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On the show floor at IPC Printed Circuits Expo/APEX/Designers Summit, the more than 400 exhibitors provided product information, process knowledge, and interactive tools to a constant flow of attendees. “Sold To?” signs abounded at equipment providers’ booths by the end of the show, with many partnerships and leads in the works.
Assembléon America Inc. sold six machines off the show floor and secured a significant order from Mara Technologies in Canada for their new factory, said Leo van de Vall, president and CEO. The company performed live demos of AX-501 and AX-201 systems, the enhanced multi-functional MG-1R and MG-8R machines, the MG-3 high-speed chipshooter, and the cost-effective Opal-XII. AOI provider Mirtec echoed this sentiment, selling their AOI systems with integrated laser measurement right at the show.
ACE Production Technologies was one of many exhibitors placing “Sold To?” signs on machines. This KISS series of selective soldering machines generated a lot of interest during APEX, said Alan Cable, principal owner, ACE.
Samsung/Dynatech brought out a complete SM series SMT manufacturing line that included the SMP400 screen printer, SM411 dynamic chip shooter, SM421 advanced flexible mounter, and SRF7082 reflow oven. The line can be configured with Samsung SM IT feeder systems for lot and inventory management and tracking. Mike Foster, GM, Dynatech Technology, led attendees from start to finish, including systems that can be retrofitted with a flux dipping module for package-on-package (PoP). Packaging’s influence on SMT manufacturing continued to be a trend at this show, as it was in 2007.
James Mairs, technical solutions manager, CeTAQ Americas, explains the benefits of CeTaQ’s machine calibration systems.
Also debuting new technology in the pick-and-place arena, MYDATA introduced the MY100Series, which representatives say delivers 70% more throughput and other enhancements. The machine is designed for a 24/7 production environment: higher speeds, feeder capacity, accuracy, and reliability, along with flexibility.
Plasma Etch Inc. found that their MK-II etch back/desmear/PCB treatment systems were being hollowed out and counterfeited in the Asia market, and decided to act. The company debuted an authentic, scaled-down version of the MK-II – the Advantage 16e – to price-conscious reps of Asian-based PCB manufacturers at APEX.
Reflow, wave, and selective soldering systems were demonstrated at many booths. BTU International released the Pyramax 75A, with 75" heated length and six zones rather than five. It hits a 350Â°C maximum temperature while maintaining low power consumption. Vitronics Soltec filled its booth area with a comprehensive area of wave, selective, and reflow machines, including the updated XPM2+ reflow system.
Complementing its spray fluxing product displays and live demo, Sono-Tek also proudly exhibited a recent customer testimonial, which stated that, “Controlling the precise amount of flux has led to little no-clean residue and drastically reduced flux consumption from 30 gallons a month to a mere 5 gallons. Maintenance has been reduced from 35 minutes a day to 10 minutes a week, further reducing the cost of operation...”
Materials providers had a great presence at the show. Henkel discussed underfills and related materials, releasing the Loctite 5210 edge-dispensed silicone for harsh environments, and the FF6000 reflow-cured encapsulant flux for flip chip, wafer-level chipscale packages (WLCSPs), and PoP. “FF” stands for flux flip. Solder materials were a big story, both lead-free and tin/lead; paste, wire, bar, and sphere. FCT Solder made this clear, highlighting its SN100C products developed with alloy-founder Nihon Superior. FCT has taken the tin/copper/nickel/germanium alloy and created bar, paste, flux, and wire products for its lead-free customers. Even RoHS-exempt electronics providers can eliminate lead with XF3 solder paste, which performs with legacy fluxes, noted Stan Renals, operating director and COO of Cobar, a Balver Zinn company, which supplies XF3 along with SN100C. The discussion moved to environmental impact with almost every exhibitor at the show. Kester’s Tony Longo, global product manager, pointed out the various environmentally conscious aspects of the Enviromark series: water solubility for cleaning, halogen-free, low-VOC, etc.
Another major trend at the show was upgradeability in equipment, which allows users to update systems over time, in the field, and in response to their customers’ needs. “Upgradeability is driving the U.S. market,” said Jon Dupree of YXLON. System software needs to be backward-compatible across machine generations, agreed Chris Rockwell, director of sales, Americas, for CyberOptics. Alan Lewis at Asymtek, Chris Wilde at Speedline Technologies, and others commented on modularity and upgrade paths for our SMT WEEK e-newsletter from the show. Read the story, “Modules Featured at APEX,” at smtonline.com.
“This is a very good show,” summarized Bob Black, president and CEO, Juki Automation Systems. “Las Vegas brought great attendance – busier than we’ve seen in the previous two years.” Technical sessions saw increased attendance over last year’s show as well, with 2,773 educational program attendees. Meeting attendance and quality rose 40?50% for 2008, said Dewey Whittaker, Honeywell Aerospace, who attended technical programs each of the five days.
Keynote speaker Rodney Brooks, Ph.D., director of M.I.T.’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, spoke about artificial intelligence. “He was both playfully entertaining and thought provoking,” commented Joe Fjelstad of Verdant Electronics. Touted as one the world’s most important figures in the realm of robotics, Brooks provided some historical background as well as the current and future goals and objectives for artificial intelligence, mostly by way of example. He pointed out that the number of robots in use is much higher than people normally think. From his presentation, it was clear that robots are not only here, but their numbers and applications will be expanding.
Next year, IPC will return to the Manadalay Bay in Las Vegas, March 29 to April 2, 2009.