07/01/2009, Irvine, California

 

Downturn No Deterrent to Innovation Commitment

Though signs of economic recovery are slowly becoming more visible, the effects of the last 18 months will arguably be felt for some time as the electronics industry begins to emerge from the downturn. While the shape of the recovery is still somewhat uncertain, what is clear is that those companies that stayed the course and remained committed to their technology roadmaps will be well-positioned for growth when market strength returns.

This is true not only for manufacturers that continued with planned product advances, but suppliers as well. Maintaining R&D investment levels during such a deep recession is a difficult proposition, to say the least, but is a commitment that is essential if companies want to be competitive for the long-term. This is, in fact, Henkel’s philosophy and while many firms have pulled back on development programs, we have pushed forward with our innovation initiatives. In addition to maintaining a consistent percentage of sales reinvestment into R&D and technical service projects, during the last 18 months we have also earmarked resources for expansion of Henkel development labs in Shanghai, China and Isogo, Japan. Shanghai will see investment to broaden our analytical and development departments for Henkel’s die attach paste and liquid materials and, in Japan, staff will be added to our advanced materials team to enable even more in-depth application and materials design work for future technologies.

Maintaining resource commitments such as these throughout the recession has yielded materials advances that will no doubt benefit Henkel customers as they design and introduce new technologies to the market. For instance, while we’ve continued development of traditional die attach film products essential for current customer applications, Henkel has also been running parallel programs to evaluate next- generation technologies that may potentially replace film. It’s precisely these types of efforts on which many companies would typically scale back during a downturn, but Henkel has forged ahead and significant progress has been made. Our Wafer Backside CoatingTM (WBC) materials, though already well-received in the marketplace, are gaining even more momentum. And, understanding that ultra thin bondlines will be the norm for stacked packages in the not too distant future and that film will likely not be able to meet those demands, Henkel is developing a deposition solution that consistently deposits material at thicknesses that push far beyond current capabilities.

For applications where exceptionally thin bondlines aren’t as critical – leadframe packages, for example – Henkel has developed a conductive die attach film that offers electrical properties similar to those of many of our silver-filled pastes. This advance essentially delivers leadframe package manufacturers with the same throughput and processability advantages of film-based products.

But Henkel’s development initiatives aren’t limited to die attach: we’ve also been working on a new compression molding technique that enables overmold of a redistributed wafer. Of course, the material requirements are very unique, as the material must be able to withstand all of the downstream processes such as plating andmultiple thermal cycles, but Henkel’s expertise and proven warpage control technologies have delivered excellent results in early trials.

There are also already commercialized materials designed for certain applications that are finding use either in alternative processes or for completely new materials. Henkel’s Hysol FF6000TM epoxy flux is one such example. The material combines flux functionality and underfill protection into a single system which, in many cases, eliminates the requirement for a subsequent underfill process. Initially designed for large format BGAs and CSPs, Hysol FF6000 has also proven to be a remarkably robust material for top level Package-on-Package (POP) devices as well as for sphere attach on BGA packages. Henkel is continuing further development of this product and we are now incorporating the materials technology into a solder paste.

These are but a few highlights of the innovation and materials development projects that are ongoing at Henkel. For year-to-date 2009, we have launched more than two dozen new products and are on track to almost double the number of innovative product introductions compared to the same time last year. While Henkel’s business was certainly not immune to the effects of the global downturn and we, like many others, implemented cost-saving measures, it was not at the expense of our innovation programs. Henkel is designing for the next-generation and is continuing to invest that way both during challenging and prosperous market conditions. Henkel’s customers and our innovation commitment will remain the cornerstones of our business now and always.