Coherent Makes Laser Decapsulation Easier and Faster

The EasyMark LD is a self-contained tool that provides everything needed for laser decapsulation without breaking the bank.

April 14, 2022 by Coherent


The new Coherent EasyMark LD is a compact, ready-to-use, and cost-effective tool that makes high-quality laser-decapsulation (decap) more readily accessible than ever before. This self-contained system is small enough to sit on a desktop and can efficiently process electronic assemblies, micro-chips, and semiconductor ICs with high accuracy and no damage to the encapsulated circuitry. Its combination of speed, features, precision, and economy brings the benefits of laser decap to development and QC/QA labs small and large, and eliminates the need for engineers to develop their own custom systems in-house. And, EasyMark LD is based on the Coherent EasyMark – a proven tool having a large installed base and track record of reliability and productivity.

What is circuit encapsulation?

Electronic assemblies – that is, printed circuit boards (PCBs) with components on them – are sometimes encapsulated to make them more durable. This is accomplished by placing the finished PCB (with all the electronic components installed on it) in a mold and pouring a liquid polymer material over it. The polymer subsequently hardens and seals the assembly completely, making it pretty much impervious to water, moisture, and even corrosive chemicals. It also makes the part able to better withstand shock and vibration.

Lasers seal the deal

Sometimes it’s necessary to take an encapsulated circuit, or even an individual IC chip or power electronics assembly, back apart. This might be for failure analysis or QA purposes, counterfeit detection, or even to reverse-engineer a device. Usually, the goal is to remove the encapsulating material without damaging the circuitry, or even exposing it to too much heat. This allows the device to still be operated and analyzed. This process is called “decapsulation” or just “decap.”

Lasers are an excellent tool for decap. Usually a fiber laser is used, since its light is well absorbed by most of the various materials used for encapsulation.

Most typically, the bulk of the material is rapidly removed with the laser, leaving just the encapsulation immediately surrounding the circuit elements and any wiring. The last remains of this are then dissolved with acid.

Lasers can perform this material removal much more selectively and accurately than mechanical decapsulation. Each pass with the laser precisely removes just microns of resin, which enables the process to be stopped before any sensitive structures are damaged. So, by choosing the right parameters, the laser can be adjusted to remove just the resin at the optimum speed, while leaving wires and contacting material undisturbed.


EasyMark hits the spot

Laser decapsulation systems have been available for many years. While some of the available systems deliver great functionality, mostly they have been too large, too complex, and just plain too costly for many users. This often forces people to build their own decap systems. But this involves substantial effort.

EasyMark LD performs most decapping tasks, while remaining affordable, robust, easy to use, and maintenance-free. It offers a wealth of features, including the ability to vary laser pulse length to match the thermal properties of the resin. Plus, the focused laser spot size from its beam delivery optics is specifically optimized for the task of decapping. All this results in quicker and more efficient decapping, and less risk of damaging the circuitry.

For the user, a graphical interface enables both simple and complex shapes to be readily combined in order to create the removal pattern. Then the engraving area is easily and accurately positioned using a high-resolution camera, which also allows the process to be monitored and controlled in real-time.

EasyMark LD is a turnkey laser decapping solution that offers high compound removal rates, with little or no damage to wires or circuit components. And, it’s simple to set up and use. Learn more about it here.

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