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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
If you spread 1,535 exhibitors over 11 exhibition halls over 12 hectares over 4 days there is always a risk that in any review of such an event that you might not quite have covered everything that was of interest. But then you appreciate that in any particular field there is some duplication, some quadruplication even, and there are perhaps limits to the number of ways you can wave solder circuit boards, or drill holes in them, or test and measure all the things that need testing and measuring.
There are some companies which like to put their heads above the ramparts, now that the storm is over, publicly demonstrating their cheerful resilience as they punch the air with a gloved fist of defiance, and tell the world what they are up to. But it is surprising that at a time when the electronics assembly industry in particular is still picking itself up off the floor that there are few companies which want to announce their continued existence, and their pursuit of new products, technologies, or even refinements to a proven stalwart.
What one does discover, when in conversation with many, is that they have diversified, have changed. New companies have been born, new alliances forged, markets traditionally held by one company have been lost to the competition at times when any loss of market share would have been catastrophic. Some companies, once proud market leaders, have been reduced to rump product dispensers as a result of new ownership. Some companies, having struggled manfully to stay in the frame, and having started to see business pick up once more, have been rubbed out by their confused owners after serving the industry loyally and well for over 40 years. Some trade associations, having failed their members in their own country, now seem set on looking elsewhere in the world for income and in doing so risk losing the essential friendship of those associations who serve the regions into which they have trespassed. Some trade associations have been active in supporting their membership, and have been bringing concerns and problems to the attention of their (usually disinterested) governments. A changing market indeed, but not necessarily for the better in some regards.
Amongst the many snapshots from the show we include a selection as follows.
Juurgen Schulz at ISOLA AG said The show is much better than we estimated, the industry seems to be coming back in a better way then before. The meetings we have had with our customers gives us hope that the volumes will increase slightly. As the last remaining CCL manufacturer in Europe, we hope we can now pick up sufficient volume business to survive. Bearing in mind WEEE/RoHS which comes into force in July 2006, Isola introduced a new grade of CCL-IS500, which has an improved glass transition temperature of 175°C and complements the halogen-free materials available in 2004.
Plate 1 GSM Genesis™, the latest generation platform surface mount placement product from Universal Instruments
Universal Instruments was keen to redefine their footprint and their Shawn Robinson introduced us to Genesis (Plate 1) a multifunctional machine with the fastest high speed placement head in the industry (potentially 54,000 parts per hour) using linear motor technology and with a 50 micron pitch, and a vision system to monitor performance. Their linear motors run very cool, as they demonstrated, thus they can maintain calibration. Adam Brown showed us the new Polaris robotic multi- process work-cell family, which runs off individual toolboxes – lots of different sizes and formats (Plate 2).
Plate 2 Polaris Jr from Universal Instruments for robotic and non-robotic assembly processes
Over on the Feinfocus stand, Robin Abray and Alastair Sharp of their UK agents Systegration, explained how their FOX X-ray system would permit both 2D and 3D inspection with a feature recognition of less than 1 μm with a standard tube, and less than 0.3 μm using a multifocus tube in nanofocus mode. Images are sharp and consistent, and this is an essential kit for inspecting HDIs, hybrids, encapsulations, MEMS, MOEMs and BGA measurement.
Another stand that caught the eye was that of Concoat. Graham Naisbitt, the MD showed us the Bag on Valve (BoV) aerosol which he is using for their new HumiSeal water-based acrylic conformal coating qualified to MIL-I-46058C. It provides a higher tack temperature and excellent moisture insulation resistance and can be chemically removed or soldered through. It meets the requirements of IPC CC-830A Type AR Class 3 (Military) and fluoresces under long range UV light for ease of inspection, says Graham. It can also be dip, spray or selectively coated. It has very low VOC which reduces the risk of solvent exposure to operators, reducing the need for extraction and ventilation. It also considerably reduces the environmental impact of the process, thus it is recommended for those companies looking to achieve ISO 14000 status.
Systronic® was showing off their new SC 1800 double-sided spray coating inline system. Diethard Kapp-Schwoerer said us through the system that can apply primary resists as well as LPISM, the RC4000 for roller-coating inner-layers at 4 m/m, and the new HTDC high temperature double convection drying system that can be employed for both applications. The HTDC drying system uses 500 m3 of air per minute and thus uses volume of air as a primary drying principle. The SYS 172-2000 automatic cleaning system for stencils, screens, solder mask frames etc. looked efficient, too. Good display of equipment here on a large stand.
Assembléons Gus Van Hoofstadt explained how the company had been formed back in 1992 from the Philips EMT division, and, still a wholly- owned Philips subsidiary company, they are exporting 95 percent of production of pick-and- place machinery and support software around the world to some of the largest consumer product and contract electronics manufacturers. Unlike turret technology, Assembléon uses precision X-Y axis positioning platforms that give the highest placement accuracy as well as component flexibility and low cost placement. Gus said that they had had an excellent show, and were well- placed to take advantage of the long-term programme amongst companies who were pursuing outsourcing, including assembly, thus making more of their fixed cost variables.
We liked the miniature microscopes, which caught our eye on the Scientific Precision Instruments GmbH. Ralf Mages allowed us to play with their technical industrial miniature microscopes, which can both illuminate and resolve structures down to 0.5m. There is also a frame grabber, which can connect directly to a notebook or PC monitor, using Windows. Essential kit for those operating in the surface mount business.
