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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:

PERFORMANCE ADVANTAGES OF THIN FILM

  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

ECONOMICAL ADVANTAGES OF THIN FILM

  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

Substrates

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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SUBSTRATE PROPERTIES
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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CONDUCTORS / RESISTORS

Vias

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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT VIAS

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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT POLYIMIDE CROSS-OVERS AND DAMS
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

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….

READ MORE

UltraSource Inc – Management Tool #2: Employee Training & Certification 2017-04-19T11:46:25+00:00

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.
  1. Contract & Quality Review
  2. Statistical Process Controls in Manufacturing
  3. AS9100 Quality Management System
  4. Risk Management Processes
  5. UltraFAST Program

Several years ago, while analyzing data on internal errors and defects, we realized that we needed to improve our employee training systems. By helping our employees develop exceptional skill levels through improved training and certification, we’ve been able to turn employee training into a competitive advantage.

Here is how we do it:

At USI, we realize that the proper transfer of knowledge and skills to all employees who build, inspect, and test product is a critical building block for quality and on-time delivery. We’ve mandated that we only want people who are skilled and qualified handling our customer’s products.
All new Manufacturing, Test, and Inspection employees attend a quality orientation where we explain the importance of quality and process controls.

Then Engineering and Manufacturing build a training matrix for each new employee. The matrix is a list of skills that they need to become certified to before they can perform work on their own. We use a 4-step approach when it comes to training and certification:

1Explain the Job:
The purpose and method of each specific job step is explained so the employee gets a high level understanding of the job details.

2. Present the Job in Detail:
Step 2 is an actual “show and tell” of the job steps by the trainer, with focus on detailing how and why each piece of the job is done.

3. Try Out the Job:
Employees perform the job on their own, and explain each step as they go. Step 3 is repeated until each employee shows that he or she understands critical job content and can perform them well.

4. Perform the Job:
Employees perform the job under the watchful eye of the trainer for 5 separate lots. If and when they complete 5 lots in a row without any quality or workmanship issues, they will become certified. Their skill matrix is updated and their capacity is added to the master capacity plan.

Customer Testimonial

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

These training methods help us to develop employees that are trained, competent, and able to perform their job functions consistently. The exceptional skill levels that our employees develop through training are critical for helping us build product that meets all customer quality requirements and ships on-time.

About Us

Your Thin Film Source

UltraSource was founded in 1991 with the mission of building high quality thin film circuits and interconnects in key industries, including defense, aerospace, and telecommunications. We consistently invest in our infrastructure, technology, and our people so we can provide our customers with the best service and custom built thin film products available anywhere. Please take a few minutes to visit our website and learn how we can help you on your next thin film project.

Thinfilm source is UltraSource Inc

To learn more, contact us at:  (800) 742-9410

Management Tool #1 is: Continuous Improvement 2017-08-02T17:22:25+00:00

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.
  1. Contract & Quality Review
  2. Statistical Process Controls in Manufacturing
  3. AS9100 Quality Management System
  4. Risk Management Processes
  5. UltraFAST Program

In our last newsletter we explained how we think that partnering with a good, trustworthy, supplier like UltraSource (USI) can benefit your company in many ways:

  • Lower waste and rework in your operations
  • Improved on-time deliveries and product quality
  • Increased yields and productivity
  • Faster time to market by using UltraFAST
  • Lower total cost for doing business

And in that newsletter, we explained that we use 10 great management tools to help us be a consistent, trustworthy thin film supplier.

Management Tool #1 is Continuous Improvement.

Our management team has developed rigorous Continuous Improvement (CI) methodologies in order to eliminate problems that affect the cost, delivery, and quality of the custom thin film products we build. These CI methodologies can best be summarized as:
  • Finding the true root cause(s) of undesirable events
  • Identifying and implementing corrective actions
  • Assessing the effectiveness of corrective actions
  • Preventing recurrence of the undesirable events

8D = Team Based Problem Solving

We really like to use the 8D or 8 Discipline approach as a team-oriented problem solving method for tackling problems. The 8D process was invented at Ford Motor Company in 1987 and follows the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model. We find the 8D format is easy to teach and use if you follow the 8 steps:

D1) Team Definition Pick people who have hands on experience with the involved business area(s) so they can help dig into the process details.
D2) Problem Description Follow the data and list the details: quantities, dates, work order nubmers, etc.
D3) Contain with Temporary Actions Immediately contain WIP, finished goods, product in transit, and at customer site(s).
D4) Analyze Data & Determine Root Cause Show how you arrived at the root cause and provide a root cause statement.
D5) Permanent Corrective Actions Must directly align to stated root cause – ACT on the FACTS!.
D6) Verification Actions Test effectiveness across various conditions: shifts, operators, part numbers, etc.
D7) Preventive Actions List system changes, FMEA updates and standardize to other part numbers.
D8) Team Recognition Recognize success and include the customer.

To look at an example of a recently completed 8D project click here

Why do we do all this?

  1. CI Helps make UltraSource run smoother because we don’t just “band-aid” problems and issues, we fix them.
  2. Using these CI methodologies to resolve problems makes good business sense because it helps to minimize problems for us and for our customers.
We would love to help you with all your thin film requirements!
Contact us at:  (800) 742-9410 or at the email links below:

About Us

Your Thin Film Source

UltraSource was founded in 1991 with the mission of building high quality thin film circuits and interconnects in key industries, including defense, aerospace, and telecommunications. We consistently invest in our infrastructure, technology, and our people so we can provide our customers with the best service and custom built thin film products available anywhere. Please take a few minutes to visit our website and learn how we can help you on your next thin film project.

