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Translation of the article in the technical magazine "Markt&Technik"

Production for precision quartz crystals in Switzerland


Because major Japanese quartz manufacturers no longer produce certain

quartz crystals, the Swiss company QuartzCom is building its own

production line to be able to offer high-precision quartz crystals,

not only for the EU, but also for the USA and China.


In the past, coftech purchased oscillating crystals for its own production of (VC)TCXOs and other oscillators in Japan. For example, coftech supplied QuartzCom, based in Grenchen, Switzerland, with precision crystals from Japan. They are used in high-quality oscillators in base stations for mobile communications, radar, measuring instruments and GPS devices. However, the supply of these quartz crystals, which are needed for high-quality oscillators, will be difficult in the future. This is because quartz production in small to medium quantities with different frequencies no longer proved attractive for the large Japanese quartz manufacturers. Geared to high volumes, such as those demanded by the consumer goods market, Japanese manufacturers have discontinued the production of precision quartz crystals, which is not very lucrative for them.


In order to secure its own procurement of the quartz crystals, QuartzCom invested in a family-run Japanese company that specializes in these very quartz crystals. To this end, the Swiss company is building a new production line and has already purchased modern machinery, which is currently being installed. Production is scheduled to start in the third quarter of this year.


The line will focus on package sizes of 7 mm × 5 mm, 6.0 mm × 3.5 mm and 5.0 mm × 3.2 mm, which are required for quartz crystals with very tight tolerances. In addition to AT cuts, quartz blanks with SC, IT or special cutting angles are also used. - In the future, QuartzCom will manufacture a new generation of TCXOs of the "QC-MESA" type. Due to the production fire at the IC manufacturer AKM, which had produced ICs for use in (VC) TCXOs, the "old" ICs were discontinued. The new generation of ICs requires more performance from the crystal than before. Quartz crystals, in which the internal quartz disk (blank) is no longer simply flat and provided with a rectangular electrode, but has structures, steps and depressions as well,

must be connected with round or oval electrodes. The structures are not wet etched as usual, but etched dry using a magnetron plasma process developed in Japan. This allows frequency stability to be increased, hysteresis to be reduced and frequency jumps (micro jump) to be eliminated or suppressed. Difficult designs are possible, the resistance can be significantly reduced, the Q-factor can be increased, and thus the short-term stability of the oscillators can be improved. To reduce costs, it is planned to fully utilize the production capacity and to supply some competitors with whom QuartzCom has entered and will enter into cooperation.


With these oscillating crystals, QuartzCom can get the most out of all components in oscillator manufacturing. One of the specialties is the vibration stability of their products. Thus, devices in which oscillators from QuartzCom are used never lose the GPS signal. This also applies to GPS units that are exposed to extremely strong vibrations in a tractor. Together with the engineers in Japanese production, QuartzCom optimizes the cutting angle and the dimensions of the quartz blank. In a further step, the oscillator is calibrated in a temperature chamber, where the installed integrated circuit is coaxed out of its final potential. In-house software was developed for this purpose. Now companies around the world are using QuartzCom's high-end products, not only in the EU, but also in China, India, Israel and the USA. QuartzCom thus serves a special niche market: crystals and oscillators for special frequencies that are manufactured in small to medium quantities. In doing so, the company guarantees that the Qscillators will function perfectly even under extreme coditions.


Source: Markt&Technik 29-30/2023   www.markt-technik.de



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