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Publication numberUS20050015970 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/866,159
Publication dateJan 27, 2005
Filing dateJun 14, 2004
Priority dateJun 12, 2003
Also published asEP1642325A2, US7223320, US7276388, US7404199, US7543316, US7795076, US20040250417, US20040250949, US20040251541, US20050005434, US20050007252, US20050009232, US20060174257, US20080271313, WO2004112096A2, WO2004112096A3
Publication number10866159, 866159, US 2005/0015970 A1, US 2005/015970 A1, US 20050015970 A1, US 20050015970A1, US 2005015970 A1, US 2005015970A1, US-A1-20050015970, US-A1-2005015970, US2005/0015970A1, US2005/015970A1, US20050015970 A1, US20050015970A1, US2005015970 A1, US2005015970A1
InventorsMichael Arneson, William Bandy
Original AssigneeMatrics, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method, system, and apparatus for transfer of dies using a pin plate
US 20050015970 A1
Abstract
A method and system for device assembly and a method, system, and apparatus for transfer of dies using a pin plate are described herein. A die plate is received having dies. The body of the die plate has a plurality of holes extending therethrough. Each die covers a corresponding hole on a first surface of the die plate. The die plate is positioned to be closely adjacent to the web of substrates. The punching device has a plurality of punching members extending from an outer surface. The punching device is planar or alternatively cylindrical. The punching device is applied to a second surface of the die plate to cause a set of the punching members to extend through a set of holes in the die plate, causing dies to be transferred from the die plate to one or more destination substrates or other surfaces.
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Claims(69)
1. A system for assembling a plurality of devices in parallel, the system comprising:
a pin plate having a plurality of punching members; and
a pin plate controller coupled to the pin plate,
wherein the system receives a die plate including a plurality of holes therethrough, wherein the die plate further includes a plurality of dies attached thereto, and wherein each die covers a corresponding hole through the die plate.
2. The system of claim 1, further comprising:
a die plate controller coupled to the die plate, wherein the die plate controller moves the die plate.
3. The system of claim 1, wherein the system receives a plurality of substrates, each substrate having an adhesive material coupled to the substrate at a die contact area.
4. The system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of punching members are arranged in a geometric pattern.
5. The system of claim 4, wherein the plurality of holes are arranged in a geometric pattern corresponding to the geometric pattern of the plurality of punching members.
6. The system of claim 5, wherein the geometric pattern of the plurality of punching members includes a plurality of rows and a plurality of columns.
7. The system of claim 1, further comprising:
an adhesive application module, the adhesive application module including:
an adhesive pin plate having a plurality of adhesive transfer members,
an adhesive pin plate controller coupled to the adhesive pin plate, and
an adhesive reservoir,
wherein the system receives a plurality of substrates.
8. The system of claim 1, further comprising a curing module that cures an adhesive material on each substrate to bond a die to the substrate.
9. The system of claim 1, wherein the devices are RFID tags.
10. A system for assembling a plurality of devices in parallel, the system comprising:
a pin cylinder having an outer surface, wherein the pin cylinder has a plurality of punching members extending radially from the outer surface; and
a pin cylinder controller coupled to the pin cylinder,
wherein the system receives a die plate including a plurality of holes therethrough, wherein the die plate further includes a plurality of dies attached thereto, and wherein each die covers a corresponding hole through the die plate.
11. A method for assembling devices a plurality of devices in parallel, comprising:
(a) receiving a die plate, wherein the die plate includes a plurality of dies attached to a first surface and a plurality of holes extending from the first surface to a second surface, each die covering a corresponding hole through the die plate;
(b) receiving a web of substrates having a plurality of substrates; and
(c) transferring a first plurality of dies from the die plate to a first plurality of substrates of the web of substrates, one die per substrate.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the step (c) comprises:
(1) positioning the first plurality of substrates relative to the first surface of the die plate such that each die in the first plurality of dies is positioned adjacent to a corresponding die contact area of a substrate of the first plurality of substrates; and
(2) punching through a plurality of holes to transfer the first plurality of dies to corresponding die contact areas of the first plurality of substrates.
13. The method of claim 11, further comprising:
(d) determining whether additional dies remain to be transferred;
(e) if it is determined that additional dies remain to be transferred,
(1) moving the die plate to a subsequent position,
(2) incrementing the position of the web of substrates such that a second plurality of dies is positioned adjacent to a corresponding contact area of a second plurality of substrates of the web of substrates,
(3) transferring the second plurality of dies from the die plate to the second plurality of substrates, and
(4) repeating steps (d), (e) and (f) until the die plate is substantially depleted of dies; and
(f) if it is determined that no additional dies remain to be transferred, removing the die plate.
14. The method of claim 11, further comprising:
(d) determining whether additional dies remain to be transferred;
(e) if it is determined that additional dies remain to be transferred,
(1) moving the die plate to a subsequent position,
(2) incrementing the position of the web of substrates such that a second plurality of dies is positioned adjacent to a corresponding contact area of a second plurality of substrates of the web of substrates,
(3) transferring the second plurality of dies from the die plate to the second plurality of substrates, and
(4) repeating steps (d), (e) and (f) until the die plate is depleted of dies; and
(f) if it is determined that no additional dies remain to be transferred, removing the die plate.
15. The method of claim 11, wherein step (c) comprises:
(d) applying to the die plate, a first surface of a plate structure having a plurality of punching members extending therefrom, wherein each punching member extends through a corresponding hole of the die plate to transfer a first plurality of dies to the corresponding plurality of substrates.
16. The method of claim 15, further comprising:
(d) moving the plate structure and the die plate apart; and
(e) applying to the die plate, the first surface of a plate structure having a plurality of punching members extending therefrom, wherein each punching member extends through a corresponding hole of the die plate to transfer a second plurality of dies to the corresponding plurality of substrates
17. The method of claim 12, wherein step (c)(2) comprises:
(A) rolling a cylinder across the die plate to transfer a first plurality of dies from the die plate to a first plurality of substrates of the web of substrates, wherein the cylinder has a plurality of punching members extending radially therefrom and each of the plurality of punching members temporarily extends through one or more holes of the die plate as the cylinder is rolled across the die plate.
18. The method of claim 12, wherein step (c)(2) comprises:
(A) rolling a cylinder across the die plate in a first direction to transfer a first plurality of dies from the die plate to a first plurality of substrates of the web of substrates, wherein the cylinder has a plurality of punching members extending radially therefrom and each of the plurality of punching members temporarily extends through one or more holes of the die plate as the cylinder is rolled across the die plate; and
(B) rolling the cylinder across the die plate in a second direction to transfer a second plurality of dies from the die plate to a second plurality of substrates of the web of substrates.
19. The method of claim 11, further comprising:
(d) applying an adhesive material to a first plurality of substrates of the web of substrates.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein the step (d) comprises:
(1) receiving a plurality of substrates;
(2) applying an adhesive material to a plurality of adhesive transfer members;
(3) positioning the plurality of adhesive transfer members relative to a plurality of substrates such that each adhesive transfer member is positioned adjacent to a corresponding die contact area of a substrate of the plurality of substrates;
(4) transferring the adhesive material from the plurality of adhesive transfer members to the corresponding die contact areas of a plurality of substrates.
21. The method of claim 19, further comprising:
(e) curing the adhesive material to bond each transferred die to a substrate.
22. A method for transferring integrated circuit dies from a die receptacle structure to substrates of a web of substrates, comprising:
(a) receiving a die plate having a first and a second surface, wherein the die plate includes a plurality of dies attached to a first surface and a plurality of holes extending from the first surface to the second surface, each die covering a corresponding hole through the die plate;
(b) receiving a plurality of substrates;
(c) positioning the plurality of substrates relative to the first surface of the die plate such that each die is positioned adjacent to a corresponding die contact area of a substrate of the plurality of substrates; and
(d) punching through a plurality of holes to transfer a plurality of dies to corresponding die contact areas of a plurality of substrates.
23. The method of claim 22, further comprising:
(d) determining whether additional dies remain to be transferred;
(e) if it is determined that additional dies remain to be transferred,
(1) moving the die plate to a subsequent position,
(2) incrementing the position of the web of substrates such that a second plurality of dies is positioned adjacent to a corresponding contact area of a second plurality of substrates of the web of substrates,
(3) transferring the second plurality of dies from the die plate to the second plurality of substrates, and
(4) repeating steps (d), (e) and (f) until the die plate is depleted of dies; and
(f) if it is determined that no additional dies remain to be transferred, removing the die plate.
24. The method of claim 22, wherein each substrate of a plurality of substrates includes an adhesive material coupled to a die contact area of the substrate.
25. The method of claim 24, further comprising the step of:
curing the adhesive material to bond each transferred die to a substrate
26. A method for transferring integrated circuit dies from a die receptacle structure to substrates of a web of substrates, comprising:
(a) receiving a die receptacle structure, wherein a first surface of the die receptacle structure has an array of cells formed therein, wherein the die receptacle structure further includes a plurality of holes formed therethrough, each hole of the plurality of holes corresponding to a cell of the array of cells, each hole being open in the corresponding cell and at a second surface of the die receptacle structure opposite to the first surface, wherein a die resides in at least some of the cells of the array of cells;
(b) positioning the web of substrates relative to the first surface of the die receptacle structure such that each cell of a plurality of cells of the array of cells is positioned adjacent to a corresponding die contact area of a substrate of a plurality of substrates of the web of substrates; and
(c) punching through each hole of the plurality of cells to transfer the die from each cell of the plurality of cells to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate of the plurality of substrates.
27. The method of claim 26, further comprising:
(d) incrementing the position of the web of substrates relative to the first surface of the die receptacle structure such that each cell of a second plurality of cells of the array of cells is positioned adjacent to a corresponding die contact area of a substrate of a second plurality of substrates of the web of substrates.
28. The method of claim 27, further comprising:
(e) punching through each hole of the second plurality of cells to transfer the die from each cell of the second plurality of cells to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate of the second plurality of substrates.
29. The method of claim 26, further comprising:
(d) repeating steps (b) and (c) for subsequent pluralities of cells and corresponding subsequent pluralities of substrates until the array of cells is substantially depleted of dies.
30. The method of claim 26, further comprising:
(d) repeating steps (b) and (c) for subsequent pluralities of cells and corresponding subsequent pluralities of substrates until the array of cells is depleted of dies.
31. The method of claim 26, wherein step (c) comprises:
rolling a cylinder that has punching members extending radially therefrom across the die receptacle structure so that the punching members temporarily extend through holes of the plurality of cells to transfer dies from the cells to the corresponding die contact area of substrates of the plurality of substrates.
32. The method of claim 26, wherein the plurality of substrates are aligned in the web in a single file column of substrates, wherein step (c) comprises:
rolling a cylinder across the die receptacle structure having a column of punching members extending radially therefrom to sequentially extend through each hole of the plurality of cells to transfer the die from each cell of the plurality of cells to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate of the column of substrates.
33. The method of claim 26, wherein the plurality of substrates are aligned in the web in a plurality of parallel columns of substrates, wherein step (c) comprises:
(1) rolling a cylinder having a column of punching members extending radially therefrom across the die receptacle structure in a first direction along a first column of cells of the plurality of cells to sequentially extend through each hole of the plurality of cells in the first column to transfer the die from each cell of the plurality of cells in the first column to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate of a first column of substrates in the plurality of parallel columns of substrates;
(2) rolling the cylinder in a second direction opposite to the first direction across the die receptacle structure along a second column of cells of the plurality of cells to sequentially extend through each hole of the plurality of cells in the second column to transfer the die from each cell of the plurality of cells in the second column to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate of a second column of substrates in the plurality of parallel columns of substrates.
34. The method of claim 33, wherein step (c) further comprises:
(3) repeating steps (1) and (2) to transfer dies from cells of the plurality of cells in at least one subsequent column to the corresponding die contact areas of substrates in corresponding subsequent columns of substrates in the plurality of parallel columns of substrates.