Thinfilm source is UltraSource Inc

To learn more, contact us at:  (800) 742-9410

UltraSource, Inc. Proudly Sponsors Reach the Beach 2016 Team – Scrambled Legs 2017-02-15T22:12:45+00:00
  • UltraSource running team 2016

UltraSource Thin Film Products

For over 20 years, UltraSource® has been partnering with its customers to design and fabricate customized thin film components for wireless, fiber optic, and RF/microwave systems.

UltraSource sponsors RTB Team for the 2nd year. Reach the Beach, one of the oldest and longest running relay races in the USA, is a 200-ish Mile Team Relay run from Friday morning through the beautiful picturesque White Mountains of New Hampshire, beginning at Bretton Woods, to Saturday when you finally “Reach” the Atlantic coastline at Hampton Beach, NH. RTB raises funds for JDRF for type 1 diabetes, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Endurance 4 Veterans, and various Organizations in the Communities that are run through.

Above, the 2016 Team on a chilly 35F Friday morning getting ready for a 6:30 AM start – frost on the ground and smiling faces eager to start their adventure through the White Mountains.  The course takes you running up and down a ski slope, past cow pastures, sparkling lakes, mountain tops and back down again, and past a few (hundred) honking “White Vans” cheering them on – all of this takes place at the beginning of the spectacular foliage season in New Hampshire. Scrambled Legs worked together to complete the 203 mile Relay together as a team and to tackle challenging individual runs in hilly New Hampshire.

Scrambled Legs – after 2 sunrises, a sunset and the light of the Harvest Full Moon and twinkling stars – are still standing and smiling as they reach the finish line in 33 hours and 31 minutes in the white sands of Hampton Beach. Michael Casper, CEO of UltraSource and Co-Captain of Scrambled Legs and experienced RTB runner was heard to say to his team: “It’s not an easy event but hopefully you accomplished what you set out to do and learned something about yourself in the process!”

UltraSource running team
IMS 2016 Follow Up 2017-02-12T21:15:42+00:00

As they say: “Location, location, location!” We feel that IMS2016 was a busy show this year with more foot traffic than we’ve seen in a while! We think San Francisco as the location is hard to beat!

Our Business Development Team had many people stop by asking about “thin substrates”. UltraSource has been fabricating on ultra-thin substrates for over 25 years. Click here (Thin is In! (And We Can Help)) for a list of thin materials and more details.

Many customers also told our Business Development Team that it is taking up to 6 weeks to receive their prototypes from our competitors. UltraSource has a means of building prototypes much faster than that  with our UltraFASTprogram – some in as little as 4-7 Days (for program details, click the UltraFAST link or contact us.

If ever in San Francisco, Michael Casper, USI’s CEO and President, highly recommends the “Helmet Nachos” at the AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play baseball. (Yes, that’s a batting helmet filled with Nachos!)

An Operational Excellence Industry Consultant says:

“UltraSource’s overall use of their ERP system is impressive. USI does a great job with date management, scheduling, and execution. Based on my 43 years of experience, they have accomplished what most companies can’t even comprehend ….”

John E Boyer, Jr., President

J.E. Boyer Company Inc.
www.jeboyer.com

About Us

Your Thin Film Source

UltraSource was founded in 1991 with the mission of building high quality thin film circuits and interconnects in key industries, including defense, aerospace, and telecommunications. We consistently invest in our infrastructure, technology, and our people so we can provide our customers with the best service and custom built thin film products available anywhere. Please take a few minutes to visit our website and learn how we can help you on your next thin film project.

Thinfilm source is UltraSource Inc

To learn more, contact us at:  (800) 742-9410

UltraSource Exhibiting at IMS2016 2017-02-13T16:09:15+00:00

25 Years of Thin Film Service!

It’s a great time to drop by and visit UltraSource’s Business Development Team at the International Microwave Symposium IMS2016 in San Francisco, CA to discuss any of your current business or design challenges like new product introductions, cost reduction efforts, etc.

  • IEEE-IMS 2016
  • Booth #1329
  • May 24-26, 2016
  • Moscone Center  —  San Francisco, CA

If you have specific design guideline questions – we’ll have answers! We will have our Updated Design Guidelines available in print at the show. If you won’t be at the show zip on over to the latest Design Guidelines here on the website.

View our Thin Film Technologies Overview video below:

Presentation to Financial Algebra Class 2016 2017-02-15T22:18:09+00:00
  • Algebra class learning about thin film manufacturing

Souhegan High School, Amherst, NH

Michael Casper, President & CEO of UltraSource , delivered a presentation on “Modeling a Business” to a Financial Algebra class at Souhegan High School (SHS) in Amherst, NH.  Casper covered information about UltraSource and thin film manufacturing along with some of the high tech applications the product goes into, how he started UltraSource, what goes into starting a business, hiring employees, and some of the risks and rewards of being a business owner.  The students, taught by Ms. Jennifer Bonsu-Anane, had been studying modeling data with equations to make decisions, about supply & demand, analyzing fixed & variable expenses using equations and graphs, break-even points, and calculating profit. Casper gave the class various scenarios where algebra is used to run or improve his business.

Students provided feedback after the presentation commenting on the evolution of Casper as a businessman, from employee to employer, and how those experiences were used to improve UltraSource. They also commented on how hard it seems to operate a business and how surprised they were that Casper referred to the Souhegan High School (SHS) Mission Statement when speaking about hiring employees. Two of Casper’s children attended Souhegan so he knew the SHS Mission Statement and he drew parallels between the SHS Mission and the type of employee attributes that UltraSource ultimately seeks and hires.

USI believes in the importance of cultivating and supporting S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) relationships with local schools and has begun to discuss S.T.E.M ideas with the Town of Hollis-Brookline.

Algebra Class thank you card