EMAPS

Copernicus Technology Ltd headed for the stars on 17th Feb 2010…..via the University of Portsmouth.  The University was hosting the inaugural Electronic Materials & Assembly Processes for Space (EMAPS) workshop, which brought together professionals in the fields of space and high-reliability electronics. This event was hosted by the department of Electronic & Computer Engineering (ECE).  The day’s activities kicked off with a welcome talk by Dr David Arrel, Pro Vice Chancellor, before handing over to Dr Barrie Dunn to chair the day’s events.  Dr Dunn is the Manufacturing Technology Adviser to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Head of Product Assurance & Safety Dept.

The workshop featured presentations from a wide range of experts in the field of High Reliability Electrical, Electronic and Electromechanical (EEE) components from across the whole of Europe.  It was clear from the discussions at the workshop that a huge amount of effort is devoted to ensuring that the assembly of high reliability EEE components and systems is 'right first time, every time' and that the major factors which underpinned this included materials selection, training and detailed standards.  There was a large degree of discussion about materials' mechanical and chemical properties, and how to assess this using non-destructive methods at different stages of the design and assembly processes, but there did not appear to be significant evidence of using any particular electrical/electronic testing methods to assure build/circuit integrity.  In the EMAPS sector, circuit integrity during manufacture was predominantly confirmed using functional tests or by visual inspection using microscopes.  The combination of all the aforementioned approaches appear to be succeeding in producing high reliability EEE items for Space-related usage, so the overall development of test and evaluation methods is no doubt progressing by evolution and not revolution.

After the workshop we discussed with Dr Dunn how CTL could support the sector by applying the unique capability of the Ncompass-4000 to Product Assurance activity.  Dr Dunn believed that the Ncompass approach should be examined closely to quantify the potential benefit to EMAPS and has encouraged his colleagues at ESTEC (ESA’s research and technology centre in Noordwijk, The Netherlands) to do so.  In addition, as a consequence of our discussions with Dr Dunn, CTL has been invited to present at ESA’s Paris conference in May of next year.

As a historical footnote, it is fitting that Copernicus Technology Ltd should turn its attention to Space-related activities because it was Nicoulaus Copernicus (1473-1543), the Polish-born astronomer who initiated the ‘Copernican Revolution’, which determined that the Earth was not at the geometric centre of the Universe.  He was unconstrained by the conventional theories of the day: a sentiment that we at CTL can appreciate.

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Universal Synaptics Corporation
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