Photofabrication Engineering Inc.

Enabling New Technologies through Metal Etching Applications

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Etched Lead Frame Manufacturers

PEI’s photochemically-etched surface-mount and insert-mount lead frames for integrated circuit manufacturing are used in a wide variety of applications including semiconductors, glass-to-metal seals, and relays, and are also used in medical applications such as implantables and hearing aids.

Using base materials such as kovar, nickel-iron alloys, copper alloys, and pure nickel, PEI can plate lead frames in their entirety or selectively.  Lead-free plating materials include silver, nickel, gold, or tin, depending on the customer’s specific electrical and thermal conductivity requirements.  Since the lead frame is the main conduit by which heat flows from the chip to the printed circuit board, PEI tailors the manufacturing material to maximize the device’s operating life for any given application or environment.

PEI manufactures high-density lead frames with acute profiles and ultra-fine pitches, allowing for high pin counts. Single- or double-sided lead frames can be etched without incurring the stresses associated with typical machining methods. Most significant is the fact that PEI’s process can be used for lead frames that are too complicated or intricate for stamping. Dimensions can be held to extremely tight tolerances, with no burrs or other surface irregularities.

PEI’s lead frames range in thickness from 0.5 mil [0.0127 mm] to 40 mil [1.575 mm], with features as small as 4 mil [0.10 mm] on 0.010 in. [0.254 mm) centers, creating lead frames that are strong enough to be handled yet flexible enough to allow bending when necessary.

Glass-to-metal hermetic seal manufacturers benefit from using our specialty lead frames, since the frames can be post-etched to radius all edges, preventing glass cracking.  PEI can also post-etch the lead frames to promote firmer adhesion by radiusing the edges which promotes adhesion to the glass. Alternatively, PEI can use a kovar bright-dip that minimizes any glass fracture.  For the “matched seal” type of glass-to-metal seal, where the frame and the glass have similar coefficients of thermal expansion, the strength of the seal comes from the chemical bond between the glass and an oxide formed on the metal parts. Typical applications of these types of lead frames are RF/Microwave hybrid or microcircuit packages, vacuum components, sensor or transducer housings, feedthroughs for harsh environments (especially valuable for military applications), housings for optoelectronic components, battery headers, and implantable medical devices.

A significant advantage of photochemical etching is the ability to reproduce large quantities of parts without tooling “wear,” so the millionth part is exactly the same as the first part. Changes to tools can be implemented very quickly, and phototools are significantly less expensive than traditional tooling methods—ideal for manufacturing various parts or lead frames from prototype to production quantities. Turnaround time using phototools is about 90% less than that for stamped frames.

All of PEI’s custom lead frames are proudly made in the U.S.A.

Please view our photo gallery for sample applications.

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