Technology Manufacturers Tap Micro-Abrasive Blasting for Quality, Precision, and Control

Micro-abrasive blasting offers a multitude of benefits for technology manufacturers. Notable applications of the process include wire stripping, silicon wafer preparation, and removal of conformal coatings.

From diminutive microchips to expansive printed circuit boards, sensitive electronic components power everything in the modern world from automotive computers to sophisticated manufacturing robots. Fortunately, micro-abrasive blasting provides the quality, precision, and control required by technology manufacturers for the production and maintenance of these components.

For example, the circuitry that provides the brains for your mobile device includes a microprocessor and other electronic components mounted on wafers of semiconductor material, usually silicon. The device’s circuit board must be precisely shaped and cleaned for the screen, camera, speakers, and other components to connect and function properly.

Micro-Abrasive Blasting for Wire Stripping

Vendors often coat fine gauge wires, such as those used in medical equipment and electric motors, with a varnish or enamel insulation. Removing the coatings to make proper electrical connections during assembly is necessary but often difficult.

Scraping the wire or applying chemical strippers may cause damage and can be time-consuming. By using micro-abrasive blasting instead, technicians preserve the integrity of the wire while removing the varnish or other coatings.

This process works well for medical electronics. For example, small diameter guide wires are often inserted into blood vessels to facilitate minimally invasive procedures. To reduce friction, manufacturers typically coat these guide wires with a polymer.

However, the coating makes bonding with other components difficult, if not removed. Micro-abrasive blasting aids the bonding process by providing a precise method for texturizing the segment of the wire that needs to bond with other materials.

Silicon Wafer Preparation

Technology manufacturers usually embed or mount the circuitry that drives our modern electronic devices on a semiconductor material such as silicon. Technicians effectively use micro-abrasive blasting to cut, drill, bevel, and deburr those materials to prepare them to receive the electronic components.

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

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

To make it work, Airbrasive engineers developed precision software to control the path of the micro abrasive blasting nozzle. It made two cycles lasting a total of 45 minutes, repeating the process to produce the required thickness.

After 90 minutes, the custom rig completed the thickness-trimming process. Using the change in wafer weight, we calculated the reduction in thickness. As planned, the wafers had been precisely reduced to the requested depth while still meeting roughness requirements.

Likewise, technology manufacturers skillfully employ blasting to texture silicon wafers to improve adhesion and to etch circuit boards. Operators precisely target cuts without damaging the surrounding circuits or the underlying material layers because the stream of the abrasive blasting process is controllable.

Technology Manufacturers

Removing Conformal Coatings

Technology manufacturers apply conformal coatings to electronic circuitry to protect against contaminants, moisture, and extreme temperatures. To facilitate repairs or mend a faulty initial coating, it must sometimes be removed from a portion of or the entire component.

For conformal coating removal, micro-abrasive blasting delivers a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to chemical solvents. Delivering the required precision, micro-abrasive blasting safely removes coatings from entire circuit boards or from individual small components.

More Technology Manufacturers Applications

Wire stripping, preparing silicon wafers, and removing conformal coatings outline just a few of the technology manufacturers applications well suited for micro-abrasive blasting. Also consider:

  • Deoxidizing contact surfaces
  • Removing faulty labeling
  • Dissecting components
  • Micro-module fabrication
  • Cutting circuit board conductors
  • Cleaning leads and contact fingers prior to plating
  • Capacitor and resistor trimming & adjustment
  • Cutting, drilling, cleaning, dicing, beveling, and thinning

The technology also proves invaluable for modifications to printed circuit boards, processing fragile components without shock and heat, and cleaning electronic vacuum parts.