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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Keywords: Electronics industry, Trade fairs
There were many people who came to Munich in November this year who will recall, with no little nostalgia, the first Productronica held in 1975. A different world then, a familiar world now. For those 44,000 who were paying their bi- annual pilgrimage to the place of worship in the electronics production diocese, there was much that was familiar, and much that was different. Perhaps these disciples were hoping for some form of divine absolution for the trials and tribulations that they had endured in the past years, and maybe a blessing on all their houses. Devoutly to be wished, to be sure, but in Europe the best that might be said is that an atmosphere of calm confidence, and greater optimism was evident.
Never truer that on the Process Automation stand where the company is enjoying unparalleled growth in the Far East alongside the installation of a mammoth new electroplating line at Schweizer Electronic AG, which will commence in the new year. Capital equipment spending is still difficult for many companies, and the worries are that any investment may come too late for a company wishing to encompass the latest advances in production. The wise are pursuing the right policy.
On the Lloyd Doyle stand was an exciting development – IBIS – which stands for interferometric bump inspection system. Given that they only started this project in September this year the result is amazing. Keith Doyle developed this system in response to a demand for bump inspection on-line rather than on a lab scale basis. The requirement is for bump height, volume, circularity and co-planarity to be measured at the rate of 5,000 bumps/s with resolution better than 1μ. This the IBIS system delivers, albeit at 3,000 bumps/s. Roy Lloyd, CEO, was positively beaming with pride as discerning crowds gathered to assess this technological breakthrough. The system uses the wavelength of a beam of light as a measurement tool, the source of the light being solid state, with the light being reflected off a moving plate mirror. The fluctuation in brightness indicates the component height above the substrate. Lloyd Doyle are now looking for the commercial partner who can lead them into the semiconductor business, but given that companies such as IBM, Intel and Ibiden have always been looking for such a system then the wait should be fairly brief. Also on the stand was their up-dated Excalibur AOT system, the LD6000 series offering double speed scanning compared to earlier machines. That said, it is often the well-established technology that meets demand, and with a half-million pound order from Korea for their Excalibur LD5000 placed at the show, they were off to a good start.
Ray Sharpe is the CEO of Isola and reported on progress over the last year. He underlined their commitment to the industry, and explained how the new ownership of Isola had restructured to support that philosophy. They had exercised strict control on costs, and had pursued Six Sigma lean manufacture throughout the group, following the closure of the UK plant and rationalisation at Düren. The result is a company that still treads warily within a wide spectrum of competition, but they have managed to develop products that keep them well up the technology ladder. Further growth by acquisition? That remains to be seen, but on a technical front they are enjoying the warm glow that one has when one had done all the homework. They have made a total conversion to lead-free for all their products, and have clear evidence that the improved DE 104 given 10 × 20 s @ 288°C soldering leads to no discoloration nor loss of performance. The secret is in the Novolac as opposed to a dicy-cured resin, and this has given them the edge against the higher Tg laminates offered by some, with the inherent disadvantage in price.
Richard Heimsch is the President of DEK, and was informative about how he saw the future. DEK is now a process enabler rather than an equipment provider, and it becomes obvious as you talk to him that DEK have explored long and hard down the value chains, in both directions, and there are not any nasty surprises lying in wait for them. At the one end they know about PCB surface finishes, fiducial recognition, lead-free solder pastes in all their guises, and at the other they know all about high accuracy assembly of packages. The flattening of the supply chain, the increasing level of responsibility demanded by customers who generally lack engineering support of their own has resulted in DEK's service engineers becoming production engineers, which somewhat blurs the edges of account responsibility. This human resource allocation will, understandably, lead DEK to pursue other opportunities, and Richard said that he would be surprised if in 5 years time, more than 50 per cent of their efforts were still in the interconnect field. There are more exciting avenues to drive down.
