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Filtronic buys two Kulicke & Soffa wire bonders as demand for RF Modules for 5G increases

Wire bonding
Filtronic acquires wire bonders to help meet increased demand for RF Modules for 5G

UK distributor of technical equipment and materials Inseto, has announced that it has supplied two Kulicke & Soffa RAPID Pro automatic wire bonders to designer and manufacturer of advanced RF communication solutions, Filtronic, also based in the UK. According to Inseto, the new systems will help Filtronic meet a six-fold increase in demand for its Orpheus E-band transceiver modules, used for 5G and other high data rate wireless applications, after it received an order from a major player in the telecoms sector.

The distributor said the two bonders are high speed and deliver high levels of repeatability, provided through real-time monitoring and diagnostics.

 In addition to being used for the manufacture of Orpheus modules, the bonders will be utilised on Filtronic’s next generation transceiver, the Morpheus II, which is both smaller and 50 percent lighter than the previous version.

The wire bonding machines made by Kulicke & Soffa enable fast switch over, giving Filtronic the flexibility to also manufacture two ‘Transmit Receive Modules’ for phased array radars for the aerospace and defence markets on the same production line, Inseto added.

“All three of our main lines are hybrid assemblies, with multiple MMICs and other components that require high precision wire bonding. The Rapid Pro bonders help us solve two major manufacture challenges,” Product Engineering Manager of Filtronic, Richard Smith, said. “The first being that, at these high frequencies, bond wire lengths and shapes affect the EM characteristics. Being able to precisely program the bond shape and maintain it within and between batches of a given product ensure consistent RF performance. Accuracy and repeatability are musts. The second challenge is maintaining throughput and increasing capacity. Since bringing in the K&S bonders we’ve seen a massive improvement in speed, largely down to the modern vision systems, and it takes about a minute to process a module with hundreds of bonds.”

Inseto said that bond quality at the manufacturer has also improved since the acquisition of the new machinery because the company now has better control over bond parameters.

“Automated bond adhesion quality is consistently higher, thus reducing the need for manual intervention. Combined with fast automated bonding, this results in an overall much higher production rate than before and we anticipate a return on investment in about three years,” Smith explained.


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