Electronics Industry Applications for Micro-Abrasive Blasting Require Precision and Control

Micro-abrasive blasting offers several beneficial electronics industry applications. Three important uses include the preparation of silicon wafers, conformal coating removal, and wire stripping.

From tiny microchips to sprawling printed circuit boards, delicate electronic components power everything from marathon runners’ ID chips to sophisticated Internet technology. Electronics industry applications for micro-abrasive blasting provide the precision and control required for the production and maintenance of these components.

For example, the circuit board that provides the brains for your smartphone consists of a microprocessor and electrical circuits mounted on a wafer of semiconductor material, usually silicon. The circuit board must be precisely shaped and cleaned for the sensors, camera, microphone, and other components to work properly.

Preparation of Silicon Wafers

Tech companies usually embed or mount the circuitry for our modern electronic devices on a semiconductor material such as silicon. Micro-abrasive blasting works well to cut, drill, deburr, and bevel silicon wafers to prepare them to receive the electronic components.

In addition, electronics manufacturers employ blasting to etch circuit boards and texture silicon wafers to improve adhesion. Because the abrasive blasting process and stream is controllable, workers can target precise cuts without damaging surrounding circuitry or the underlying circuit layers.

For example, Airbrasive developed a custom solution using software, microprocessors, and stepper motors to reduce the thickness of silicon wafers by 400μm.

The solution employed a 50μm aluminum oxide powder to remove material from the wafers, blasted at a distance of just 2mm. To achieve uniform thickness across the entire surface, all areas of the wafer experienced the same total blasting process time.

To make this happen, we developed a software algorithm to control the nozzle of the micro abrasive blasting device. It made two cycles lasting a total of 45 minutes, then repeated the process to produce the required thickness.

The custom rig completed the process after 90 minutes. Using the reduction in weight of the wafers, we indirectly measured the change in thickness. While still meeting roughness requirements, the process reduced the wafers to precisely the desired depth.

Conformal Coating Removal

Manufacturers apply conformal coatings to electronic circuitry to protect against contaminants, moisture, and extreme temperatures. To allow for repairs or to fix a faulty initial coating, it sometimes must be removed from part or all of the component.

Micro-abrasive blasting provides an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to chemical solvents for conformal coating removal. Delivering the desired precision as needed, micro-abrasive blasting safely removes coatings from individual small components or from entire circuit boards.

Electronics Industry Applications

Wire Stripping

Suppliers often coat fine wires, such as those used in medical devices and magnets, with a varnish or enamel insulation. Removing the coating to make electrical connections can be challenging.

Using chemical strippers or scraping the wire is often time-consuming and may cause damage. Technicians preserve the integrity of the wire while removing the varnish or other coating with Micro-abrasive blasting.

This process is well suited for medical electronics. To make minimally invasive procedures possible, small diameter guide wires can be inserted into blood vessels. Manufacturers typically coat these guide wires with a polymer to reduce friction.

If not removed however, the coating makes bonding with other components difficult. Thus, micro-abrasive blasting provides a precise way to texturize the segment of the wire that needs to bond.

More Electronics Industry Applications

Preparing silicon wafers, conformal coating removal, and stripping wires are just a few of the electronics industry applications well suited for micro-abrasive blasting. The technology is also invaluable for removing faulty labeling, capacitor and resistor trimming and adjustment, and micro-module fabrication.