ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Polymer Flip Chip Corp. of Billerica, Mass., opened two assembly lines Jan. 1, expects to operate in a new factory by the end of 1998 and has German licensee KSW Microtec GmbH doing low-volume production for a French smart-card company.
Epoxy industry entrepreneur Frank Kulesza has invested about $4 million in the project over seven years. The technology involves attaching a microchip to a substrate using an isotropic silver-filled conductive epoxy with a polymer base resin.
The concept ``will have a big impact on the whole industry,'' Kulesza said in a March 4 interview at the firm's Nepcon booth in Anaheim. ``Solder will fall by the wayside,'' and the polymer process is half as costly as chip-and-wire technology, which he predicts will disappear. Start-up companies embrace the polymer process rather than traditional solder methods, Kulesza said.
Kulesza sees ``huge potential for us'' in the new generation of electronic transaction cards. Polymer Flip Chip can make both direct-contact cards, which carry a semiconductor chip, and contactless cards, which use an antenna arrangement.
Technology partner KSW began production in November in Dresden, Germany, and is making 140,000 contactless cards per month, and ramping up to 6 million per year, for transportation applications in France. Kulesza declined to identify the major French user, which is building its own production lines under a Polymer Flip Chip license.
EPI Technologies of Plano, Texas, is another licensee.
In Massachusetts, Polymer Flip Chip installed two Esec Inc. Micron 2 die placement machines, each valued at more than $500,000, and located temporarily at another Kulesza business, Epoxy Technology Inc. in Billerica. Initial annual capacity is 10 million units.
The new, 35,000-square-foot Polymer Flip Chip plant across the street will accommodate nine more Micron 2 pick-and-place machines, for a total annual capacity of more than 100 million assemblies, said Richard Estes, the firm's chief operating officer. The site includes a 6,500-square-foot, Class 10,000 clean room.
Polymer Flip Chip, formed in early 1997, employs 13. Epoxy Technology, founded in 1966, employs about 40 and supplies material to Polymer Flip Chip. Kulesza is chairman, president and chief executive officer of both firms.