4
Printed Circuit Technology Assessment

Electronic equipment is becoming pervasive and ubiquitous in all aspects of human endeavor, including military activities.1 As electronics become increasingly integrated, the need to interconnect them will likewise continue to grow—and thus the demand for an increasing variety of printed circuit boards (PrCBs) entailing a variety of materials, form factors, and technologies.

PrCBs are sometimes considered as an older technology, the use of which is declining in current and future defense applications. This is simply not the case. The transformation of the armed forces under way in the Department of Defense (DoD) to become a more connected, electronic, and instrumented fighting force means that DoD now buys more PrCBs than ever before, for almost every component, subsystem, and system in use. In the past, many systems were free of electronics; in the near future, everything that a soldier uses, from clothing to food, may have integrated sensors. Of course, PrCBs are also key to electronics hardware used in communications, computer-controlled systems, electronic countermeasures, and fire control and avionics systems. All of these electronics need interconnection to operate, and therefore all will require a variety of printed circuit boards.

Because of this amazing range of applications, PrCBs are a complex and widely varying technology, ranging in size from millimeters to tens of centimeters. The thickness, layers, types, and numbers of interconnects, materials, and chemistry mean that the full range of capabilities and technology is difficult for any one facility to be able to produce. This complexity is very attractive for military performance in that it gives designers many options; it also can translate to headaches for any logistics manager with many different parts to track and maintain.

Because the military must maintain legacy systems, the range of complexity needed to fulfill past, present, and future needs grows exponentially. While the level of current technology on today’s military systems lags a generation or two behind commercial technology, the current rate of change means that military acquisition will have to move much faster to stay within reach. The ability to manufacture very old technologies can be as difficult as it is to manufacture the very newest. As standards change, keeping older equipment operating presents many difficulties.

This entire picture is overlaid with the need for more secure, robust, and reliable PrCBs for military use. New applications will require longer life, reliability under more demanding environmental conditions, protection against tampering before their delivery to DoD, and increased security so that they can continue functioning even if attacked by state-funded hackers. The future needs for military PrCBs are difficult to gauge; the only incontrovertible fact is that more demands are coming.

1  

National Research Council. 2001. Embedded Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 43
Linkages: Manufacturing Trends in Electronic Interconnection Technology 4 Printed Circuit Technology Assessment Electronic equipment is becoming pervasive and ubiquitous in all aspects of human endeavor, including military activities.1 As electronics become increasingly integrated, the need to interconnect them will likewise continue to grow—and thus the demand for an increasing variety of printed circuit boards (PrCBs) entailing a variety of materials, form factors, and technologies. PrCBs are sometimes considered as an older technology, the use of which is declining in current and future defense applications. This is simply not the case. The transformation of the armed forces under way in the Department of Defense (DoD) to become a more connected, electronic, and instrumented fighting force means that DoD now buys more PrCBs than ever before, for almost every component, subsystem, and system in use. In the past, many systems were free of electronics; in the near future, everything that a soldier uses, from clothing to food, may have integrated sensors. Of course, PrCBs are also key to electronics hardware used in communications, computer-controlled systems, electronic countermeasures, and fire control and avionics systems. All of these electronics need interconnection to operate, and therefore all will require a variety of printed circuit boards. Because of this amazing range of applications, PrCBs are a complex and widely varying technology, ranging in size from millimeters to tens of centimeters. The thickness, layers, types, and numbers of interconnects, materials, and chemistry mean that the full range of capabilities and technology is difficult for any one facility to be able to produce. This complexity is very attractive for military performance in that it gives designers many options; it also can translate to headaches for any logistics manager with many different parts to track and maintain. Because the military must maintain legacy systems, the range of complexity needed to fulfill past, present, and future needs grows exponentially. While the level of current technology on today’s military systems lags a generation or two behind commercial technology, the current rate of change means that military acquisition will have to move much faster to stay within reach. The ability to manufacture very old technologies can be as difficult as it is to manufacture the very newest. As standards change, keeping older equipment operating presents many difficulties. This entire picture is overlaid with the need for more secure, robust, and reliable PrCBs for military use. New applications will require longer life, reliability under more demanding environmental conditions, protection against tampering before their delivery to DoD, and increased security so that they can continue functioning even if attacked by state-funded hackers. The future needs for military PrCBs are difficult to gauge; the only incontrovertible fact is that more demands are coming. 1   National Research Council. 2001. Embedded Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

