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The Power of Microwave Utility in Your Approved Vendor List (AVL)

Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2018
The Power of Microwave Utility in Your Approved Vendor List (AVL)

From design to installation to repair, the RF/Microwave system development and servicing process is prone to kinks in the chain. Oftentimes, it takes the combined effort of multiple companies to see a design through production and into the field. These kinks often necessitate microwave utility players to fill the gaps in a moment’s notice. It’s at these times you’re glad they’ve already become an approved vendor.

For instance, a design firm may have the brainpower and software to put together a robust design that meets all customer specifications, but they may not have the in-house assembly or test capabilities to realize their design and provide the necessary design for manufacturability insight required. SemiGen has repeated success in playing a wide array of positions, from supplying tools and much needed semiconductor devices from stock, microwave design, rapid prototyping, broad-scale manual and automated manufacturing, and to the assembly of products.

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The design and development chain in nearly every company has knowledge/expertise gaps that can often benefit from a trusted partnership or outsource relationship.

Design

Prototyping

RF/Microwave design can be complex with integrated microwave assemblies (IMAs), also known as super components, hybrid assemblies, or multi-function assemblies (MFAs). The incorporation of these super components has vastly improved performance on the system level but design engineers could often use help with prototype design and process development. SemiGen knows the procedures to minimize a product’s time to market, or even just rapidly offer a bigger picture of the various assembly processes.

Material Selection

Assembly trade knowledge holds very high utility for the design of a system, the materials selected for the components, as well as in the building process are a balance between robustness, high performance, and cost. The choice between epoxy, solder, wiring, as well as options on vendors for substrates, circuit boards, housing, and components all have to be taken into consideration early on in the design process or even later in the design of the production process. For example, packaging can degrade the performance of a design, which can be mitigated if the contract manufacturer has already seen it all and can recommended the best solutions and approaches.

Large Scale Test

In the design for manufacturability, effective production testing can save immense amounts of time and money for a company. Beyond the utility of automated test equipment (ATE) is the utility of the software that is driving the communication between the test equipment. ATE software development may not normally be taken into consideration until it is absolutely necessary, outsourcing this to software experts with experience in RF test equipment can serve as a great relief.

Test

Electrical & Mechanical Tests

RF test and measurement is critical to the development process, and small RF/microwave contract assembly houses may not have in-house testing capabilities, let alone testing capabilities beyond Ka-band. The broader the frequency range and higher the frequency requirements, the more expensive the test equipment. Companies that don’t have lab access with vector network analyzers, spectrum analyzers, power meters, power sensors, and pulse generators, can instead receive test reports on their components. SemiGen offers reports on RF parameters such as insertion loss, isolation, VSWR, noise figure, IP3, switching speed, and phase tracking. Mechanical tests are also necessary to fully model a component with lifetime tests in temperature chambers, failure analysis, as well as bond pull and die-shear tests.

Up-Screening for Space and Military Standards

With every standard RF component or system, there is a standard of testing. With SemiGen’s ITAR and ISO 9001 certifications, as well as in-depth application based knowledge, the team can assess, and potentially, up screen components. Screen specifications include MIL-PRF-38534, MIL-STD-750, MIL-STD-883, Class H, Class K, JAN, JANTX, and JANTXV. For instance, these capabilities can often serve high utility in screening all commercial parts that need to be certified to military specifications in order to be used in military equipment.

Assembly

RF/Microwave

Assembly RF, microwave, and millimeter-wave circuits and assemblies are inherently intricate. Experienced assemblers have a high utility in the development process by offering familiarity and insight on best practices for a variety of attachment, bonding, and installation processes. Attachment methods can include eutectic attachment, advanced thermo compression, ultrasonic wire or ribbon, ball bonding, and hand assembly. SemiGen can also handle precision assemblies with automatic bonding and die attach equipment for component position, loop height, and spacing within tolerance.

PCB Assembly

PCB assembly can have its own set of requirements including leadless, fine pitch, BGA, QFP, large boards, or even non-standard shaped boards. PCB assembly is not a common expertise in the RF design realm, and is commonly outsourced to experienced companies. SemiGen is equipped for this level of assembly with J-STD-001 and IPC 610 certified assemblers, as well as equipment such as fully automated, surface mount MYDATA machines, and high temperature multi-zoned reflow ovens. SemiGen also leverages robotic through-hole manufacturing capabilities for specific challenges and quick-turn prototypes.

Repair

Field failures can be devastating to companies. They’ll either need a rapid replacement or rapid turnaround on a repair to avoid intolerable downtime. The pressure is on to delivery in these situations, and there’s often no time to think. With engineers experienced in repairing components, such as modern oscillators, switches, gain controllers, amplifiers and attenuators, an even legacy subsystems. can be repaired by the SemiGen team quickly. These repairs can often be performed without a complete replacement. Already being equipped with a supply chain that helps with part obsolescence also comes with high utility for the redesign, repair, and upgrade of legacy military hardware. From the design and development chain of trending miniaturized components to legacy equipment already being used in the field, SemiGen fills gaps in the supply chain by offering a team of experts backed with the equipment necessary for in-house design, test, assembly, and repair on the manufacturing level. With a 17,000 square foot facility and wide array of services, SemiGen offers the utility any RF/Microwave supplier can tap into to keep their competitive edge.

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