Coventry University, Stevenage Form Innovation Partnership


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A programme devised by the Technology Strategy Board of UK, known as the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), has enabled a collaboration between Coventry University (Knowledge base) and Stevenage Circuits Limited (Industry). The partnership will allow flow of information from the University to the company where it can be directed toward innovative projects. Coventry University brings in the expertise of Dr. Andrew Cobley and his Functional Materials team, represented by Narinder Bains, whilst the project at Stevenage Circuits is led by Tim Gee, technical director and Phil Firth, technical manager.

The aim of the project is to improve the manufacturing capability to meet the future requirements of the electronics industry particularly for high reliability for military-grade HDI PCBs. As technology advances, in particular the component packaging device technology, the need for miniaturisation in the field of high density interconnect (HDI) PCBs is increasing. As the inexorably increase in packaging densities continues the device footprints reduce to a point where the current PCB fabrication technology will no longer be capable of meeting the requirement, this is also so true for the component assembly--as the device pitch reduces so does the yield. Consequently resolving a design and cost effective solution for a high reliability HDI PCB that meet IPC class three compliance for design fabrication and assembly is getting more difficult.

The Stevenage Circuits/Coventry University KTP Team: (from left to right) Narinder Bains (Coventry University, Knowledge Base supervisor); Phil Firth (Stevenage Circuits Ltd., technical manager, company supervisor); Anjali Krishnanunni (Coventry University, KTP associate); Tim Gee (Stevenage Circuits Ltd., technical director, company lead); Dr. Andrew Cobley (Coventry University, academic lead).Modern PCBs will have to be smaller, lighter, and faster. Some of the ways this can be achieved is by reducing feature sizes, increasing stack layers, and embedding electronic components within the PCBs and generally building better specification of surface-mount devices whilst having minimum tolerance for errors. The advance in technology will be advantageous to the designers, fabricators, and the assemblers of the electronics industry.

Stevenage Circuits, a reputed company known for its PCB manufacturing technology and its varied customer base, will be focusing on surface modification techniques, materials adhesion, and electroplating processes. The university will help carry out some of the research at their facility. The success of the project relies on the integration of these three areas on a prototype to a large scale production level.

Anjali Krishnanunni, the KTP associate, who will act as a bridge between Coventry University and Stevenage Circuit and is based at Stevenage Circuits to implement the project that will last for two years. During this time she will also work to identify commercial links and undertake business development and disseminate the technology/project via articles and/or conferences.

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