Harald Ahnert at Atotech was happy to share some of the highlights of innovation at his company. InPulse 2HF is their new horizontal BMV and through hole filling system that allows for complete throughhole filling whilst keeping copper thickness of the surface contained to 16 νm. Their new Printoganth electroless copper gives greatly improved adhesion for high Tg and flex substrates, with no blistering, and the new Uniplate/Horizon universal transport system handles the thinnest material down to 25 νm and below for reel-to-reel processing, as well as copper foil down to 3 νm and below. A quick look at the UPS installations confirms the market acceptance of this product. For HDI laser drilling Atotech have produced BondFilm HC, an oxide replacement system which produces less waste water. For high peel strength characteristics you could do no better than use SecureHTg, for the high Tg laminates now demanded by lead-free soldering. Immersion tin is now increasing in being the finish of choice for lead-free, and here Atotech have a system for all substrates, rigid or RtR. ATOTECH may now be regarded as a truly global company, they are the “local supplier” in all the major theatres of operations in the interconnect world.
Someone else who is happy to talk about his company is Horst Schackmann, who is the VP Operations in Europe and North America for Mania Technologie. Surrounded by a sea of blue machinery, Horst explained how Mania have co-ordinated their R&D such that in the last two years performance of their systems has improved by a factor of 2. With a turnover of ¤75 million, and employing some 1,000 employees, (330 are in the business division, the rest working in test centres) Mania have come back from their restructuring under Horst Müller with Phoenician-like dynamism, and with their core competence intact. Test is what they did and what they still do. No. 1 in electrical test, No. 1 in plotting with the fastest ever plotter on the way, with 72 laser beams. Mania have branches in Shenzhen, Shangai, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and of course Germany and the USA. Their recovery has been nothing short of remarkable, and whilst the Machiavellian activities of their competitors came to nought, strong private investment in the company shows no sign of abating.
Automa-Tech was showing off its new Evolution 3 Exposure unit with full random partition system (FRPS™). This is Automa-Tech's high-end system able to expose inner layer, outer layer or solder mask panels, and is the answer to the high-density chip packages such as BGA's.
According to Frederic Baradel, exposure equipment without such partition system capabilities can only use the targets located on two or four corners of a large panel. Consequently, artwork to panel positioning all over the panel area might not be sufficient to meet each individual image registration.
The FRPS™ divides a given panel area into multiple sub-exposures areas, aligning and exposing each sub-section individually with two or four targets (fiducials). The panel area is not divided in 2-3-4-5-6 fixed sections, but in any random number of sections. Furthermore, the dead zone between two sub-sections is kept at its minimum for a better use of the whole board area. Automa-Tech makes superb equipment, and this innovative solution to registration issues is typical of a company who knows about life from the PCB manufacturer's point of view.
Also new was their reel-to-reel automatic exposure units called Arrow 250. Automa-Tech already have a large customer base for their equipment for FPCs in Asia, Europe and USA, so this new machine is an additional family member to the existing three systems that are dedicated exclusively to flexible circuits (FPCs). The new Arrow 250 will allow process speeds of up to nine images a minute (in innerlayer mode) providing a registration accuracy (artwork/web) of ±8 μm. Using the latest CCD technologies, it may be used to expose simultaneously both side of the web or one side only.
Which brings us neatly on to the beaming countenance of Karl-Heinz Kummer who is putting his considerable experience and energies into KLG Maschinen. KLG are doing interesting things with inkjet. A tripartite arrangement, KLG have provided the stable platform, with the head and inkjet technology coming from their partners. What they have achieved is a machine that is commercially available, and technically capable of producing an imaged panel in 2 min with a resolution down to 100 μ. JetStar, it is aptly named, and joins the European stable of inkjet systems that are poised to take circuitry down cost-effective roads.
Joe Kresky at HMS Höllmüller was clear – he saw no real benefit to manufacturing in China, he is worried that it may all turn out to be another dot.com. His company is making every effort to be cost-effective; they now have two factories in Germany and one under construction in Poland for a lower cost source of machined parts. Apart from their established infrastructure, they run sales and service offices in Shanghai and Tokyo, with another one to open soon in Seoul. They plan to remain in Europe, to supply from Europe, and keep their technology in their hands; this is where their strength is. They run a lean operation, and remained profitable during the 2002/2003 debacle when they lost 50 per cent of their customers. They are aiming for a turnover of ¤30 million this year; they have wisely diversified away from the PCB industry and are active in the solar panel/chemical milling/display markets, obviously to good effect. Since the last Productronica, when they introduced their “Complater” compact plating line, they have sold 15 units, and this time they are proud of their new reel-top-reel system for thin-material plating. Here they build-up copper to 5 μm on sputtered copper, rather than etch down from 17 μm. Smart company, even smarter products.
