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Electronics Production | November 08, 2005

EIPC/IPC TMRC autumn<br>conference Berlin

Paul Waldner, EIPC Chairman, welcomed the many delegates to Berlin, and paid tribute to those pulchritudinous professionals, Kirsten &amp; Sonja, for yet another classic event.
Day 1
Paul introduced the delegates to Frank Smulders, who has joined the EIPC as their new MD. Frank is a familiar face in the European PCB industry having until recently been the MD at Viasystems in Echt, The Netherlands. Sharon Starr, Director of Market Research at IPC, opened the proceedings of the TMRC conference by introducing the Keynote Speaker Peter Meyer, who as VP Purchasing Automotive Electronics, is the man managing the global automotive electronics supply chain for Robert Bosch GmbH. Peter Meyer explained that 25.3% of group sales are in the automotive sector, 27% is in Europe, and R&D expenditure is 7.2% of sales. But Bosch is not growing in Europe; they are growing in the USA and in Asia, where they enjoy rugged momentum. Whilst they have very strong suppliers in Europe, they could not supply Bosch in the other theatres, where Bosch want local content as 40% minimum. Walt Custer had ridden into town, and hitched his saddlebag of information to the podium. From it he withdrew his usual plethora of pictures, in fact everything you need to know about any sector you may be involved with unless you happen to be in shipbuilding.

Nozumo Takano of Hitachi Chemical Co. in Japan came to tell us all about a new substrate called TC
Cute. This is a bendable substrate, made from ultra thin glass fabric, with a very low profile copper foil. Dr. Jean-Marc Sénécot works for Hexcel Reinforcements in France, and in a dry technical paper, he talked about the basic aspects of wet ability, and why wet ability is important. Jim Francey is the Technical Service Manager for Taconic International Ltd., based in Ireland, and they have produced a new low-loss laser abatable substrate that is based on a non woven based dielectric PTFE with loaded copper foil on a metal base plate, and is good for CO2 technology.
Toshihisa Kumakura was another Hitachi Chemical Co. man, he shared with us his knowledge on a
profile-free copper foil, and there was absolutely no doubt about it. Dr Hans Bell knows all about vacuum condensation soldering, which is used to give void-free and lead-free solder joints. Rehm Anlagenbau GmbH has developed The Condenso Principle which is a controllable reflow profile by liquid injection, which provides an inert soldering atmosphere, can limit the maximum temperatures and has a controllable vacuum process. Wolfgang from Autosplice in Germany presented a paper on solder ball pin technology. Solderball pins are used in double-sided surface mount technology, and they are now able to tolerate the high reflow temperatures demanded by new Pb-free processes. Tony Hilvers, who is a Director of IPC and Vice-President of Industry Programmes at IPC. He talked about lead-free soldering, a subject close to his heart and upon which he is singularly well-informed. Henry Utsunomiya. Henry gave the delegates a fully comprehensive overview of the state of the Japanese PCB industry, gave an introduction to the Jisso Technology Roadmap, the PCB technology Roadmap, and highlighted some of the difficult challenges that lie ahead.

Day 2 –
Jack Calderon, Board Member of IPC and Chairman of the IPC TMRC Group chaired the morning
session. Jack has travelled extensively in the Far East, including China, so who better to introduce us to David Everhart of Ionis International, who came along to talk about China. Paul Murphy is from CTS, a mid-sized EMS company based in Scotland. How did they take on the Chinese head-on? China is seen as being cheap and dirty, but that is not the case anymore, right, which products fit China and which products do not. Steffen Wachtel is the sales director of Schweizer Electronic AG in Germany, and he explained how his company is positioning itself in Europe. It was the fire that they had this year that helped catalyse their thinking. The changing world PCB markets has meant a drift of manufacture to Asia, and the number of PCB manufacturers in Europe decreasing from 622 in 1998 to , only by extrapolation, around 100 by 2010. Paul Waldner chaired the ultimate session, and introduced Barry Ben-Ezra, of Orbotech, who sees printed electronics not so much of a threat but more as an opportunity. Early days yet, but this is a wake-up call to the PCB industry to get involved. Products will not be based on silicone, but will be sensitive to light, temperature, humidity, pressure, they will store and change and display information, and wirelessly communicate. Steve Jones was in Las Vegas, so Neil Chilton from Circatex came to join the party, and spoke as a
survivor. Do we need a disruptive technology now? Yes - we have to innovate to stay ahead,
innovation should always be part of our core strategy, Some realities have to be faced, high volume is irrevocably lost in Europe, and technology is rapidly moving to low cost countries; quality is no problem wherever it is made. Terry Nicklin is the OLED man from Cambridge Display Technology, based in Cambridge, UK. OLED? Organic Light Emitting Diode. OLEDs offer higher contrast, a wider viewing angle, more vivid colours, a thinner format, very fast video rate, and low power consumption.

To conclude:
The first EIPC/IPC TMRC Conference finished on a high note, and those who only made it for Day 1
missed out on the best bit – Day 2. Not that Day 1 was inapplicable, but Day 2 had all the excitement, and it was fascinating to hear from Barry Ben-Ezra of the massive amount of interest in, commitment to, and application of, printed electronics. Happily the PCB is not redundant yet, but one can quite see how the changes in the design of electronic equipment to incorporate the cheap circuitry afforded by the printing technique could alter things quite radically.

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