Getting Big Ideas about ‘Small’ in NW AR

One of my customers is also a good friend. I emailed him from Fayetteville as soon as I got internet…

Dear Walt-

This is the first email sent from my new digs!

The address is:

Machine2Wireless, LLC

700 W. Research Center Blvd., Room 1260

Fayetteville, AR72701

Mark

He replied…

Welcome to your new home!

I have been unable to find anyone who can make the delivery requirements for my filters.

We received the one test fixture yesterday from you, but for my immediate needs is there any way you can machine one each of these parts:[p/n 01][p/n 02][p/n 03][p/n 04][p/n 05][p/n 06]

Even the simple brass squares would help.  We can at least build up one of the little filters if we have the [p/n 03].

I wrote back…

Which parts do you absolutely need before next Thursday?

*Everything* is disassembled, even the computer where the drawings reside, but if you need it, you need it and it will get done!

He wrote…

Wow.  I hate to put you in a bad position.  [Our customer] told me yesterday that they are planning on taking their [circuit] to a customer in India at the end of the month.  These filters are needed to make it function…

I wrote…

What bad position? All I want to do is pull my weight.

I am hoping to have the mill back together by tomorrow.

I got the mill back together and trammed and everything checked out. I started to look at the first print a little more seriously, since it was fixin’ to get made… Holy cow, this thing’s tiny!

small_stop

The first part was so small, I didn’t have a small enough vise stop to register it. I decided to chuck a 0.125 inch pin gauge and register off that.

Long story short, I got the cavity milled (it’s for a tiny tubular filter), got all features done on the back side and the ends and then finished up the other five parts.

The next day I wrote…

Dear Walt-

You should be receiving a small package Monday. The small square was impossible to clamp on my mill, so I had to file it.

On Thursday I toured the High Density Electronics Center here. They have lots and lots of cool hardware that I wanted you to be aware of:

  • Ion beam milling (<10 nm)
  • SST 3130 vacuum / pressure furnace
  • Wire bonding, ball bonding, meshbonding, ribbon bonding.
  • K & S dicing saw(s)
  • Thin film photolithography / multilayer additive subtractive process
  • Silicon solid state fab (sort of a toy, but still cool!)
  • LTCC
  • Environmental test lab
  • Metallography / ultrasonic imaging
  • 2 HP 8510C VNA’s

I also got to go inside an anechoic chamber; sitting outside of it was an Agilent PNA-X and a (Cascade?) wafer probe. The only things I did not see were any sort of CNC or 3D printing capabilities.

At first I thought, “There is more development capability here than I will need in a lifetime,” but this morning I woke up and wondered, “Who knows?”

… Got any big ideas?

Walt wrote back…

Hi Mark,

The tiny little parts were waiting on my desk.  Wow.  These parts look so much larger on the screen.  Let’s hope that we’re able to build them…Thanks for getting these built.  I may need some more to fill the gap in delivery until we can finalize the design and/or get a source of supply.

The HiDEC sounds fantastic.  Yes, I can think of a number of projects that we could explore with their help.  One of the most attractive to me is to understand how to build LTCC parts like [high volume vendors], but for smaller volumes.  Many of our customers need filters that can best be handled with LTCC, but as I understand it the process is very dependent upon the manufacturing site.

Have a good weekend,

Walt

This week I have to move a couple of projects that came up from TX, but then perhaps we’ll be looking into low volume LTCC components.

Anybody else? Got any big ideas?

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