35. The method of claim 26, wherein the plurality of substrates are aligned in the web in a plurality of parallel columns of substrates, wherein step (c) comprises:
(1) rolling a cylinder having a plurality of columns of punching members extending radially therefrom across the die receptacle structure in a first direction along a plurality of columns of cells of the plurality of cells,
wherein for each column of punching members, punching members sequentially extend through each hole of cells in a corresponding column of the plurality of columns of cells to transfer the die from each cell of the corresponding column to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate of a corresponding column of substrates in the plurality of parallel columns of substrates.
36. The method of claim 35, wherein step (c) further comprises:
(2) rolling the cylinder in a second direction opposite to the first direction across the die receptacle structure along a second plurality of columns of cells of the plurality of cells, wherein for each column of punching members, punching members sequentially extend through each hole of cells in a corresponding column of the second plurality of columns of cells to transfer the die from each cell of the corresponding column of the second plurality of columns to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate of a corresponding column of substrates in the plurality of parallel columns of substrates
37. The method of claim 36, wherein step (c) further comprises:
(3) repeating steps (1) and (2) to transfer dies from cells of the plurality of cells in at least one subsequent plurality of columns to the corresponding die contact areas of substrates in corresponding subsequent pluralities of columns of substrates in the plurality of parallel columns of substrates.
38. The method of claim 36, wherein step (c) comprises:
applying to the die receptacle structure a first surface of a plate structure having a plurality of punching members extending therefrom, wherein each punching member extends through a corresponding hole of the plurality of cells to transfer dies from the cells to the corresponding die contact area of substrates of the plurality of substrates.
39. The method of claim 38, further comprising:
(d) moving apart the plate structure and die receptacle structure; and
(e) applying to the die receptacle structure the first surface of the plate structure, wherein each punching member extends through a corresponding hole of a second plurality of cells to transfer dies from the cells of the second plurality of cells to corresponding die contact areas of substrates of a second plurality of substrates of the web of substrates.
40. The method of claim 26, wherein the plurality of cells comprises all cells of the array of cells, wherein step (c) comprises:
punching through each hole of the array of cells to transfer the die from each cell of the array of cells to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate of the plurality of substrates,
whereby the array of cells is emptied of dies.
41. The method of claim 26, wherein the plurality of cells comprises a portion of the total number of cells of the array of cells, wherein step (c) comprises:
punching through each hole of the plurality of cells to transfer the die from each cell of the plurality of cells to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate of the plurality of substrates
whereby the array of cells is not emptied of dies.
42. An apparatus for transferring dies from a die plate comprising:
a planar body having a first surface; and
a plurality of punching members extending from the first surface.
43. The apparatus of claim 42, wherein the plurality of punching members is arranged in a geometric pattern.
44. The apparatus of claim 43, wherein the geometric pattern includes a plurality of rows and a plurality of columns.
45. The apparatus of claim 43, wherein the geometric pattern is a rectangle.
46. The apparatus of claim 43, wherein the geometric pattern is a hexagon.
47. The apparatus of claim 43, wherein the geometric pattern is a cross.
48. An apparatus for transferring dies from a die plate comprising:
a first planar body having a first surface and a second surface, wherein the first planar body includes:
a plurality of cavities, wherein each cavity is open at the second surface of the first planar body and extends partially through the first planar body and wherein each cavity includes a hole extending from a bottom surface of the cavity to the first surface of the first planar body;
a plurality of punching members, each punching member having an anchor portion and a punching portion, wherein each punching member is placed in one of the plurality of cavities such that the punching portion extends through the hole and the anchor portion is substantially contained in the cavity;
a second planar body having a first surface coupled to the second surface of the first planar body.
49. The apparatus of claim 48, further comprising:
a plurality of springs, wherein each spring is placed in a cavity containing a punching member between the anchor portion of the punching member and the first surface of the second planar body.
50. The apparatus of claim 48, wherein the plurality of punching members is arranged in a geometric pattern.
51. The apparatus of claim 50, wherein the geometric pattern includes a plurality of rows and a plurality of columns.
52. The apparatus of claim 50, wherein the geometric pattern is a rectangle.
53. The apparatus of claim 50, wherein the geometric pattern is a hexagon.
54. The apparatus of claim 50, wherein the geometric pattern is a cross.
55. A method for designing a system for assembling a plurality of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for use in a tag population, comprising:
(a) determining a required minimum read distance for tags of the tag population;
(b) selecting a tag antenna layout and corresponding tag substrate size based upon the determined required read distance;
(c) determining a number of tags to be produced for the tag population;
(d) configuring a tag substrate web, comprising a plurality of tag substrates, based upon the selected tag substrate size and the determined number of tags to be produced;
(e) determining a number of die transfer heads that are each capable of transferring a plurality of dies to corresponding substrates of the tag substrate web;
(f) designating a location for each of the determined number of die transfer heads relative to the tag substrate web; and
(g) determining a rate of tag production.
56. The method of claim 55, wherein step (d) comprises:
(1) configuring a continuous substrate web.
57. The method of claim 55, wherein step (d) comprises:
(1) configuring the substrate web as a plurality of separate substrate web sheets.
58. The method of claim 55, wherein step (d) comprises:
(1) determining a width for the substrate web.
59. The method of claim 58, wherein step (1) comprises:
(A) determining the width for the substrate web in terms of a number of substrates.
60. The method of claim 55, wherein step (g) comprises:
(1) selecting a rate of tag production based upon the determined required number of tags and a designated completion date.
61. The method of claim 55, wherein step (e) comprises:
(1) selecting a geometrical substrate pattern capable of self-interlocking for transfer of dies from each die transfer head.
62. The method of claim 61, wherein step (1) comprises:
(A) selecting the interlocking geometrical substrate pattern to be a square, a rectangle, a hexagon, or a cross.
63. The method of claim 61, wherein step (f) comprises:
(1) arranging the die transfer heads in an interlocked coverage pattern.
64. The method of claim 63, wherein step (1) comprises:
selecting the self-interlocking geometrical substrate pattern to minimize a number of dies that cannot be transferred from each die transfer head due to the selected self-interlocking geometrical substrate pattern, while covering each substrate of the tag substrate web with a die transfer head of the coverage pattern in a non-overlapping manner.
65. The method of claim 63, wherein step (f) comprises:
(1) arranging the die transfer heads in a coverage pattern such that when the tag substrate web is movable along a first direction, all substrates of the tag substrate web can be covered by at least one die transfer head of the coverage pattern.
66. The method of claim 63, wherein step (f) comprises:
(1) arranging the die transfer heads in a coverage pattern such that when the tag substrate web is movable along a first direction, all substrates of the tag substrate web can be covered by a single die transfer head of the coverage pattern.
67. A system for assembling a plurality of devices in parallel, the system comprising:
a plurality of pin plates, each pin plate having a plurality of punching members; and
a pin plate controller coupled to the plurality of pin plates,
wherein the system receives a plurality of die plates, each die plate including a plurality of holes therethrough, wherein the die plate further includes a plurality of dies attached thereto, and wherein each die covers a corresponding hole through the die plate.
68. A method for assembling devices a plurality of devices in parallel, comprising:
(a) receiving a plurality of die plates, wherein each die plate has a first surface and wherein each die plate includes a plurality of dies attached to a first surface and a plurality of holes extending from the first surface to a second surface, each die covering a corresponding hole through the die plate;
(b) receiving a web of substrates having a plurality of substrates; and
(c) transferring a plurality of dies from each die plate in parallel to a plurality of substrates, one die per substrate.
69. The method of claim 68, wherein step (c) comprises:
(1) positioning the plurality of substrates relative to the first surface of each die plate such that each die in the first plurality of dies is positioned adjacent to a corresponding die contact area of a substrate of the first plurality of substrates; and
(2) punching through a plurality of holes in each die plate in parallel to transfer the first plurality of dies to corresponding die contact areas of the first plurality of substrates.
Description
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/477,735, filed Jun. 12, 2003 (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0350000), which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • [0002]
    The following applications of common assignee are related to the present application, have the same filing date as the present application, and are herein incorporated by reference in their entireties:
      • “Method And Apparatus For Expanding A Semiconductor Wafer,” U.S. Ser. No. ______ (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0520000);
      • “Method, System, And Apparatus For Authenticating Devices During Assembly,” U.S. Ser. No. ______ (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0530000);
      • “Method, System, And Apparatus For Transfer Of Dies Using A Die Plate Having Die Cavities,” U.S. Ser. No. ______ (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0540000);
      • “Method, System, And Apparatus For Transfer Of Dies Using A Die Plate,” U.S. Ser. No. ______ (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0550000);
      • “Method, System, And Apparatus For High Volume Transfer Of Dies,” U.S. Ser. No. ______ (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0580000); and
      • “Method, System, And Apparatus For High Volume Assembly Of Compact Discs And Digital Video Discs Incorporating Radio Frequency Identification Tag Technology,” U.S. Ser. No. ______ (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0590000).
  • [0009]
    The following applications of common assignee are related to the present application, and are herein incorporated by reference in their entireties:
      • “Method and Apparatus for High Volume Assembly of Radio Frequency Identification Tags,” U.S. Provisional App. No. 60/400,101, filed Aug. 2, 2002 (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0110000);
      • “Method and Apparatus for High Volume Assembly of Radio Frequency Identification Tags,” Ser. No. 10/322,467, filed Dec. 19, 2002 (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0110001);
      • “Multi-Barrel Die Transfer Apparatus and Method for Transferring Dies Therewith,” Ser. No. 10/322,718, filed Dec. 19, 2002 (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0110002);
      • “Die Frame Apparatus and Method of Transferring Dies Therewith,” Ser. No. 10/322,701, filed Dec. 19, 2002 (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0110003);
      • “System and Method of Transferring Dies Using an Adhesive Surface,” Ser. No. 10/322,702, filed Dec. 19, 2002 (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0110004); and
      • “Method and System for Forming a Die Frame and for Transferring Dies Therewith,” Ser. No. 10/429,803, filed May 6, 2003 (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0110005).
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0016]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0017]
    The present invention relates generally to the assembly of electronic devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to the transfer of dies from wafers to substrates, including substrates of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.
  • [0018]
    2. Related Art
  • [0019]
    Pick and place techniques are often used to assemble electronic devices. Such techniques involve a manipulator, such as a robot arm, to remove integrated circuit (IC) dies from a wafer and place them into a die carrier. The dies are subsequently mounted onto a substrate with other electronic components, such as antennas, capacitors, resistors, and inductors to form an electronic device.
  • [0020]
    Pick and place techniques involve complex robotic components and control systems that handle only one die at a time. This has a drawback of limiting throughput volume. Furthermore, pick and place techniques have limited placement accuracy, and have a minimum die size requirement.
  • [0021]
    One type of electronic device that may be assembled using pick and place techniques is an RFID “tag.” An RFID tag may be affixed to an item whose presence is to be detected and/or monitored. The presence of an RFID tag, and therefore the presence of the item to which the tag is affixed, may be checked and monitored by devices known as “readers.”
  • [0022]
    As market demand increases for products such as RFID tags, and as die sizes shrink, high assembly throughput rates for very small die, and low production costs are crucial in providing commercially-viable products. Accordingly, what is needed is a method and apparatus for high volume assembly of electronic devices, such as RFID tags, that overcomes these limitations.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0023]
    The present invention is directed to methods, systems, and apparatuses for producing one or more electronic devices, such as RFID tags, that each include a die having one or more electrically conductive contact pads that provide electrical connections to related electronics on a substrate.
  • [0024]
    According to the present invention, electronic devices are formed at much greater rates than conventionally possible. In one aspect, large quantities of dies can be transferred directly from a wafer to corresponding substrates of a web of substrates. In another aspect, large quantities of dies can be transferred from a support surface to corresponding substrates of a web of substrates. In another aspect, large quantities of dies can be transferred from a wafer or support surface to an intermediate surface, such as a die plate. The die plate may have cells formed in a surface thereof in which the dies reside. Otherwise, the dies can reside on a surface of the die plate. The dies of the die plate can then be transferred to corresponding substrates of a web of substrates. In another aspect, adhesive can be applied to large quantities of substrates of a web of substrates during the assembly process.
  • [0025]
    In an aspect, a punch plate, punch roller or cylinder, or expandable material can be used to transfer dies from the die plate to substrates.
