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UltraSource – Your Thin Film Source

UltraSource provides build-to-print thin film manufacturing services for a diverse set of high technology companies.

UltraSource Inc thin film sample

UltraSource is a privately held company located in southern New Hampshire. It was established in 1991 and today is one of the most advanced thin film circuit and thin film interconnect manufacturers in the world.

Our 25,000 square foot facility houses a complete array of cleanrooms and equipment specially tailored for manufacturing reliable, high-quality thin film products.

UltraSource is an industry leader in high-performance thin film circuits and thin film interconnects. UltraSource products are used in many applications demanding zero failures and zero downtime. UltraSource is AS9100 certified, attracting and retaining customers in aerospace, defense, satellite, and medical industries where quality and high reliability is an absolute must.

UltraSource has developed a comprehensive scheduling and planning software system that enables us to manage supply and demand. Complex manufacturing routings are programmed with set up and run times, and the software system schedules the work centers in the factory.

What is Thin Film?

Thin film is the term used to describe a circuit technology used to fabricate devices for a variety of electronic and optical applications.

The term “thin film” is derived from the fact that the deposited films are only a few microns (aka micrometers) in thickness, and the films are usually applied to the substrate by sputtering. Sputtering is a physical vapor deposition process (PVD) that is used to metalize the base material (or substrate) with the desired metallization. Sputtering takes place in a vacuum chamber (see below) and sputtering equipment provides precise process controls and uniformity. The use of sputtering to apply the thin films is one of the reasons why the technology is so reliable.
Schematic of thin film sputtering process
Mask aligning and exposure during thin film substrate manufacturing

The thin film circuit patterns are defined using photolithography (photoresists and photomasks).

Thin film circuits are typically constructed on ceramic or crystalline substrates. Specific thin film substrate materials are chosen to optimize performance in their application, and usually focus on specific properties like dielectric constant, loss tangent, thermal conductivity, surface finish, flatness, etc. Metals other than gold can also be deposited in order to provide solderability, resistors, or solder damming. Thin film metallizations work very well for high performance wire bonding, soldering, and epoxy attachment methods.

Thin film circuits are machined to size by using dicing (diamond sawing) or laser machining.

After the thin film circuit is built, components such as inductors, diodes, chip resistors, MMIC’s, etc. can be attached. In many applications, thin film technology is used because there is no alternative technology capable of delivering the necessary performance. This is often the case for high frequency microwave circuits where the small circuit size, line definition, and repeatability provide a significant performance advantage over other circuit manufacturing methods.
Advantages of using thin film technology over other technologies over other circuit manufacturing methods:


  1. High frequency performance
  2. Dense lines and spaces
  3. Tighter tolerances possible on factors that affect circuit performance (line width, gap width, substrate thickness, polish, etc.)
  4. Wide variety of substrate materials
  5. Highly polished substrates
  6. Flat substrates for optical uses
  7. Predictability of design
  8. Long term reliability
  9. Ability to integrate passive features like resistors, capacitors, couplers, etc.
  10. Thermal conductivity


  1. Circuit miniaturization
  2. Long term reliability
  3. Low development costs
  4. Rapid prototyping
  5. Ability to integrate passive features like resistors, capacitors, couplers, etc.
Thin film sputteringThin film fine lines, resistors, and plated through holesExamples of thin film circuits and interconnects


The substrate is the foundation on which the thin film components are built. The substrate properties have significant influence on the performance of the device. Alumina is still the most common substrate material due to its surface quality, cost, and high frequency performance.

High power thin film submount

Conductor/Resistor Films

Thin film resistors are typically used for precision applications. Their values are very accurate and have an excellent temperature coefficient. Inductance and capacitance are generally lower. Thin film resistors are used in medical equipment, audio installations, precision controls and measurement devices. Thick film resistors are used in lower-cost applications where high accuracy and precision are not needed.



Vias provide electrical and thermal connections between layers of thin film substrates. The vias are filled with with gold, copper or polyimide depending on the application and cost target. Gold and copper provide highly conductive and reliable connections while eliminating epoxy or solder bleed-through. A polyimide via eliminates epoxy or solder bleed-through but at a much lower cost than the pure metal filled via products.


Cross-Overs & Dams

Polyimide is used to create solder dams – structures that stops the flow of solder from one location to another. Polyimide is also used to create a cross-over, or bridge, on the circuit board.

Polyimide cross-over Lange coupler

The Process

Thin Film products begin with a concept for a new circuit. The concept is then turned into a design which can then be put into production. UltraSource is here to help transform your design ideas from concept to reality.

Custom thin film fabrication from concept to production

What Customers Are Saying About Us

“We have no quality issues with product from UltraSource, the quality is always perfect.”

10 Year Customer

“We will be moving to approve UltraSource as a Self-Release Supplier (removing on-site Source Inspection). Only a small fraction of our Suppliers have achieved this level of certification.”

Satellite Customer

“We know that when there is an issue that USI will always respond immediately and correct the problem.”

Defense Customer

“We plan to implement dock to stock (no Incoming Inspection) for your products. We believe you have the processes and procedures in place to prevent shipping bad product.”

Defense Customer

Upcoming Events

EDI Con 2017 – Boston, MA

September 11 @ 8:00 am - September 13 @ 5:00 pm

Latest News

Management Tool #3 is: On-Time Shipping

Feb 6, 2017

USI’s Management Tools This newsletter is #3 in a 10-part series to explain the 10 great management tools that we use to help us be the thin film circuit supplier that you can really depend on. Continuous Improvement Employee Training & Certification On-Time Shipping Infrastructure ITAR Controls Change Controls & Certification Contract & Quality Review Statistical Process Controls in Manufacturing AS9100 Quality Management System Risk Management Processes UltraFAST Program e get it! Delivering late is as expensive and disruptive than it has ever been. Since we exist to help our customers succeed, we know we need to be extremely competent at shipping on-time….