Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
In a recent earlier issue of Circuit World, I highlighted that there was a growing degree of optimism that the global electronics industry was at last showing some signs of recovery. At the time there was still, however, a degree of nervousness over whether the recovery would be sustained. Moving forward to December 2003, when this editorial was written, we can now see that there is renewed confidence in the recovery of the electronics industry and that many companies are expecting 2004 to be a better year. The recovery in the semiconductor market has been sustained and is broadening with companies such as Intel, Qualcomm Inc. and National Semiconductor recently saying that demand for their devices was surprisingly strong. The new mood of optimism was abundantly apparent at two of the industry's most important and recent trade shows. At Productronica there was none of the pessimism that had been so widespread amongst the exhibitors at the show held 2 years earlier. Similar responses have also been recorded from those who attended the TPCA in Taipei and it is, of course, in the Far East where much of the future activities of many PCB manufacturers will increasingly be focussed. For example, Austria's AT&S has just announced that it plans to spend 25 million euros to expand production at its Shanghai plant in China. Increasing confidence in the electronics industry as a whole should hopefully also translate into renewed support for R&D work, not only in the Far East, but globally.
In this larger than normal issue which features a total of eight papers, I have taken the opportunity to include three papers that were presented at the TPCA show in order to highlight some of the interesting new work that is increasingly coming out of the Far East and in particular China. There are also reviews from our editorial board of both Productronica and the TPCA show and these clearly convey the new sense of optimism and opportunity arising from the industry. Coming closer to home, this issue also features a paper describing progress to date by researchers at Loughborough University in a project to define the current status of the PCB industry in the UK. This is a follow-up to an earlier project that was undertaken in 1997 and the initial results reported here give a clear indication of how much and how quickly the industry has changed in such a short time.
Additional papers on a range of topics including surface finishes, high frequency signal integrity, vapour phase soldering, etch resist recycling and the use of inert anodes hopefully combine to give this issue a very broad appeal. Conversely, and in response to the very positive feedback on the recent embedded passives technology issue, it is anticipated that the next issue will have a special focus on the rapidly changing and developing subject of substrate technology.
Martin GooseyEditor of Circuit WorldDecember 2003