Micro Contacts IC Test Sockets

Formed Micro Bump Contacts

The world of miniature contacts is quite amazing. Pictured above is a special test socket with formed micro contact bumps that are .005 inch (0.127mm) in diameter. There are quite a number of processes used in creating this miniature structure involving photo chemical machining and miniature “bump forming techniques” (for lack of a better word).

Micro Test Socket To give everyone a concept of how small these micro bumps really are, the picture on the left is the actual size (not a thumbnail image) of the test socket. Simply amazing how small things are getting. Many of these types of devices are used in products for the military, aerospace, communications, and a host of other high tech industries. Photos courtesy of E-FAB.

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Heat Staking The World Together

Metal and Plastic Heat Staking in Manufacturing and Assembly
By: James A. Warholic

Ever see the insides of a cell phone and wonder how it is assembled? How about the small metal battery compartments inside hi-tech toys? Ever taken apart the miniature memory modules that go in digital cameras? These products and others such as keyboards, laptop computers, cordless phones, SIMM cards, PCMCIA card modules, automotive parts, and even the remote controls are assembled with what is known as the heat staking process.

Heat Staking Process

When a manufacture wants to join metal-to-metal or plastics-to-metal via small plastic posts that protrude from the plastic housing a heat staking machine is used to apply controlled heat, time, and pressure through a heat staking head. Typically the head is heated up to a controlled temperature. Once heated to the proper temperature depending on the types of metals and plastics being staked, the head makes contact with the protruding plastic posts and are formed into various types of heat staked posts. Staked post types include: Flat, Profile, Dome, Hollow, Cross-Shaped, and Rosette Posts.

When an entire plastic side needs to be formed into a plastic lip to hold a metal device, glass lens, or another plastic assembly in place, this process is referred to as side swaging.

The heat staking process is found in the following sectors: aerospace, industrial, medical, dental, automotive, semiconductor, electrical, appliance, telecommunications, fixtures, electronics, house-wares, cellular, communications, memory module units, sporting equipment, PCB connector, PDAs, LCD connectors, computers, and more. Just about every type of manufacturing industry uses some form of heat staking to assemble their products.

Heat Stake Machines (Thermal Presses)

The equipment used for heat staking comes in a wide variety of types and styles. The heat stake machines are sometimes referred to as thermal presses. Many of these thermal press machines are custom made to accommodate various product sizes and product lines. Tooling can be custom designed to allow for various manufactured parts to be assembled via heat staking from one machine. Simply remove one tooling setup and interchange it with another.

Ultrasonic Staking Machines

Ultrasonics is also another form of product assembly, but due to the new tighter tolerance size constraints of the miniature products and the larger size head design requirements for ultrasonics to function properly, and typically a slower throughput with ultrasonic assembly equipment, more manufactures are heading to the heat staking machines route for their mass production parts and products assemblies. A key advantage is that heat staking heads (the portion of the equipment that makes contact with the plastic piece) can be designed to incorporate very small multi-point contacts to speed up the mass production assembly process. In essence, you can have a dozen or more contacts all making contact at the same time on a very small assembly component, and quickly stake the entire assembly all in one cycle.

Heat Sealing Machines

The same machines used for heat staking can also be used for the heat sealing process. For example, when LCD display units need to be applied to a circuit board assembly, a special conductive heat activated glue-like adhesive is activated with a heat press machine. For an example of how a heat staking and heat sealing machine and head function for a cell phone or memory module see YouTube for heat staking and heat sealing videos.

The heat staking process is known for its outstanding repeatability in the mass production environment. Heat staked joints in the miniature world of plastics assembly can withstand the rigors of vibration of heavy daily use of the assembled products. The process is also known for the mega machines that are involved in the large format automotive sector. Dashboard covers, door panels, and even the dashboard assemblies themselves are assembled with these mega heat staking machines.

No doubt about it, we live in a mass production heat staked world.

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Radio Frequency Identifying RFID

Chip Implants for ID

More and more companies are investing into RFID technology to provide everything from inventory control systems to tracking cars and people.

WalMart told their suppliers that an RFID system needed to be incorporated for supply chain tracking, into cases and pallets for tracking of products into and out of warehouses, and from the suppliers.

There are basically two types of systems in use today. One is a passive RFID system in which a micro chip is implanted in an object and when that object is passed over or near a transmitter/receiver a signal is reflected back from the RFID to the receiver. By assigning identifiable numbers and other data to each chip, tracking can be accomplished in real-time via the Internet or internal servers. The other system is an active system where the chip transmits and some can even store information changes. Ranges with passive can be several feet vs. active RFID can be hundreds of feet or more by incorporating cellular and satellite technology and the world wide web.

This technology can be used in a diverse number of ways and it certainly brings into issue the legal and ethical implications from privacy and controlling aspects of Big Brother getting involved in the mix. People tracking is already going on at the criminal level but what about when they implant a chip in your car. As you drive from point A to point B there could be sensors implanted in the roadways and if you got there too fast, the system would automatically know you were speeding and cite you a ticket. Not to mention that a history could be built to let someone spy on you and know where you have been anytime that vehicle is used. This type of system might sound good for tracking your teenager and making sure they are not using the vehicle for inappropriate activities but what about your sales activities?