More interesting inkjet stuff on the Preco stand where a reel-to-reel machine, Metal Jet 6000, was running a demonstration of RFID printing. They were using an inkjet applied U/V curing catalyst running at 0.5 m/s, which would act as the base for a copper plated image onto the polyester film. The inkjet “ink” comes from Conductive Inkjet Technology, of Royston, in Hertfordshire, and the end-use-applications of this approach to imaging are endless.
Ian Hemmings runs H.A.M. Technology in the USA from an office in Sunkist Street, Anaheim. How apt. How apt, too, that HAM should have developed a new four-faceted webthin tool to improve positional accuracy, and have it on a 0.15 mm diameter drill. They have also redesigned a drill bit head that deals with the “snowstorm” of drilled material from flexible substrates.
Callum Campbell on the TEKNEK stand took us through their new CM8 High Performance Clean Machine, the new Mini Web Cleaner for reel-to-reel production, whilst David Westbrook provided some illuminating recent company history that at times bordered on the realms of fantasy. Æsop should be living in this age, and probably based in an attorney's office in the States. TEKNEK continue to provide the finest cleaning systems available, a fact confirmed by an industry that has used their products, and continues to use them, with little demurrage.
One recalls seeing a Spanish company called WAXCO on a tiny stand at Productronica some 8 years ago. WAXCO's stand this year is large and contains a wide range of excellent material handling systems that are aimed specifically the medium size PCB shop. New this year is their “Leafer” which rather cleverly interleaves circuit boards with special sheeting, the unit being so designed that should interleaving not be required it reverts to a normal semi-vertical loader/ unloader. WAXCO seem to have the knack of providing what the industry wants at a price it can afford.
Holders Technology stand was graced by the presence of Anne-Marie Koch, who smiled beatifically from centre stage and somehow personified the depth of product range offered by this company. Holders continue to surprise and delight their customers, with their impeccable service and avant-garde portfolio. Innovative as always, they have just produced the ultimate back- up material – Blue Board 20. With a tolerance of ±1 μ in thickness, this material is dimensionally stable and contains a lubricant that significantly improves drill bit life. The half-million Euro investment at Kirchheimbolanden will doubtless be considered well worthwhile as the industry benefits from this breakthrough.
Location, location, location is the mantra of most estate agents, but in the case of Coates Circuit Products it has as much to do with their position in Hall B3 as it does with the popularity of this unique company. Never less than full at any time of the day, the Coates stand reflected their truly international status. Tony Searle, General Manager, mentioned that the new synergies with the parent company had resulted in a significant technological advance with the renowned Imagecure® LPISM. Now known as Image SMART (solder mask advanced resin technology), this product is being widely accepted by their customers, although many remain content with the former formulae. Coates have been at pains to ensure that all of their products are now fully documented in terms of both WEEE and RoHS regulation, and www.sunchemical.com will serve as the correct link.
David Wayness at ROHM & HAAS Electronic Materials found a minute on their busy stand to reflect upon the show from their standpoint. The equipment side was in evidence, this stems from Italy and is a stand-alone enterprise, comprising mainly loaders, unloaders, dry film laminators. Talking about inks for inkjet, David said that digital material deposition is initiating a wholesale change in the way circuits are made, they are working with Schmid and Xaar as a tripartite team to handle the imaging requirements of tighter pitch, and stacked via designs. There has been a wholesale shift in the way inkjet is set up, and greater versatility in its application. In electroplating, the diversification of interconnect was pointing towards stacked vias coming in quantity, and in this area R&H could help with the transition. The subject of lead-free inevitably arose, here the consequences of lead-free is creating some new dynamics in the finishing market, and David expressed surprise that no one is going down the specialist route here, presumably PCB shops will be able a choice of at least four finishes of choice. He is concerned too about the impact on the industry of new legislation; everyone wants everything faster and cheaper, and now they want it compliant, too. No prizes for guessing which sector is taking the pressure here.