  • [0026]
    In an aspect, the punch plate has removable punching members.
  • [0027]
    Large quantities of dies can be transferred. For example, 10s, 100s, 1000s, or more dies, or even all dies of a wafer, support surface, or die plate, can be simultaneously transferred to corresponding substrates of a web.
  • [0028]
    In one aspect, dies may be transferred between surfaces in a “pads up” orientation. When dies are transferred to a substrate in a “pads up” orientation, related electronics can be printed or otherwise formed to couple contact pads of the die to related electronics of the tag substrate.
  • [0029]
    In an alternative aspect, the dies may be transferred between surfaces in a “pads down” orientation. When dies are transferred to a substrate in a “pads down” orientation, related electronics can be pre-printed or otherwise pre-deposited on the tag substrates.
  • [0030]
    These and other advantages and features will become readily apparent in view of the following detailed description of the invention.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS/FIGURES
  • [0031]
    The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated herein and form a part of the specification, illustrate the present invention and, together with the description, further serve to explain the principles of the invention and to enable a person skilled in the pertinent art to make and use the invention.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 1A shows a block diagram of an exemplary RFID tag, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0033]
    FIGS. 1B and 1C show detailed views of exemplary RFID tags, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0034]
    FIGS. 2A and 2B show plan and side views of an exemplary die, respectively.
  • [0035]
    FIGS. 2C and 2D show portions of a substrate with a die attached thereto, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating a device assembly process, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0037]
    FIGS. 4A and 4B are plan and side views of a wafer having multiple dies affixed to a support surface, respectively.
  • [0038]
    FIG. 5 is a view of a wafer having separated dies affixed to a support surface.
  • [0039]
    FIG. 6 shows a system diagram illustrating example options for transfer of dies from wafers to substrates, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0040]
    FIGS. 7 and 8 show flowcharts providing steps for transferring dies from a first surface to a second surface, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0041]
    FIG. 9 shows an example of a device assembly system, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0042]
    FIG. 10 shows a pin plate, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0043]
    FIGS. 11 and 12 show various substrate arrays, and corresponding pin plates, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0044]
    FIGS. 13 a-b and FIGS. 14 a-b show views of a pin of a pin plate inserted in a hole of a die receptacle structure, and a die residing in a cell of the die receptacle structure, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0045]
    FIG. 15 shows some example geometric shapes for substrate arrays on a web and corresponding pin plates, according to the embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0046]
    FIGS. 16 a and 16 b show a portion of an exemplary pin plate having removable pins and exemplary pins, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0047]
    FIG. 17 shows a schematic providing multiple example views of a pin plate, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0048]
    FIG. 18 shows a flowchart providing example steps for assembling a plurality of devices in parallel, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0049]
    FIG. 19 shows a flowchart providing example steps for transferring dies from a die receptacle structure to substrates of a web, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0050]
    FIGS. 20-26 show example implementations of the steps of the flowchart of FIG. 19, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0051]
    FIG. 27 shows a flowchart providing example steps for applying adhesive to plurality of devices in parallel, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0052]
    FIG. 28 shows a schematic providing multiple views of a chip assembly fixture having four die transfer heads, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0053]
    FIG. 29 illustrates carousels used in a multi-head tag assembly system, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0054]
    FIGS. 30-31 show a multi-head die transfer configuration, showing a web, substrate array, and corresponding pin plate, according to example embodiments of the present invention
  • [0055]
    FIG. 32 shows example die transfer rates for the various geometric substrate patterns shown in FIG. 15, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0056]
    FIG. 33 shows an enlarged view of an example geometric substrate array pattern, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0057]
    FIGS. 34 a and 34 b show the geometric substrate array pattern of FIG. 33 used in a repeating, interlocked coverage pattern to cover all substrates in a web for die transfer, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0058]
    FIG. 35 shows another geometric substrate array pattern, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0059]
    FIGS. 36 a and 36 b show webs having the geometric substrate array pattern of FIG. 35 used in an interlocking substrate coverage pattern, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0060]
    FIG. 37 shows another geometric substrate array pattern, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0061]
    FIGS. 38 a and 38 b show webs having the geometric substrate array pattern of FIG. 37 used in an interlocking substrate coverage pattern, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0062]
    FIG. 39 shows another geometric substrate array pattern, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0063]
    FIGS. 40 a and 40 b show webs having the geometric substrate array pattern of FIG. 39 used in an interlocking substrate coverage pattern, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0064]
    FIG. 41 shows another geometric substrate array pattern, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0065]
    FIGS. 42 a and 42 b show webs having the geometric substrate array pattern of FIG. 41 used in an interlocking substrate coverage pattern, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0066]
    FIG. 43 shows another geometric substrate array pattern, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0067]
    FIGS. 44 a and 44 b show webs having the geometric substrate array pattern of FIG. 43 used in an interlocking substrate coverage pattern, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0068]
    FIG. 45 shows a cylindrical pin plate, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0069]
    FIG. 46 shows a flowchart providing example steps for designing a system for assembling RFID tags for a tag population, according to embodiments of the present invention.
  • [0070]
    The present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, like reference numbers generally indicate identical, functionally similar, and/or structurally similar elements. The drawing in which an element first appears is indicated by the leftmost digit(s) in the reference number.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [heading-0071]
    1. Overview
  • [0072]
    The present invention provides improved processes and systems for assembling electronic devices, including RFID tags. The present invention provides improvements over current processes. Conventional techniques include vision-based systems that pick and place dies one at a time onto substrates. The present invention can transfer multiple dies simultaneously. Vision-based systems are limited as far as the size of dies that may be handled, such as being limited to dies larger than 600 microns square. The present invention is applicable to dies 100 microns square and even smaller. Furthermore, yield is poor in conventional systems, where two or more dies may be accidentally picked up at a time, causing losses of additional dies. The present invention allows for improved yield values.
  • [0073]
    The present invention provides an advantage of simplicity. Conventional die transfer tape mechanisms may be used by the present invention. Furthermore, much higher fabrication rates are possible. Current techniques process 5-8 thousand units per hour. The present invention can provide improvements in these rates by a factor of N. For example, embodiments of the present invention can process dies 5 times as fast as conventional techniques, at 100 times as fast as conventional techniques, and at even faster rates. Furthermore, because the present invention allows for flip-chip die attachment techniques, wire bonds are not necessary.
  • [0074]
    Elements of the embodiments described herein may be combined in any manner. Example RFID tags are described in section 1.1. Assembly embodiments for RFID tags are described in section 1.2.
  • [heading-0075]
    1.1 Exemplary Electronic Device
  • [0076]
    The present invention is directed to techniques for producing electronic devices, such as RFID tags. For illustrative purposes, the description herein primarily relates to the production of RFID tags. However, the invention is also adaptable to the production of further electronic device types, as would be understood by persons skilled in the relevant art(s) from the teachings herein.
  • [0077]
    FIG. 1A shows a block diagram of an exemplary RFID tag 100, according to an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 1A, RFID tag 100 includes a die 104 and related electronics 106 located on a tag substrate 116. Related electronics 106 includes an antenna 114 in the present example. FIGS. 1B and 1C show detailed views of exemplary RFID tags 100, indicated as RFID tags 100 a and 10 b. As shown in FIGS. 1B and 1C, die 104 can be mounted onto antenna 114 of related electronics 106. As is further described elsewhere herein, die 104 may be mounted in either a pads up or pads down orientation.
  • [0078]
    FIG. 1B depicts an exemplary tag 100A having a rectangular substrate 116. As shown in FIG. 1B, the exemplary antenna 114 on substrate 116 extends for 50.75 mm in the x direction and 19 mm in the y direction. As would be appreciated by persons skilled in the art, different dimensions and configurations can be used for antenna 114 and substrate 116.
  • [0079]
    FIG. 1C depicts an exemplary tag 100B having a circular substrate 116. Exemplary antenna 114 on substrate 116 also has a substantially circular geometry. As shown in FIG. 1C, exemplary antenna 114 fits within a circle having a diameter of approximately 35 mm.
  • [0080]
    RFID tag 100, such as the exemplary tags shown in FIGS. 1A-1C, may be located in an area having a large number, population, or pool of RFID tags present. RFID tag 100 receives interrogation signals transmitted by one or more tag readers. According to interrogation protocols, RFID tag 100 responds to these signals. Each response includes information that identifies the corresponding RFID tag 100 of the potential pool of RFID tags present. Upon reception of a response, the tag reader determines the identity of the responding tag, thereby ascertaining the existence of the tag within a coverage area defined by the tag reader.
  • [0081]
    RFID tag 100 may be used in various applications, such as inventory control, airport baggage monitoring, as well as security and surveillance applications. Thus, RFID tag 100 can be affixed to items such as airline baggage, retail inventory, warehouse inventory, automobiles, compact discs (CDs), digital video discs (DVDs), video tapes, and other objects. RFID tag 100 enables location monitoring and real time tracking of such items.
  • [0082]
    In the present embodiment, die 104 is an integrated circuit that performs RFID operations, such as communicating with one or more tag readers (not shown) according to various interrogation protocols. Exemplary interrogation protocols are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,002,344 issued Dec. 14, 1999 to Bandy et al. entitled System and Method for Electronic Inventory, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/072,885, filed on Feb. 12, 2002, both of which are incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. Die 104 includes a plurality of contact pads that each provide an electrical connection with related electronics 106.
  • [0083]
    Related electronics 106 are connected to die 104 through a plurality of contact pads of IC die 104. In embodiments, related electronics 106 provide one or more capabilities, including RF reception and transmission capabilities, sensor functionality, power reception and storage functionality, as well as additional capabilities. The components of related electronics 106 can be printed onto a tag substrate 116 with materials, such as conductive inks. Examples of conductive inks include silver conductors 5000, 5021, and 5025, produced by DuPont Electronic Materials of Research Triangle Park, N.C. Other materials or means suitable for printing related electronics 106 onto tag substrate 116 include polymeric dielectric composition 5018 and carbon-based PTC resistor paste 7282, which are also produced by DuPont Electronic Materials of Research Triangle Park, N.C. Other materials or means that may be used to deposit the component material onto the substrate would be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) from the teachings herein.
  • [0084]
    As shown in FIGS. 1A-1C, tag substrate 116 has a first surface that accommodates die 104, related electronics 106, as well as further components of tag 100. Tag substrate 116 also has a second surface that is opposite the first surface. An adhesive material or backing can be included on the second surface. When present, the adhesive backing enables tag 100 to be attached to objects, such as books and consumer products. Tag substrate 116 is made from a material, such as polyester, paper, plastic, fabrics such as cloth, and/or other materials such as commercially available Tyvec®.
  • [0085]
    In some implementations of tags 100, tag substrate 116 can include an indentation, “cavity,” or “cell” (not shown in FIGS. 1A-1C) that accommodates die 104. An example of such an implementation is included in a “pads up” orientation of die 104.
  • [0086]
    FIGS. 2A and 2B show plan and side views of an example die 104. Die 104 includes four contact pads 204 a-d that provide electrical connections between related electronics 106 (not shown) and internal circuitry of die 104. Note that although four contact pads 204 a-d are shown, any number of contact pads may be used, depending on a particular application. Contact pads 204 are made of an electrically conductive material during fabrication of the die. Contact pads 204 can be further built up if required by the assembly process, by the deposition of additional and/or other materials, such as gold and solder flux. Such post processing, or “bumping,” will be known to persons skilled in the relevant art(s).
  • [0087]
    FIG. 2C shows a portion of a substrate 116 with die 104 attached thereto, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 2C, contact pads 204 a-d of die 104 are coupled to respective contact areas 210 a-d of substrate 116. Contact areas 210 a-d provide electrical connections to related electronics 106. The arrangement of contact pads 204 a-d in a rectangular (e.g., square) shape allows for flexibility in attachment of die 104 to substrate 116, and good mechanical adherement. This arrangement allows for a range of tolerance for imperfect placement of IC die 104 on substrate 116, while still achieving acceptable electrical coupling between contact pads 204 a-d and contact areas 210 a-d. For example, FIG. 2D shows an imperfect placement of IC die 104 on substrate 116. However, even though IC die 104 has been improperly placed, acceptable electrical coupling is achieved between contact pads 204 a-d and contact areas 210 a-d.
