PEI Expands Line of Custom-Designed Photo-Etched Lead Frames to Meet Exacting Electrical, Thermal Conductivity and Strength Requirements of IC Manufacturers

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Custom-made surface-mount and insert-mount lead frames from Photofabrication Engineering (PEI) are flexible, strong, burr-free and stress-free. Single- and double-sided lead frames that are too complex to be manufactured by traditional metal stamping methods can be fabricated quickly and easily using photochemical machining.

Gold Lead Frame

"Photochemical etching is faster, less expensive, and can handle more intricate designs than metal stamping. And the tools don't wear down!:"

Photofabrication Engineering (PEI) manufactures a complete line of custom, photochemically-etched surface-mount and insert-mount lead frames for integrated circuit manufacturing. These lead frames are used in a wide variety of applications including semiconductors, glass-to-metal seals, and relays, as well as medical applications such as hearing aids.

Using base materials such as kovar, nickel-iron alloys, copper alloys, and pure nickel, PEI can plate lead frames in their entirety or selectively. Lead-free plating materials include silver, nickel, gold, or tin, depending on the customer’s specific electrical and thermal conductivity requirements. Since the lead frame is the main conduit by which heat flows from the chip to the printed circuit board, PEI tailors the manufacturing material so that it will maximize the device’s operating life for any given application or environment.

PEI manufactures high-density lead frames with acute profiles and ultra-fine pitches, allowing for high pin counts. Single- or double-sided lead frames can be etched without incurring the stresses associated with typical machining methods. More importantly, PEI’s process can be used for lead frames that are too complicated for stamping. Dimensions can be held to extremely tight tolerances, with no burrs or other surface irregularities.

PEI’s lead frames range in thickness from 0.5 mil [0.0127 mm] to 40 mil [1.575 mm], with features as small as 4 mil [0.10 mm] on 0.010 in. [0.254 mm] centers, creating lead frames that are strong enough to be handled yet flexible enough to allow bending when necessary.

A significant advantage of photochemical etching is the ability to reproduce large quantities of parts without tooling “wear,” so the millionth part is exactly the same as the first part. Changes to tools can be implemented very quickly, and phototools are significantly less expensive than traditional tooling methods—ideal for manufacturing plates from prototype to production quantities. Turnaround time using phototools is about 10% of that for stamped frames.

Established in 1968, PEI has approximately 50 employees and is ISO 9001:2008; AS9100 and ITAR certified. To understand more about the photo chemical etching process visit or view the short PEI YouTube video.

For more information about PEI’s lead frames and other photoetched products, contact Chip Lehrer, President, Photofabrication Engineering, Inc., 500 Fortune Boulevard, Milford, MA 01757; telephone +(508) 478-2025; FAX +(508) 478-3582; e-mail sales(at)photofabrication(dot)com; or visit our Web site,

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