Flatpack Components, Lead Forming, and Component Kitting

Flatpack Components

Developed in 1962 for use in high-reliability military and aerospace electronics, flatpack surface-mount PCBs have been in regular and rigorous use for decades. Flatpack components were used in the Apollo Guidance Computer (pictured), first built in1966, and continue to be found in current high-tech applications. Flatback components can cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, making them subjects of special attention. As VP of Engineering at Fancort Industries Robert Antonelli marvelled, “I’ve had engineers visit my plant with chips locked in briefcases handcuffed to their wrists.”

Your needs may not require exactly this kind of high-security approach, but flatpack components often need special care in their engineering and design. They are usually constructed of very tough materials like Kovar and Alloy 42 and designed to withstand extreme temperatures and uses. In flatpack packages—which come in one-piece or multi-piece designs—the leads are in a plane parallel to the mounting surface. Flatpack leads require shaping and trimming, an intensive process that calls for precision equipment and experienced engineering.

Lead Forming

Precision and expertise are especially important when flatpacks are constructed with special connectors, fiber optic ports, and other unusual features. Packages vary in width and thickness and, in some very high-reliability components, incorporate glass seals to insulate the metal leads from the body surface. In each of these construction methods, different lead forming processes must be applied, depending on the type of flatpack and the type of lead. These fall into three main categories: straight lead, J-lead, and gull-wing lead.

Each kind of lead requires its own lead forming process to achieve optimal coplanarity and avoid excessive lead skew and lead tip burrs, solder scratches and cracks. Even lower-cost components designed for less extreme applications, such as radial-leaded and axial-leaded components, need expert engineering and lead forming to function efficiently. NPI Services, Inc. applies such precision engineering to flatpack and other lead forming needs as part of its component kitting service. This reduces the costs of in-house pre-processing without sacrificing quality, and simplifies inventory by reducing a multitude of parts to a single kit.

Component Kitting Services

NPI Services, Inc. (NPI) can help engineers determine the key requirements for their lead forming, including package offset, lead thickness, and length of the lead foot. NPI’s component kitting service satisfies the standard requirements of military specifications outlined in MIL-PRF-38534 and ensures that all environmental requirements are met. NPI also monitors the life cycle of components and alerts you of Last Time Buy (LTB) and End of Life (EOL) dates. These services are especially important for high-reliability components such as flatpack packages that cannot be easily replaced.

NPI’s expert Project Managers are keenly focused on delivering reliable component kits on schedule, with bill of materials (BOM) analysis and BOM scrubbing as part of the process. For years our customers have relied on our experience, expertise, quality management, and on-time performance. Does your project need flatpack components or lead forming? NPI’s component kitting services reduce your operation overhead costs, even in these most challenging of high-reliability builds. Contact NPI Services, Inc. today to manage any and all of your electronic manufacturing services needs.