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New Production Line for Probe Cards and New R&D Lab

FEINMETALL continues investing in production and development facilities at the German headquarter in Herrenberg. Around six million Euro have been spent for new cleanrooms, production machines and test equipment. Specially developed machines now lead to higher production capacities, lower error rates and shorter lead times. 

At the opening of the new manufacturing area the General Manager Wolfgang Bürkle looked back on a positive fiscal year 2015, that resulted in a revenue increase of eleven percent compared to the year before. All in all Feinmetall has nearly doubled the worldwide revenues within the last five years. 

The main driver of the growth is the export business, because more than two thirds of the revenue have been generated outside of Germany. „To enable further growth and to stay competitive internationally, we have considerably invested and made our production even more efficient. With a further automation and streamlining of our processes we want to strengthen our research and development as well as the manufacturing at our headquarter in Herrenberg“, Wolfgang Bürkle, the General Manager of FEINMETALL, explained.

The development times and innovation cycles in the semiconductor business demand flexibility and speed of the test equipment providers. „With this investment we can accelerate the developmend and production of probe cards by more than a third. That is an enormous advantage for our business“, Wolfgang Bürkle points out. In detail the process streamlining is based on an integrative product creation process as well as on more automation in the production. That leads to higher production capacities as well as higher process stability, which is a critical factor in these high precision products. „In this product hundreds of electrical contacts in the diameter of a thin hair are placed in a space of the size of a stamp and in exactly defined distances, which requires highest precision“, explains Wolfgang Bürkle the challenges of the probe card production.

A cleanroom environment in production, special probe card washing machine as well as a special test instrument for the final inspection are important elements of the new production line that early reduces the error rate. But also the R&D lab was equipped with new instruments to achieve outstanding conditions for developing new products. Additionally the R&D competence is complemented by cooperations with research institutes like Fraunhofer. "We already work on the probe cars of the future and togehter with the chip manufacturers we are developing new systems" , Wolfgang Bürkle recaps. 

Miniaturization combined with higher functionality is the goal of micro-electric systems of the future. The whole reconstruction of the probe card production facilities has been realized within only a few months and during normal operation at a high degree of utilization.