Northrop Grumman: 3D Nanomaterials May Counter Gaps in Additive Supply Chain

Reading time ( words)

The best technology is dead in the water if your domestic supply chain won’t support it. That was just one of the takeaways from Dr. Judy Dickson’s talk during the SMTA Additive Electronics TechXchange.

In her presentation, titled “Advanced PWBs: A Collaboration Between Design, Operations, and the Supply Chain,” Dickson, a senior principal systems engineer at Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, laid out the many challenges her department faces in fielding HDI advanced packaging into the next decade. Most of these challenges are related to sourcing the necessary materials in the U.S.

Dickson explained how Northrop Grumman qualifies its suppliers. The company sent sourcing assessments to over 30 suppliers to determine their capabilities and capacity gaps, and the results showed a number of gaps in the domestic supply chain.

Much of her session focused on HDI and high-density build-up (HDBU), with HD technology forming a key part of the company’s next-gen RF sensors. Dickson said that HDI allows vias down to .005” to .006” and mixed materials, while HDBU permits 0.002” vias and 0.0015” dielectrics. The interposers used for HDI and HDBU are difficult to source in the U.S.

Northrop Grumman is currently seeking new sources of materials for their next-gen interposers. And the clock is ticking; according to Dickson’s charts, the company’s demand for HDI is slated to almost triple by 2022 and double again by 2026.

The gaps in the supply chain for HDI and HDBU technologies have lead Northrop Grumman’s engineers to look to other options, including 3D-printed nanomaterials. Dickson discussed some of the work focused on this area, and she noted that research is continuing.

Like many U.S. defense firms, Northrop Grumman can develop the most cutting-edge technologies for our warfighters but finding domestic sources for necessary materials is likely to remain a constant struggle. Thanks to Dr. Dickson for shining a spotlight on this important issue.



Suggested Items

Increase Traceability, Prevent Counterfeiting

08/25/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Michael Ford, senior director of emerging industry strategy for Aegis Software and I-Connect007 columnist, speaks about the increasing importance of traceability in manufacturing and throughout the supply chain, including how it affects such areas as counterfeit components and inventory management.

The iNEMI 2019 Board Assembly Roadmap

06/01/2020 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
iNEMI continues to publish chapters of its 2019 Roadmap and recently presented an overview of its Board Assembly Roadmap Chapter in a webinar prefaced by Grace O’Malley, vice president of global operations. The new chapter is just the latest addition to this global effort from 23 working groups contributing expert input from all aspects of the electronics industry.

High-reliability, Low-temperature Solder Alloys

05/18/2020 | Dr. Pritha Choudhury, MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions
Increased digitalization and greater connectivity have been driving miniaturization and more complex and integrated designs in electronics. As the real estate on PCBs shrinks, so does the size of packages. However, the drive for finding design solutions for increased performance has continued to expand. The solder joint is an essential part of assemblies for electronic devices as it provides electrical, thermal, and mechanical connections. Therefore, soldering materials have been evolving to enable such a technological revolution.

Copyright © 2021 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.