Protech, a leading player in the semiconductor industry, anticipates a surge in sales for its ultra-precision laser bonding equipment used in semiconductor packages, jointly developed with a US-based global second-to-third OSAT (Outsourcing Semiconductor Package Test) company.
The advanced Laser Assisted Bonder (LAB), as it’s known in the sector, has been on the wish lists of leading semiconductor firms across the globe. However, the terms of Protech’s contract with the OSAT partner had restricted external sales of this highly sought-after equipment. This limitation has recently been lifted, as Protech confirmed on June 5th, saying, “The contract was notified of cancellation in mid-May. We can sell the equipment to other customers now.”
LAB distinguishes itself by applying targeted heat to a chip for just 1 to 2 seconds with a laser to attach a die and a substrate, a significant advancement over traditional infrared (IR) reflow equipment, which exposes the entire chip and package substrate to heat for 5 to 7 minutes. This older process led to issues such as warpage and cold soldering failure, particularly problematic for advanced chips with thinner package substrates.
Protech, which has been developing its LAB technology with the US OSAT company for several years, has found a solution to these issues, and the results have not gone unnoticed. TSMC and global companies like Apple have sought to purchase the equipment, although contractual restrictions previously barred these sales. TSMC instead ordered similar equipment from domestic laser cells, but the purchases reportedly failed to lead to process expansion due to inferior characteristics.
An industry practitioner remarked, “Protech has been developing laser technology related to the process for about 10 years, and has increased its equipment lineup with various applications in mind.”
In the past year, LAB equipment represented only 5% of Protech’s total sales. However, with sales restrictions lifted and a growing demand for laser bonding in the package sector, the proportion of sales is projected to rise dramatically.