OCR for page 43
Linkages: Manufacturing Trends in Electronic Interconnection Technology WHITHER NEW TECHNOLOGY? The military will need to expand the components that it purchases and stocks today to encompass a number of new technologies in PrCBs. The drivers for innovation in military systems, however, must be balanced with what is possible given new commercial manufacturing and materials innovations. For example, scenarios to standardize parts and limit configurations are possible, which means that more flexible programming options and standardized board designs are of some interest. Military systems that depend on electronics hardware will increasingly require such emerging commercial interconnection technologies as liquid crystal polymers (LCPs), embedded microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), buried optics technologies (optoelectronics), and high-frequency substrates. The areas of impact of new PrCB laminate material development and application range from optics technology advances to microsensor technology development for chemical and biological detection and threat reduction. For improved reliability, security, and performance, improved sensors and process capabilities are needed in a number of areas. Strong partnerships between government, industry, and academia are critical for innovation in this area. Such a collaboration of partners leverages a variety of otherwise unavailable experiences and capabilities and combines the resources to accelerate and increase the impact of the technology advancement. Technology changes will be necessary for the PrCB and interconnection technology to meet the dual mission of providing for legacy product requirements and equipping the warfighter with new hardware. Anticipating areas and directions of technology emergence in future critical technologies can enable the accelerated deployment of new technology as well as more-effective support of that technology for sustaining the warfighter. U.S. INDUSTRY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Historically, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) funded much of the research and development (R&D) for the PrCB market. The OEMs are the companies that sell the final assemblies that incorporate PrCBs; historically they also manufactured the PrCBs. Many OEMs believed that the PrCB was of fundamental importance, and that by maintaining manufacturing as part of their core competency they were better able to drive the technological advancements needed for their specific equipment. In addition, many OEM companies funded R&D because they had sufficient overhead and personnel time to make these types of investments; they also had the best idea of what type of performance would be needed and the best understanding of design constraints for next-generation electronics components. In 1980, 52 percent of the PrCBs manufactured in the United States were made by OEMs and their captive manufacturers. These OEMs traditionally spent approximately 10 percent of the sales value of these in-house-produced PrCBs in R&D efforts to improve manufacturing, quality, and yields. By 2001, in contrast, the committee estimates that the percentage of PrCB production by OEMs had dropped to 1 percent. And by 2004, only a few OEM facilities remained, with a capacity (primarily for dedicated military products) that was less than 0.1 percent of the total U.S. output. As a result of this shift, the traditional sources of R&D funding dropped by two orders of magnitude. In reality, the critical mass of R&D in this industry disappeared, reducing the investment in new technology to near zero. Another large source of R&D funding and activity previously came from the supply base. As OEMs sought and turned to outside sources for PrCBs, a subtier supply industry emerged. Initially, the supplier industry funded a level of R&D similar to that of the OEMs as a percentage of sales, but this has changed for U.S. suppliers. Funding for technical activities from these manufacturers was once estimated to be 10 percent of all U.S.-generated supplier sales dollars in the 1990s. By 2001, both the level of sales and the percentage spent on R&D was decreasing. In 2005, it is estimated that less than 3 percent of sales is spent on technical activities to support PrCB manufacturing. The effect of this loss of R&D spending is expected to have long-term effects. In 1999, U.S.-based PrCB suppliers spent an estimated $50 million on technical activities and new-process and -product R&D. In 2005, this sector will spend less than $10 million for such R&D.2 2   These estimates were gleaned from discussions with industry experts at the committee workshop held December 13-14, 2004. See Appendix D for a list of attendees.

