From one pioneer to another: the first maskless aligner for manufacturing in Spain
June 2, 2020
Heidelberg Instruments received a purchase order for a production-level maskless aligner MLA300 from KERAjet, a digital ceramic printing company from Spain.
KERAjet is an inventor and a pioneer in digital ceramic printing solutions. The company is steadily growing and actively invests in R&D to develop new technologies, not limited to ceramics.
A few years ago, KERAjet embarked on a microelectronics project. Initially, the company used services of external silicon foundries, but it soon realized that a new batch needs to be produced to test every small change in the design, which is expensive and takes a minimum of six months.
To reduce the batch production from several months to a few days, KERAjet decided to invest in their own R&D microelectronics lab equipped with a Maskless Aligner.
“For sure we could not be competitive for production against big foundries, but during the scale-up of the production, the high throughput of MLA300 significantly raises the threshold level for switching to external foundries.” – says Rafael Vicent, head of the R&D department at KERAjet.
MLA300 is the first maskless aligner designed by Heidelberg Instruments specifically for low- and mid-volume manufacturing. The tool was released in 2019 and is already installed and running at a few production sites. MLA300 replaces mask aligners and steppers for applications where maskless lithography has a significant advantage: Patterning of substrates with warp or surface topography (e.g. alumina) which can be compensated during patterning, or small series, prototyping and legacy product manufacturing where the direct writing greatly simplifies and shortens the process. Any application that requires a flexible adaptation of the pattern can be efficiently implemented by the MLA300 system.
MLA300 was designed in close collaboration with industrial customers to meet their stringent requirements. It can be fully automated and compatible with manufacturing execution systems (MES). The MLA300 can integrate up to 4 exposure modules to provide sufficient throughput for industrial applications. Users can customize the system according to their requirements in resolution, writing speed, resists and substrate handling by choosing modules with different wavelength and resolution. “MLA300 is one of our most demanding R&D projects ever. Our engineers developed an optical engine that integrates up to four optic modules. It is even possible to combine modules with different wavelengths or resolutions. That means you can customize the MLA300 according to the specific application requirements in terms of resolution, write-speed and substrate handling.” – says Steffen Diez, COO of Heidelberg Instruments.
About Heidelberg Instruments: Heidelberg Instruments has been dominating the market for direct-write laser lithography tools for over 35 years, with well over 900 tools installed worldwide. The product range covers everything from versatile micro- and nanofabrication table-top tools for research to high-end lithography for semiconductor photomask production.
We look forward to discuss our products and services with you.