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Mühlbauer's Tag Manufacturing Machines Aim to Be Greener, Lower-Cost
Inlay manufacturers are testing a new flip-chip machine from the German technology company that promises a 40,000-unit-per-hour rate, as well as an antenna cutter to eliminate the need for etching chemicals.
"Our target is to offer a green process," Niklas says, not only by providing a cleaner, mechanical process, but by enabling the work to be carried out in-house by its customers. By employing the cutting machine for tag fabrication in-house, he notes, users can accomplish a much faster antenna creation process without the shipping cost and time required if a third party were to etch the antennas elsewhere, such as in Asia.
The Direct Die Attach (DDA) flip-chip machine and the technology it leverages are not new; Mühlbauer released the first version of this product three years ago, and Niklas estimates that approximately 50 of the tag-making machines are currently in use around the world. The DDA 40000, however, doubles the productivity of the first version.
The DDA flip-chip system employs a process by which the silicon wafer (with integrated circuits on it) is turned upside down in the machine so that the top side of the chips faces down, over the RFID inlays. As it passes under the wafer, the chip is released directly onto each antenna, and an adhesive then bonds the chip to the antenna to create that inlay. This contrasts with traditional methods by which wafers are stored upright, and the chips must be picked and placed—first removed from the wafer with one tool, and then placed on the inlay with a second.
The DDA flip-chip machine provides a 300 percent higher throughput with a 30 percent smaller footprint than traditional inlay-building machinery, the company reports, and accomplishes an 80 percent lower die-attach cost. To make a flip-chip-enabled machine that is faster, the firm has been redesigning the system with a different type of glue that dries faster (the previous system could complete a single inlay within six to eight seconds, with most of that time required for drying the glue). With the DDA 40000, the glue dries in about a second, so that each inlay can be created within one to two seconds.
Several companies are testing the new DDA 40000 system in their inlay manufacturing systems, including several businesses headquartered in in Asia, Europe and a U.S. firm that operates in Asia. The machine represents the fastest flip-chip method-based system for RFID inlay manufacturing, Niklas reports.
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