Exaddon develops a 3D microprinted probe for fine-pitch detection below 20μm pitch

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Exaddon develops a 3D microprinted probe for fine-pitch detection below 20μm pitch

Posted Date: 2024-01-27

Exaddon, a Swiss-based micro-3D printing company, has developed 3D micro-printed probes capable of fine-pitch detection at sub-20 μm pitches. Fine-pitch probe testing is an extremely complex and precise process used to test semiconductor chips.

Exaddon’s high conductivity probes are optimized for semiconductor wafer testing and can be 3D printed directly onto customizable and replaceable space transformers, which reduces complexity, cost and the number of component layers required.

Exaddon claims that sub-20 μm capabilities bring significant benefits to the semiconductor industry. Testing at finer pitches allows for greater effective chip area, which increases yields and reduces chip costs, thereby lowering consumer product costs in the process. Additionally, the company’s template-free micro-3D printing process is highly customizable and capable of producing high aspect ratio free-standing structures.

Exaddon said in a press release: "The unique capabilities of Exaddon's μ-3D printing technology are achieved through localized electrodeposition of pure metal, providing an unprecedented way to successfully achieve and test sub-20 μm pitch. Any need to achieve less than Applications in fine-pitch detection that are currently limited by spacing can benefit from this unique approach."

Exaddon 3D micro-printing enhances fine-pitch detection

Founded in 2019, Exaddon is a subsidiary of Swiss micro-3D printing company Cytosurge, specializing in the additive manufacturing of micro-metal parts. Since its inception, the company has become a major supplier of 3D printing technology for academic research projects around the world.

The micro-3D printing capabilities Exaddon has developed over the past two years are designed to meet the needs of the $500 billion semiconductor market. Semiconductor manufacturers rely on probe testing of high-performance chips to ensure that only known good chips (KDG) make their way into the final semiconductor component.

According to Exaddon, it is currently difficult to achieve pitches below 40 μm for probe testing. This is said to limit chip design and limit the company's ability to meet consumer demand. For example, although the micro-LED market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 80% and is valued at billions of dollars, LED testing is currently limited to resource- and time-consuming two-probe methods.

Exaddon overcomes these challenges with its micro-3D printing technology, which can produce high-quality metal parts with dimensions less than 20 μm. The Zurich-based company has successfully demonstrated its fine-pitch probe capabilities on μ-LEDs.

Exaddon's microLED test arrays are 3D printed directly on pre-patterned traces with a spacing of less than 20 μm. The demonstrator array has 128 probes with a minimum X-axis pitch of 18.5 μm, a Y-axis minimum pitch of 9.5 μm, and a Z-axis minimum pitch of ±2 μm. According to reports, Exaddon’s probe array is about 10% the size of other companies’ probe arrays, making microLED testers 64 times more efficient.

Additionally, Exadden’s template-free 3D printing process is highly customizable and excels at fabricating high-aspect ratio, free-standing structures such as coils and lattices. Direct 3D printing onto the space transformer simplifies the construction of the probe card, eliminating process steps and components that would otherwise be required. This reduces the cost and complexity associated with probe manufacturing.

In the future, the company plans to increase the number of probes in its μLED array and complete WAT (waterproof test) and CIS (CMOS image sensor) probe testing.

The development of micro 3D printing

Micro 3D printing has been recognized by many companies as having potential in the development and production of electrical devices.

Last year, In-Vision, an Austrian developer of high-precision optical equipment, announced a collaboration with Professor Tapajyoti Das Gupta of India’s Bangalore Institute of Science to develop a new submicron 3D printer. The partners worked with Mumbai-based 3D printer manufacturer J Group Robotics to build a 3D printer capable of manufacturing flexible and stretchable nanoscale photonic devices.

Typically, nanoscale high-performance optical devices are produced through multi-step hierarchical 2D lithography processes. This is costly and has limited scalability, requiring the use of multiple machines in a cleanroom facility. The In-Vision team hopes its new micro-3D printer will disrupt the semiconductor industry by speeding up and lowering production costs. The first submicron optical components are expected to be 3D printed in spring 2024.

Elsewhere, microfabrication startup Horizon Microtechnologies offers its own proprietary micro-3D printing technology. The company’s template-based micro-additive manufacturing (micro-AM) process enables users to produce conductive parts with micron-level precision. This micro-3D printing technology is designed to provide greater manufacturing versatility for the production of electrodes, electrical contact pins, microfluidic devices, MEMS and optical packaging.

Review Editor: Liu Qing

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