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News

Tecan has introduced new surface plating options

Tecan : 24 January, 2002  (New Product)
Dorset based specialist, Tecan, has introduced new surface plating options for its high-performance evaporation masks, delivering significant increases in operational life by virtually eradicating damage from current cleaning processes.
Evaporation masks are used to fabricate a wide number of simple and complex micro-engineered electronic components and products in electronics, aerospace, automotive, medical and pharmaceutical markets. A typical example being the evaporation-depositing of gold or silver contacts onto quartz crystal oscillator tracks and automotive thermocouples. They are also used in sputtering and spray processes for the fabrication of similar components, such as displays, onto substrates such as silicon or glass and for the deposition of a wide range of other surface finishes. Typical materials deposited include chromium, gold, silver, bismuth, other conductive materials and organic compounds.

Following the evaporation process, it is necessary to clean the evaporation masks, because they will also have become be-spattered, with whatever material is being deposited. Traditionally, the masks are cleaned aggressively, typically with a mild acid flash etch, to remove the unwanted deposits. This process is fairly successful, but reduces the operational life of the mask over time by progressively destroying its original dimensions.

Using Tecan's new technology, masks can be plated in metals such as gold or rhodium, which are resistant to the acids used in post-deposition cleaning. This ensures any material deposited on the mask can be cleaned using the usual process - but without damage to the mask itself, significantly extending mask life and ensuring log-term cost-efficiency.

The plating metal is chosen to suit the needs of the individual application, so for example, when evaporating non-gold contacts, a gold-plated mask can be used, it will become be-sputtered during the evaporation process, but during cleaning will be completely unaffected by mild-acid flash etch cleaning. Using the wide range of new plating materials at the company's disposal, masks can be produced with protective surfaces for most deposition and cleaning combinations.

Manufactured using highly accurate electroforming techniques, the masks benefit from low tooling costs with superior tolerances, delivering greater density designs with higher accuracy aperture edges. Multi-level masks can also be produced, with 'stepped' recesses, limiting the need for spacer sheets in multiple-sheet sets, if required. Cost-effective single masks, traditional multi-mask sets, stepped masks and frame systems are available to meet the individual needs of all custom designs.

During manufacture, masks are subjected to computerised co-ordinate measuring as part of the company's rigorous statistical process control system to produce fully traceable 'proven' batches, suitable for delivery direct to the customer's production environment. All specified variables, such as aperture size, tolerance and thickness, are accurately measured and logged ensuring users can by-pass their own detailed goods-in inspection, if required. Time and costs are saved, and traceable quality control with hard copy back-up documents, is assured. The company can produce whatever is required, including traditional magnetic stainless steel and nickel masks.
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