  • [0088]
    Note that although FIGS. 2A-2D show the layout of four contact pads 204 a-d collectively forming a rectangular shape, greater or lesser numbers of contact pads 204 may be used. Furthermore, contact pads 204 a-d may be laid out in other shapes in other embodiments.
  • [heading-0089]
    1.2 Device Assembly
  • [0090]
    The present invention is directed to continuous-roll assembly techniques and other techniques for assembling electronic devices, such as RFID tag 100. Such techniques involve a continuous web (or roll) of the material of the tag substrate 116 that is capable of being separated into a plurality of devices. Alternatively, separate sheets of the material can be used as discrete substrate webs that can be separated into a plurality of devices. As described herein, the manufactured one or more devices can then be post processed for individual use. For illustrative purposes, the techniques described herein are made with reference to assembly of tags, such as RFID tag 100. However, these techniques can be applied to other tag implementations and other suitable devices, as would be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) from the teachings herein.
  • [0091]
    The present invention advantageously eliminates the restriction of assembling electronic devices, such as RFID tags, one at a time, allowing multiple electronic devices to be assembled in parallel. The present invention provides a continuous-roll technique that is scalable and provides much higher throughput assembly rates than conventional pick and place techniques.
  • [0092]
    FIG. 3 shows a flowchart 300 with example steps relating to continuous-roll production of RFID tags 100, according to example embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 3 shows a flowchart illustrating a process 300 for assembling tags 100. The process 300 depicted in FIG. 3 is described with continued reference to FIGS. 4A and 4B. However, process 300 is not limited to these embodiments.
  • [0093]
    Process 300 begins with a step 302. In step 302, a wafer 400 (shown in FIG. 4A) having a plurality of dies 104 is produced. FIG. 4A illustrates a plan view of an exemplary wafer 400. As illustrated in FIG. 4A, a plurality of dies 104 a-n are arranged in a plurality of rows 402 a-n.
  • [0094]
    In a step 304, wafer 400 is optionally applied to a support structure or surface 404. Support surface 404 includes an adhesive material to provide adhesiveness. For example, support surface 404 may be an adhesive tape that holds wafer 400 in place for subsequent processing. FIG. 4B shows an example view of wafer 400 in contact with an example support surface 404. In some embodiments, wafer 400 is not attached to a support surface, and can be operated on directly.
  • [0095]
    In a step 306, the plurality of dies 104 on wafer 400 are separated. For example, step 306 may include scribing wafer 400 according to a process, such as laser etching. FIG. 5 shows a view of wafer 400 having example separated dies 104 that are in contact with support surface 404. FIG. 5 shows a plurality of scribe lines 502 a-1 that indicate locations where dies 104 are separated.
  • [0096]
    In a step 308, the plurality of dies 104 is transferred to a substrate. For example, dies 104 can be transferred from support surface 404 to tag substrates 116. Alternatively, dies 104 can be directly transferred from wafer 400 to substrates 116. In an embodiment, step 308 may allow for “pads down” transfer. Alternatively, step 308 may allow for “pads up” transfer. As used herein the terms “pads up” and “pads down” denote alternative implementations of tags 100. In particular, these terms designate the orientation of connection pads 204 in relation to tag substrate 116. In a “pads up” orientation for tag 100, die 104 is transferred to tag substrate 116 with pads 204 a-204 d facing away from tag substrate 116. In a “pads down” orientation for tag 100, die 104 is transferred to tag substrate 116 with pads 204 a-204 d facing towards, and in contact with tag substrate 116.
  • [0097]
    Note that step 308 may include multiple die transfer iterations. For example, in step 308, dies 104 may be directly transferred from a wafer 400 to substrates 116. Alternatively, dies 104 may be transferred to an intermediate structure, and subsequently transferred to substrates 116. Example embodiments of such die transfer options are described below in reference to FIGS. 6-8.
  • [0098]
    Note that steps 306 and 308 can be performed simultaneously in some embodiments. This is indicated in FIG. 3 by step 320, which includes both of steps 306 and 308.
  • [0099]
    Example embodiments of the steps of flowchart 300, are described in co-pending applications, “Method and Apparatus for Expanding a Semiconductor Wafer,” (Atty. Dkt. 1689.0520000), “Method, System, and Apparatus for Transfer of Dies Using a Die Plate Having Die Cavities,” (Atty. Dkt. 1689.0540000), “Method, System, and Apparatus for Transfer of Dies Using a Die Plate,” (Atty. Dkt. 1689.0550000), “Method, System, and Apparatus for Transfer of Dies Using a Pin Plate,” (Atty. Dkt. 1689.056000), and “Method, System, and Apparatus for High Volume Transfer of Dies,” (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0580000), each of which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • [0100]
    In a step 310, post processing is performed. For example, during step 310, assembly of device(s) 100 is completed.
  • [0101]
    FIGS. 6-8 further describe step 308 of FIG. 3. FIG. 6 shows a high-level system diagram 600 that provides a representation of the different modes or paths of transfer of dies from wafers to substrates. FIG. 6 shows a wafer 400, a substrate web 608, and a transfer surface 610. Two paths are shown in FIG. 6 for transferring dies, a first path 602, which is a direct path, and a second path 604, which is a path having intermediate steps.
  • [0102]
    For example, as shown in FIG. 6, first path 602 leads directly from wafer 400 to substrate web 608. In other words, dies can be transferred from wafer 400 to substrates of substrate web 608 directly, without the dies having first to be transferred from wafer 400 to another surface or storage structure. However, as shown in path 604, at least two steps are required, path 604A and path 604B. For path 604A, dies are first transferred from wafer 400 to an intermediate transfer surface 610. The dies then are transferred from transfer surface 610 via path 604B to the substrates of web 608. Paths 602 and 604 each have their advantages. For example, path 602 can have fewer steps than path 604, but can have issues of die registration, and other difficulties. Path 604 typically has a larger number of steps than path 602, but transfer of dies from wafer 400 to a transfer surface 610 can make die transfer to the substrates of web 808 easier, as die registration may be easier.
  • [0103]
    FIGS. 7 and 8 show flowcharts providing steps for transferring dies from a first surface to a second surface, according to embodiments of the present invention. Structural embodiments of the present invention will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) based on the following discussion. These steps are described in detail below.
  • [0104]
    Flowchart 700 begins with step 702. In step 702, a plurality of dies attached to a support surface is received. For example, the dies are dies 104, which are shown attached to a support surface 404 as shown in FIG. 4A. For example, support surface 404 can be a “green tape” or “blue tape” as would be known to persons skilled in the relevant art(s).
  • [0105]
    In step 704, the plurality of dies are transferred to a subsequent surface. For example, dies 104 may be transferred by an adhesive tape, a punch tape, a multi-barrel transport mechanism and/or process, die frame, pin plate, such as are further described below and/or in the incorporated patent applications, and may be transferred by other mechanisms and processes, or by combinations of the mechanisms/processes described herein. In embodiments, the subsequent surface can be an intermediate surface or an actual final substrate. For example, the intermediate surface can be a transfer surface, including a “blue tape,” as would be known to persons skilled in the relevant art(s). When the subsequent surface is a substrate, the subsequent surface may be a substrate structure that includes a plurality of tag substrates, or may be another substrate type.
  • [0106]
    In step 706, if the subsequent surface is a substrate to which the dies are going to be permanently attached, the process of flowchart 700 is complete. The process can then proceed to step 310 of flowchart 300, if desired. If the subsequent surface is not a final surface, then the process proceeds to step 704, where the plurality of dies are then transferred to another subsequent surface. Step 704 may be repeated as many times as is required by the particular application.
  • [0107]
    Flowchart 800 of FIG. 8 is substantially similar to flowchart of 700. However, instead of including step 702, flowchart 800 includes step 802. In step 802, a wafer 400 that includes a plurality of dies is received. Thus, in flowchart 800, a wafer 400 is operated on directly, without being applied to a support surface or structure. Embodiments for both of flowcharts 700 and 800 are described herein.
  • [0108]
    Any of the intermediate/transfer surfaces and final substrate surfaces may or may not have cells formed therein for dies to reside therein. Various processes described below may be used to transfer multiple dies simultaneously between first and second surfaces, according to embodiments of the present invention. In any of the processes described herein, dies may be transferred in either pads-up or pads-down orientations from one surface to another.
  • [0109]
    The die transfer processes described herein include transfer using an adhesive surface, a parallel die punch process, die plates, including die receptacle structures, pin plates, die transfer heads, and die transfer head coverage patterns. Elements of the die transfer processes described herein may be combined in any way, as would be understood by persons skilled in the relevant art(s). These die transfer processes, and related example structures for performing these processes, are further described in the following subsections.
  • [heading-0110]
    2. Device Assembly
  • [heading-0111]
    2.1 System Architecture
  • [heading-0112]
    2.1.1 Overview
  • [0113]
    FIG. 9 shows an example of a device assembly system 900, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. Device assembly system 900 receives a substrate web and one or more die plates, each die plate having dies. In an embodiment, the received wafer is previously scribed. Alternatively, system 900 may include a wafer scriber. For more information on alignment of dies with a die plate, see co-pending applications, “Method and Apparatus for Expanding a Semiconductor Wafer” (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0520000), “Method, System, and Apparatus for Transfer of Dies Using a Die Plate Having Die Cavities,” (Atty. Dkt. No. 1689.0540000) and “Method, System, and Apparatus for Transfer of Dies Using a Die Plate,” (Atty. Dkt. No 1689.0550000), each of which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • [0114]
    Device assembly system 900 includes an optional adhesive application module 920 and a die transfer module 940. Optional adhesive application module 920 is configured to deposit adhesive on each substrate 116 of substrate web 904. In an embodiment, assembly system 900 does not include an adhesive application module and instead receives a substrate web having adhesive (e.g., adhesive screen printed on substrate web) applied.
  • [0115]
    In an embodiment, an adhesive inspection module 930 is included after adhesive application module 920. Adhesive inspection module 930 inspects the deposition of adhesive to determine if it complies with defined criteria.
  • [0116]
    Die transfer module 940 receives a die plate 902 having dies thereon and a substrate web 906 having adhesive applied. Die transfer module 940 is configured to transfer die from a die plate 902 (also referred to as a “wafer plate”) to substrate web 906. In an embodiment, an inspection module 960 is included after the die transfer module 940. Inspection module 960 inspects the resulting assembled devices to determine if they comply with predefined criteria.
  • [heading-0117]
    2.1.2 Adhesive Application Module
  • [0118]
    Adhesive application module 920 includes an adhesive reservoir 922, adhesive pin plate 924, and a pin plate controller 926. In an embodiment of the invention, adhesive application module 920 is a “dip and wick” application system. As would be appreciated by persons of skill in the art, other types of adhesive application systems can be used to apply adhesive onto the substrate.
  • [0119]
    Adhesive application module 920 applies adhesive to an area of a substrate 116 of substrate web 904. In an embodiment, the adhesive is applied to a die contact area proximate to an antenna printed or embossed on each substrate 116. Adhesive application module 920 is configured to apply adhesive to a plurality of substrates of substrate web 904 in parallel.
  • [0120]
    Adhesive reservoir 922 holds an adhesive. In an embodiment, adhesive reservoir 922 holds the adhesive under the appropriate conditions for optimal application on the substrate (e.g., temperature). In an embodiment, the adhesive is a light curable adhesive. Alternatively, the adhesive can be a glue, epoxy, laminate, or any other adhesive material otherwise known or described elsewhere herein.
  • [0121]
    Adhesive pin plate 924 comprises a body having a first and second surface and a plurality of pins extending from the first surface. Details of an example adhesive pin plate 924 are described below in section 2.1.3. In an embodiment, the pins of adhesive pin plate 924 have a larger diameter than pins of a die transfer pin plate 944, although they can alternatively be the same diameter or smaller. In an embodiment, the configuration of pins used for adhesive pin plate 924 is identical to the configuration of pins used for die transfer pin plate 944. Alternatively, the configurations of pins used for adhesive pin plate 924 and die transfer pin plate 944 are different.
