Indium Corporation has been the only materials supplier known for its focus on reliability on the Automotive Electronics Council. Given its expertise and leadership in this domain, Indium seems to be tapping the Indian automotive market vigorously. Understanding more about their plans, Niloy of BISinfotech tables an exclusive interview with Tim Twining, Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Technical Support, Indium Corporation. During the interaction, the veteran highlights their innovative solutions like lead-free solders, Indian market focus, and their strategic leadership in the PCB and SMT Assembly market, and also shares their master plan to keep the tempo during the pandemic. Edited Nub below.
Q. Given 2021, what will be the key offerings and focus of Indium Corporation in India?
In 2021, we’ll continue to focus on the proliferation of electronics in the automotive market. Due to higher power requirements, hybrid and electric vehicles are using electronic power modules at higher and higher voltages and current densities, with long-range-capable battery systems to match. Ensuring long-term reliability drives our innovation in assembly materials for automotive modules and packages.
Indium Corporation’s proven products for automotive applications include:
- Indalloy®292, an innovative alloy engineered to provide advanced lifetime reliability to industries requiring high-performance and to address the increased temperatures in many automotive applications.
- Indium8.9HF Solder Paste, an industry-proven solder paste series that delivers no-clean, halogen-free solutions designed to produce low-voiding, enhance electrical reliability, and improve stability during the printing process for high-reliability automotive electronics.
- InFORMS® preforms are innovative reinforced matrix solder composites, which provide even bondline thickness, as well as enhanced joint strength, mitigating reliability challenges for EV modules.
- QuickSinter® silver sintering paste delivers consistent, high- speed sintering on a variety of surfaces and die metallization.
- QuickSinter® works well in both high- and low-temperature pressure or pressureless applications. It can be used for discretes, small modules, and integrated power modules.
Indium Corporation remains the only materials supplier on the reliability-focused Automotive Electronics Council.
Q. Talking about last year which faced major turmoil due to the pandemic, Indium Corporation strategies to keep processes and business seamless? Also, segments and regions where your business was mostly hit?
Indium Corporation has continued to support our customers, ensuring essential industries are supplied during the pandemic including: the medical community for the production of ventilators and pacemakers; fire suppression in producing fire sprinklers; emergency responders, supporting the development of advanced telecommunication devices; and the transportation industry with the production of automotive lighting and aerospace electronics. We meet or exceed best practices for virus containment, minimizing economic hardships on our communities, and protecting our people, their families, and their communities while we continue to supply high-quality materials to the industry.
During this pandemic and despite all the challenges, Indium Corporation’s team kept innovating with new materials and processes to meet the demands of new products that are currently or will shortly enter the market. We kept investing in R&D and engineering and installed more manufacturing tools and analytic capabilities than any previous year. To accommodate this increased activity, we increased our manufacturing footprint in virtually all of our facilities and created a new 42,000 sq. ft. headquarters. You will hear about more expansion in 2021.
Q. Your sales and marketing strategies in this new normal?
Like many in the industry, we shifted our marketing and sales focus to digital platforms. For example, we developed and launched our own webinar program—the InSIDER Series—to allow us to continue to share our expert industry insight and products with our customers. We’ve been honored by the success and participation the program has seen so far and will continue to cover exciting topics in 2021 and beyond. For those interested, our archived webinars can be found at www.indium.com/webinar. In addition to our webinar program, we work with industry organizations and media to support them with technical content and advance the industry.
Q. How are you meeting the advanced needs of the global electronics assembly materials market?
To us, our motto of From One Engineer to Another® is more than a phrase; it is a commitment to collaborating with customers and partners on the challenges facing our industry. In support of that, Indium Corporation’s team has continued to innovate with new materials and processes to meet the demands of new products that are currently or will shortly enter the market. Throughout the pandemic, this included investing in R&D and engineering. We also installed more manufacturing tools and analytic capabilities than any previous year. To accommodate this increased activity, we increased our manufacturing footprint in virtually all of our facilities, created a new 42,000 sq. ft. headquarters, and added new manufacturing facilities in India (2020) and Malaysia (2021).
