Fine-Line Circuits Ltd specialises in manufacturing space-grade RF microwave PCBs

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFine-Line Circuits has over 26 years of experience in manufacturing printed circuit boards. It is located at SEEPZ (Santacruz Electronics Export Promotion Zone), Mumbai, which is India’s foremost export zone and has been in business since 1990. Fine-Line specialises in building RF microwave PCBs and is the only Indian company with UL and ISRO space approval to build PCBs that meet the stringent space standards for the satellite applications.

By Baishakhi Dutta

Fine-Line Circuits Ltd manufactures high quality printed circuit boards (one to 24 layered PCBs with blind and buried vias and controlled impedance; one to two layered flex, microwave PCBs) in medium volumes. A range of surface finishes like ENIG, ENEPIG, HAL, LF HAL, and thick bondable gold direct on copper are offered.


Markets served

  • Aerospace/naval systems
  • Semiconductor packaging
  • Medical equipment
  • Explosion protection
  • High-end audio
  • Telecommunications
  • Security systems
  • High-end instrumentation
  • High-end industrial

The company
Fine-Line Circuits has been a publicly traded corporation on the Bombay Stock Exchange since 1992. Its annual reports are prepared according to the requirements of the Sarbanes Oxley Act and can be constantly monitored by all stakeholders.
Today, Fine-Line Circuits Ltd is a global company with sales contacts in Germany and the US. Fine-Line Circuits is characterised by short decision-making cycles, high efficiency and flexibility, a clear commitment to customer satisfaction and a solid, long-term plan for the development of the company and its business relations. About 40 per cent of the company’s products are being exported to Germany and another 40 per cent to the US. The remaining output goes to 12 other countries. The fact that the average age of Fine-line Circuits’ customer relationships is 12 years, speaks for its commitment.

KEY FACTS AT A GLANCE
 Year of establishment: 1990
 Factory location: Seepz, Andheri (E), Mumbai
 Workforce: 150+
 Manufacturing area: 2416 sqm
 Annual turnover: ₹ 260 million
 Areas of expertise: PCBs using low loss / high performance laminates for high reliability applications
Production capacity (annual): 36.000 sqm (MLB: 18.000 sqm, DSB: 18.000 sqm)
 Capital expenditure: ₹ 160 million
 Contact details: mtrivedi@finelineindia.com, www.finelineindia.com

Manufacturing floor at a glance
Fine-Line builds PCBs using a variety of low loss/high performance laminates, especially from Rogers, Nelco and Taconic, including the Rogers RT Duroid series (5000 and 6000 series, TMM series) and similar materials. These are then treated with a special surface finish of 2-4 microns of electroplated bondable gold direct on copper (with no nickel barrier), ensuring low signal losses and high signal performance. Since the skin depth is optimised and as nickel is absent, there are minimal signal losses and the thick layer of gold also gives good gold wire bondability. These PCBs are used in high-end applications where signal performance and reliability are the key needs (like onboard satellite communication systems).
Company sources state that Fine-Line is the only approved PCB supplier for India’s foremost space agency, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). Its RT Duroid PCBs are used in ISRO’s satellite communication systems.

Machinery used at the facility
To a relatively large extent, Fine-Line uses a variety of automated machines in the PCB manufacturing process.

Key equipment:

  • Drilling machines from Posalux, Switzerland
  • Exposure machines from Automatech, France
  • Plasma activation machines from Europlasma, Belgium
  • Electrical testing machines from ATG, Germany
  • Etching machine from IS, Italy
  • MEC chemical cleaning machines for solder masking
  • Hollmueller inner layer acid etching machines
  • Multi-layer press machines from OEM, California, USA

Certification achieved
The company has achieved ISO 13485 medical standards, ISO 9001, UL and ISRO space approval. Along with that, it has also achieved a supplier rating from many German and US companies.

Rajiv Doshi (1)“With an uncompromising emphasis on quality, we have successfully catered to a very demanding global market and continuously developed our capabilities and offerings amidst a very inflationary cost environment. During this period, we have preserved our manpower and business ethics, with the belief that the best days are right ahead of us.”
Rajiv Doshi, executive director

Take on ‘Make in India’
The company believes that this is indeed a great initiative by the Indian government, since the economy can prosper only when there are sufficient manufacturing activities taking place. So far, the facilities set up by different companies in India have been very encouraging, and the company truly hopes that this momentum will continue to grow with a focus on capability rather than capacity.

Focus on quality
Fine-Line Circuits Ltd is committed to manufacturing and delivering defect-free PCBs to manufacturing industries by continually upgrading its services, process capabilities and product range. It aims to achieve true customer satisfaction. Fine-Line believes that complying with requirements continuously improves the effectiveness of the quality management system.

  • Fine-Line monitors processes using SPC methods to bring clients consistent world-class quality.
  • The company’s equipment is at par with the facilities of prominent world-class PCB manufacturers.
  • Fine-Line uses the finest raw materials—chemicals from Atotec and McDermid, laminates from Isola and Nanya, etc.
  • The engineering staff brings to the table over 1000 person-years of PCB manufacturing experience.
  • As a publicly traded company in the growing Indian economy, Fine-Line has access to a vibrant capital market, which helps it to expand its capabilities to meet with the customers’ growing needs.

The journey so far
The company has evolved from making simple single/double-sided PCBs to multi-layered, higher count multi-layered and hybrid multi-layered PCBs. It also handles the right materials to provide high performance surface finishes within fast delivery cycles, which has given the company a very wide manufacturing capability. Fine-Line’s diverse capabilities are offered to both the global and domestic markets. In a sense, its best practices, gleaned out of successfully delivering and competing in the toughest world markets for over 26 years, are now available to the demanding Indian space and defence markets.

Growth plans
On the technology roadmap, the present best case production capability of 0.08mm (3 mils) lines/spaces and 0.15mm (6 mils) hole diameter will be enhanced to 0.06mm (2 mils) L/S and 0.10mm (4 mils) holes, with a higher aspect ratio and thinner inner layer processing capabilities.
Fine-Line competes in the world markets by continuously improving its capability to handle higher PCB complexity (thinner lines and smaller holes) and gearing up to build smaller lot sizes within shorter lead times, even with a broader range of materials and finishes—all at a continuously reducing selling price.

Products and capabilities
Fine-Line Circuits, being an export-oriented unit, has been continually upgrading its capabilities to cover an increasing set of complex designs. Its products and their features include:

  • One to 20 layered printed circuit boards—rigid, R/Flex, backplanes, high frequency boards
  • Specials: Rogers PTFE, metal clad PCBs, very high TG PCBs, LED PCBs; PET, PEN and G10 PCBs
  • All finishes including LF HAL, HAL, ENIGold, ENI palladium gold, carbon, Imm.Tin, Imm.Silver and electroplated bondable gold direct on copper
  • Line/space – 4mil/0.1mm, SMD pads -10mil/0.25mm and hole size – 8mil/0.20mm.
  • Stringent intricacies covering tight SM dams, aspect ratios of 12:1, annular rings, tight isolation
  • Specials: Via hole filling, edge plating, thick copper, press fit holes, heat sinks, buried resistors

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