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Aculon Inc. commercializes unique surface coatings leveraging nanotechnology and other surface modification techniques. The company’s original focus was the optical industry, developing treatments of prescription eyewear, sunglasses and other optics. In 2010, the company launched its electronics business, and since then has been one of the leading providers of nanocoating for stencils. Since 2012, Aculon has been a supplier of nanocoating to protect printed circuits from waterproofing. In 2015,thecompany launched its our own series of Aculon branded products called NanoProof.Inaninterviewwith SMT007 Magazine, Aculon Chairman and CEO Edward Hughes speaks about addressing their customers’ challenges and ensuring customer satisfaction.
Stephen Las Marias: What challenges are your customers facing?
Edward Hughes:In electronics, we have two core products—NanoClear for stencils and Nano-Proof for PCB waterproofing. The challenges for stencil producers are both cost and complexity. There is tremendous cost pressure to reduce stenci costs at the same time as complexity increases as apertures become smaller due to miniaturization. For PCBs, waterproofing is a huge issue not just for mobile phones but also other premium electronics. NanoProof allows customers to waterproof their device in a cost effective, easy to apply manner without costly vacuum equipment.
For NanoClear, we added repellency functionality to stencils that paybacksin hard savings in generally less than 200 prints. As a result, our customers enjoy dramatic improvements in first pass yieldandlowerconsumables costs for an investment of less than $50 per stencil. For NanoProof, we are providing a more effective waterproofing solution up to and including IPX-7 that is both cost effective and easier to apply than alternative conformal coatings or vacuum deposition processes.
Las Marias: What are the major drivers for growth for your company?
Hughes: We have terrific penetration of the stencil market with our NanoClear products in the United States. For NanoClear, most of the growth is coming from Europe and Asia. For NanoProof, the growth is all coming from OEMs wanting to waterproof their devices. 2018 is going to be the year when most premium electronics offer some form of waterproofing and traditional solutions such as conformal coatings do not cut it.
Las Marias: What trends do you see as you look out at the electronics manufacturing industry?
Hughes: Increased complexity and functionality of PCB design. Both trends mean that the use of nanocoating with stencils or PCBs is going to be more prevalent.
Las Marias: What percentage of your customers do you work closely with from design to assembly?
Hughes: Very few. Most customers come to us as either the stencil does not print well and they need a nanocoating, or the marketing team has decided they need waterproofing for the device and the engineering team has been tasked with making something work without changing the design.
Las Marias: What is your customer satisfaction goal?
Hughes: Very high. Once we get spec’d into a product, we stay with the product for years.
To read the full version of this interview which appeared in the February 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.