SAN DIEGO — UFE Inc. of Stillwater, Minn., is manufacturing a proprietary molded interconnect device that an unnamed customer is using in a $150 transceiver for local area networks. "The new product is a miniaturization of a fiber-optic product that is used in data communications, communicating at the speed of 2.5 gigabytes per second," said Bruce Dewart, UFE's engineering manager.
He spoke at the Engineering Thermoplastics 2000 conference, held May 1-2 in San Diego.
UFE uses a capture process based on film technology it acquired in 1991 from Rockwell International Corp.'s automation unit.
The process involves manufacturing, screen printing, thermoforming and overmolding a plastic foil.
Also, the circuit structure is transferred from a carrier film that is removed from the piece after the molding operation. A variation uses an aluminum-copper double-layer foil.
About the size of a peanut, the device has the circuit extending about 0.47 inch from the parting line, allowing for bonding outside the molded part.
"Typically, it has been bonded inside the molded part," Dewart said.
"We sell product to one customer, but it is distributed to multiple customers," he said. Production began in December and is ramping up to an anticipated annual rate of 1 million parts by the end of 2000.
The device costs about one-half of the part it replaces.