I can recall being asked if it would be possible to print barcodes on circuit boards about 10 years back by a PCB fabricator supplying the military. Supply has awoken to demand and Nutek have an excellent automatic barcode labelling system for PCBs which chucks out a fully labelled circuit board about every 5 s. It can apply all 1D and 2D barcodes and has a fully integrated computer system that makes machine operation quite straightforward. BLC 2000HE is the model number if you are looking for such a thing.
Heike Schlessmann at Seitz & hohnerlein brought us up to speed on what is happening at SEHO. They have a new selective soldering machine – GoSelective 350 – which allows for conventional components to be soldered into place after the reflow process. Their reflow soldering system FDS maxipower is a classic example of a company which has taken lead-free solder paste into the equation during design, and in this equipment the higher content of colophonium is managed through the four-stage condensation zones. Their new MWS 2300 modular wave soldering system also takes lead-free and mixed production into account, it will handle those in the low-oxygen soldering atmosphere before entering the integrated and temperature controlled convection cooling module, another unique feature on SEHO equipment.
Juki who have just joined forces with Universal Instruments under a Comprehensive Business Alliance Agreement (which might be the new title for a good marriage) had not less than three new assembly machines on their stand. Martin Kunz, their European Marketing Manager explained what two of them were and what they did.
The KE-20S0 is a flexible high-speed assembler and is the successor of the KE-2010. Speed, said Martin, is essential for a chip shooter and the KE-2050 offers an increase of over 25 per cent compared to its predecessor. The placement accuracy is increased to 50m at 3 Sigma, which allows for the placement of components emanating from some future technology.
The KE-2060 is a flexible all-rounder for a whole range of SMD components. It is equipped with a quadruple chip placement head plus a high- precision IC placement head. A unique feature is the option of laser and vision measurement of components even on the quadruple head; this almost doubles the placement throughput of vision components. SOP, QFP, BGA and BGA can now be placed at a rate of 3,200 CPH. The complete vision system has been improved as well. Placement accuracy is increased to 30m at 3 sigma.
In a look around the DEK stand Martyn Buttle showed the new Vector Guard screen printing frame system, that accommodates stencils from 23 to 29 in.2 with all the advantages on handling, ideally suited to short-run, quick-turn work including prototypes. The stainless steel stencil is locked into the frame and tensioned equally on all four sides (110 N per side) within seconds, and is then press-ready. Ian Aldham-Breary took a tour around the new Galaxy printer, the first in DEKs new Micron class. This has been built in response to speed and accuracy drivers, and also in conjunction with Southampton University in the UK and Atlanta University in Georgia, USA. It is twice as accurate as the previous models, and has repeatability of 10 μm. Alongside that was the Instinctive™ system, which sets printing machines up for the customer. This gives more functionality; they found that customers were normally only using 10 per cent of a machines potential, so more versatility will help.
Doris Ager at the Datacon stand told us that they have a new high-speed flip-chip platform, the 8800 FC, which doubles assembly capacity to allow cost- effective, high-volume flip-chip applications. Despite difficult economic conditions, flip-chip technology is recording disproportionate growth rates, said Doris, and more and more products are being converted from classic package processing to flip chip.
Datacon has in recent years invested more than 4 million euro in the development of an innovative flip-chip platform, and now it makes its debut at the show. Throughput of up to 10,000 UPH (dry cycle), and even at full speed, precise positioning to 10 μm (at 3 sigma) is guaranteed.
Plate 3 The Siemens Dematic stand
No visit to Productronica would have been complete without a visit to Siemens Dematic (Plate 3) where their brand-new placement machine Siplace HF/3 was attracting a great deal of attention, as it might. Siemens say that it exceeds electronics markets expectations. The electronics market demands a lot of the placement machines it uses: flexibility, quality, availability, component diversity and, last but certainly not least, speed. With their brand-new three-gantry Siplace HF/3, Siemens Dematic meets all these needs. The placement rate of up to 41,000 components per hour is only one of the outstanding features of this machine that can place any component ranging from 0201 to 85 / 85 / 125 × 10 mm. At the Productronica 2003 show, electronics manufacturers from many different industries like automotive, IT and telecom exhibited particular interest in this world premiere from Siemens Dematic.
Siemens commented that whilst high volume electronics manufacturing is becoming firmly established in low cost locations such as China, the Far East and Eastern Europe, Europe as a whole is becoming recognised as a hot spot for prototyping and high-technology medium to low volume production. As a result, Europe remains a primary focus region of particular importance to the company. A philosophy shared by others, we hope.
In four 12 hour days what we saw was only the tip of the iceberg. But like all icebergs what you see is only a fraction of what exists below the surface, and without becoming too analogous it was good to see the industry flow again, and we liked what we saw. The atmosphere on the floor elicited that of 1999, and with the indications that the global electronics industry is entering phase of rapid expansion in 2004, after undergoing a strong recovery in 2003, then the cheerful optimism was not misplaced.
In the Press Lounge there are shelves provided by the organisers for the use of every exhibitor at the show. These shelves are there so that exhibitors can leave their Press Packs on display for the benefit of publications such as ours to use, and be made aware of new products, new developments, company and people news in general. Sadly, it is the minority of exhibitor who use them, there is perhaps an expectation amongst the majority that publication editors will beat a path around 11 exhibition halls to seek them out. Wrong!
John LingAssociate Editor Soldering & Surface Mount TechnologyNovember 2003