The Time Has Come for Jet Printing

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At the recent NEPCON South China 2016 trade show in Shenzhen, I spoke with Thomas Bredin, area sales manager at Mycronic, about the latest developments in jet printing technology, and their recent acquisition of Shenzhen Axxon Automation Co. Ltd—one of the leading providers of dispensing equipment for the electronics manufacturing and SMT industry in China.

Stephen Las Marias: So far, Thomas, how has business been for Mycronic this year?

Thomas Bredin: From a global perspective, it's been up to our expectations. Here in China, we have seen a better performance than last year, but of course, expectation was also higher. Even here, we are on track with our forecast and we see a lot of interest with the jet printers. Hopefully we should be able to over-shoot expectations this year.

Las Marias: What are the challenges you're seeing?

Bredin: Of course, not being one of the big players, it's still a matter of awareness. Get our technology well understood, especially with the jet printer. Pick-and-place is fairly easy, but the jet printer part, we still have a lot of marketing and transferring of the machine's capabilities to make sure that everyone knows what the machine can do and really understands the differences between this touchless printing technology compared to traditional screen printing or dispensing.

Also now we have this dispenser add-on to the MY600 open up to even more opportunities, and that, of course, for us is also a challenge to also to reach out with this message, that the jet printer is not only a solder-based printer but also a jet dispenser. That's why we're adding the second head.

Las Marias: Are you seeing a higher level of interest for this technology?

Bredin: Absolutely. It can be utilized in so many different ways. If, for technology reasons, there are volume variances needs within the board, then it is an obvious choice, but we see more and more interest in the add-on area, where stencils have to become thinner and thinner, but there is still a corner on the board where you need more volume than what you get from the thin sensors. Actually, during these first two days of exhibition, we have had a lot of interest and a lot of requests. Because it seems like people or potential customers are becoming aware of this possibility to do the second-phase process step to make sure that they get lots of speed, but with adding on the jet printer, you also will get the ease and the quality of the board.

Las Marias: Especially now that the trend is for smaller, more compact, high-density boards or devices, right?

Bredin: Absolutely. Even the small hand-held, let's say, cell phone boards, they need these RF ICs. Even within those very dense boards with small components, on a few of the parts you still need a lot more volume than what you can achieve, typically, with a screen printer, within the same print cycle. I would say we're fortunate in that. Also, some local big players in the smartphone segment are also investigating how they can utilize this jet printing technology.

Las Marias: How is the China market for Mycronic, in general?

Bredin: It is the market where Mycronic is growing the most. We have been active in North America and Europe for a very long time, and those markets are a bit more stable. From our perspective, China is where we can really see a huge growth in the future with both our current portfolio machines, what we have, and what is also being developed, in order to meet the demands from the Chinese consumer electronics producers, where we historically have not been a big player. We have things in the roadmap that are trying to get that changed.

Las Marias: Recently, Mycronic acquired Shenzhen Axxon. What do you think is the rationale behind this acquisition?

Bredin: The rationale is that it's a very good and a local dispensing company, which has a very interesting product portfolio that compliments what Mycronic already has. They also have a very strong presence in China, where we can also learn from each other and utilize the synergies between these two companies who have huge potential, both to help Axxon grow in their segment, but obviously also for Mycronic to have an even stronger local presence in China.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the December 2016 issue of SMT Magazine, click here.



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