emanating from the design houses and other companies. The reason for the customers to rely on foundries can be diverse: ranging from pure economical reasons (investments, cost-price) to technical (availability of required technology). The desire to have a second source of supply can also be a reason for outsourcing. Foundries aim to achieve economies of scale by combining several customer orders into volume production. Volumes are necessary, not only to achieve the required competitive cost prices, but also to attain the necessary technical competence level. Some products that serve very large markets can reach such high production volumes that they are able to sustain dedicated factories. In such cases, captive supply is possible, although outsourcing is still an option, as can be seen in the magnetic head markets, where captive and non-captive suppliers operate alongside each other. The most striking examples are: inkjet heads (>435 million heads per year) and magnetic heads (>1.5 billion heads per year). Also pressure sensor and accelerometer producers can afford their own facilities to produce the numbers they want (several millions per year). The crossover point where building a dedicated facility becomes a realistic option, can differ very much depending on technology complexity, numbers and market value. Also history plays a role, companies with past experience in the production of a product and the necessary facilities and equipment will tend to achieve captive production. Companies not having a microtechnology history will tend to outsource, offering business opportunities for foundries. The number of foundries shows a steady growth over the years. The total availability of foundries, however, and their flexibility will, undoubtedly, rely on market potential and its size. Unlike design houses, foundries need to realise a substantial return on the "large" investments they make in terms of capital and infrastructure. These returns will be maximised through mass-produced products aimed at "killer" applications (accelerometers are only one example). The existence of professional suppliers of MOEMS packaging and assembly is an essential element in the supply chain and critical for the manufacturing and commercialisation of MOEMS products. In addition, the incorporation of packaging and assembly techniques at the front-end of the engineering cycle will pay back in terms of financial savings and shorter timescales to market. Packaging and assembly for MOEMS are, in general, more costly than their equivalents for standard integrated circuits. This is, primarily, due to the diversity of the interconnections (which are multi-functional and may incorporate: electrical, optical, fluidic etc). In addition, the high levels of accuracy and the potential sensitivity of the devices to mechanical and external influences play a major role in the cost aspects of the final MNT product. This article will give an overview of the package/assembly providers and foundry business models and analyse their contribution to the MOEMS supply chain illustrated with some typical examples. As we believe that commercial services are the main basis for the breakthrough of MOEMS technology, we only cover commercial package/assembly and foundry services and not the ones offered by universities and research labs.
In a mature industry all elements of the supply chain are available and are more or less in balance. Mainstream technologies are defined and well supported by a chain of specialist companies. Those specialist companies, offering services ranging from consultancy to manufacturing subcontracting, are an essential element in the industrialization. There specialization and dedication to one or a few elements in the technology increases professionalism and efficiency. The MOEMS industry however, is still in its infancy. After the birth and growth of many companies aiming at development of products, the appearance of companies aiming at the production of components and systems, we see know the first companies concentrating on the delivering of services to this industry. We can divide them in the like :
* Design and Engineering companies
* Assembly and Packaging providers
* Design and simulation software providers
For manufacturing suppliers and customers the lack of industry standards and mainstream technologies is a serious drawback. Insight in availability and trends in technology is important to make the right choices in the field of industrialization and production. This awareness was the reason to perform a detailed study to the companies supplying commercial services in this field. This article focuses on one important part of this study: packaging and assembly. This tends to remain a bottleneck at the end of the design cycle, often delaying and sometimes preventing industrialization and commercialization.
For nearly all MEMS/MST products literally everything comes together in the packaging and assembly. This is the area of full integration: electrical, mechanical, optical fluidic, magnetic etc. functionalities come together. The problems associated with the concentration of functionalities forms a big headache for the designer. Conflicting demands, of which functionality versus economics is only one, and technical hurdles have to overcome. Besides that, packaging and assembly is from nature application specific and solutions found are not always transferable from one product to another. But designers can often benefit from experience from other and general available technologies. A number of companies offer packaging and assembly services for MEMS/MST and this report give typical examples of those commercial services. The companies range from small start-ups, offering very specialized services, to large semiconductor packaging companies, having production lines for microsystem based products.
Selecting the proper packaging method may tip the scales towards a product success or towards a product failure, while it nearly always present s a substantial part of the cost of the product. This is therefore is not a marginal concern, but a crucial part of the product design.
The presentation will also address mayor trends and technologies. Finally, the article provides sufficient levels of classification and categorisation for various aspects for the technologies, in specific, and the industry, in general, to provide particularly useful insights into the activities and the developments in this market. With over 50 companies studied and assessed, it provides an up to date account of the state of this business and its future potential.
A new generation of products has been developed at research institutes needing a combination of thin film metal processing and surface micromachining. Especially RF MEMS switches and related products are now entering the market. These products are not only complex in architecture, they also feature relative thick metal layers. The thicknesses of the metal layers give rise to problems in the field of step coverage, dimension control and limited resistance to etching agents. Reliability and yield in production is therefore a major concern. To make robust, compact and reliable structures, combinations of electroplating and Chemical Mechanical Polishing are used. The combinations are not only new in this area; they are rather different from the standards in the semiconductor industry, where the technology was developed. The process modules are used in RF MEMS to create the thick signal lines, as well as the delicate switch and varactor structures. The basic processes, tried and tested in the production of magnetic heads, had to be modified to meet the special demands of RF MEMS. Also new processes had to be introduced to create free hanging membranes. Due to the fragility of the structures, a special technology is being developed in the backend processing: wafer scale packaging. This article gives an overview of the processes, the challenges met and the results of the work on RF MEMS at the OnStream MST foundry.
RF MEMS activities until now has been driven by universities. For production of these enabling components a new industry is needed. RF MEMS processing is very different and even incompatible with traditional IC processing for at least two reasons: (1) the metals used are unfamiliar and often forbidden in semiconductor processing, (2) making free standing structures needs a specialist knowledge of the properties and the processing of these metals. Even for experienced MEMS institutes/companies making these products is a challenge, and as a result, they can only fulfill the first demands of the customers: i.e. testing of the possibilities of this new technology and proving its feasibility. These first players are generalists, having a broad knowledge of MEMS processes and applications. However, upcoming demand from the market asks different capabilities. Most customers nowadays are not looking for a few `breadboard' samples based on the latest available processes. They need non-technical capabilities like: reproducibility, reliability, timely delivery, etc. Much work has to be done to fit the design demands into the foundries and bring the production processes to a level comparable to mature industries such as semiconductor or magnetic head industries.
Manufacturing of micro-systems differs from IC manufacturing because the market requires a diversity of products and lower volumes per product. In addition, a diversity of micro-technologies has been developed, including non-IC compatible processes and potentially IC compatible processes. An infrastructure for the production of micro- system devices is lacking. On one side the technology for MST is available at the universities and small university related companies. On the other side there are several small and medium enterprises and bigger companies wanting to implement MST devices in their products, but unwilling to be dependent on universities. Philips Electronics in the Netherlands and Twente MicroProducts realized this problem and have started a project to fill this gap. At this moment the basic of the infrastructure is available: OnStream BV, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, opened its waferfab and assembly facilities for the production of MST devices. Twente MicroProducts will take care of the design of the products and of the small-scale production. Integration of quality systems for maintenance, yield, statistical process control and production in a Manufacturing Execution System offers direct access for all people involved to all the relevant information. It also ensures quality of the products made. The available capabilities of the infrastructure in the current status are compared to the market needs. In this article, a description of a seamless Micro-System Engineering Foundry is given. A seamless organization is capable of helping the customer from design to production. Several examples are given.