  • [0122]
    Adhesive pin plate controller 926 is configured to move adhesive pin plate 924 during the adhesive application process. In an exemplary dip and wick adhesive application module, adhesive pin plate controller 926 is configured to dip the pins of adhesive pin plate 924 into adhesive reservoir 922. Adhesive pin plate controller 926 is further configured to move adhesive pin plate 924 to a position adjacent to substrate web 904 such that the pins of adhesive pin plate 924 are above, but not touching, substrate web 904. When located at the appropriate position, adhesive on the pins of adhesive pin plate 924 is transferred (e.g., wicked) from the pin onto substrates 116 of substrate web 904. Alternatively, the pins of plate 924 can contact the substrate. Typically, the adhesive is transferred onto each substrate 116 of the web 904 at one or more die mount locations.
  • [heading-0123]
    2.1.2 Die Transfer Module
  • [0124]
    Die transfer module 940 includes a pin plate controller 942, pin plate 944, and a die plate controller 946. In an embodiment, die transfer module 940 also includes a curing module 950. Die transfer module 940 receives a die plate having dies thereon 902 and a substrate web having adhesive 906.
  • [0125]
    A die plate is used for transferring dies from wafers or support surfaces to substrates or subsequent transfer surfaces. A die plate having die cavities or cells, where each cell has a corresponding opening or hole, can be used. In this type of die plate, each cavity or cell can hold a die. This type of die plate is also referred to as a “die receptacle structure,” “waffle structure,” “waffle grid,” “nest structure,” or “nest grid.” A die plate having a substantially planar body and a plurality of holes can also be used. In this type of die plate, a die can be attached to the surface of the die plate and positioned over a corresponding hole. As would be appreciated by persons of skill in the art, other types of die plates can be used with the invention. For ease of description, the term “die plate” is used herein to encompass all types of die plates.
  • [0126]
    Die transfer pin plate 944 is configured to transfer a plurality of dies from die plate 902 to the die contact area on a plurality of substrates 116 of substrate web 906. Pin plate 944 is described in further detail in section 2.1.3.
  • [0127]
    Die transfer pin plate controller 942 is configured to move die transfer pin plate 944 in order to transfer die from die plate 902 to substrates 116 of substrate web 906. In an embodiment, pin plate controller 942 moves pin plate 944 in a reciprocal manner. Details of the transfer of die from a die plate to substrates using a pin plate are described in section 2.2.
  • [0128]
    Die plate controller 946 is configured to move die plate 902 relative to pin plate 944 and substrate web 906. For example, in an embodiment, application of pin plate 944 to die plate 902 does not result in the transfer of all dies located on die plate 902 to substrates 116. In this example, after pin plate 944 causes a first group of dies to be transferred, die plate controller 946 moves die plate 902 to position a second group of dies on die plate 902 for transfer by pin plate 944. This process is repeated until the desired number of die is transferred from die plate 902 to substrates 116.
  • [0129]
    In an embodiment, die transfer module 940 includes a curing module 950. Curing module 950 is configured to cure the adhesive on substrate 116 in order to bond die 104 to substrate 116. In an embodiment, the curing module 950 is an ultraviolet (UV) light source. Example curing module 950 embodiments are described below with reference to FIGS. 23-25.
  • [heading-0130]
    2.1.3 Pin Plate
  • [0131]
    FIG. 10 shows an example pin plate 1000, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. Pin plate 1000 can be used as adhesive pin plate 924 and/or die transfer pin plate 944. As shown in FIG. 10, pin plate 1000 comprises a body 1002 having a first surface and a second surface. Body 1002 is shown in FIG. 10 as a substantially planar structure, but can have other shapes. Furthermore, while the planar surfaces of body 1002 are shown to be square or rectangular in shape, body 1002 can have other shapes, including round, elliptical, hexagonal, cross-shaped, and diamond shaped. As shown in FIG. 10, body 1002 has a plurality of nails or pins 1004 a-n extending from the first surface thereof. Pins 1004 are typically arranged in an array of rows and columns of pins. Pin plate 1000 can be made from any number of materials, including a metal or combination of metals/alloy, a polymer, a plastic, glass, another material, or any combination thereof.
  • [0132]
    According to embodiments of the present invention, pin plate 1000 can have any number of pins, and any spacing of pins required. For example, pin plate 1000 can have an array of pins 1004 configured to punch out the appropriate number of dies 104 onto the corresponding number of substrates 116 of a substrate web 906, at the correct spacing of the substrates 116 in substrate web 906. Thus, for a given size of a die plate 902, a pin plate 1000 can have a variety of sizes. In addition or alternatively, pin plate 1000 can have an array of pins 1004 configured to apply adhesive to a corresponding number of substrates 116 of a substrate web 904.
  • [0133]
    For example, FIG. 11 shows a variety of substrate portion sizes of a substrate web 904 or 906, and a corresponding pin plate that can be used to transfer dies 104 from a die plate 902 onto corresponding substrates of substrate web 906 and/or can be used to apply adhesive to the corresponding substrates of substrate web 904. For example, a web portion 1102 is shown that is a 2×2 array of substrates 116. Thus, a corresponding pin plate 1104, having an appropriately spaced array of four pins extending therefrom, can be used to punch dies or apply adhesive onto the individual substrates of web portion 1102.
  • [0134]
    FIG. 11 also shows a web portion 1106 that comprises a 3×3 array of substrates 116. Thus, a pin plate 1108, having an array of nine pins extending therefrom, can be used to transfer dies or apply adhesive thereto.
  • [0135]
    FIG. 11 also shows a web portion 1110 having a 4×4 array of substrates 116. Thus, a pin plate 1112, having an array of 16 pins thereon, can be used to transfer dies 104 or apply adhesive to web portion 110.
  • [0136]
    FIG. 11 also shows a web portion 1114 having a 5×5 array of substrates 116. Thus, a pin plate 1116, having an array of 25 pins thereon, can be used to transfer dies 104 or apply adhesive to web portion 1114.
  • [0137]
    FIG. 11 also shows a web portion 1118 having a 6×6 array of substrates 116. Thus, a pin plate 1120, having an array of 36 pins thereon, can be used to transfer dies 104 or apply adhesive to web portion 1118.
  • [0138]
    FIG. 11 also shows a web portion 1122 having a 7×7 array of substrates 116 therein. Thus, a pin plate 1124, having an array of 49 pins thereon, can be used to transfer dies 104 or apply adhesive to web portion 1122.
  • [0139]
    FIG. 12 shows additional substrate arrays and corresponding pin plates of various sizes for transferring dies or applying adhesive to the substrates of the substrate arrays.
  • [0140]
    FIGS. 13 a-b show example cross-sectional views of a pin 1004 of a die transfer pin plate 944 being inserted into a hole 1306 of a die plate 902. The die plate illustrated in FIG. 13 a is a die receptacle structure. As shown in FIGS. 13 a-b, pin 1004 extends through hole 1306, reaching a die 104 located or residing in a cell 1304 of die plate 902. Pin 1004 can therefore be used to move die 104 from cell 1304 to a substrate. FIGS. 13 a-b show example dimensions for these elements of pin plate 944 and die plate 902, according to example embodiments of the present invention. Furthermore, as shown in FIGS. 13 a-b, hole 1306 does not have to be uniformly thick, but can have a larger size where pin 1004 is inserted as compared to the opposite side of die plate 902 at cell 1304.
  • [0141]
    FIGS. 14 a-b show even further detail of die 104 located in cell 1304 of FIGS. 13 a-b, according to an embodiment of the present invention. For example, note that the dimensions of cell 1304 do not necessarily have to be uniform from the bottom of cell 1304 to the top of cell 1304. For example, as shown in FIGS. 13 a-b, the size of cell 1304 is smaller at the base of cell 1304 than it is at the opening of cell 1304 to the top surface of die receptacle structure 1300. For example, this may aid in allowing die 104 to be pushed from cell 1304 by pin 1004. Example dimensions related to these elements are shown in FIGS. 14 a-b for illustrative purposes.
  • [0142]
    Although FIGS. 11-12 depict pin plates having rectangular shapes, persons of skill in the art will appreciate that other geometric shapes can be used for pin plate 1004. For example, FIG. 15 shows some example geometric shapes for pin plates, according to the embodiments of the present invention. For example, FIG. 15 shows a first geometric substrate pattern 1502 and a corresponding pin array pattern 1504. When pin array pattern 1504 of a pin plate is applied to either a wafer or to a die plate filled with dies to transfer the dies to a web of substrates or to apply adhesive to substrates, pin array pattern 1504 will transfer dies or apply adhesive to an array of substrates on the web in the pattern shown as geometric substrate pattern 1502. In other words, each substrate of an array of substrates on the web shaped as geometric substrate pattern 1502 will receive a corresponding die or adhesive.
  • [0143]
    In another example, FIG. 15 shows a second geometric substrate pattern 1506 and a corresponding pin array pattern 1508. When pin array pattern 1508 of a pin plate is applied to a die plate full of dies, directly to a wafer, or to substrates, it will transfer dies or apply adhesive to substrates on a web that are in a pattern of geometric substrate pattern 1506. In other words, each substrate in the pattern of geometric substrate pattern 1506 will receive a die 104 during the transfer or adhesive during application. This goes for the other geometric substrate patterns in corresponding pin array patterns shown in FIG. 15. For example, geometric substrate pattern 1510 corresponds to pin array pattern 1512. Geometric substrate pattern 1518 corresponds to pin array pattern 1520.
  • [heading-0144]
    2.1.2.1 Pin Plate with Removable Pins
  • [0145]
    FIG. 16A shows a portion of an exemplary pin plate 1600 having removable pins, according to example embodiments of the present invention. Pin plate 1600 includes a pin holding portion 1620 and a backing portion 1630. In an embodiment, pin holding portion 1620 and backing portion 1630 are plates having identical dimensions in the x and y directions. Alternatively, pin holding portion 1620 and backing portion 1630 have different dimensions in the x and/or y directions. The pin holding portion 1620 and backing portion may have different thicknesses (dimension in the z direction).
  • [0146]
    Pin holding portion 1620 is configured to hold one or more pins 1604. Pin holding portion 1620 has one or more cavities 1622. Cavity 1622 is open at the first surface 1626 of pin holding portion 1620 and extends partially through pin holding portion 1620 in the z direction (i.e., downward in FIG. 16A). The geometry and dimensions of cavity 1622 are designed relative to the geometry and dimensions of the pin to be inserted into the cavity. For example, if the pin has a cylindrical shape, cavity 1622 also has a cylindrical geometry.
  • [0147]
    A hole 1624 extends from the bottom of cavity 1622 to the second surface 1628 of pin holding portion 1620. Hole 1624 is open at the second surface 1628 of pin holding portion 1620. The pin portion 1608 of pin 1604 extends through hole 1624 when pin 1604 is inserted into the cavity, as depicted FIG. 16 a. The geometry and dimensions of hole 1624 are designed relative to the geometry and dimensions of pin portion 1608 of pin 1604. In an embodiment, the size of hole 1624 is smaller than the size of cavity 1622.
  • [0148]
    Pin 1604 includes an anchor portion 1606 and a pin portion 1608. In an embodiment, anchor portion 1606 is wider than pin portion 1608. This allows pin 1604 to be held in pin holding portion 1620. The length of pin portion 1608 is designed to allow the pin portion 1604 to extend through hole 1624 and through a corresponding hole in a die plate. FIG. 16B depicts two exemplary pins 1604 a and 1604 b. In pin 1604 a, anchor portion 1606 a has a cylindrical shape. In pin 1604 b, anchor portion 1606 b has a rectangular (cuboid) shape. In an embodiment, pin portion 1608 has the same geometrical shape as anchor portion 1606. Alternatively, pin portion 1608 may have a geometrical shape different than anchor portion 1606. For example, in pin 1604 b, pin portion 1608 may have a cylindrical shape. As would be appreciated by persons of skill in the art, other geometrical shapes can be used for anchor portion 1606 and pin portion 1608.
  • [0149]
    Pin 1604 is configured to be placed in cavity 1622. In an embodiment, pin 1604 is placed in a sleeve (not shown) in cavity 1622. The sleeve has a geometry similar to the geometry of anchor portion 1606 of pin 1604 and is physically separate from the pin holding portion 1622.
