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ITEC’s wire- and die-bonders do their job at an incredible speed. They can place up to 90,000 chips per hour on a substrate, which is by far the world record. Perhaps even more impressive, is that this is done with an accuracy of five micrometres. Sioux Technologies has been working with ITEC since 2008, contributing to the development and prototyping of this high-tech equipment. Meanwhile, the next step in this partnership has been taken; Sioux is responsible for the construction of the Tagliner.

The Tagliner is specifically developed for applying chips to Radio Frequency Identification Labels, or RFID Tags. That is a growth market. ITEC, that has been operating as an independent subsidiary of semiconductor manufacturer Nexperia since July 2021, therefore sees it as very promising.

Lex Schoordijk, project manager Emerging Markets at ITEC: ‘The paper industry is currently making a massive shift from analogue to digital barcodes, for example for automatic checkout, theft protection and identifying and tracking products. We started developing the Tagliner in 2015 and delivered six to our customers. These are now running in production lines in India, France and Japan, among others. In fact, ITEC is still “the new kid on the block” in this market. But with the best and fastest machines in the world, we can add a lot of value. Now is the time to scale up production, and we are doing that together with Sioux.’

Unique module
The Tagliner is built on the generic technology platform of ITEC’s wire- and
die-bonders. However, the heart of the machine is formed by a unique product handler consisting of three modules. The first puts a drop of glue on the substrate, the second places the chip. Which is pushed out of the back of a wafer and picked up by a mill, which passes it to a second mill so that the chip can be placed with the right side up. The third module takes care of the thermal hardening of the compound. All this happens at a speed untraceable to the human eye.

Major accomplishment
Paul van Cruchten, project manager NPI Realization-Industrialization at Sioux: ‘The machine places more than 13 chips per second, that rate will be further increased in the future. All process steps are monitored in real-time by cameras and software. These record everything that happens, including when something goes wrong. However, mistakes are rare. The yield of the system is 99.8 percent. That is a major accomplishment. It is wonderful to know that our specialists in mathematics and optomechatronics contributed to the development of ITEC’s technology. That Sioux now gets to make this machine is a very nice next step in our partnership.’

April 2021, ITEC assigned Sioux to build five product handlers for the Tagliner. These were delivered at the beginning of 2022. This was followed by a request for Sioux to take on the integration of this system throughout the entire machine, starting with five Tagliners. Sioux organized the manufacturing process, the supply chain, assembly and testing. Production started in May 2022, to deliver the first Tagliners before the end of the year. The speed with which this all happened is remarkable, especially given the complexity of the product. How is that even possible?

Solid foundation
‘Of course, it starts with craftsmanship and experience’, says Van Cruchten. ‘In addition, Lex and I have a good personal click. We can work together seamlessly on all fronts.’ Schoordijk: ‘And the same goes for our people. Our teams are self-managing and complement each other well. They work side by side in Sioux’s assembly hall. These are ideal conditions for a smooth transfer of knowledge. Moreover, we do everything in complete openness and transparency. If there are problems, and there always are, they are simply solved. The management meets every two weeks. We provide a good briefing so that things keep running smoothly at that level too. This is how we build a solid foundation for the future. Production will be considerably increased; in 2023 we will build another ten Tagliners. In addition, we will take up new production challenges together.’