OCR for page 43
Linkages: Manufacturing Trends in Electronic Interconnection Technology One model of innovation is the supplier contributions to R&D. Over time, these have resulted in many new products and processes. In general, the contributions by the OEMs have resulted in improved process efficiencies. The greater-than 75 percent reduction in revenue directed toward new-product and -process R&D could easily result in stagnation of innovation in this sector in the United States, with the outcome that U.S.-based PrCB manufacturers will fall farther behind on the global technology curve. In some areas, military and commercial PrCB technology is currently going in different directions. For example, military PrCBs are combining radio-frequency (RF) and digital technology and are combining more functions in a single board. The design of military PrCBs is driven by spiral development, which can keep military features out of step with commercial boards; the latter are designed from the ground up when improvements are made. GLOBAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Today, most notably in Korea and Japan, non-U.S. captive OEM PrCB manufacturers continue to fund innovation. Companies including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, and NEC Corporation have been very active in R&D for PrCBs; this effort has resulted in advancement for the respective companies’ specific product requirements, a better position for new-product innovation, and a significant strategic competitive advantage. Many U.S.-based companies once espoused this business strategy, but the majority of the PrCB industry, along with many U.S. manufacturers, now treat manufacturing as a static, commoditized process rather than as a product-development opportunity. The availability of government funds that support R&D efforts at both small and large companies is small when compared with that available under the older business models. These funds, including grants, subsidies, and tax incentives, can be used to support development activities focused on next-generation PrCB manufacturing processes and electronic designs. The struggling industry, from the largest OEM down to the smallest PrCB shop, can no longer justify support of U.S.-focused R&D to its owners or stockholders. Other nations provide greater financial support for R&D to the OEMs, which in the past have shouldered the burden of product R&D. Because of the relative abundance in government R&D support outside the United States, major electronics OEMs are building R&D facilities outside this country. This investment takes current and future technology development outside the United States, but it also affects current and future manufacturing employment. Among the OEMs building such facilities are Cisco Systems, Inc., and Intel Corporation, which both announced large investments in R&D centers in China in 2004.3 Partnership efforts—in such organizations as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the former National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (now iNEMI)—can only begin to fill the U.S. R&D gap left by the OEMs. In some cases the technology partners involved in these U.S. industry- and government-sponsored consortium activities are anything but U.S.-centric. DoD states that “electronic systems and subsystems represent about 40 percent of the defense acquisition budget and are the critical enabling technology that differentiates our weapon systems. As the Department of Defense downsizes, it has become increasingly important to keep access to affordable, advanced electronics technology by leveraging the high volume, leading edge, merchant manufacturing infrastructure….”4 This high-volume, leading-edge, merchant manufacturing infrastructure, however, is no longer vibrant in the United States. What does this mean for the future of the nation’s electronic systems? Will 3   From Electronics News, September 23, 2004: “Cisco said it would invest $32 million in its R&D center over the next five years and expects to hire about 100 employees over the next 18 months for the site. The company believes this R&D center will enhance its ability to tailor products and be more responsive to changing service provider customer demands in China, Asia and around the world.” They are definitely not focusing on U.S. requirements in this Chinese R&D facility. And from Sci-Tech, a Chinese electronics newsletter of April 29, 2004, “Intel Corp., the world’s largest computer chip maker, will set up a research and development center in Shanghai, with an investment of US$39 million, according to a document signed Thursday. The R&D center will focus on the development of chip-related products and on customer services, said Siew Hai Wong, vice president of Intel, adding that the new research facility would provide 450 jobs at the first phase.” 4   Commerce Business Daily. 1996. Electronic systems manufacturing and design support for mixed-technology integration. Issue No. PSA-1552, ARPA Broad Agency Announcement 96-16.