Q. What is driving the evolution of lead-free solders? Your offerings and focus into this technology?
When the world was moving toward green manufacturing, lead-free soldering—originally driven by RoHS (Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment) of Europe —was becoming the mainstream for the electronics industry, and Sn-rich alloys—including SnAgCu, SnAg, and SnCu—had been prevailing for more than a decade. While the electronics industry keeps advancing rapidly toward miniaturization, two important drivers are dictating the evolution of lead-free solders: low cost and high reliability. Indium Corporation has a long legacy in developing lead-free solder solutions designed to meet our customers’ needs. This has included the development of Indium8.9HF Solder Paste, a lead-free product that delivers superior printing and voiding performance, to our ongoing efforts with the Die Attach 5, or DA5, consortium (composed of Infineon Technologies, Bosch, STMicroelectronics, NXP Semiconductors, and Nexperia) to develop high-temperature, lead-free alternatives to traditional lead-containing solders. Indium Corporation’s efforts have led to the development of numerous high-temperature solder products, including BiAgX®, a high-temperature lead-free solder paste, as well as the QuickSinter® silver sintering paste, and Durafuse™ HT, a high-temperature alloy system.
Q. Indium Corporation is a world-leader in solder paste and SMT assembly. How do you find the market out in India? Challenges and scopes.
Indium Corporation works tirelessly through the research and development of our products to prove again and again that materials science changes the world by enabling a large variety of future technologies. These include, but aren’t limited to, novel thermal materials removing heat from high- performance computer chips and ultrafine solder powders of novel alloys, allowing the creation of the tiny solder joints needed for mobile and wearable devices. As a percentage of our sales, India is relatively small today, but the growth rate of both our business and the electronics market in India is tremendous. We are also adding more technical support resources in addition to our new factory in Chennai. We see a bright future for India in the global electronics supply chain going forward and we are proud to be a part of it. We look forward to continuing to participate in local organizations and events.
Q. PCB market in India is quite vibrant and bullish, Indium’s focus on the PCB assembly sector and how dynamic it has become with advanced technology demand (smaller, sophisticated, and more powerful devices) dominating the market?
Indium Corporation has continued to develop materials designed to meet the evolving challenges of the PCB industry. The demands for smaller, more reliable, and low-temperature solutions create exciting opportunities for the development of innovative enabling technologies. For example, some of Indium Corporation’s newest offerings, such as CW-232, a flux-cored wire for robotic and laser soldering applications, features additional wetting power for higher throughput as well as exceptional post-soldering cleanliness. Where traditional low-temperature solders can product brittle joints, Durafuse™ LT is a low-temperature alloy system designed to provide high- reliability in low-temperature applications that need to reflow below 210°C. PicoShot® NC-5M is specifically engineered to support smaller components that require precision materials. Its innovative formulation provides exceptional jetting performance and its unique oxidation barrier promotes complete powder coalescence during reflow to eliminate graping and similar reflow issues.
Q. Any flagship solution you want to highlight for our Indian reader and industry, benefits, pricing, etc.?
We have excellent relationships with our customers as part of our commitment to the collaboration inherent in From One Engineer to Another® and we continue to advance our materials technology. There are almost always trade-offs in solutions, e.g., cost vs. reliability, assembly vs. performance, etc., and we help our customers make those decisions in order to help them achieve the lowest cost of ownership. We have a strong technical team near our customers and a strong development and engineering team at our sites to advance our technology. Almost all of our product development is driven by solving our customers’ challenges.
Q. Lastly, how important is the Indian market for Indium and your future plans for the Indian market?
We are seeing India becoming much more important in the electronics industry due to both domestic demand as well as increasing participation in global supply chains. As a result, we are investing more heavily in the region with local manufacturing and more technical support personnel along with developing local partners. This investment includes the opening of our first manufacturing facility in India, located in Chennai. We are in the process of ramping up production with tremendous support from our customer base in the region. We already have more expansion plans planned for 2021.