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Kobe Steel licenses Wieland to make new copper alloys for semiconductor leadframes

April 16, 2009

TOKYO, April 16, 2009 - Kobe Steel, Ltd. announces that it has licensed Germany's Wieland-Werke AG to produce and sell Kobe's Super KFC series of three copper alloys for leadframes.

Leadframes are the metal frames on which semiconductors are attached for package assembly. The Super KFC series are new alloys for IC semiconductor leadframes, and Kobe Steel is working to turn this high-end product, developed in 2006, into a next-generation, world standard.

The license agreement with Wieland addresses the need from leadframe manufacturers to procure materials from multiple sources, enabling them to reduce purchasing risks.

Copper alloys such as C19400 and C70250 are widely used for IC semiconductor leadframes. These alloys contain considerable amounts of iron, nickel, silicon and other elements to give the leadframes strength. However, the elements sometimes precipitate on the surface of the copper sheet. As they may in some cases adversely affect surface quality, special pretreatment after etching and cleaning after plating are required in leadframe production.

Kobe Steel's Super KFC series was developed based on the popular KFC series created in the 1970s. For discrete devices, the KFC series currently commands the top share of roughly 30% of the Asia market, according to Kobe Steel estimates.

Through original chemical composition design, the amounts of the elements in the Super KFC series are minimized, while strength is maintained. This greatly facilitates pretreatment after etching and cleaning after plating in leadframe production, leading to considerable cost savings and higher reliability of the leadframes.

In addition, leadframes for low pin-count IC semiconductors and discrete semiconductors, which are relatively easy to process, often use silver in the plating stage due to its bonding properties. Using the Super KFC series enables the plating process itself to be shortened, which further reduces costs.

The license agreement is not the first time Kobe Steel has worked with Wieland, a major European producer of copper products. The two companies operate a joint venture called KobeWieland Copper Products, LLC, which makes copper tube in the United States. With the new license agreement, Kobe and Wieland aim to turn Super KFC into a next-generation world standard.
Wieland Group
The Wieland Group is one of the world's leading manufacturers of semi-finished and special products in copper and copper alloys. These include strip and sheet, tube, rod, wire and sections as well as slide bearings, finned tubes and heat exchangers. Wieland products are used wherever the most stringent technical requirements have to be met. The Wieland Group comprises over 30 manufacturing companies, slitting centres and trading subsidiaries in Europe, China, Singapore, South Africa as well as in the USA. Wieland supplies customers in numerous markets, producing over 100 different copper alloys, which are primarily used in the electrical and electronic industry. Wieland products are also used in the automotive industry, in construction and mechanical engineering as well as heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration industries. Together with its customers Wieland develops solutions for individual and industrial applications. The Wieland Group achieved a turnover of € 2,925 million in the business year 2007/2008, with an export share of 66 %. The global workforce of the Wieland Group is approx. 6,500 strong of which over 4,000 are employed in Germany.

More information on Wieland is available at: www.wieland.com
Kobe Steel's Copper Products Business
Kobe Steel produces copper sheet and strip at its Chofu Works in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture in western Japan. Kobe specializes in copper sheet for semiconductor leadframes and copper sheet for automotive terminals and connectors. Kobe Steel estimates that it has top-level market shares in both product areas. Chofu's production capacity of copper sheet and strip is approximately 6,400 tonnes per month. Over 80% of the alloys that Kobe Steel produces were developed by the company.

Kobe Steel has four production sites for the semiconductor industry: Shinko Leadmikk Co., Ltd. in Kita-Kyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture; Singapore Kobe Pte. Ltd. in Singapore; Suzhou Kobe Copper Technology Co., Ltd. in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China; and Kobe Electronics Material (Thailand) Co., Ltd. in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

More information on Kobe Steel is available at: www.kobelco.com