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Manufacturing Technologies and NPI to Shorten Time-to-Market for Medical Devices

Tue, 12/24/2013 - 9:15am

Express Manufacturing (EMI) has announced the implementation of a plan to expand support for their current and future customers from 2014. Developed as a response to customer feedback, this plan will address customer demand for high quality products with smaller packages and a shorter time-to-market.

As the use of wearable medical devices becomes more common for patients in hospitals and home care, the need increases for product design that is focused on smaller packaging. During production, there are two ways to accomplish this. Automated Surface Mount Technology (SMT) equipment that supports component sizes of 0.2 mm x 0.4 mm (spec. 01005) can be used to assemble printed circuit board assemblies (PCBA). An additional solution, which can be presented alone or in parallel with the 01005 package, is Package-on-Package (PoP). PoP is a sophisticated assembly-packaging technology that vertically stacks a discrete controller with Memory Ball Grid Array components. It allows multi-chip packages to be integrated for greater space savings on the printed circuit board (PCB). PoP is a process during which PCBs enable components to be mounted on both sides. The PoP method can be installed on either a two- layer or multi-layer PCB.

The Benefits of PoP for Compact Medical Designs
Through the use of the PoP method, EMI empowers developers to create compact designs which will enhance the measure of technological features available within the same limited product space. Due to recent demand by medical device manufacturers, the utilization of PoP has become more mainstream.

The Technology behind PoP
To reduce the size of the printed circuit board assembly layout, PoP technology vertically stacks a discrete controller with Memory Ball Grid Array (BGA) components rather than occupying multiple flat surface areas. There are two approaches in the assembly: one-pass and two-pass. The one-pass approach places the controller on the PCB with proper solder paste. The solder paste is applied to the memory component and the Fuji SMT machine AIM automatically picks the memory component and places it on top of the controller. Once the placement is complete, the re-flow soldering will take place with one pass. Although the one-pass approach can be challenging, the benefit is that it will enhance the reliability of the printed circuit board assembly (PCBA).

The more conventional, two-pass, approach will solder stack the memory to the OMAP and complete the re-flow as a component. When this process is completed, the SMT machine will place the stacked memory and OMAP on the PCBA to complete a second re-flow process. Since this two-pass approach requires the controller and memory chips to be exposed to the re-flow heat twice, EMI considers the one-pass method to be more efficient. 

The Benefits of New Product Introduction (NPI) Program
Due to the recent growth in the electronic medical device industry, there is constant pressure to reduce the turnaround time for bringing new products to market. To assist customers with this need, EMI has launched a multi-level New Product Introduction (NPI) program to provide a seamless transition from development to production. EMI partners with customers at the design stage to identify components with longer lead times and perform the Design for Test and Design for Production (DFx) analyses. The objective is to provide customers with substantial cost savings by eliminating multiple re-design cycles while ensuring product manufacturability.

EMI recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in the EMS Industry. The company has come a long way since its humble beginnings with a garage assembly set-up. Currently, EMI has five locations in Santa Ana, a wholly-owned facility in China and plans for further expansion. During the past 30 years, EMI has experienced many changes in the industry. Nevertheless, the company’s main focus on customer satisfaction has enabled them to continually maintain a steady growth. C.P. Chin, President of EMI, believes one of the factors to which the company’s success can be attributed is the true partnerships that EMI shares with its customers. Mr. Chin notes, “Our success is derived from our customer’s success, which highlights the importance of having the right match between customer and EMS provider.”

When asked about the key to maintaining growth over the past 30 years, Mr. Chin focuses on four primary areas:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Lowest total cost of acquisition
  • Manufacturing flexibility
  • Creation of successful supply chain relationships
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