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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Regular readers of Circuit World will have noticed that the last issue was a specially-themed edition dedicated to the subject of Embedded Passives Technology. The issue was carefully planned to have its major focus on this important topic and was meant to be the prelude to a number of other themed issues that would appear on an occasional basis in the future, as particular new topics of importance moved under the interconnect industry's spotlight. The positive feedback to date from readers of the last issue has initially confirmed that the publication of themed issues is something that we should certainly continue with. Whilst there may well be more special themed issues in the future, it was not my intention to make this issue a themed one. To a certain extent it is not; since there are papers covering, amongst other things, component finishes, opto-electronics and impedance modelling. However, a quick glance at the contents list will also reveal that there are three papers on the important subject of "lead-free". With additional papers on environmental legislation, it is quite clear that the overall theme running through this issue is definitely the one related to environmental influences on the electronics industry and the impact of environmental legislation. This is the topic with which I am closely involved through my own work and one that is also having a major impact on the electronics industry as a whole and specifically on that part which is focussed on interconnection and circuitry. In just over 30 months the European electronics industry will effectively be "lead-free" and yet, in many areas, there is still no real understanding of the implications and ramifications of the legislation. There is still much work to be done in terms of education and I hope that this issue will be able to help in that process.
At the time of writing, the electronics industry has been in the grip of a severe downturn in business for over 2 years. There have been many predictions about when this would end and when the upturn would come, but until recently it proved to be rather elusive, continually slipping ahead into the future. Much of the interconnect industry in the UK and indeed Europe has undoubtedly gone for good, either through closure or migration to the Far East and it is unlikely that we will ever see a return to the business levels achieved before the downturn. However, there are at last some cautious signs that the worst is now over and that the market may be beginning to improve. The key piece of evidence comes from global semiconductor sales figures, where the August 2003 numbers were stronger than expected. The Semiconductor Industry Association stated that semiconductor sales in August were 4 per cent higher than in July and 12.5 per cent higher than a year back. Additionally, sales have been increasing month on month for several months now. Whether these figures will be sustained and the recession in the electronics industry is really over may be clearer by the time you read this editorial!
I hope that you enjoy this issue and that we are at last moving into a period where the industry can be sure that there is an opportunity for further increased sales and renewed prosperity.
Martin GooseyOctober 2003