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April’s Tour of VSI Parylene

In the 1960’s, Union Carbide commercialized parylene, a protective moisture resistant and dielectric polymer that was invented in the 1940’s.  VSI Parylene was founded in 2009 after CEO Steve Neely and VP Brian Behne determined a need for this process in the semiconductor industry.  Seven years later they have just completed a relocation into a new 20,000 square foot facility in Broomfield - complete with a clean room and positive airflow handling systems.

VSI Parylene demonstrated for SME members two applications based on the vacuum deposition parylene process; various sized objects and extremely small semiconductor test probes.  The test probes generated extreme interest from SME members with many detailed questions.  Basically, the semiconductor industry utilizes the probes for wafer level testing.  To do that, the company coats the probe (that is about the thickness of a human hair) molecule by molecule, and then selectively strips both ends.  The probes, no more than 5mm long are then packed together as specified by the semiconductor manufacturer.  This is a precision business and SME members were amazed at the level of detail routine to VSI Parylene’s production line.  The tolerances are tight and routinely driven tighter. The difficulty of coating these probes has resulted in only a few manufacturers worldwide offering this process.

While the manufacture and assembly of the wafer test probes were fascinating to observe, parylene coatings offer many benefits that other industries such as aerospace, defense, automotive, and medical also find valuable.  Parylene itself is clear and stays clear after coating and is readily applied to materials such as metals, ceramics, plastics, silicone rubber, glass, and elastomers.as well as biological materials.  Steve passed around a dandelion puffball that had been coated with 1um of parylene.  It was tough enough to withstand the passing from person to person and even a light touch.  Thankfully none of us attempted to “test” the structural integrity of said puff! (We are a respectful crowd even if some felt compelled to do so!)

Flexibility, speed and willingness to experiment with innovative client demands are VSI Parylene’s biggest strengths.  These three factors have allowed the company to double its footprint over the previous facility in Louisville and will allow VSI Parylene to double business revenue in the next three years.  If your company has a need for parylene coating, do give them a call – those of us on the tour can attest that VSI Parylene will do their best to meet your need if they are able.

Please join our mailing list to find out about the tours and technical presentations that we offer.  In addition to expanding your professional knowledge, you will organically grow your network over beers after the tour.  Any suggestions for tech talks or tours are greatly appreciated.  This joint tour with SME 354 and 77, both chapters welcome each other’s members.  See you next time!


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