The new Universal Instruments (Binghamton, NY) AdVantis AFC-42 placement machine is designed to reduce the cost of entry for manufacturers needing high mix capability, increased speed and greater accuracy. The machine leverages Universal's platform concept to deliver a low priced but scalable solution ideal for low-margin assembly applications. The machine also has a smaller footprint to occupy less shop floor space.

Like its predecessor, the new machine features a single-beam positioning system. However, it employs dual-drive lead screws as well as 1um linear encoders for accuracy close to that of the GSMxs linear motor based platform.

"All of the capability and functionality of high-end assembly has been transferred to the AFC-42, including high magnification cameras, flip chip algorithms, low force capability, heated spindles, fluxing, several feeder types and dispensing," said Richard Boulanger, vice president of the advanced semiconductor assembly division.

The company believes the placer will be attractive to high-mix and high-volume manufacturers whose markets demand the utmost cost-per-placement efficiency in order to sustain narrow margins.

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The National Physical Laboratory ( has announced the launch of a new report, "Susceptibility of Glass-Reinforced Epoxy Laminate to Conductive Anodic Filamentation," written by Alan Brewin, Ling Zou and Christopher Hunt.


Conductive anodic filamentation (CAF) is a subsurface failure mode for woven glass-reinforced laminate (FR4) materials, in which a copper salt filament grows and results in a consequential electrical short between plated through hole walls or adjacent copper planes. In the study, FR4 laminates in the form of high PTH density multi-layer test circuits were exposed to different manufacturing conditions and studied for resistance to CAF initiation and growth.


CAF performance was assessed using high temperature and humidity conditions to promote failures, with a voltage applied across adjacent vias. By applying a range of voltages and via geometries, the basis for a performance map for laminates was obtained for use in materials comparison. The changes due to exposure of laminates to lead-free temperatures and other processing steps were then examined using the technique and a number of important recommendations were made to minimize the possibility of CAF initiation and growth.


All reports released by the Electronics Group at NPL can be searched and downloaded free from:


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Sanmina-SCI Corp. (San Jose, CA), a global electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company, and Agilent Technologies Inc. (Palo Alto, CA), have announced a new technique for rapidly generating high-resolution, sub-surface 3-D scans of complex multilayer backplane and printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs).


Using Agilent's 5DX Series 5000 automated x-ray system, the new method verifies how well press-fit connectors with compliant pins are positioned within plated-through-hole (PTH) conduits. 


Featuring multilayer construction that can exceed 48 layers, Sanmina-SCI's backplanes deploy high-density, press-fit connectors into PTH conduits with diameters that often measure 0.022 in. and smaller.


Kent Dinkel, Agilent's Imaging marketing manager, Automated Test Group, said, "Our 5DX system was designed to be a powerful x-ray tester always looking for new problems to solve. We salute Sanmina-SCI for galvanizing an application that has enabled the industry's first sub-surface 3-D scans of complex backplanes in production environments." 


Dinkel also noted that press-fit connectors having compliant pins are becoming more widely used in a number of PCBA markets. 


Sanmina-SCI noted that when multiple component types, including surface-mount devices, populate a backplane or PCBA, the new inspection method can scan the entire backplane—both surface and sub-surface simultaneously—to check solder contacts of components as well as press-fit connector contact integrity.


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Circuits Assembly

GE Commercial Finance, Global Electronic Solutions (GES, San Diego, CA), an equipment lifecycle management supplier, has appointed Roger Innes as president and CEO. In this position, Innes will be responsible for overseeing and directing all of GES on a global basis and ensuring continued GES growth. Under his leadership, GES will continue to add staff worldwide and develop new products and services.

Previously, Innes was managing director of capital markets and business expansion for GES. Building upon his experience in the technology equipment leasing and finance industries, Innes will continue to promote GES' platform—equipment acquisition, optimization and disposition—to customers worldwide.

"Roger's 20+ years of technological experience in the equipment leasing and finance industries, coupled with being one of the founders of creating the platform for managing the lifecycle of semiconductor equipment, truly makes him the most appropriate person to continue growing GES on a global scale," said Paul Bossidy, CEO of GE Commercial Finance, Commercial Equipment Financing.

Innes was cofounder and president of Comdisco Electronics, whose portfolio was acquired by GE in April 2002. Prior to joining GES, Innes served in various leadership positions in both sales and general management with Comdisco, GE Capital and Equitable Life Leasing companies.

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Recognizing the challenges facing electronics assemblers as they convert to lead-free processes, Cookson Electronics Assembly Materials (Jersey City, NJ) is launching the CE Analytics Lead-Free Process Capability Validation Program.


The program consists of two elements: a test kit containing Cookson's laminates, pad finishes, stencils, lead-free solder paste and cored wire combined with boards, lead-free components and set up software from Practical Components. The second element is a lead-free process capability report based on CE Analytics' analytical evaluation and process capability validation services conducted on finished assemblies tested to IPC and J-STD requirements. 


"We spoke with customers who were concerned about the time and cost associated with successfully transitioning to lead-free," said Tom Hunsinger, Cookson Electronics' product manager. "Their main concerns were reliably validating their lead-free process, and having a single source that offered all of the required materials and analytical services.  They wanted to make one call to get the complete package."


The kit contains the consumable materials needed to set up and run a lead-free surface-mount process. The test boards are then built and sent to CE Analytics where lead-free process capability assessment services are conducted. The output is a detailed laboratory analysis report with recommendations for process optimization.


Cookson Electronics Assembly Materials, a Cookson Electronics company, manufactures materials used in electronic assembly processes. CE Analytics is Cookson's resource for diagnostics solutions, analytical services and applications expertise.


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Sanmina-SCI Corp. (San Jose, CA), a global electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company, has entered into an agreement to acquire Pentex-Schweizer Circuits Ltd., a provider of printed circuit board fabrication. The acquisition includes operations in Wuxi, China and Singapore.


Under the agreement, Pentex-Schweizer shareholders will be entitled to elect to receive $0.2006 per share. The total transaction value, including consideration for shares and options, is approximately $78.8 million.


The transaction is subject to several conditions, including approval by Pentex-Schweizer shareholders and court approval of the transaction under Singapore law, and is expected to close in Sanmina-SCI's fiscal 2004 fourth quarter or in its first quarter of fiscal 2005.


In addition, Sanmina-SCI and Pentex-Schweizer Circuits Ltd. have entered into a transition manufacturing agreement under which Pentex-Schweizer will provide PCB fabrication services to Sanmina-SCI during the period prior to closing and under which the companies will undertake transition manufacturing activities.


The operations in Wuxi, China and Singapore comprise 470,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space, with additional expansion capabilities in China of 450,000 sq. ft. These two operations complement Sanmina-SCI's PCB facility in Malaysia.


Jure Sola, chairman and chief executive officer of Sanmina-SCI, said, "For quite some time, we have been carefully evaluating a number of expansion opportunities in China.

Pentex-Schweizer Circuits Ltd., an efficient, well-run operation with a group of talented employees, will provide us with a solid foundation to support our customers' requirements in this region. We expect to capitalize on the company's ability to manufacture high quality boards by leveraging our vertical integration strategy.


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