Talking of lead-free, in the veritable forest of literature that is available to anyone with the strength to carry it around the halls, is the Lead-Free Soldering Reference Guides produced by Vitronics Soltec. These cover selective, reflow and wave soldering; they highlight the defects along with detailed photos of them, and advise on preventative actions. They are loaded with invaluable information, are well designed and easy to read. But if you think they are good, then have a look at their CD-Rom “5 steps to lead-free soldering” if there was anything you did not know about lead-free, there is not now. It is about as comprehensive a guide for production as you could wish for. Well done Vitronics Soltec.
Talking of inkjet, this was also in evidence on the Mydata stand, being put to good use as a means of applying solder paste. Göran Näsgårde explained how the MY500™ operated, this superb piece of Swedish engineering is all of their own design and manufacture, and they were proving the technology on the stand. The comment that “this is the greatest innovation in SMT for 30 years” may not be an exaggeration; it will not replace screen stencil application, but it will compliment it, and for small series, prototypes, it is ideal. Operation is simple enough, the machine is completely controlled by software, and the print program comes from CAD data, adjusting the droplet size to meet the pad dimension. Faster set-up and changeover times reduced waste, no stencil prep, all attractive qualities.
Stefan Becker on the phoenixjX-ray stand told us about their new micromejx machine, that offers a 20×24" scanning area, a highly precise manipulation unit with 360° rotation axis and ovhm technology for oblique views up to 70° at constant magnification. This company has a nice sales base of about half in Germany and the rest of Europe, and about half for export, much to the Far East of course. They do not of course only sell in the electronics sector; automotive subcontractors use phoenix, and aerospace and military applications find a vital need for such inspection as their equipment offers.
Karen Moore-Watts is the Director of Global Marketing for Universal Instruments, and their stand was, frankly, awesome. Suspended from the ceiling, a vast ring of LCD screens, which emulated the Lightning™ head, running the accelerated images sequentially to provide the illusion of high-speed placement. Below, the vast stand contained the full spectrum of assembly equipment, from the Genesis and AdVantis machines with the 30- spindle Lightning head, to the new Quadris-S™, which is a four-gantry placement machine 80,000 cph performance for high-speed placement of SMDs down to 0201, as well as BGA or leaded packages of 0.5 mm pitch, with ball diameters down to 0.3 mm or leads of width 0.18 mm. Karen mentioned that Universal are now well-established in China, operating out of Suzhou near Shanghai, and Shekou near Shenzhen, both areas where IP protection has a better chance. Manufacture of the Genesis platform started in 2002, and demand continues robustly.
Jan Keijzer is the MD at Adeon and has been involved with PCB manufacture for so long that a better man to have launched CXInsight would have been hard to find. CXInsight is a project content management system that allows internal and external collaboration between project members across OEM and manufacturing sites. One CXInsight server owner can now connect with other CXInsight servers and work with their own fixed clients, or they can simply “add in” sub- contractors for a short period as and when required. Jan said that this system now links designer with manufacturer, and allows all the parties involved in any project to have full access to and control over the management system. It allows graphic, text and binary comparisons, and has a dedicated email sever for communication. Interest is huge, not least because the system is both effective as a tool, and cost effective. With the base server costing a mere £5,000, and a further 6-25 servers coming in at £1,000 each, the investment in the structure is acceptable, and already two major OEMs have taken the system on board.
Siemens of course, occupied another huge stand, and it was hugely busy as well. Hardly surprising, given that much of the show was devoted to a live broadcast from a stage that enabled the many onlookers a look at what was new, and how systems operated, from the many monitors. Manufacture of their HS60 started in Singapore in September, mainly for the China market, but otherwise all their machines are made in Bruchsal, Germany. Siemens strongly believe in integration with their customers, and have remote support for their systems wherever they may be. SiPlace machines are under continual improvement, with new machines coming fitted with interchangeable component cartridges. Susanne Oswald is never backwards in coming forwards with information, this time about their new SiPlace X-Series which offers a variety of concepts, standard lines, parallel lines, or variations thereof, incorporating a selection of line configurations and components. Software changeover can be done in less than 1min. Hardly a surprise again to discover that their market share has risen to 35 per cent this year, with Asia taking the major share (Plate 1).
