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Embedded passive test programs: ECIT active with OEMs on embedded passive testing.

THERE ARE CURRENTLY a number of active consortiums dealing with electronics topics in North America. The Emerging Critical Interconnect Technology (ECIT) is just one of the groups that is sup ported by the IPC. Its goal is to aid North American PCB manufacturing by providing a site to conduct state-of-the-art research to advance PCB design and manufacturing processes.

The ECIT's facility at the Navel Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN was established in 1941 as a weapons depot. It has evolved into a highly specialized facility dedicated to the development of high tech electronics, ordinance and other warfare support, with 57% of its 3,400 employees being scientists, engineers and technicians. The facility has a complete and up-to-date PCB manufacturing facility, a comprehensive failure analysis laboratory, an environmental test and evaluation laboratory, and extensive computer modeling capabilities to support this goal.

One of the first industry projects to be undertaken at ECIT is the Embedded Passives Test Program. This project was designed to provide a structure where industry and military could work together to adopt the embedded passives technology into real world products for both commercial and military applications.

The ECIT Embedded Passives Test Bed

The first meeting of this project in July of 2004 was attended by a diverse group of participants, including PCB fabricators, OEMs, material suppliers, equipment suppliers, software tool providers and academia. The ECIT team is currently comprised of over 30 member organizations. Since that first meeting, the ECIT project team has made significant strides forward to meeting the outlined project goals:

* Maintain an awareness of emerging embedded passive component activity.

* Provide facilities for R&D and small-scale manufacturing.

* Demonstrate embedded passive component manufacturing processes.

* Facilitate full supply chain participation.

* Distribute embedded passive component expertise to the North American fabrication base.

Standards development. ECIT has contributed leadership in the standards development process by providing the chairs for the D-51 sub-committee activities including the Embedded Passive Device Design Guide, IPC-2316 and Standard for Determining Current Carrying Capacity, IPC-2152. Since IPC Works 2006, the IPC-2316 "Design Guide for Embedded Passive Device Printed Boards" draft has completed its industry review and is being prepared for the balloting process. In addition to chair activities, ECIT staff has actively participated in the Materials, Performance and Test Methods sub-committees of D-50.

Conferences and workshops. Staff assistance was given to the IPC for the development, organization and chairing of the 3rd International Conference on Embedded Components, a conference held in May 2006 in Chelmsford, MA. During that conference, ECIT staff conducted a workshop on the "Design and Manufacture of Formed Embedded Passive Components." In October of 2006, ECIT hosted a two-day intensive interactive workshop on "Designing and Building a Board with Embedded Passive Components."

High frequency test vehicles. From the outset, members of ECIT proposed the development of standard test vehicles, especially at frequencies up to 12GHz, to be a number one priority project. Meetings were held at Crane during IPC semi-annual events and followed up with conference calls. All disciplines of the ECIT team participated in this development. Test vehicles were designed to characterize commercial capacitor and resistor materials performance up to 12GHz. Suppliers have contributed capacitor and resistor materials, and ECIT has fabricated the test vehicles. Testing has started this month and includes ESD, temperature cycling, humidity and convection reflow simulating PCA manufacturing assembly processes. It will be completed by February 2007.

Resistor learning test vehicle.

This test vehicle was designed to assist PCB fabricators with characterizing their resistor manufacturing process. TVs have been designed for both metal thin-film and polymer thick-film materials. Most of the proof of concept TV fabrication at Crane is complete, and data is being reduced and analyzed. In addition to registration, characterization initial and post process resistance vs. land pad design, feature sizes, orientation and location on the manufacturing panel have been determined. This test vehicle is available to the industry.

Manufacturing process demonstration. All demonstration fabrication has been completed. ECIT member material suppliers have contributed samples of their resistor and capacitor materials for the fabrication of test vehicles at the ECIT facilities to demonstrate that these materials are manufacturable in most PCB fabrication shops. The test vehicles used for this demonstration were borrowed from the recent Advanced Embedded Passive Technology (AEPT) project and are known as TV2-R and TV2-C for resistors and capacitors, respectively. The AEPT has developed data for these TVs, making them attractive and practical to use for the ECIT project. In addition to the process demonstration, some of the TVs have been put through environmental tests by OEM members.

Product emulators. At IPC Works in late 2005, the ECIT team offered OEMs the opportunity to participate in this project. OEMs with a heritage design that contained characteristics attractive for embedding passive components were invited to submit their designs to ECIT as an emulator candidate. If selected, the ECIT staff would work with the OEM on choosing the best components to embed and the best material(s) to use. ECIT would redesign the board(s) within the constraints established by the OEM, manufacture the bare board(s), perform reliability studies on the embedded components and deliver bare board(s) to the OEM. The OEM in turn would assemble and test the board(s) comparing the results to the heritage design.

The cost of the redesign, bare board manufacture and testing is borne by ECIT, while the cost of assembly and test is borne by the OEM. Mentor Graphics Expedition will be used with its integrated parametric embedded passives module, and modeling and analysis tools will be used to evaluate the resulting design. OEM participation requires the companies' willingness to share the performance results with industry.

Several candidate designs have been submitted by OEMs and the ECIT is in the selection process. The design effort is expected to begin in early December 2006.

Formed embedded passive component guidelines. All of the lessons learned during the demonstration process, fabrication and testing of the test vehicles, and fabrication of emulator boards as well as material and process selection guidelines, are well documented and are being compiled into a single text to be made available to the industry in 2007.

The mission of the ECIT Program is to assist North American Industry implement embedded passive component technology. Considerable information and assistance is available to PCB manufacturers and OEMs wishing to implement embedded passives, much of which is funded by the ECIT. For further information on participation contact the IPC (

RICHARD SNOGREN is a member of the technical staff at Coretec Inc. He can be reached at
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Author:Snogren, Richard
Publication:Printed Circuit Design & Manufacture
Article Type:Company overview
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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