Dicing systems are machines used in order to dice a wafer. The machine separates the individual integrated circuits on a silicon wafer following the wafer’s processing. This can be accomplished through a number of different processes and machines. Once the dicing process is complete, the integrated circuits are individually encapsulated into I.C. Packages.
The typical dicing technique begins with a silicon wafer mounted on dicing tape with sticky backing in order to hold the wafer on the thin sheet metal frame. When the wafer is completely diced, the leftover components stuck to the dicing tape are from then on called the die, dice, or dies. These dice are the integrated circuits that will eventually be integrated into a lead-frame package. If they are placed directly onto a PC board substrate, they are referred to as “bare die”. The areas that are cut away are referred to as die sheets, usually about 75 micrometers wide. When the wafer has been diced, the die will remain on the tape until extracted by specialized equipment, like die bonders.
Dicing can be accomplished by scribing and breaking, by mechanical sawing, or by laser cutting. Each requires a different dicing system to get the job done. Scribing and breaking is a technique generally used with glass. It is notorious for cutting Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels from the main substrate. It does not use heat or water and generates a minimal amount of dust, making it an excellent method for preventing contamination.
Mechanical sawing is a form of wafer dicing that is done using a specific saw like instrument called a dicing saw. A dicing saw is a type of dicing system that uses a high-speed spindle and is typically fitted with a thin diamond blade or diamond wire in order to dice. It is typically used for semiconductor wafers, but can also be used to cut and groove silicon, glass, ceramic, crystal, and a wide variety of materials.
Laser cutting, the third type of dicing system, utilizes a laser in order to cut materials. It works by directing the output of a high power laser at the material to be cut, all by using a computer system to direct the beam. The material is then melted, burned, vaporized, or blown away using a jet stream of gas and leaving a high quality finish. Laser cutters are typically used to cut flat-sheet, structural, and piping materials.