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A Microcosm of Technological Innovation

The story behind the development of flexible print circuits, the key driver of the evolution of electronics

Phase.4 Creating a Virtuous Circle and Aiming at Global Market Leadership

Fujikura's next goal is to achieve sales of 200 billion yen. After accomplishing this goal, the company will strive to become the global leader in market share.

R-R double-sided semi-additive FPC
R-R double-sided semi-additive FPC
Since its very beginning, Fujikura's FPC business has always been geared toward the global market and large-scale operations. The establishment of PCTT in Thailand is a typical demonstration of this ambition. In parallel with the completion of the plant facilities, necessary manufacturing technologies were transferred from Japan to Thailand in a prompt and smooth manner. As a result, PCTT has the facilities, technologies and skilled workers it needs to mass-produce Fujikura's FPC products. PCTT has adopted a unique manufacturing system that uses the "roll-to-roll" method, under which all processes are operated under a self-contained production line. Subsequently, buoyed by brisk demand for FPC products, Fujikura's PCTT established two additional plants: a post- process plant in Prachinburi in 1996 and a plant with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and technology in Ayutthaya in 2001. PCTT now boasts one of the world's largest production capacities for FPC production, enabling an ample supply of a variety of FPC products to meet demands in potential growth markets. The network of Fujikura's FPC operations?including PCTT, Tohoku Fujikura and the Sakura R&D Center (for prototype development and evaluation, pre-production processes and new product development), FESL, established in 2001, and strategic sales units deployed all over the world?is now targeting the global market.

On the technology front, Fujikura has also taken many initiatives in a quest to realize potential applications of FPCs. Take polyimide FPCs, for example. Components can be soldered directly onto polyimide FPCs, just like on regular rigid printed circuits (RPC). This type of FPC also has outstanding electric and mechanic characteristics, such as dielectric constant and outgassing. Because of these advantages, the chip- on-flex technology can be used commercially in polyimide FPCs, whereby semiconductor devices can be directly mounted. Polyimide FPCs are being used in an increasing number of applications, including liquid crystal and other display devices, HDD and other memory devices, mobile phones and other communications equipment, and Chip Scale Package (CSP) and other packaged devices. Fujikura is at the forefront of this technological development. We have made a number of achievements in the wire-bonding chip-on-flip (COF) technology, whereby ICs are directly mounted by wire bonding. This technology is used in a wide range of applications, especially in plasma display panels (PDP). Fujikura is also taking a pioneering role in flip-chip COF technology whereby semiconductors are connected facedown. We also have extensive FPC product offerings that are closer to the semiconductor category, including fine-pitched FPCs, multi-layer FPCs, Surface Mount Technology (SMT) high-density mountings, wafer-level CSP high-density packages and many others. We also focus on developing and marketing other products made possible by Fujikura's overall technological excellence, such as dual-function (FPC/membrane switch) products.

  • Flip-chip bonding module for OLEDs
    Flip-chip bonding module for OLEDs

  • Wire bonding module for PDP drivers
    Wire bonding module for PDP drivers

Fujikura's next goal is to achieve sales of 200 billion yen. After accomplishing this goal, the company will strive to become the global leader in market share.

As the name suggests, FPCs (flexible printed circuits) are very flexible, meaning they can be embedded in any location, no matter how tiny. In addition to current applications, it is very likely that FPCs will be required to cope with increasingly demanding conditions. Therefore, the required technologies are expected to improve, to levels, in fact, that are currently considered impossible to reach. Given this and determined to think flexibly, Fujikura's engineers are prepared to take any daunting task in their stride and take on any new challenge. With this agility of thinking, we will continue to strive to build and maintain win-win relationships with our customers. Nothing delights us more than customer feedback like, "Without Fujikura's FPCs, our dominant position in the global market today would have been impossible." This is Fujikura?a true professional in the electronics industry.

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