The emphasis on fabrication lessens by the year at Productronica. Fifteen years ago, the fab side occupied more than two full halls at the Munich trade show. This year, there were perhaps fewer than 40 standalone exhibiting companies, even including some vendors that piled into their local distributors’ booths. The big Japanese and Taiwanese players were not present. Insofar as fabrication is concerned, Productronica has turned into a regional show.

And no wonder. Most of the equipment and materials shown have been around for some time. On a happy note, many of the machines bore SOLD signs, and talk in the booths rarely returned to economic concerns.

Perhaps the largest single company booth belonged to Orbotech. Among the many systems shown was the new Ultra Dimension PCB AOI, which integrates leading pattern inspection, laser via inspection, remote multi-image verification (RMIV) and 2D metrology. It uses varied light settings and three different types of images to improve detection capabilities, reduce false alarms and decrease inspection setup time. It is also said to eliminate the need to use inspection masks. The system automatically measures both top and bottom conductor widths for lines and pads of a wide variety of shapes, enabling higher accuracy and impedance control necessary for SLP/mSAP, as well as advanced HDI applications.

LPKF promoted its ProtoLaser R, which was actually released in late 2016 but not promoted since. The ultra-short pulse (USP) laser-based machine has a laser diameter of 15µm and performs cold ablation on materials as thin as 0.2mm. It also had the MicroLine 5000 and the MicroLine 2820P, a pair of depaneling systems introduced at IPC Apex in February.

Schmid demonstrated its new InfinityLine V+ develop/etch/strip line for contact-free vertical processing of thin PCBs. It uses transport clamping frames for secure, contact-free transport at up to four panels per minute. The system reportedly reduces chemical drag-in and drag-out, is compliant with energy efficiency standards, and offers low wear and longer service. A new drive system prevents deposition of particles on the product.

Yamuchi showed the YOM series of press pad coverlays for solder mask. The reusable pads consist of a glass cloth injected with a high-temperature-resistant rubber. The encapsulated air adds sponginess to the otherwise rigid material. The YOM-Flex version handles up to 70 cycles before replacement.

The Hakuto Mach 630NP dry-film automated cut-sheet laminator received a facelift in the past year. The lamination roll now can be easily exchanged in a short (roughly 5 minute) cycle. Pressurization uniformity has been improved as well.

Another Hakuto product on display, albeit under the Advanced Engineering nameplate, was a fully automatic high-volume direct imager, the HAP8210A. Powered by four multi-wavelength long-life LEDs (365, 380, 395 and 405nm), it comes with four, six or eight heads. It images line and spaces down to 25μm, with a registration accuracy of 15μm, and repeatability of registration of 10μm @ 3 Sigma. The reported throughput is up to 200 double-sided panels/hr.

Kuttler’s P650 peeler has a novel coating of the sword and improved ionization. Servomotors now run the drives, and the extraction roller has a constant torque. The software and control system have been fully redesigned by Kuttler as well. The Agiline robotic handler is ESD-proof thanks to a carbide material. It can be configured for horizontal or vertical processing.

Visper out of Japan had the Visper 7 series automatic double-sided inspection machine. The system combines double-sided simultaneous imaging and vertical transport. Resolution is reportedly down to 18µm for a 2" x 2" to 9.875" to 14.125" board. The Visper 8 has similar capability for horizontally processing flex boards.

Risho had the AD-7208 aluminum-based copper-clad laminate PCB material and CD-7208 resin-coated copper foil, both with a special resin with a thermal conductivity of 8W/mK. Designed for high-power LEDs and power modules, they feature a Tg of 270°C (DMA), and CTEs of 9 and 22 ppm/°C, respectively.

From Hong Kong, the Boffotto P15V plasma processing system performs surface cleaning for drilled and routed printed circuit and HDI boards, and surface roughening and cleaning.

Limata showed the X2000 and X3000 LDI, which made their debuts last year. Designed for high-volume laser-direct imaging of outer- and innerlayers and solder mask layers, the X3000 is capable of 2 mil lines and spaces, handles imaging sizes up to 96" x 48", and has an optional vision system. A “double-drawer” system speeds throughput.

Firms like Microline and CLTech (the ex Circuit Line e Mania Tecnologie Italia) had their electrical testers present. They are newer models, but not new. Likewise, PrintProcess, Manz, Lenz, Schmoll, Wise and others displayed mature machines. Cemco, for instance, had its Hole Blaster, which uses air knives to remove debris from holes and board surfaces. The machine debuted at least five years ago, however.

Unlike in the assembly halls, fab OEMs have not aggressively implemented robots. Most of those that did have robots on display also had them at the 2015 show. That said, watching Pola e Massa’s PeM Heron 5 series loading boards is always neat. Same goes for the Kuttler Agiline.

Check out our Twitter feed at for photos of many of the fabrication products.

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