  • [0150]
    In an embodiment, pin plate 1600 also includes one or more springs 1610, one per pin 1604. In the exemplary pin plate 1600 depicted in FIG. 16A, spring 1610 is included in cavity 1622 between the anchor portion of pin 1604 and backing portion 1630. As would be appreciated by persons of skill in the art, spring 1610 can be included at different points of the cavity. Springs 1610 allow for impact absorption. For example, when a pin 1604 is used to push a die onto a substrate, spring 1610 absorbs some of the impact, so that pin 1604 does not crush the die against the substrate.
  • [heading-0151]
    2.1.2.2 Pin Plate with Fixed Pins
  • [0152]
    FIG. 17 shows views of an exemplary pin plate 1000 with fixed pins, according to example embodiments of the present invention. For example, a pin-side or first surface view of pin plate 1000 is shown as view 1710. A side view of pin plate 1000 is shown as view 1720. A back, non-pin-side, or second surface view of pin plate 1000 is shown as view 1722. It is noted that in the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 17, as shown in view 1720, pin plate 1000 has a centrally located plateau portion, located on the pin-side of pin plate 1000, on which pins 1704 are formed. As would be appreciated by persons skilled in the art(s), other configurations for a fixed pin plate can be used.
  • [0153]
    FIG. 17 shows example dimensional values for various dimensions of pin plate 1000, according to example embodiments of the present invention.
  • [heading-0154]
    2.2 Method for Device Assembly
  • [heading-0155]
    2.2.1 Overview
  • [0156]
    FIG. 18 shows a flowchart 1800 of a method for assembling devices, according to embodiments of the present invention. The flowchart depicted in FIG. 18 is described with continued reference to FIG. 9. However, flowchart 1800 is not limited to that embodiment.
  • [0157]
    The method for device assembly begins at step 1810 when system 900 receives a die plate 902 having dies. In an embodiment, die plate 902 is loaded from a wafer/die plate loader capable of storing a plurality of wafer/die plates 902. In an alternate embodiment, system 900 receives multiple wafer/die plates in parallel. This embodiment is described in further detail in section 2.2.4.
  • [0158]
    In step 1820, a web of substrates is received. In an embodiment, the web of substrates is received on a continuous roll. In an alternate embodiment, the web of substrates is received on separate sheets of material. In an exemplary embodiment of RFID tag assembly, each substrate in the web of substrates includes an antenna.
  • [0159]
    Step 1830 is optional. When present, in step 1830, an adhesive is applied to the die contact areas of a plurality of substrates. Optional step 1830 is described in more detail in reference to FIG. 27.
  • [0160]
    When step 1830 is not present, the web of substrates received in step 1820 has adhesive applied to the die contact areas. In this embodiment, the adhesive may be applied by a screen printing process, prior to receipt by system 900. As would be appreciated by persons of skill in the art, other methods for applying adhesive prior to device assembly could be used.
  • [0161]
    In step 1840, a plurality of dies are transferred from one or more die plate(s) 902 to the corresponding die contact areas of a plurality of substrates. Step 1840 is described in further detail in reference to FIG. 19, below.
  • [0162]
    Step 1850 is optional. When present, in step 1850, the assembled devices are inspected to determine if each assembled device complies with predefined criteria.
  • [heading-0163]
    2.2.2 Die Transfer from Intermediate Surface to Substrate
  • [0164]
    FIG. 19 further describes step 1840 of FIG. 18. FIG. 19 shows a flowchart 1900 of a method for transferring dies from an intermediate surface to substrates of a web, according to embodiments of the present invention. Further operational and structural embodiments of the present invention will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant arts based on the following discussion.
  • [0165]
    In step 1910, a die plate 902 having dies and a plurality of substrates having adhesive applied to the die contact area are received. FIGS. 20A and B show exemplary implementations of a scribed wafer aligned to a die plate. For example, FIG. 20A shows an example die receptacle structure 2000A that has an array of cells/cavities 2004A formed in a first or bottom surface. Furthermore, each cell/cavity 2004A includes a corresponding hole 2006A formed through die receptacle structure 2000A. Furthermore, each cell/cavity 2004A holds a corresponding die 104 therein.
  • [0166]
    For example, FIG. 20B shows an example die plate 2000B that has an array of holes 2006B formed through die plate 2000B. Dies 104 are attached to the surface of the die plate. Each die 104 is positioned over a corresponding hole 2006B.
  • [0167]
    In step 1920, a web of substrates is positioned relative to the first surface of a die plate such that each die of a first plurality of dies is positioned adjacent to a corresponding die contact area of a substrate in the web of substrates.
  • [0168]
    FIGS. 20A and B also show an example implementation of step 1920. As shown in FIGS. 20A and B, a web 906 of substrates 116 is positioned relative to the first surface of die receptacle structure 2000A and die plate 2000B, such that cells 2004A of die receptacle structure 2000A and holes of die plate 2000B are positioned adjacent to corresponding die mount areas of a substrate 116 of web 906. Thus, for example, FIG. 20A shows a cell 2004, in which a die 104A resides, that is positioned closely adjacent to substrate 116A.
  • [0169]
    In step 1930, a pin plate is applied to the second surface of the die plate such that each pin of pin plate extends through the corresponding hole in the die plate.
  • [0170]
    FIGS. 21A and B show an example implementation of step 1930. As shown in FIGS. 21A and B, pin plate 944 is applied to the second surface of die receptacle structure 2000A and die plate 2000B, such that each pin 1004 of pin plate 944 extends through a corresponding hole 2006A and B of die receptacle structure 2000A and die plate 2000B. Thus, holes 2006 are punched through by corresponding pins 1004 to transfer a die 104 to the corresponding die contact area of a substrate 116 of web 906. For example, as shown in FIG. 21A, pin 1004A extends through hole 2006A to punch die 104A from cell 2004A onto the contact area of substrate 116A. As shown in FIGS. 21A and B, contact pads 204A and 204B of die 104A are coupled with corresponding contact areas 210A and 210B of substrate 116A.
  • [0171]
    FIG. 22 shows an example perspective view of dies 104 being applied to substrates 116 by corresponding pins 1004. Body of pin plate 944 is not shown in FIG. 22, for ease of illustration.
  • [0172]
    Flowchart 1900 of FIG. 19 may include additional step 1940 of curing an adhesive material to adhere die 104 to the corresponding contact area of the respective substrate 116. For example, as shown in FIG. 23, an adhesive material 2302A may be cured to bond die 104A to the contact pads of substrate 116A. In the example of FIG. 23, adhesive material 2302 is a light-curable adhesive material. Thus, a light source 2312 may be applied to cause adhesive material 2302 to be cured. For example, adhesive material 2302 may be ultraviolet (UV) light-curable, and therefore light source 2312 may be an UV light source. Adhesive material 2302 may be cured in other ways, alternatively. For example, adhesive material can be a glue, epoxy, laminate, or any other adhesive material otherwise known or described elsewhere herein.
  • [0173]
    To aid in the curing of adhesive material 2302 when adhesive material 2302 is light-curable, the contact areas 210 on substrate 116 may have holes formed through them so that light can pass more easily through. For example, as shown on FIG. 23, light source 2312 is applied to a bottom side of web 906, which is a side opposite of that to which dies 104 are being applied. Conventionally, light of a light source 2312 that passes through web 906 could be blocked by the conductive material of contacts 210, which may be metal, for example. Thus, for example, as shown in FIG. 24, contact areas 210 can have holes formed through them in an area where adhesive material 2302 is applied, so that a light 2304 from light source 2312 can pass through, and cause the curing of adhesive material 2302. FIG. 24 shows an example of holes 2402 a-d in contact areas 210, according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 25 shows another example of holes formed in contact areas 210, in an actual implementation. FIG. 25 shows an expanded view of an actual contact area implementation, where each contact area 210 has a pair of holes 2502A and 2502B formed therein for the passage of ultraviolet light to cure adhesive material 2302.
  • [0174]
    In step 1950, pin plate 944 is withdrawn or retracted from die receptacle structure 2000A or die plate 2000B, leaving dies 104 attached to substrates 116.
  • [0175]
    In step 1960, a determination is made whether additional die remain to be transferred from the die plate. If die remain to be transferred, operation proceeds to step 1980. If no die remain to be transferred, operation proceeds to step 1970.
  • [0176]
    FIG. 26 shows an example implementation of a step 1950 where the pin plate 944 has been removed from die receptacle structure 2000A. In this example, additional die remain in the die receptacle structure. Thus, steps 1930-1980 will be repeated until all dies in the die receptacle structure 2000A capable of being transferred are transferred. For example, after transfer is complete, a die plate may contain one or more untransferred dies. A method for recovering dies remaining on a die plate after transfer is described in co-pending application, “Method, System, and Apparatus for Transfer of Dies Using a Die Plate Having Die Cavities,” (Atty. Dkt. 1689.0540000).
  • [0177]
    In step 1980, the die plate and/or the substrate web 906 can be moved or incremented relative to each other, so that additional dies can be transferred from the die plate onto substrates 116 of web 906. In an alternate embodiment, the pin plate and/or substrate web 906 are incremented relative to each other. In a third embodiment, the die plate, pin plate, and substrate web 906 are all incremented relative to each other. Operation than proceed to step 1930.
  • [0178]
    After one or more iterations, the die plate may become emptied of dies 104 or the maximum number of dies 104 that can be transferred from the die plate may have been reached. When a die plate is exhausted, in step 1970, the die plate is removed.
  • [0179]
    In step 1975, a new die plate filled with dies 104 is received to replace the exhausted die plate. Operation then proceeds to step 1920.
  • [heading-0180]
    2.2.3 Adhesive Application
  • [0181]
    FIG. 27 further describes step 1830 of FIG. 18. FIG. 27 shows a flowchart 2700 of a method for applying adhesive to a substrate, according to embodiments of the present invention. Further operational and structural embodiments of the present invention will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant arts based on the following discussion.
  • [0182]
    Flowchart 2700 begins in step 2710 when a substrate web is received.
  • [0183]
    In step 2720, adhesive pin plate 924 is positioned adjacent to adhesive reservoir 922.
  • [0184]
    In step 2730, adhesive pin plate 924 is moved such that adhesive is applied to each pin of the adhesive pin plate. For example, in step 2730, adhesive pin plate 924 is dipped into the adhesive stored in adhesive reservoir 922. Adhesive then adheres to the tip of each pin.
  • [0185]
    In step 2740, adhesive pin plate is positioned adjacent to the web of substrates such that each pin of the adhesive pin plate is positioned adjacent to a die contact area of a substrate on the web of substrates.
  • [0186]
    In step 2750, adhesive is applied to a plurality of die contact areas of substrates of the web of substrates in parallel. In an embodiment, in step 2750, adhesive pin plate is moved to a position so that the tips of each pin are located at a predefined distance above the substrate. The adhesive then wicks from the tip of the pin to the substrate. In this embodiment, the pins do not contact the substrate directly.
  • [0187]
    In step 2760, adhesive pin plate 2760 is withdrawn from the position adjacent to the web of substrates.
  • [0188]
    Subsequently, the substrate web is incremented and the steps of flowchart 2700 are repeated.
  • [heading-0189]
    2.2.4 Multi-Head Die Transfer
  • [0190]
    The present invention is directed to the assembly of large numbers electronic devices such as RFID tags. Thus, die plates are designed to contain large numbers of dies that may be transferred to substrates in large quantities. This subsection discusses the transfer of dies from these structures to webs of substrates, using multiple die transfer heads. In other words, multiple die plate structures are simultaneously used to transfer dies to substrates of the web.
