Show me a supply chain without raw materials. You won’t find one. Electronic components and systems emanate from a long and complex chain of suppliers, third parties, clients, and manufacturers. Many electronics manufacturers get their raw materials from third-party suppliers. These materials largely determine the quality of the finished product.
Raw materials for electronics manufacturing are transforming with technological advances. Electrical circuits are getting smaller, there is an increased need for lighter devices, and standards are more stringent than ever.
In this article, we’ll learn about a few electronics manufacturing materials that are usually used.
Relevance of Advanced Materials
As electronic design requirements keep transforming, the need for more relevant materials arises. Advanced materials are emerging to cater for energy efficiency, reduced component size, and so forth. For instance, there is a new crop of materials that provide higher energy efficiency and lower environmental impact. These materials are appropriately referred to as “green”.
Traditional materials for electronic manufacturing are renowned for their adverse effect on the environment. Advanced materials consume considerably less energy throughout their supply chain. This includes the mining process and life application of the resulting electronic devices or systems.
Recyclability is a prominent characteristic of advanced materials. With more of such materials, the world is well placed to tackle the proliferation of e-waste. Poorly discarded electronics pose a danger if they contain elements such as barium, copper, and lead. While advanced materials tend to be more expensive, electronic manufacturers are opting for them instead of the more toxic options.
Raw material innovation has become a necessity because of increasingly smaller components. Probably, nowhere else is this statement truer than in semiconductor manufacturing. For about two decades, Fin Field-Effect Transistors (FinFETs) have been central to the semiconductor industry. With research going towards a shrunk circuitry from the current 25 nm to as little as 2 nm, copper may no longer be necessary. Naomi Yoshida from Applied Materials predicted that Cobalt will soon be used instead of Copper.
Categories of the Advanced Materials
Advanced materials for electronics manufacturing can be grouped as:
Silicon is perhaps the most popular advanced material used in electronics manufacturing. You will find it in microchips and semiconductors. Other manufacturing materials in this category include antimony, bismuth, cobalt, and talc. In this era of rechargeable batteries for hybrid/electrical vehicles and portable devices, cobalt is particularly essential.
Electronics manufacturers have always needed a material that is highly conductive and easy to mold. Since time immemorial, copper has been the most preferred choice. As mentioned above, there are indications that this material will pave way for the more advanced Germanium in some electronic components. There are other metals worth mentioning in this industry: Capacitors, transducers, and resistors use a variety of metals including chromium, nickel, and tin.
- Petroleum-based materials and plastics
Capacitors and thermistors are prominent users of advanced petroleum-based materials and plastics. Advanced plastics are resistant to heat and offer insulating characteristics. We are looking into a future where polymers will not only be flexible but also conductive. That’s part of the reason the plastics for electronics market will be worth $115.10 billion in a couple of years.
Also used as insulators in many electronic systems are ceramics. Clay, carbon, and special types of glass are also used in these systems and components.
As electronic components become more complex and performance requirements become more stringent, there is a growing need for advanced materials. Consequently, only the manufacturers that invest in modern research and development for materials will manage to satisfy the market and comply with the regulatory requirements such as REACH or Conflict Minerals banning.
At MADES, we are experienced in optimizing electronic designs and our strong process allow full compliance to regulatory and contractual requirements. We are adaptable to the changing materials market. Share with us any views or concerns regarding this topic and we will be glad to respond.