OCR for page 43
Linkages: Manufacturing Trends in Electronic Interconnection Technology the United States lose the competitive edge that has so far been critical to differentiating its warfighters? The government has sought, through targeted solicitations, to alleviate barriers by increasing the flexibility of the merchant electronic services manufacturing (ESM) infrastructure and streamlining the process by which new products are designed and transferred to manufacturing. This implies a mission that would lead to a vibrant program with hundreds of active projects in the area of electronics systems, available for participation by U.S. research and manufacturing firms. Instead, programs are on the decline. For the remainder of 2005 and into early 2006, only 13 projects are active, and all but one program is closed to solicitations. There is no indication that this trend will be reversed. TECHNOLOGY CONCERNS Some of the overarching technology concerns for the military focus more on processing advances than on technology performance. For example, cost-effective, low-volume manufacturing could have a larger impact on overall military effectiveness than would a faster interconnect on a single PrCB. Improved configurability could also make a big difference in overall effectiveness. Related technologies might include more agile manufacturing, allowing many configurations to be made on single product lines, and more robust manufacturing to ensure that reliability comes with increasing agility. Another pressing overarching concern is for more environmentally benign manufacturing, including the reduction or elimination of chemical waste. It is also anticipated that DoD will need to make both PrCB processing and disposal lead-free. This change may come about in response to regulations, public pressure, or the eventual implementation of lead-free electronics as a global standard. However, the most pressing concern is that the United States may not have access to better technology than its adversaries have. This is the concern that drives the military and industrial suppliers to develop better designs and therefore to hire better designers. Many argue that this knowledge is the source of the real intellectual property advantage and should be where the investment is concentrated. However, current practices, including the drive toward commercial and military industrial base integration, mean that control of this knowledge is very difficult. Slowing the spread of the knowledge may be possible, but with an economic penalty. The only way to maintain an advantage is to stay ahead—which means keeping a high investment in research and not merely funding the development or transition of commercial technologies. The foregoing discussion implies that there are two overall technology approaches. First, it may be possible to determine what technology is most strategic or is likely to provide an asymmetric advantage. While this is certainly possible, it is not a guarantee against technology surprises. A second option is to “replenish the pool” internally. This can be achieved only with investments in basic technology, in product R&D, and in process R&D. With this option, the goal is to determine “where to run faster.” This approach encourages spending money on the most difficult and important challenges. This is where the United States excels. This approach approximates a defined and measurable technology policy in that it sets goals and provides incentives, and disincentives, that will lead technology down a desired path. POTENTIAL APPROACHES TO SUPPORT TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION According to the vision of the National Innovation Initiative, “Innovation fosters the new ideas, technologies, and processes that lead to better jobs, higher wages and a higher standard of living.”5 It is generally accepted that the United States has a record of sustained innovation over decades, across industries, and through economic cycles. The situation for PrCBs reflects this trend in every respect. The relevance of this sustained innovation for DoD has increased as DoD has grown to depend more and more on commercial technology, manufacturing, and R&D. If that commercial technology starts to lag behind, DoD must take action or suffer the consequences. In addition, other concerns are arising; some of these are addressed below. 5   Council on Competitiveness. 2005. National Innovation Initiative. Available at http://www.compete.org/nii/. Accessed October 2005.

OCR for page 43
Linkages: Manufacturing Trends in Electronic Interconnection Technology Technology Approaches The vast majority of PrCBs are manufactured by plating a layer of copper over one or both sides of a substrate, and then removing the unwanted copper and leaving only the copper traces as the interconnection pattern. Some PrCBs have a trace layer inside the PrCB (multilayer). After the circuit board has been manufactured, components are attached to the traces by soldering. Three common methods are used for the production of printed circuit boards: Photoengraving is the use of a photomask and chemical etching to remove the copper foil from the substrate. The photomask is usually prepared with a photoplotter from data produced by a technician using computer-aided PrCB design software. Laser-printed transparencies are sometimes employed for low-resolution photoplots.6 PrCB milling is the use of a two- or three-axis mechanical milling system to mill away the copper foil from the substrate. A PrCB milling machine operates similar to a plotter, receiving commands from the host software that control the position of the milling head in the x, y, and (if relevant) z axes. PrCB printing is the use of conductive ink or epoxy to form traces directly on substrate material. While these methods and materials are currently the most practical, new concepts could improve the design, configurability, accuracy, complexity, reliability, and cost of PrCBs. Some new technology trends include new materials, including liquid crystal polymer substrates, high-frequency laminates, and new microwire materials. Some new processes will certainly also be adopted for military use, although the time line will most likely be one or two generations behind commercial applications. These processes may include optical backplanes, three-dimensional printing, wireless sensors, embedded passives, metal potting of components, and high-frequency technology. DoD needs to plan for ensuring access to these technologies and to guard against tampering. Regulatory Approaches It is well understood that better life-cycle management of electronics systems can be achieved through the elimination of lead in the solder, coatings, and components on PrCBs. The cost of such a change, however, means that the transition must be carefully coordinated. Standardized processes throughout the supply chain and the OEMs have also precluded any single company from moving toward a different, no-lead standard. However, recent European regulations to restrict hazardous substances are now leading a global trend toward the elimination of lead in many processes. While the U.S. government does not currently regulate this standard, some states are doing so, and it is anticipated that the global nature of the industry will cause such a change in the near future. Military products are currently exempt from the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) directive (as discussed in Chapter 2), but it is understood that many suppliers will not want to run separate production lines and that most will therefore migrate to lead-free production. No-lead reliability is a concern for military components for a number of reasons. Of particular concern is the change to higher reflow temperatures than that which lead-free solders generally require. Lead-free products have been on the market for several years using solders containing bismuth or zinc, with melting points close to 200°C. It is now clear that the most likely lead-free solders for wide-scale use are those melting at about 220°C. This change on both components and assembly will require a requalification of the entire production process as well as requalification of a subassembly and eventually of entire systems affected. A major concern is the lack of data on the long-term reliability of products using lead-free solders. Many commercial companies are reluctant to guarantee products made with the new standards for more than a few years. The military often requires components with much longer life, and few data currently exist to support such long-term reliability. 6   Additional nformation is available at http://www.fullnet.com/u/tomg/gooteepc.htm. Accessed October 2005.