Plate 1 The X-Series configuration can be adjusted to each user's specific requirements. For example, the IT industry frequently selects the combination of two Siplace X4 and one X3
Digitaltest had a fascinating machine running on their stand called the Condor MTS 500. They claim that it is the fastest and most accurate flying probe tester ever built, and when you found out how it is built then you can appreciate the clever thinking behind it. The probes are in fact held on an electromagnetic platform, and behind each head is a compressed air, such that an air bearing is formed, with the electromagnetic drive taking place above. The result is a no wear, no friction, no vibration, and thus a stable probe head as it contacts the component. 30 per cent faster, 25 per cent cheaper, it comes with integrated Boundary Scan, and a unique new “Soft Landing” tool. DigitalTest needs no introduction to the many famous names that form its customer base, but new customers will like the MTS500.
Talking about boundary scanning brings in JTAG Technologies whose Harry Bleeker explained how his company had now been able to design a communication system that allowed intelligent long-distance TAP connection. Normally boundary scan applications in production or service have needed to be located in close proximity to the target or unit under test. The new TapComminicatore overcomes all previous range limitations, and now permits gigabit Ethernet connection to anywhere in the world, at any time, through an Up Link and a DownLink module, and to up to five different locations at the same time. Remote test, globally.
A delightful family firm is Seica, whose Barbara Duvall showed us the most comprehensive range of test equipment, Founded 20 years ago, Seica specialise in functional testing. Doing extraordinarily well in China, they have one strong USP. They write their own software. Called Viva Integrated Programme (VIP) it controls all of their machines, which include Aerial MY, a flying probe tester for populated boards with OTPN (one touch per net), a horizontal flying probe tester for bare boards (S24BBT) which is fully automated and may be left to run overnight, with up to 100 different part numbers. For Europe, automation is important and for Europe there is now the S24BBT. They also have the new Firefly system, which is a selective laser based non-contact soldering system, and this meets a number of requirements. Their Pilot VIP Flying Probe tester comes complete with an automatic board magazine, and allows for a high degree automation. It is obvious that the Duvalls and their team at Strombino in Italy know the market and know what is wanted, and have a range of products to satisfy all aspects of functional test.
On the Speedline stand much was new to see. The Omniflex™ 10 Reflow Oven, boasting up to 50 per cent less power requirement, and perfect for lead-free solders; the new VectraElite Wave Soldering System, and their new XyflexPro+ dispensing equipment, operating at 30 per cent faster and with twice the accuracy, all formed part of an active stand.
Gunter Kurbis on the Finetech stand showed off his all lead-free capable flip- chip and die attach equipment, with an accuracy of ±0.5 μ, good for optoelectronics, also a rework solution for 01005 which is fully automatic for high volume work, with no human influence at all apart from loading. For repairs arising from component failure, assembly error, device revision and hardware updates, the Fineplacer®; Micro HVR (High Volume Rework) lead-free capable system has a placement accuracy of better than 10 μm accuracy, he claimed.
Speedprint's Andy Kellard was having a busy time with the launch of their new printer SPRINTavi, a 29' large area stencil printer coming in at an aggressive price of some £45,000. With their “look down look down” vision alignment technology, this machine allows for “paste on stencil” inspection, which is an obvious advantage. Options include 2D paste inspection, SPC data collection and three tooling options. Fine looking kit, too. They also sported their new Europlacer Flexis 10, a new platform hosting 120.8 mm tape feeders, capable of 10,000 placements/h. Speedprint was happily sponsoring the LeadOut programme running under the professional eye of Bob Willis, of SMART Group.
Bud Fabian at Everett Charles waxed eloquently about the ATG A6 flying probe tester which has a much increased speed over the A2 and A3 models. Sixteen probes, (eight upper and eight lower) running at 6-8 K tpm, the machine can be autoloaded, and has soft touch probes (1 g) which leave no probe marks, which can test thin boards, and which can test 30 μ pads. They are investigating 25 μ pads. They claim that it is the fastest and most accurate machine in the world.
Robert Black on the JUKI stand is not a man who thinks about China in dot.com terms. They ship about 100- 150 machines a month, and now have 350 lines in China. JUKI is a $1.2 billion traded company who started life making sewing machines, and have now have about 30 per cent of their business in the placement area. They claim to have pioneered modular machines, and in the next year will have two new models of their selective soldering machines available, 11 installed so far and by the time Apex come around that total will be nearer 30.
