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NOVEMBER 2022 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 9 packaging capabilities, where will the skilled staffing come from? Suddenly, and once again, the industry's gaze turns to the academic com- munity to educate talent, and to employers to remain competitive with hiring packages. But that's an entirely different conversation. In this issue of PCB007 Magazine, we pull out the microscope and peer down into the UHDI niche in the marketplace. Calumet's Todd Brassard and Meredith LaBeau dis- cuss UHDI and the give-and-take that comes with helping define a new market niche in their interview, while Sunny Patel at Candor Industries sheds light on the operational side of ramping up UHDI skill sets and facilities. Jan Pederson shares his industry-wide per- spective on supply and demand for UHDI as well. As features get smaller, drilling and cut- ting capabilities must also become more pre- cise; in a group discussion with the MKS/ESI team, they share their work to deliver laser systems for UHDI applications. Of course, we bring you columns from IPC's Dr. John Mitchell, Gardien's Todd Kolmodin, Chem- cut's Christopher Bonsell, Paige Fiet in her IPC role, Travis Kelly representing PCBAA, and our very own Happy Holden. ere is still a lot to work through in UDHI; there are many more questions than answers at this moment. But what is clear is that we will be embracing this technology, adding these capabilities, whether we want to or not. Semi- conductor advancements will require it. As always, our mission is to help move the conversation forward in the industry. To that end, we appreciate your feedback and sugges- tions identifying the most important topics. To be honest, yours are among our favorite emails to receive. Please keep in touch. PCB007 lot like a PCB, but their feature sizes are in the micron range—much smaller than most PCB shops can fabricate, and much larger than cur- rent semiconductor facilities can build. Ironi- cally, the advanced packaging component that fills the gap needs to be built with a technol- ogy that is right in the middle of the fabrication gap. It is within this fabrication gap that UHDI resides: To make the interposers necessary to deploy advanced packaging, UHDI fabrication is necessary; advanced packaging is the "killer application" that makes UHDI a financially feasible investment for a fabricator. ere, in a nutshell, is the symbiosis. Our technical editor, Happy Holden, "father of HDI," is well-quoted saying that HDI took a long time to be adopted, in part because it took a long time for the cost vs. capability evaluation to flip. Until cellphones, there just hadn't been a "killer application" for HDI that pushed it out of its niche status. It seems safe to say that UHDI will grow out of its niche status and into a major technology support- ing the semiconductor industry's appetite for advanced packaging. Ah, but there's a piece missing from this puz- zle, upon which my lunchtime question cen- tered. I asked, "Which mid-career engineer is more likely to pivot their career into UHDI for substrates—PCB fabricators or IC manufac- turers?" Our conversation kicked this conun- drum around for much longer than I expected. So, what was the outcome? On the one hand, PCB fabs seem the most likely to understand the interposer game, but they will need a facility that resembles the semiconductor fabs of 25 or 30 years ago. at's a big step up for most of them. Will they be able to pick up the necessary expertise? at's precisely the challenge for the semi- conductor engineer. Moving to UHDI fea- ture sizes is a big step backward from current semiconductor feature sizes. While the semi- conductor engineers would have the experi- ence, would they also find it lacking in chal- lenge? e upshot: Even when we build out Nolan Johnson is managing editor of PCB007 Magazine. Nolan brings 30 years of career experience focused almost entire- ly on electronics design and manu- facturing. To read other columns or to contact Johnson, click here.

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