OCR for page 43
Linkages: Manufacturing Trends in Electronic Interconnection Technology The use of lead-free processes will affect several aspects of PrCBs, including the finish on component lead frames, the joints that connect components to the board, and the plating on the board itself. The effect of the high-temperature excursion during lead-free soldering on the long-term performance of active and passive components has been investigated, but more work on the long-term performance is needed. Concerns range from the immediate effect of the high-temperature lead-free assembly process on temperature-sensitive components, to the long-term life of all components after passing through a high-temperature assembly process, to the effect that a specific mix of PrCB components has on overall reliability. The susceptibility in components with pure-tin finishes to the formation of tin whiskers is also a growing concern. While the higher-temperature technologies and no-lead components are in everyday use in many applications, as the implementation of lead-free solders increases across commercial industry, the labeling, shipping, and managing of components are becoming a concern. Because some components could exist in two variants—one to comply with lead-free applications and the other for previously specified leaded applications—confusion in the supply chain is inevitable. The crux of the problem becomes one of extended, global supply chains that will make it more difficult to ensure compatibility for critical systems. Finally, a number of other existing environmental regulations and international standards can introduce additional complications. These include worker safety and the disposal of the many chemicals used in the PrCB manufacturing process. Organizational Approaches A number of organizational approaches have been tried for improving the research and innovation capacity for similar technologies. An industry consortium called the Interconnect Technology Research Institute (ITRI) was formed in 1994 specifically to cooperate on R&D for PrCBs. A group of manufacturers and suppliers came together to try to fill the growing gap in technological competitiveness of U.S. PrCB production. This organization was chartered to facilitate North American technology advancements in the area of PrCB manufacturing. Although the group operated for 6 years, declining PrCB manufacturing participation, especially by OEMs, caused ITRI to close in 2001. In 1998, the PrCB industry approached the U.S. Congress for the initiation of a center to address lack of U.S. research and development in board technology. The PWB (Printed Wiring Board) Manufacturing Technology Center (PMTEC) was then formed to address the development of state-of-the-art PrCB technology. The center was operated by an arm of the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute (IITRI) based in Huntsville, Alabama; it is now called the Alion Science and Technology Center. PMTEC partnered with a commercial manufacturing company to ensure an affordable, responsive, and reliable U.S. PrCB manufacturing capability to meet current and future DoD requirements. The effort was executed through an integrated program of research, education, and technology transfer. PMTEC focused on propelling the development of bareboard technology; it supported current and future advances in packaging and PrCB assembly technology. The effort also addressed unique and critical military PrCB needs, such as the ability to withstand harsh environments, long-term availability and reliability, rapid insertions, and integration of new technology. Although PMTEC successfully teamed with an industrial producer, this partnership was not sustainable under commercial pressures. Eighteen projects were completed through the center while it received DoD earmarked funding between 1998 and 2003.7 By comparison, the semiconductor industry has been more successful in sustaining both industry and industry-government consortia. The best known of these is the SEmiconductor MAnufacturing TECHnology, or SEMATECH, an experiment in industry-government cooperation conceived to strengthen the U.S. semiconductor industry. The consortium was formed in 1987 when 14 U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturers and the U.S. government came together to solve common manufacturing problems, improve the industry infrastructure, and work with domestic equipment suppliers to improve their capabilities. By 1994, the U.S. semiconductor industry had regained strength and market share, and the SEMATECH board of directors voted to seek an end to matching federal funding after 1996. SEMATECH 7   Printed Wiring Board Manufacturing Technology Center. Summary available at www.armymantech.com/success/pmtec.pdf. Accessed October 2005.

