A probe card is an edge between an electronic test system and semiconductor wafer. It is used to check quality of IC’s or LSI in the first process of semiconductor manufacturing. Typically, the probe card is mechanically docked to a prober and electrically connected to a tester. The main function of a probe card is to provide an electrical path between the test system and the circuits on the wafer, where the circuits can be tested and validated. The main parts that are included in a probe cards are PCB (printed circuit board) and some forms of contact elements.
There are new probe cards needed for each and every new wafer that is manufactured by the semiconductor manufacturer. Even if the size of the instrument shrinks in future then there had to be new probe cards used in those instruments. This is because probe card is effectively a custom connector that takes the universal pattern of a given tester and translates the signals to connect to electrical pads on the wafer. These pads can be manufactured with different materials such as copper, copper alloys or many types of solders such as lead-tin, tin-silver and others. For testing of DRAM and flash memory probe cards are made up of aluminum. Probe cards can be manufactured in different ways according to their purpose of usage, shape and forms of contact elements such as, needle type, vertical type, or MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical System). MEMS can test an entire 12 wafer with one touchdown and they are the most trending and mostly used probe cards.
There are several important factors related to the probe card market that are responsible for the growth of the market. It can be seen that the semiconductor and electronics industries are trying to shrink the size of the instruments and devices. This leads to change in shape and sizes of electronic devices and as a result of this new and advanced testing technology and devices are needed, this helps in boosting the probe card market during forecast period. Innovative electronic technologies in which an electrical connection passes through a silicon wafer and are used to create 3D ICs such as Through-Silicon Via (TSV), are increasing the needs testing, which ultimately increases the probe card market. However, there are also some factors related to these probe cards that can hinder the overall market such as, There can be continuous test failures and functional test failure at the time of probe card usage. Comprehensively competitive semiconductor testing industry in terms of pricing and margins. So the high cost related to the probe card can also hamper the probe card market.
The market for the global probe card market can be segmented on the basis of type, end-user and region. Based on type, the market has been segmented into advanced probe card, and standard probe card. Among the two the advanced probe cards are mostly used types in the market. This product has grabbed approximately two third of the market and will dominate the global probe cards market throughout the forecast period. Based on the end-user, the market is segmented into foundry and logic & memory device.
In the region wise study, the global probe cards market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and South America. North America which comprises the United States, Canada and Mexico captured highest market share followed by Europe and Asia Pacific in 2017. Asia Pacific showed the fastest growth rate during the forecast period due to the emerging economies. China and Japan represents huge potential for the manufacturing and selling of these probe card controller devices in the electronics sector.
The global probe card market is highly fragmented with number of companies operating in the segment. Leading players are currently focusing on providing cost competitive products and add-on features to gain market share in the market. Some of the companies operating in this market are FormFactor, Japan Electronic Materials (JEM), Micronics Japan (MJC), MPI Corporation, Technoprobe, SV TCL, Microfriend, Korea Instrument, Cascade Microtech, FEINMETALL, SV Probe Pte. Ltd. and so on.
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