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Shortage of epoxy resin expected after quake

Posted: 22 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:bismaleimide triazine resin? BT alternatives? BT epoxy?

Potential alternatives to BT are made by Park Electromechanical Corp., which operates under the name Nelco, Rogers Corp.'s Advanced Circuit Materials division, Isola Group, Endicott Interconnect Technologies Inc. and possibly others, Vardaman said, adding that her firm was still researching the issue. But none of these materials have been qualified for this application by suppliers, she said. Qualifying the materials for use would take at least six weeks, she said.

"The industry just hasn't had the motivation to qualify a lot of other materials," Vardaman said.

Vardaman said she is aware that suppliers have some inventory of BT on hand, but said that she does not personally believe it would be sufficient to overcome a potential shortage.

Matsumoto noted that MediaTek Inc. does not use BT in its packages, but that Spreadtrum Communications Co. Ltd does. Matsumoto said Texas Instruments Inc. uses BT in its packages, but since TI's Miho fab was damaged in the quake and won't return to full production until at least July, the BT issue should be resolved before it becomes a problem for TI.

According to Berger, the back-end assembly and test firms that use BT include Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc., Siliconware Precision Industries Co. Ltd and Amkor Technology Inc.

Nomura said the two main users of BT that the company is aware of are Taiwanese IC package substrate providers Kinsus Interconnect Technology Corp. and Unimicron Corp. Nomura also warned that if Qualcomm can't overcome the BT issue, it could affect its ability to supply parts to high-profile handsets made by Apple Inc., HTC Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

Vardaman also noted that many of the suppliers of raw silicon in Japan have also been impacted by the quake and resulting infrastructure disruption, and said that a reduced supply of silicon could make the BT shortage a moot pointif companies can't get enough wafers, they won't need as much BT.

Amkor, ASE, SPIL, STATS and other chip-packaging houses procure BT resin. They use the material for chip packaging for a plethora of customers.

As reported, Amkor said that its manufacturing facility in Kitakami, Japan, located about 418km northeast of Tokyo, has suffered relatively minor damage in the March 11 earthquake. The Kitakami facility is currently closed due to power supply interruptions and plans are underway to restore production capabilities at the site when power, gas and water supplies, and transportation systems are stabilized.

The Kitakami facility is Amkor's smallest operation in both units and revenue, generating approximately $10 million to $11 million of monthly sales prior to the earthquake. The Kitakami facility only provides services to a few Japan-based customers.

Regarding the materials issue, Amkor said: ''Japan is a major supplier of semiconductors, silicon wafers, specialty chemicals, substrates, equipment and other supplies to the electronics industry, and the industry is currently evaluating the potential effect of the earthquake on the overall supply chain for electronics. Since the earthquake, we have been in close communication with our customers, suppliers and OEMs to analyze the situation and evaluate alternative sources of supply where appropriate. Like many companies in the semiconductor industry supply chain, we operate with multiple suppliers from different geographic regions. This diversification is intended to help mitigate any potential disruptions from events such as these. However, it is too early to comment on the broader impact the earthquake may have on the electronics industry and our business and operations.''

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. is in the same boat. According to a report from Dow Jones, ASE is also obtaining ''molding compound'' from Korea and China. This was after its suppliers in Japan were impacted by the quake, according to the report.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times

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