Advancing Manufacturing Technology

iNEMI Publishes 2009 Research Priorities

HERNDON, VIRGINIA (September 11, 2009) — The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI), an industry-led consortium focused on identifying and closing technology gaps, has published its 2009 Research Priorities.  This document identifies the most critical areas on which the electronics industry should focus research and development (R&D) over the next 10 years.

Development of the Research Priorities is the final step in the iNEMI roadmapping process.  It combines findings from the 2009 iNEMI Roadmap with R&D needs identified through a series of industry “gap analysis” meetings.  The result is a vision of research needs that will help ensure continued competitiveness and innovation for the electronics industry.

iNEMI uses the Research Priorities to identify deployment activities in areas where the consortium can have the greatest impact.  The document also serves as a resource for iNEMI members as well as other corporate research labs; and it is distributed to government funding agencies and academic research centers to help them focus their resources on those critical areas that will yield the greatest returns.

“Now, more than ever, it is important for industry to identify the key enabling technologies required for continued innovation and to concentrate R&D on those areas where there is the greatest need,” said Bob Pfahl, vice president of global operations for iNEMI.  “Not only has the recession caused budgets to shrink but, as manufacturing becomes more distributed, the responsibility for R&D investments is being pushed further down in the supply chain to companies that have traditionally operated with small profit margins.”

“The iNEMI Research Priorities provide an excellent tool for helping university-based research programs focus on areas that are relevant to industry,” said Carol Handwerker, professor of materials engineering at Purdue University and co-chair of the iNEMI Research Committee.  “Academia is playing an increasingly important role in R&D as corporations invest less internally in long-term basic research, so it is critical that our research programs support the highest priority needs of the electronics industry and contribute significantly in providing the scientific and technical solutions to these needs.”

The 2009 iNEMI Roadmap identified more than 100 research needs.  iNEMI’s Research Committee grouped these needs into seven research areas — manufacturing processes, systems integration, energy, the environment, materials and reliability, design, and information management — and identified the top priorities for each area.

In some cases, research needs have shifted since iNEMI published its 2007 Research Priorities, and others have remained the same, as summarized below.  Overall, materials research — both to develop new materials and improve existing materials — continues to dominate R&D needs.

Manufacturing Processes — The top priority continues to be the development of a new methodology/strategy for R&D in today’s global outsourcing environment.  The second priority is to develop the infrastructure needed to produce lower-cost, high-density interconnect substrates for portable electronic products.

Systems Integration — Continued increases in functionality and integration of functions into common silicon or high-density packages raises numerous challenges.  What once was a multi-board system is now a single chip.  At the same time, the business model has changed and it is no longer possible to achieve systems engineering as it was once done in large, vertically integrated companies.  As a result, it can be difficult (or impossible) to achieve the necessary level of optimization, which could, ultimately, limit improvements to performance, cost, size and reliability.  The top research need continues to be to develop 3D interconnect structures with associated thermal management.  Optical component integration is identified as the second priority for 2009.

Energy — The top priority is to increase energy efficiency in electronic products.  Second is to develop LED materials to produce high-efficiency light sources (e.g., solid state lighting) for better and more efficient systems.

The Environment — The top research priority for this area remains the same:  to develop sound scientific methods to evaluate environmental impacts of materials.  The second priority is to develop a sustainable infrastructure for recycling electronic products.

Materials and Reliability — As mentioned previously, materials research requirements dominate the R&D needs of the electronics industry.  As in 2007, the top research priority in this area is to develop the next generation of solder alloys with better area array shock, lower cost, lower temperature and reduced copper dissolution issues.  The second priority is to develop less expensive organic packaging substrates.

Design — There is an increasing need for integrative design tools and processes.  The top priority for design is to create low-cost solutions for carrying >10Gb/s signal rates between components on a PCB.  (This priority was second in 2007.)  The second priority is to scale PCB material properties (loss, Dk) for low-cost delivery of >15Gb/s signaling on existing bus topologies.

Information Management — Fragmentation in the supply chain is helping drive increased interest in information management (IM).  The top priority identified for IM is to develop infrastructure to track components through the supply chain in order to prevent counterfeiting.  The second priority is to devise environmental IM systems that support full material data and can be integrated into PDM systems.  The ultimate objective is to enable tracking of material content throughout the supply chain using the BOM.

The 2009 Research Priorities can be downloaded from the iNEMI website at http://thor.inemi.org/webdownload/RI/2009_Research_Priorities.pdf.

About iNEMI
The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative’s mission is to identify and close technology gaps.  This industry-led consortium is made up of more than 65 manufacturers, suppliers, industry associations and consortia, government agencies and universities.  iNEMI roadmaps the needs of the electronics industry, identifies gaps in the technology infrastructure, establishes implementation projects to eliminate these gaps (both business and technical), and stimulates standards activities to speed the introduction of new technologies.  iNEMI is based in Herndon, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.), with regional offices in Shanghai, China and Limerick, Ireland.  For additional information about iNEMI, visit http://www.inemi.org.

For further information:
Cynthia Williams
+1 207-871-1260
cwilliams@inemi.org