Thin-film circuitry supports a wide range of active and passive components and assemblies in microwave systems. In order to design and manufacture such circuits, a host of precision machines and wide array of expertise is needed. Fortunately, CTT, Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA), a company long associated with high-quality microwave power amplifiers for military and satellite-communications systems, is now offering a comprehensive array of thin-film microwave manufacturing capabilities for true custom and build-to-print designs. Engineers can now leverage the design and production capabilities of this well-established manufacturer to produce their own standard and customer thin-film components and assemblies.

The company's experience in thin-film microwave designs from 300 MHz through 45 GHz is now available on a contract basis. The thin-film laboratory and production capabilities are housed in a 45,000 ft.2 facility specifically designed to accommodate the unique requirements of hybrid microwave integrated circuits (MICs) conforming to MIL-PRF-38534C standards. The manufacturing space includes 12,000 ft.2 of Class 1000 and Class 10,000 clean room areas (Fig. 2).

The facility is well stocked with computer-controlled machines for processing microwave ceramic and Teflon-based printed-circuit boards (PCBs) with automated and optimized thin-film hybrid manufacturing process well suited to the production of MICs using "chip-and-wire" techniques. Using these techniques, unpackaged active and passive chip devices and components are precisely placed and attached on a PCB, with electrical connections made via automated wire-bond machines to the PCB traces and ground planes. Automated manufacturing equipment includes automated pick-and-place machines for handing hybrid microwave ICs, surface-mount components, and leaded components; automated wire bonders capable of handling 0.5-to-0.7-mm bonding wire and 2-to-25-mm bonding ribbon; programmable epoxy dispensers; and eutectic and batch/continuous-flow component-mounting equipment.

In addition, the facility boasts comprehensive inventory control tools, including full nitrogen containment to preserve solder joints and bond connections, project stock accounting, component and assembly lot-number control, and bonded customer storage. Material management capabilities include project availability and yield analysis; supplier delivery, pricing, and cost-performance auditing; and full budget management and analysis of target project goals.

The facility's extensive array of test equipment and expertise extends from standard to custom mechanical environmental, and electrical testing through 45 GHz using high-performance vector network analyzers. Additional quality and production testing includes solderability testing and analysis, optical microscopy (Fig. 1), electron scanning microscopy, thermal and imaging analysis, plating-thickness measurements, electromagnetic-interference (EMI) testing, surface and wire insulation resistance measurements, and mechanical tolerance testing.

CTT's thin-film facility allows engineers to work in almost any commercial layout file format, including AutoCAD, DXF, Gerber, PDF, and INVESTOR files. In addition, the facility provides full on-line schematic capture and PCB layout capabilities to those in need of developing a new file or modifying an existing design. For more on these thin-film manufacturing services, request a free copy of the four-page brochure "Thin-Film Microwave Manufacturing Services: Custom and Build-To-Print." CTT, Inc., 241 E. Java Dr., Sunnyvale, CA 94089; (408) 541-0596, FAX: (408) 541-0794, e-mail: sales@cttinc.com, Internet: www.cttinc.com.