Making It Practical
There are dreamers and schemers, but rarely are both qualities so evident as in the world of advanced packaging. You almost have to be a dreamer to see the possibilities involved in innovative projects; the hard part is seeing how to produce a commercial product practically.
In February, we visited Tempe, Arizona, to attend the grand opening of EV Group (EVG) Inc.’s North American facility in Arizona State University’s Research Park. The first day of events included technology presentations by the company’s CTO Paul Lindner and other experts, a tour of the 250,000-square-foot facility and 43,500-square-foot cleanroom within it, and an interpretation of the company’s philosophy by CEO and president Peter Podesser.
In our industry, most people think of wafer bonders, mask and bond aligners, photoresist coaters and cleaners for MEMS, advanced packaging, nanoimprint lithography, SOI, power devices and compound semiconductor/MOEMS applications in association with EVG. So what is this Austrian firm doing in Arizona? EVG has agreed to become a principal partner in the Flexible Display Center, a research project between the university, the U.S. Army, and EVG. Their object is to develop commercial solutions for the flexible display industry. EVG has spread out in other places as well, collaborating with Jinsan Scientific Co. Ltd. and Jinsan Micro-Engineering Ltd. on a new cleanroom facility at Korea’s Sung Kyun Kwan University. There the lab is designed for MEMS and advanced packaging processes as well as nanoimprint lithography and contains a Class 100 cleanroom.
It’s not just with universities that EVG has projects under development. EVG and San Jose-based Komag Inc. are collaborating on high-volume nanoimprint lithography for data storage. Why does this company collaborate so much? They don’t really outsource. EVG has two manufacturing plants at Austrian headquarters and is vertically integrated, sinking 20% of revenue into R&D. But collaboration fits into their mission to be the first in exploring new techniques, new technologies and in serving the next generation of core competencies.
In 2004, a good year for electronics, EVG experienced a 43% growth, increasing personnel 30% to 340 employees at present. In 2005, Podesser predicts another profitable year, remarkably positive compared to most industry-wide forecasts. Why? “Even in the 2001 and 2002 downturn in electronics, we were still profitable because we were able to apply semiconductor manufacturing techniques to building MEMS, compound LEDs and other practical products for companies like Bosch, Delphi, and others,” says Podesser. He predicts that advanced packaging will see lots of growth in wafer bumping, 3-D interconnect, and wafer-to-wafer and chip-to-wafer interconnect, all areas where the company supplies equipment.