John J. B. Silvia, Jr, PhD, President & Chairman (IMS)
Having become an industry leader today, providing component solutions along with many thick film and thin film innovations, the origins of International Manufacturing Services, Inc. (IMS) can be traced back to 1974, from humble quarters of Portsmouth, RI. Realizing the needs of Timex, Bulova, and Pulsar watches for chip resistors in their older wristwatch designs, IMS established their niche in this industry through several innovations in the infancy of the creation of thick film resistors. Since then, the company has continuously evolved and has created an impressive product portfolio with globally recognized standards to fit the requirements of the aerospace, defense, homeland security, medical and communications industries.
The groundbreaking innovations of IMS include an extensive line of attenuators created in 1988 to support the RF-based devices that were then picking up pace in the defense sector. In 1996, the company developed one of the first aluminum nitride thick film technologies to tackle the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) issues presented by the identification of the hazardous nature of BeO, which propelled the company into the development of a whole series of resistors, terminations, RF components, and so forth. In 2006, IMS created ThermaBridge©, which has become a very popular passive heat moving device in the aerospace and defense sector. John J. B. Silvia. Jr, the President and Chairman of IMS, claims, “As a reward for such steady growth and manufacturing excellence our company was able to achieve the AS 9100D certification for aerospace in 2017. We are ISO 9001:2008 certified as well.”
Today, IMS boasts a best-in-class collection of resistors, attenuators, including temperature variable attenuators, thermal transfer devices, and power termination components that are sought by and developed for the defense sector for a myriad of high frequency and high-power applications. With almost a half-century of experience in the marketplace, the company has a wide array of passive component options. IMS resistors are built with the precision to yield resistance values ranging from 0.003 ohms all the way up to a trillion ohms, all in order to cater to the singular needs of its many and varied customers.
While expanding in the aerospace market, high power and high-frequency requirements have increased. Understanding this need, IMS has developed specialty terminations for applications, including phase array radar circulators and isolators, to maximize the RF performance of these high-power products. IMS has a whole suite of high-frequency application components that will simultaneously assist clients with both high power and high-frequency design requirements. The frequency range of these products serve the popular frequency bands and can reach as high as 40 GHz and beyond, which is highly beneficial in these unique applications.
In the case of thermal management, IMS remains the forerunner with the development of ThermaBridge©, which is currently deployed in a number of active applications. In SMT electronics, the need for cooling is synonymous with higher power requirements. ThermaBridge© greatly assists with cooling the device by being electrically isolated yet thermally conductive. This process is achieved with the use of aluminum nitride thick film technology, which not only possesses uniquely high thermal transfer characteristics but is also entirely RoHS compliant.
IMS has also developed an Ultra- Leach Resistant (ULR©) platinum-silver metallization possessing both non-magnetic and low PIM properties to support the needs of the homeland security, defense, and aerospace industries. IMS’ passive components are often the last component attached to the board. ULR© metallization is designed to endure multiple waves of soldering, with every subsequent layer being added at increasing temperature. This characteristic makes ULR products very unique compared to other passive components anywhere else in the industry.
IMS complements the effectiveness of all these products by closely supporting the client’s needs via a network of local representatives, spread around the world. “The company strives to view each customer’s design challenge as an opportunity, and thus Impossible Made Simple (IMS) has become a company mantra,” notes Silvia. Through close collaboration between a client and IMS engineers, IMS carefully assesses the application and design requirements and then provides either stock or custom parts tailored around the unique criteria of that specific design. With this approach, the products are constantly reviewed and optimized as to never become outdated. The success of this customer-centric product development resonates in Silvia’s words, “Since 1974, that customer service and support has been the center of our model. So, one of our biggest strengths is this solution-based selling.”
IMS’s expansion in the aerospace and defense industries has been further enhanced with AS9100D certification. Because chip resistors and other passive components are typically among the first to be applied to the board, IMS takes extra care in designing these parts such that they don’t interfere with related levels of the board assembly. This ensures the ability to withstand multiple layers of soldering while still meeting post-assembly RF requirements. The applicability of IMS products and custom design capabilities in the aerospace and defense market can be best understood with a real-life success story: A well-established aerospace customer approached IMS with a high-power requirement combined with a high-frequency requirement of 24 Gigahertz. IMS designed this solution with a reverse aspect ratio utilizing an aluminum nitride substrate that yielded a finished component that met their high-frequency design requirement while also handling 170 watts, their power design needs. IMS was able to simultaneously meet both the high frequency and high-power design goals. These two design goals are typically mutually exclusive.
The flexibility and creativity IMS regularly employs is best exemplified by the company’s responses to the present pandemic: the company has not missed a beat. IMS, being an essential business, follows a strict series of carefully defined protocols that are in complete compliance with state and local governments. The company has defined and implemented a broad range of new practices, ranging from obvious ones such as providing employees with masks, hand cleaners, and non-contact temperature monitoring devices to far more detailed ones, such as using isopropyl alcohol spray in order to eliminate the chance for product contamination. The company quickly arranged for remote work for those whose jobs allow it, including the fast establishment of additional SSL protocols, high-security portals, and security hardware built into the existing systems. Those who are working in the IMS facility are spread out with rotational break/ lunch schedules to maintain social distancing. Despite these and many other changes that had to be quickly implemented, the company has maintained excellent on-time delivery. In fact, IMS actually improved existing on-time performance amidst these varied pandemic-related changes.
IMS is steadily progressing into the future, striving to grow in multiple geographic markets. The company continues to expand in key geographic markets such as China, South Korea, and South Africa. Key growth segments include 5G communications and instrumentation, as supported by cutting edge technologies and products such as aluminum nitride ULR, power splitters, attenuators, and numerous custom solutions. With these advancements in place, along with plans for additional advancements, IMS is purposely well positioned to be an industry leader in passive electronic components across numerous market sectors for many years to come.