OCR for page 43
Linkages: Manufacturing Trends in Electronic Interconnection Technology continued to serve its membership and the semiconductor industry at large through advanced technology development in program areas such as lithography, front-end processes, and interconnect, and through its interactions with an increasingly global supplier base on manufacturing challenges. However, it did little to meet the DoD’s need for affordable, low-volume production. In 1999, SEMATECH renamed itself International SEMATECH. It is now a unified global consortium, with members from Asia, Europe, and the United States, dedicated to cooperative work on semiconductor manufacturing technology. It has no U.S. government nor DoD focus or support, and it no longer addresses defense needs or reliability. A slightly different approach was taken to form the Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA). This organization began in 1981 as a small unit in the Engineering Division of the Sacramento Air Logistics Center at McClellan Air Force Base near Silicon Valley. Initially called the Advanced Microelectronics Section, its start coincided with the incipient use and growing necessity of microelectronics in weapons systems. The unit was created to assist the U.S. Air Force, but eventually it came to serve all of the Department of Defense. In 1997, the unit moved from the administrative structure of the Air Force to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The DMEA has the mission of addressing the growing problem of microelectronics obsolescence. Several parallel approaches to this problem include accessing and storing the design drawing and processes to make legacy parts. The DMEA can also procure parts and supply them to military units, and in some cases can manufacture microelectronic parts on demand. The DMEA also has the expertise in developing new microelectronic technologies, including the ability to design, prototype, and test components and systems. This capability to design, prototype, and test does not currently extend to PrCBs. The DMEA is not a consortium and does not partner with industry; it is fully funded by DoD. A third example is the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI), an industry-led consortium, with no DoD funding, whose mission is to assure leadership of the global electronics manufacturing supply chain. With a membership that includes approximately 70 electronics manufacturers, suppliers, associations, government agencies, and universities, iNEMI provides an environment for partners and competitors to anticipate future technology and business needs collectively and to develop collaborative courses of action to meet those needs effectively. Given this wide variety of organizational attempts at improving research and innovation capacity, the PrCB industry should be able to identify some key program approaches that will lead to a successful research effort. For example, these attempts demonstrate that the ability to change and remain relevant with changing external pressures can help to maintain a steady source of support. They also demonstrate very well that commercial interests alone cannot fulfill DoD needs. One major difference between PrCB fabrication and integrated circuit fabrication is the capital equipment cost. The cost of equipment to recapitalize board manufacturing is estimated to be less than $10 million per year, which is orders of magnitude below the $1 billion estimates for building a state-of-the-art microelectronics foundry.8 Therefore, it may be cost-effective for DoD and its U.S. supplier base to maintain fabrication technology competence at levels needed both to support legacy production and to carry out R&D for future needs. One existing effort that is attempting to fill this need is the Emerging Critical Interconnect Technology (E/CIT) effort, established currently with a small PrCB manufacturing capability sited at a military base. The E/CIT program activity is coordinated through the Printed Circuit Technology Branch of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, located in Crane, Indiana. The facilities are available to joint development projects that support technology advancements needed by the domestic PrCB military and commercial industry. The site limitations could be used to restrict use by non-U.S. personnel, which could effectively limit use to U.S. companies and their U.S. employees—presumably precluding any inevitable addition of the word “international” to the name of the center. Such a facility has the potential to provide utility to both the military and the commercial industry. As has become clear, it is unlikely that pointing aid solely at either commercial or military entities will provide a sustainable path to DoD. If such a joint facility were supported, it could potentially maintain and perhaps even outpace global technology competence. The E/CIT claims that it can provide a low-cost access for U.S. companies to R&D in this critical area. 8   These estimates were gleaned from discussions with industry experts at the committee workshop held December 13-14, 2004. See Appendix D for a list of attendees.

OCR for page 43
Linkages: Manufacturing Trends in Electronic Interconnection Technology KEY FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS History indicates that innovation is important to meeting both legacy and future DoD needs in interconnection technologies. Current R&D funding, however, from either industry or government sources in the United States is not now adequate to ensure U.S. access to leading technologies. Given current trends, it is conceivable that our adversaries will be able to access some of these advanced technologies more easily than the United States government and suppliers. There are no simple solutions available to remedy this situation. Any approach that is considered should take technology, regulations, and organizational considerations into account.