  • [0191]
    Any number of pin plates and associated die plates can be used in parallel to increase the transfer rate. For example, FIG. 28 shows an example embodiment of a chip assembly fixture for using a plurality of pin plates in parallel. FIG. 28 shows front and back perspective views of a chip assembly fixture 2800. Chip assembly fixture 2800 includes a die plate frame 2802, a pin plate 1000, and four die plate structures 2830 a-d. Although FIG. 28 depicts a chip assembly fixture having four die plates, any number of die plates can be used. As is apparent from FIG. 28, pin plate 1000 can be applied to die plates 2830 a-d sequentially. Alternatively, four pin plates 1000 a-d can be applied in parallel to the four die plate structures 2830 a-d to transfer dies simultaneously. Thus, in the current example, a speed of die transfer can be increased by a factor of four, and in other embodiments, can be increased by other factors. Furthermore, larger numbers of dies can be transferred simultaneously to larger web sizes.
  • [0192]
    FIG. 29 shows systems related to a multi-head assembly process and system according to embodiments of the present invention. For example, FIG. 29 shows a pair of die assembly carousels 2920 a and 2920 b. Referring to die assembly carousel 2920 a for illustrative purposes, a die assembly carousel 2920 includes a plurality of arms 2912, a carousel pivot point 2910, and a plurality of carousel heads 2904. In the example shown in FIG. 29, die assembly carousel 2920 a includes three arms 2912 a-c that each have a first end coupled to carousel pivot point 2910. At a second end of each of arms 2912 a-c, is attached a corresponding one of carousel heads 2904 a-c.
  • [0193]
    In embodiments, a die assembly carousel 2920 a can have any number of carousel arms 2912 and corresponding carousel heads 2904. Furthermore, as shown in FIG. 29, each carousel head 2904 supports a plurality of die transfer heads 2902. For example, as shown in FIG. 29, a carousel head 2904 a supports a first die transfer head 2902 a, a second die transfer head 2902 b, and a third die transfer head 2902 c. In embodiments of the present invention, a carousel head 2904 can support any number of die transfer heads 2902. In embodiments of the present invention, die transfer heads 2902 can include any type of die plate or die frame described elsewhere herein that hold dies, including a die receptacle structure and/or die plate. Die transfer heads 2902 can also include a pin plate 1000, or similar device, to transfer the dies from the corresponding die plate or die frame.
  • [0194]
    During assembly of tags or other electronic devices, a die assembly carousel 2920 can sequentially supply carousel heads 2904 to the assembly system so that the system will have access to a plurality of die transfer heads 2902. The assembly system transfers dies from the die transfer heads 2902 of a particular carousel head 2904 in parallel to substrates of a web. Once the die transfer heads 2902 of a particular carousel head 2904 are exhausted of dies, die carousel 2920 can rotate around carousel pivot point 2910 to supply a second plurality of die transfer heads 2902 on a subsequent carousel head 2904. This process may be continued until the entire die assembly carousel 2920 is depleted of dies substantially or entirely. At this point, a subsequent die assembly carousel 2920 may be used by the system, while the depleted die carousel is disposed of, or is refilled with dies. Thus, in the example of FIG. 29, when die carousel 2920 a is depleted of dies, die carousel 2920 a can be retracted, while die assembly carousel 2920 b is inserted into the tag assembly system.
  • [0195]
    Also as shown in FIG. 29, die assembly carousels 2920 can be stored in a stack, such as die carousel stack 2930. As shown in the example of FIG. 29, die carousel stack includes a first die assembly carousel 2920 a, a second die assembly carousel 2920 b, and a third die assembly carousel 2920 c. In embodiments of the present invention, a die carousel stack 2930 can include any number of die assembly carousels 2920.
  • [0196]
    As described above, die assembly carousel 2920 can be used to transfer dies from die transfer heads 2902 to substrates. For example, FIG. 30 shows an example web 3000, which is an example of a substrate web 608 described above. As shown in FIG. 30, web 3000 comprises a large number of individual substrates 116 that in the present example have a dimension of 0.2 inches by 0.2 inches square. As shown in FIG. 30, a carousel head 2920 that supports three die transfer heads 2902 populated with dies 104 can be used to transfer dies 104 to the substrates 116 of web 3000. As shown in FIG. 30, a carousel head 2904 can support die transfer heads 2902 a, 2902 b, and 2902 c in the example positions over web 3000 shown in FIG. 30. In other words, die transfer heads 2902 a-c can transfer dies to the portions of web 3000 that lie adjacent to them, or as shown in FIG. 30, are underneath their positions. The dies may be transferred from die transfer heads 2902 in parallel, in any numbers of one or more.
  • [0197]
    For example, FIG. 31 shows example pin plate 3100, which can be used to transfer dies from the die transfer head 2902 to web 3000 as shown in FIG. 30. The example pin plate 3100, as shown in FIG. 31, has 2500 pins extending therefrom. Thus, pin plate 3100 can transfer 2500 dies 104 simultaneously from die transfer head 2902 shown in FIG. 30. The pins of pin plate 3100 shown in FIG. 31 are appropriately positioned or spaced so that they can punch dies onto a substrate 116 having dimensions of 0.2 inches by 0.2 inches, as shown for web 3000 shown in FIG. 30. For example, as shown in FIG. 31, pins are spaced or have a pitch of 0.2 inches. Thus, pin plates 3100 can be applied to die transfer heads 2902 a-c in FIG. 30 to transfer dies to web 3000 in great numbers.
  • [0198]
    After die plate 3100 has been applied to each of die transfer heads 2902 a-c, web 3000 can be shifted, moved, or incremented so that a next set of substrates 116 of web 3000 are positioned adjacent to each die transfer head 2902. Thus, for example, as shown in FIG. 30, web 3000 may be moved in the direction of arrow 3010 by a distance proportional to the width of a coverage area of a die transfer head 2902 to move empty substrates 116 adjacent to die transfer heads 2902. Then, pin plate 3100 may be applied to each of die transfer head 2902 a-c in parallel or in series to transfer dies 104 to the empty substrates. Pin plates 3100 may transfer 1 out of every N dies from a die transfer head 2802 in a single iteration, where N is any integer. This process can be continued, where web 3000 is periodically moved in the direction of arrow 3010, while dies 104 are transferred from each die transfer head 2902 by pin plates 3100. Once die transfer heads 2902 are depleted or substantially depleted of dies, a new carousel head 2904 can be shifted over web 3000 by carousel 2820, so that a complete new set of dies are present for transfer to web 3000.
  • [0199]
    In this manner, very large numbers of dies 104 can be transferred to substrates 116 of a web 3000. For example, if each of die transfer heads 2902 contain 36,450 dies 104 each, and each of pin plates 3100 include 2500 pins, large number of dies 104 can be transferred. In embodiments, 8,748 dies can be transferred per second, which is equal to 524,880 dies transferred per minute, which is equal to 31,492,800 dies transferred per hour. Thus, in a current embodiment, almost 32 million RFID tags can be assembled each hour.
  • [0200]
    In further examples, web substrates can have dimensions of 0.39″ by 0.39″, 0.59″ by 0.59″, 0.79″ by 0.79″, 0.98″ by 0.98″, 1.18″ by 1.18″, 1.38″ by 1.38″, 1.57″ by 1.57″, 1.77″ by 1.77″, 1.97″ by 1.97″, 2.17″ by 2.17″, 2.36″ by 2.36″, 2.76″ by 2.76″, or 3.94″ by 3.94″. For these exemplary substrate dimensions, the corresponding pin plate includes pin having a pitch of 0.39″, 0.59″, 0.79″, 0.98″, 1.18″, 1.38″, 1.57″, 1.77″, 1.97″, 2.17″, 2.36″, 2.76″, and 3.94″, respectively.
  • [heading-0201]
    2.2.5 Die Transfer Using Interlocking Geometric Shapes
  • [0202]
    As described in the preceding section, a multi-head transfer system using multiple die transfer heads 2902 is used to transfer dies. Although die transfer heads 2902 are shown in the figures referenced above as having rectangular coverage areas on a web, die transfer heads 2902 can be formed to have other coverage areas or patterns. According to embodiments of the present invention, die transfer heads 2902 can be used that transfer dies to geometric, self-interlocking patterns of substrates on the web. These geometric, self-interlocking substrate array patterns can be formed in a variety of shapes, including a square, a rectangle, a hexagon, a “cross” shape, and a diamond shape. Furthermore, in embodiments, combinations of these can be used. Other combinations of shapes are possible, including interlocking octagon and square shapes, for example.
  • [0203]
    In the following subsection, multi-head die transfer is further enhanced through the use of interlocking geometric shapes. In other words, pin plates are formed that have arrays of pins formed thereon that are laid out according to geometric shapes that can interlock with each other. This is used to enhance the number of dies that are punched by the pin plates from die plates onto webs of substrate, or directly from wafers onto the web of substrates. Using geometric shapes that interlock enhances the number of dies that are transferred over the number of dies that are transferred using substantially square or rectangle geometric shapes, particularly when large numbers of dies are transferred simultaneously from a wafer or a die plate.
  • [0204]
    Dies of a wafer within a geometric pattern are transferred, while those outside the pattern may not be transferred. Note that dies of a wafer outside of the selected geometric pattern that are unused during the die transfer process can be used in other ways. For example, they can be collected and placed into die receptacle structures for subsequent transfer to substrates, and/or can be used to replace defective dies that have been attached to substrates, etc.
  • [0205]
    Using the geometric substrate patterns and corresponding pin array patterns described above, and other patterns that would be known or apparent to persons skilled in the relevant arts from the teachings herein, dies may be transferred to substrates in great quantities. For example, FIG. 32 shows die transfer rates for the various geometric substrate patterns shown in FIG. 15. For illustrative purposes, it is assumed that each geometric substrate pattern can be filled in 1.0 second with dies. Thus, the rates shown in FIG. 32 are dependent on this factor, but in other embodiments, more than one or less than one geometric substrate pattern may be filled with dies per second. Thus, for example, for first geometric substrate pattern 1502, 192 dies may be transferred to corresponding substrates of a web in one second using a single pin plate having a pin array arranged as shown for pin array pattern 1504. This translates 11,520 dies transferred to substrates per minute, and to 691,200 dies transferred to substrates per hour. Thus, nearly 700,000 tags or other electronic devices can be assembled per hour using the current embodiment of the present invention. Other corresponding rates are shown for the remaining geometric substrate patterns in FIG. 32. In FIG. 32, example substrate areas are shown for illustrative purposes for each geometric substrate pattern, but it would be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant arts that each pattern can be applied to webs having substrates of different dimensions than shown.
  • [0206]
    FIG. 33 shows an enlarged view of geometric substrate pattern 1502, superimposed inside an example wafer outline 3380. Further, as shown in FIG. 33, substrates 116 of geometric substrate pattern 1502 are shaped in a hexagon shape indicated as hexagon outline 3302. By using a geometric pattern, such as geometric substrate pattern 1502, in the shape of a hexagon, advantages are realized during die transfer to large webs. For example, FIG. 34 shows various configurations for transferring dies to webs using geometric substrate pattern 1502. As shown in FIGS. 34 a and 34 b, geometric substrate pattern 1502 may be interlocked with others of geometric substrate pattern 1502 to entirely cover all substrates in a web in a coverage pattern. In other words, dies can be transferred from wafers or die plates in a pattern of geometric substrate pattern 1502 to a web and all substrates on the web receive dies.
  • [0207]
    For example, FIG. 34 a shows a web having a 20″ width and a much greater length to which dies are being transferred. Web 3402 of FIG. 34 a can be a continuous web that is being rolled from a substrate web roll, or can be a discrete sheet. Furthermore, as shown in FIG. 34 a, first and second die carousel heads 2904 a and 2904 b are positioned adjacent to web 3402. First die carousel head 2904 a has three die transfer heads 2902 a-2902 c mounted thereon, and second die carousel head 2904 b has three die transfer heads 2902 d-2902 f mounted thereon. Positioned as shown in FIG. 34 a, die transfer heads 2902 a-2902 f can cover all substrates of web 3402. For example, dies can be transferred from die transfer heads 2902 a-2902 f in their current locations. Then, web 3402 can be incremented or moved along its length until each of die transfer heads 2902 a-2902 f are positioned over the next corresponding arrays of substrates shaped as geometric substrate pattern 1502. Then, dies can be transferred from die transfer heads 2902 a-2902 f, filling this next set of substrates 116 with dies 104. This process can be continued until either die transfer heads 2902 a-2902 f are substantially depleted of dies, or until all substrates of web 3402 are filled with dies. If die transfer heads 2902 a-f are depleted of dies, a second pair of carousel heads 2904 a and 2904 b can be moved over web 3402 to replace the previous die carousel heads, providing a new set of dies for transfer to web 3402. As shown in FIG. 34 a, substrates of geometric substrate pattern 1502 are completely interlocking such that no substrates are left uncovered by a die transfer head 2902. Thus, the interlocking geometric substrate pattern of pattern 1502 can be used to transfer dies to all substrates of a web.
