A two-day trade show was held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on May 3,2017. The exhibition featured the following events: MD&M Event, PLASTEC NEW ENGLAND, Design & Manufacturing NEW ENGLAND and Embedded System Conference (ESC). The exhibition was very compacted. More than 400 companies used only 10% of the venue because most of the exhibitors showcased their products in smaller-sized booths.
The concept behind the show is to feature manufacturers and their processing technologies in the medical device industry. New England is considered one of the best regions in the country for medical care. The companies that participated in the trade show were affiliated with medical components manufacturing. There was an array of manufacturers, except those who produced raw materials and standard components necessary to build medical devices. They featured designs for devices and equipment, plastics molding, etching for circuit boards and metallic components, laser processing for all kinds materials, printing for functional circuits, surface treatment and plating for plastics, adhesion and laminations of different materials, assembling of wire harness, EMS, tests and analysis. The companies in the exhibition provided cutting edge technologies.
The show has evolved over the last few years. There were many circuit board manufacturers in the past, but the number of multilayer board manufacturers dwindled this year. More than 10 flex circuit manufacturers were present, and they displayed several specific flex circuits for smart watches and wearable devices. These new devices have consumer multilayer rigid-flex circuits that are very different from typical rigid-flex applied to aerospace devices. They look fragile because of their thin and narrow frame design used in small and lightweight devices. The manufacturing reps assured everyone that their products are reliable in spite of the fragile appearance.
The companies that were headquartered in New England were mostly small companies, however, on a global level, their technologies are cutting edge. The two companies in particular are TechEtch in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and PhotoMachining from Pelham, NH. TechEtch provides the finest etching capabilities for various materials using both of metals and polyimide films. It can generate finer patterns than 50 microns for flex circuits and metallic components. PhotoMachining developed various laser cutting systems for all kinds of solid materials, and they can drill 2-micron diameter holes on polyimide films. The company provides not only laser processing service, but also laser processing equipment.
Although Boston is home of some of the finest hospitals in the world, many of the manufacturers at the show are headquartered outside of New England. Most of the flex circuit manufacturers were in the Midwest and West Coast. These companies do not have large manufacturing capabilities, and outsource their manufacturing to contractors in Asia. This aside, the quality of health care in the Boston area is second to none. For this reason, hospitals and medical device companies throughout this area will remain on top for their leading-edge capabilities.
Headlines of the Week
1. AIST (Major R&D organization in Japan) 4/14
Has co-developed an yttrium base superconductor with the largest current density in the magnetic field.
2. Murata (Major component supplier) 4/13
Has co-developed a new compact lightweight system of hybrid of photovoltaic cell and lithium ion battery with Nagase for smart homes.
3. Alps Electric (Major electronic device manufacturer in Japan) 4/17
Has decided to build a new building with 37,000 square meter floor space in Miyagi Prefecture for the next generation IoT business. Total employees will be over 2,000.
4. Mitsubishi Materials (Major material company in Japan) 4/18
Has commercialized a new functional coating technology of fluorinated compounds with an electrolysis process electronic products.
5. DNP (Major printing company in Japan) 4/18
Has co-developed new e-paper display operated by photovoltaic cell in room conditions with Sekisui Chemical for electronic signage.
6. Hitachi High Technologies (Major equipment manufacturer in Japan) 4/20
Will roll out a new hybrid ion mill system “ArBrade 5000” with high throughput for analytical process of electronic materials.
7. NEDO (Major R&D organization in Japan) 4/21
Has started a new R&D project for the manufacturing process of the bio base fuels used in jet propelled airplanes.
8. Fujitsu (Major electronics company in Japan) 4/24
Has developed a new circuit technology that makes power efficiency higher for the hard wears of the Deep Learning system.
9. OMRON (Major device manufacturer in Japan) 4/25
Has developed a new programmable logic controller with AI algorithm for the manufacturing plant. It detects irregularities in the process effectively.
10. Murata (Major component supplier in Japan) 4/25
Has started the volume production of the new small size Wi-Fi RF sub module for smart phones introducing multilayer ceramic technologies.
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