Features

Shipments from the printed circuit industry can arguably be considered a barometer for the global electronics market.

With that said, PCB shipments for December are a little cloudy and complicated; further explanations follows. Total revenue from Taiwanese PCB manufacturers in December 2019 was NT$56.28 billion ($1.87 billion), an 8.24% decrease from the previous month and a 15.74% increase from the same time in the previous year. Now, we can review the annual performance of the year. Total revenue for 2019 was NT$639.2 billion ($21.2 billion), a 1.48% increase from the previous year. Rigid circuits grew by 1.99% with mild fluctuations throughout the year. The Flex circuits segment posted negligible growth at 0.15% while experiencing wild fluctuations in demand throughout the year.

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In the wake of pandemics and travel bans, visitors still turned out for the annual exhibition.

Heading into IPC Apex Expo the first week of February, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The overall market appears to be slowing somewhat. Many EMS companies have reported lower sales for the past quarter. US presidential elections often seem to dampen electronics orders, at least until November, even though a review of the overall GDP disputes any such letup. And fears of the coronavirus in China have clearly spooked the industry, as some firms have reduced or banned employee travel for the time being.

But once the show started, many of those concerns abated. Floor traffic was up and down through the first two days, before grinding to a near halt per usual on the third and final day of the show. Exhibitors took note, reporting mixed reviews of the attendance. But when it was busy, it was really busy. It’s hard to say whether the postponement of overseas shows such as Nepcon China and the International Electronic Circuits (Shanghai) Exhibition (better known as the CPCA Show) boosted attendance an ocean away in San Diego, but it probably didn’t hurt. (As of this writing, IPC has not released official attendance figures.)

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New hole formation technologies and low-cost low-loss materials are needed.

Ed.: This is the fourth of an occasional series by the authors of the 2019 iNEMI Roadmap. This information is excerpted from the roadmap, available from iNEMI (inemi.org/2019-roadmap-overview).

iNEMI’s Organic PCB Roadmap summarizes the technology needs for rigid PCB, flexible circuits and optical circuits, and it includes the gaps and challenges that need to be addressed to meet the expectations of the key product groups that are driving industry demands. Successfully meeting these challenges will provide significant business opportunities for PCB fabricators.

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A review of tracking methodology choices to address challenges of environmental factors such as light and the prerequisite of fixed visual features.

The future of manufacturing will include elements of augmented reality (AR). As Pokémon GO and Ikea Place apps continue to drive awareness for AR, technology companies continue to develop solutions to solve key productivity, quality and efficiency challenges using AR. Manufacturers are looking for innovative ways to solve problems, and AR may be the key. According to an article by Cognizant, innovative companies such as Ikea, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Lego, and 10% of Fortune 500 companies have begun exploring augmented reality applications.1 In addition, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 20% of large enterprises will evaluate and adopt augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality solutions as part of their digital transformation strategy.2,3

Augmented reality has been around for some time. However, the crossroads of visual processing power, data processing capabilities and compute power have suddenly made any mixed reality solution viable.

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A look back at friends and colleagues who left us in 2019.

Joseph Boyd, 98, CEO, Harris Corp.

Gary Burrell, 81, cofounder, Garmin.

Dominick Frank Canace, 87, electromechanical and PCB printed circuit designer with several companies including Tyco Electronics.

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AI and machine learning will shape the coming era of electronics manufacturing.

Ed.: This is the third of an occasional series by the authors of the 2019 iNEMI Roadmap. This information is excerpted from the Smart Manufacturing chapter of the roadmap, available from iNEMI (inemi.org/2019-roadmap-overview).

Smart manufacturing is considered a “journey” that will require hyper-focus to ensure the appropriate technology foundation is established. Several enabling “horizontal” technologies (digital building blocks, data flow, security) are considered the most important to build a strong, agile, and scalable foundation. This article presents digital building blocks, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools, and digital twins.

Advancements in the development of digital building blocks (interconnected digital technologies) are providing digitization, integration and automation opportunities to realize smart manufacturing benefits. These building blocks will enable electronics manufacturing companies to stay relevant as the era of the digitally connected smart infrastructure is developed and deployed.

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