Kobe Steel, Ltd. announces that it has licensed Germany's Wieland-Werke AG to produce and sell Kobe's Super KFC series of three copper alloys for leadframes.
Leadframes are the metal frames on which semiconductors are attached for package assembly. The Super KFC series are new alloys for IC semiconductor leadframes, and Kobe Steel is working to turn this high-end product, developed in 2006, into a next-generation, world standard.
The license agreement with Wieland addresses the need from leadframe manufacturers to procure materials from multiple sources, enabling them to reduce purchasing risks.
Copper alloys such as C19400 and C70250 are widely used for IC semiconductor leadframes. These alloys contain considerable amounts of iron, nickel, silicon and other elements to give the leadframes strength. However, the elements sometimes precipitate on the surface of the copper sheet. As they may in some cases adversely affect surface quality, special pretreatment after etching and cleaning after plating are required in leadframe production.
Kobe Steel's Super KFC series was developed based on the popular KFC series created in the 1970s. For discrete devices, the KFC series currently commands the top share of roughly 30% of the Asia market, according to Kobe Steel estimates.
Through original chemical composition design, the amounts of the elements in the Super KFC series are minimized, while strength is maintained. This greatly facilitates pretreatment after etching and cleaning after plating in leadframe production, leading to considerable cost savings and higher reliability of the leadframes.
In addition, leadframes for low pin-count IC semiconductors and discrete semiconductors, which are relatively easy to process, often use silver in the plating stage due to its bonding properties. Using the Super KFC series enables the plating process itself to be shortened, which further reduces costs.
The license agreement is not the first time Kobe Steel has worked with Wieland, a major European producer of copper products. The two companies operate a joint venture called KobeWieland Copper Products, LLC, which makes copper tube in the United States. With the new license agreement, Kobe and Wieland aim to turn Super KFC into a next-generation world standard.