Machine Vision Products specialise in vision and process control systems. Their AutoInspector Ultra II is for wire bond inspection, and looks for wire trace conformity, bent wires, distance to adjacent wires, loop height, etc. through 3D inspection and colour cameras. They are now moving into the packaging inspection market, their dynamic process control system lends itself well to die placement.
Kyzen hail from the USA, where they have been successful with their range of aqueous cleaning materials. At the show they were launching their new Aquanox A4630, designed for lead-free materials, and effective on all no-clean materials as well, A4630 is user-friendly, environmentally benign, and yields nice shiny joints.
V J Electronix Inc. are also from across the pond, but they have now formed V.J. Europe. Doug Robinson told us about their X-ray inspection and rework equipment, their Summit 1800 Rework system, lead-free capable, has an increased 65mm alignment field of view, highly efficient heaters, rules- based auto-profiling, and allows the operator to see bumps, leads or pads of large devices at a high magnification (Plate 2). The X130D X-ray inspection machine is for failure analysis, and the X1550 is a fully-automated item aimed at the shop floor where a new user interface makes for a general-purpose inspection with automated analysis.
Plate 2 The Summit 1800 Rework system from V J Electronix Inc
Tamura H.A. Machine Inc. were introducing their new HC60-39NF wave soldering machine, which boats a stable wave form, giving better joints, reduced dross, and reduced corrosion of the solder pot thanks to a special coating; a system developed with Sony, so you can be assured of quality (Plate 3).
Plate 3 The HC60-39NF wave soldering machine
Hover-Davis call themselves the feeder company, which is quite apposite, as they make feeders for SMT and semi-conductor equipment. They supply tape feeders for the Siemens, Fiji and Panasonic placement machines, and John Hover and Peter Davis talked about the range of label feeders, die-feeding solutions for high- speed flip-chip application, as well as tray stacking feeders including waffle trays. The latter might have some application in journalism, too.
Kester are not unknown in the world of soldering, now they are repositioning themselves in the market with a new lead-free bar solder, a near-eutectic tin- copper alloy called Ultrapure K100 for low-cost wave-soldering. They are progressively moving to lead-free, saying that by July 2006 the industry will be between 50 and 60 per cent lead-free. K100 is a low-cost alternative to SAC 305, and its improved grain structure results in completely filled and shinier joints.
Kevin Buckner at Aqueous Technologies Corporation said that they have re-evaluated the way aqueous cleaning is done, with their “Focus- Wash” system, which has more nozzles operating at a narrower angle, giving higher impact pressure, with the board rack being oscillated at the same time. There is no cross-contamination as the wash and rinse tanks are separate. This is a company that has now arrived in Europe and we wish them well (Plate 4).
Plate 4 The “Focus-wash” system has more nozzles operating at a narrower
Surface Mount Technology, based in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, have been in the business since 1987, which is long enough to know what the industry wants. What they wanted, apparently, was the LFR400 Reflow oven designed especially to support lead-free soldering and is “bespoke” rather than just being “capable”. Boards as large at 1;500× 400 mm cane be handled, with a max. continuous reflow temperature of 270°C on a conveyor with a maximum speed of 675 mm/min. The extended pre-heat zone gives high aggregate energy input at low peak temperature. They also introduced visitors to their new SC2500 cleaning agent, a biodegradable cleaning solution for lead-free materials. A product, they say, that is formulated by engineers for engineers. SMT is a dynamic little company, already established in Eastern Europe, China and India, they are moving into SEA next year.
Exhibitors we spoke to were of one accord – this as positive and encouraging a Productronica that they could recall in recent times. The organisers said that there were “clear signs of an upswing in the global market” which is heart-warming for those who had had a torrid time of it over the last few years. The survivors were in Munich, as usual it was an excellent show, and as usual the organisation was flawless. Speaking as one for whom the sheer size of the show was symptomatic as an iceberg, and as one whose feet nearly wore out by day 3, maybe a Press facility located somewhere between Halls B3 and A2 would be more than welcome. There was much pleasure to be had from the visits we made, and much frustration to be had from those we were unable to. 2007? Bring it on.