When a person really understands how small some of these devices are it gives a whole different perspective to the meaning of the word implants. Some of these devices are the size of a grain of rice or smaller. There is even a company that makes a medical RFID chip that is implanted under the skin of an individual which can keep track of the medical history for that patent. This technology is a take-off of searching for and tracking pets when they might get lost.

Yes, it really is amazing what RFID technology can do for us today. But in the whole mix of things it can also be used both for good and bad. So consider carefully what we ask for, because we just might get it. Imagine the possibilities.

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M2M Man-or-Machine?

Are we ready for M2M “Machine to Machine”?

As the world becomes more and more computer automated there is the need for remotely gathering telemetry data or remotely accessing equipment, programs, and machines.

M2M represents man-to-machine or Machine-to-machine and is gathering more steam as the new buzzword for the present and the future.

This type of process is already going on extensively in various industries. The trucking industry is a prime target for tracking devices installed in the trucks. As they move across the country information is automatically sent to a server for tracking, routing, and scheduling purposes.

Telemetry gathering was done with our first ventures into outer-space. With cell phone bands, wireless Internet, and relatively inexpensive satellite communications M2M is taking on a whole new meaning.

M2M can significantly simplify general tasks such as having a meter reader person replaced with an automatic transmission type device that could send a signal over the power grid to a central data collection point.

While this represents major breakthroughs in technology it does bring up ethical and business issues related to Man being replaced by Machines. We even have the next stage going on where machines are building machines. At what point does man sit back and let the machines do all the work for him? While the Terminator series of movies was fashioned out of science fiction theme of man versus machines, are we approaching a point where we may have “T3 The Rise of the Machines?”

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Here is How IC the Integrated Circuit

The Inventor of the Integrated Circuit has died but his Invention Lives on Today and Tomorrow.

The world would not be the same today without the IC chip. The first IC or integrated circuit was first created in 1958 by Jack Kilby. Prior to those days, circuits were built using large tubes and other components.

 

The miniaturization of circuits has continually evolved until whole computer systems are now placed on a single chip. There appears to be no end in site for how much can be squeezed into or embedded onto a surface area. As things have progressed over the years the technology has managed to jump over the naysayers about how small things can get or how much processing power can be compacted into a square inch of space. New words have even been invented such as nanotechnology to describe manufacturing at a molecular level. Check out the Nano Gears.

Even websites like this would not be in existence without integrated circuits.

How do UC the IC?

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Backup and Recovery of Hard Drive Failures

I now have a full image backup copy of my PC hard drive.

I have been researching full disk imaging software for awhile now and finally settled on one.

Anyone that has ever tried to do a full image backup of their hard drive with the operating system and all associated files knows how difficult that can be. The Windows system for backup is not the best. If you only want to copy the files without the operating system it will work OK with a hard disk but will not function with other media forms. If it is your desire to be able to make a complete “C drive” disk image while the computer is running from the “C drive” then special software will be required.

One of the concerns that I have had is my internal hard-drive is quite old, with a lot of customer files, programs, and special applications that would be a real pain to rebuild from scratch. The software I selected has a number of features to completely clone a drive image, backup completely, or do incremental backups automatically.

The cool thing about this one was the program was very intuitive to operate from the get-go and then was very easy to verify that it created another image on a large extra internal drive in my PC. It even gave it a new letter “G” as a new partition and mounted hard disk with a password protection so no one would alter the data. It also created a bootable disk on a CD-R. This would be used in the event of a catastrophic failure or if a virus infected the system and a recovery was necessary. Will also work with CD-RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, and even to a network disk, USB, SCSI, or FireWire drives. Other features include: selectable data compression, copy all operating system files, can function in the background, schedule full or incremental backups, and the ability to restore or extract selected files. As I stated above, one very important feature I was looking for is to be able to clone a hard drive so everything was exactly the same as the original hard drive.

Here is what you have been waiting for. The name of the software is: Acronis True Image.

Product Features

  • PC Backup and Recovery of Systems, Applications, and Files – Have you ever accidentally deleted a file, had a virus corrupt your files, or had a disk fail?
  • Fast and Easy Backup and Recovery – Acronis True Image Home 2011 provides complete system image backup and recovery of your home PC’s operating system, applications, settings, and personal files.
  • New Windows 7 Integration – True Image Home 2011 scales to the needs of novices and advanced users alike
  • New Graphical User Interface – We have redesigned our recognized user-friendly interface with new features like Drag and Drop for faster navigation.
  • Continuous Data Protection – Acronis Nonstop Backup automatically creates incremental backups every five minutes allowing users to roll back their systems, files, and folders to any point in time in the past.

OK, now I have peace of mind. Next step is to get another large internal hard disk and clone the current drive, swapping out the old and put in the new.

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