  • [0208]
    FIG. 34 b shows a similar system as is shown in FIG. 34 a, except that a web 3404 is narrower than web 3402 of FIG. 34 a. Thus, as shown in FIG. 34 b, only five die transfer heads 2902 a-2902 e are required to provide coverage of web 3404.
  • [0209]
    FIG. 34 c shows a system similar to that shown in FIG. 34 b except that a web 3406 shown is narrower than web 3404 shown in FIG. 34 b. Thus, as shown in FIG. 34 c, even fewer die transfer heads 2902 a-d are required to provide complete, interlocking covering of all substrates of web 3406.
  • [0210]
    Thus, in a similar fashion, each of the other geometric substrate patterns shown in FIG. 15 can be used to provide complete, interlocking coverage of all substrates in a web. Example application of the remaining geometric substrate patterns shown in FIG. 15 are described below.
  • [0211]
    FIG. 35 shows geometric substrate pattern 1506 superimposed within an example wafer outline 3510. As shown in FIG. 35, geometric substrate pattern 1506 includes a plurality of substrates 116 formed in a shape substantially approximating a hexagon. Because of the shape of geometric substrate pattern 1506, pluralities of dies 104 can be transferred to substrates 116 on a web in a repeating, interlocking pattern of geometric substrate patterns 1506, completely covering each substrate 116 in the web. For example, FIG. 36 a shows an example web 3602 having a width of 24 inches. Die transfer to all substrates 116 of web 3602 is completely covered by six die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown in FIG. 36 a, or positioned in a similar fashion. Die transfer heads 2902 transfer dies according to the shape of geometric substrate pattern 1506. For example, each die transfer head 2902 can include a pin plate 1508 having a layout of pins shaped like geometric substrate pattern 1506 to transfer the dies. In another example, FIG. 36 b shows an example web 3604 having a 12 inch width that is covered in a similar fashion by four die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown.
  • [0212]
    FIG. 37 shows geometric substrate pattern 1510 superimposed within an example wafer outline 3710. As shown in FIG. 37, geometric substrate pattern 1510 includes a plurality of substrates 116 formed in a shape substantially approximating a hexagon. Because of the shape of geometric substrate pattern 1510, pluralities of dies 104 can be transferred to substrates 116 on a web in a repeating, interlocking pattern of geometric substrate patterns 1510, completely covering each substrate 116 in the web. For example, FIG. 38 a shows an example web 3802 having a width of 14 inches. Die transfer to all substrates 116 of web 3802 is completely covered by six die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown in FIG. 38 a, or positioned in a similar fashion. Die transfer heads 2902 transfer dies according to the shape of geometric substrate pattern 1510. For example, each die transfer head 2902 can include a pin plate 1512 having a layout of pins shaped like geometric substrate pattern 1510 to transfer the dies. In another example, FIG. 38 b shows an example web 3804 having a 28 inch width that is covered in a similar fashion by twelve die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown.
  • [0213]
    FIG. 39 shows geometric substrate pattern 1518 superimposed within an example wafer outline 3910. As shown in FIG. 39, geometric substrate pattern 1518 includes a plurality of substrates 116 formed in a shape substantially approximating a hexagon, cross, or diamond shape. Because of the shape of geometric substrate pattern 1518, pluralities of dies 104 can be transferred to substrates 116 on a web in a repeating, interlocking pattern of geometric substrate patterns 1518, completely covering each substrate 116 in the web. For example, FIG. 40 a shows an example web 4002 having a width of 30 inches. Die transfer to all substrates 116 of web 4002 is completely covered by twelve die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown in FIG. 40 a, or positioned in a similar fashion. Die transfer heads 2902 transfer dies according to the shape of geometric substrate pattern 1518. For example, each die transfer head 2902 can include a pin plate 1520 having a layout of pins shaped like geometric substrate pattern 1518 to transfer the dies. In another example, FIG. 40 b shows an example web 4004 having a 15 inch width that is covered in a similar fashion by six die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown.
  • [0214]
    FIG. 41 shows geometric substrate pattern 3214 superimposed within an example wafer outline 4110. As shown in FIG. 41, geometric substrate pattern 3214 includes a plurality of substrates 116 formed in a shape substantially approximating a square or rectangular shape. Because of the shape of geometric substrate pattern 3214, pluralities of dies 104 can be transferred to substrates 116 on a web in a repeating, interlocking pattern of geometric substrate patterns 3214, completely covering each substrate 116 in the web. For example, FIG. 42 a shows an example web 4202 having a width of 30 inches. Die transfer to all substrates 116 of web 4202 is completely covered by twelve die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown in FIG. 42 a, or positioned in a similar fashion. Die transfer heads 2902 transfer dies according to the shape of geometric substrate pattern 3214. For example, each die transfer head 2902 can include a pin plate 3216 having a layout of pins shaped like geometric substrate pattern 3214 to transfer the dies. In another example, FIG. 42 b shows an example web 4204 having a 15 inch width that is covered in a similar fashion by six die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown.
  • [0215]
    FIG. 43 shows geometric substrate pattern 3222 superimposed within an example wafer outline 4310. As shown in FIG. 43, geometric substrate pattern 3222 includes a plurality of substrates 116 formed in a shape substantially approximating a square or rectangular shape. Because of the shape of geometric substrate pattern 3222, pluralities of dies 104 can be transferred to substrates 116 on a web in a repeating, interlocking pattern of geometric substrate patterns 3222, completely covering each substrate 116 in the web. For example, FIG. 44 a shows an example web 4402 having a width of 30 inches. Die transfer to all substrates 116 of web 4402 is completely covered by twelve die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown in FIG. 44 a, or positioned in a similar fashion. Die transfer heads 2902 transfer dies according to the shape of geometric substrate pattern 3222. For example, each die transfer head 2902 can include a pin plate 1524 having a layout of pins shaped like geometric substrate pattern 1522 to transfer the dies. In another example, FIG. 44 b shows an example web 4404 having a 17 inch width that is covered in a similar fashion by six die transfer heads 2902 positioned as shown.
  • [heading-0216]
    2.2.6 Punch Cylinder
  • [0217]
    In alternative embodiments, a cylinder having a plurality of punching members extending radially therefrom can be rolled across a die plate to transfer dies therefrom. FIG. 45 depicts a punch cylinder 4500, according to embodiments of the present invention. Punch cylinder 4500 includes a cylinder 4510 having an outer surface. Cylinder 4510 has a plurality of punching members 4504 extending radially therefrom.
  • [0218]
    In an embodiment, the cylinder is rolled across the die plate to transfer a first plurality of dies from the die plate to a first plurality of substrates of the web of substrates. As the cylinder is rolled a first set of punching members temporarily extends through one or more holes of the die plate. As the first set of punching members is being withdrawn from holes in the die plate, a second set of punching members extends through one or more holds of the die plate. This process continues as the cylinder is rolled across the die plate.
  • [0219]
    In another embodiment, the cylinder is rolled across the die plate in a first direction to transfer a first plurality of dies from the die plate to a first plurality of substrates of the web of substrates. The cylinder is then rolled across the die plate in a second direction, opposite the first direction, to transfer a second plurality of dies from the die plate to a second plurality of substrates. After the cylinder is rolled in the first direction, the web of substrates may be moved to position the second plurality of substrates under the second plurality of dies.
  • [heading-0220]
    2.3 Method for Designing System for Transfer of Dies
  • [0221]
    FIG. 46 shows example steps related to a flowchart 4600 for designing a system for assembling RFID tags for a tag population, according to embodiments of the present invention. Further operational and structural embodiments of the present invention will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) based on the following discussion. For example, it will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) that the process of flowchart 4600 could be applied to the assembly of any type of electronic device, in addition to RFID tag devices. Note that in alternative embodiments, the steps shown in FIG. 46 can occur in an order other than that shown, and in some embodiments, not all steps shown are necessary.
  • [0222]
    Flowchart 4600 begins with step 4602. In step 4602, a required minimum read distance for tags of a tag population is determined. For example, when tags are desired for applications, it is typically known or determinable what distance the tags and readers will be required to communicate.
  • [0223]
    In step 4604, a tag antenna layout and corresponding tag substrate size is selected based upon the determined required read distance. For example, after the minimum read distance is determined in step 4602, a corresponding antenna layout and substrate size can be determined. Any sizes for antennas and substrates are applicable to the present invention, including the layouts and sizes described elsewhere herein, or those otherwise known.
  • [0224]
    In step 4606, a number of tags to be produced for the tag population is determined. For example, a known number of tags may be required for a particular application. Thus, this number of tags may be desired to be produced. Alternatively, a number of tags to be produced may be based upon a general tag production run size, and/or other parameters.
  • [0225]
    In step 4608, a tag substrate web, comprising a plurality of tag substrates, is configured based upon the selected tag substrate size and the determined number of tags to be produced. For example, the width and length dimensions of the tag substrate web can be determined. For example, the width may be determined by selecting a web width from a set of available web widths, such as those mentioned elsewhere herein, or otherwise known. The length of the web may be determined by dividing the determined number of tags to be produced by the width of the web in substrates. Note that the web may be a continuous substrate web, having a relatively large length, and may be stored on a roll. Alternatively, the web may be formed from a plurality of separate web sheets, that are substantially rectangular or square shaped.
  • [0226]
    In step 4610, a number of die transfer heads that are each capable of transferring a plurality of dies to corresponding substrates of the tag substrate web is determined. During the transfer process, a single die transfer head or a plurality of die transfer heads could be used. For example, a number of die transfer heads may be selected to cover a width of the web, such as described above with respect to FIGS. 30-31 and 33-44. In embodiments, as described above with respect to FIGS. 33-44, a geometrical substrate pattern capable of self-interlocking may be selected for transfer of dies from each die transfer head. As described above, the interlocking geometrical substrate pattern may be selected to be a square, a rectangle, a hexagon, or a cross, for example.
  • [0227]
    As described above, each die transfer head can be designed to include a die plate, such as a die receptacle structure or a die plate. Thus, step 4610 can include the step where a die plate is selected having predetermined die holding capacity. Furthermore, as described above, each die transfer head can be designed to include a pin plate, such as pin plate 1000 for transferring dies. Thus, step 4610 can include the step where a pin pitch is selected for pins of the pin plate based upon the selected tag substrate size.
  • [0228]
    In step 4612, a location for each of the determined number of die transfer heads relative to the tag substrate web is designated. For example, the die transfer heads can be arranged in an interlocked coverage pattern, as described above, and shown, for example, in FIGS. 30 and 34A-C. In an embodiment, the self-interlocking geometrical substrate pattern can be selected to minimize the number of dies that cannot be transferred from each die transfer head due to the selected self-interlocking geometrical substrate pattern, while covering each substrate of the tag substrate web with a die transfer head of the coverage pattern in a non-overlapping manner. The die transfer heads can be arranged in a coverage pattern such that when the tag substrate web is incremented or moved along, all substrates of the tag substrate web can be covered by at least one die transfer head of the coverage pattern. In some embodiments, the die transfer heads are arranged in a coverage pattern such that each substrate of the tag substrate web can be covered only by a single die transfer head of the coverage pattern (i.e., the coverage pattern is interlocking and non-overlapping).
  • [0229]
    In step 4614, a rate of tag production is determined. For example, a rate of tag production can be determined based upon any of a number of factors, including the determined required number of tags and a designated completion date. The rate of tag production may be limited by the particular assembly equipment in use. However, the present invention allows for much greater production rates than previously was possible.
  • [heading-0230]
    3. Conclusion
  • [0231]
    While various embodiments of the present invention have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example, and not limitation. It will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant arts that various changes in form and detail can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Thus the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.
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