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Manufacturing breakthroughs?



Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 3 September, 2003

I was recently approached by a leading industry consultancy group and was asked, ..."if there have been any major advances or developments in the field of electronics production, what are they?"

It got me to thinking, we've certainly witnessed some enormous changes in equipment offerings from vendors over the last 10-15 years or so when this was stll very much a through-hole society. In that time we've certainly seen more than a few "breakthrough" package styles make it out of the lab and onto our production floors... we've had to adapt with providing for new processes like BGA and for some, even flip-chip. But what about breakthroughs on the equipment side? What technology has become so essential that we just had to buy it or be left behind? What technology is uniquely our own and not a simple adaptation form other industries? (loosely alluding to the use of real-time x-ray which was, of course spun out of the medical industry)

For most I suspect that we've probably justified every expense carefully and only embraced emerging technology like x-ray and AOI once the guinea pigs proved it actually worked on the real production floor or our customers deemed it essential! ...but by-and-large SMT production is still as simple as print-place and reflow, inspect test and ship, isn't it?

I had to ask myself: Have there really been any "breakthroughs" in equipment or process and if so, where and which would be most significant?

So I throw this out to our all-knowing audience to stir some debate--- Two questions...

1.)Where have you observed the single greatest breakthrough occurring in our humble industry... and (to hopefully make this thread even more interesting)

2.) Where do you think the challenges still lie (mostly) un-addressed?

Are the promises for a brave new tomorrow where equipment and process automation evolves at the frenetic pace of the PC still way off in the distance or are we seeing technology that will help us meet the challenges of manufacturing tomorrow? Should we be grateful or angry with the way this indusrty has responded with process solutions to meet our modern needs? Your comments?

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Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 3 September, 2003


Process wise changing the alloy to lead-free

although it is not a "technology" it has broken down almost everybody

and sustained and survived some I guess

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Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 3 September, 2003

This one certainly came to my mind... No doubt this one will go on record as the single biggest technology change in our industry in a decade or more. In fact, have you read this article where Celestica repsonds to this as being a greater challenge than the transition from thru-hole to surface mount? I keep wondering, "what have they gotten us into?"≠ws_id=3503

Kris, Try as I might, I just can't think of this as technological breakthrough. Unless you count it as one for the environmentalists. Even so, one has to wonder about the use of bad science to support a change this far reaching. For many, I'm afraid that this change will be always be viewed as regressive, not progressive in nature.

Let's think about breakthroughs that have made our jobs easier not harder. Anyone else?

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Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 3 September, 2003

I think Equipment wise things have changed little. Xray and Endo scopes have seen usefulness with in industry and if you want to add Laser soldering...Well that is some of the new Capital Equipment.

Some areas that will grow over the course of some years is Mems, Nano, and Photonics....Although Photonics has taken a hard hit in the last two years.

Some other changes will occur in the materials side of things...Adhesives, Underfil, conductives,....and so on.

And one other I can think of is embedded component technology (oh Boy).

I think IPC's Road map of technology will help spell out some technology avenues.


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Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 3 September, 2003

From the equipment side in the last 10-15 years ?

I suppose the whole push toward modular machines. Less floor space, increased capability in a single platform - speed of a traditional chip shooter, common spares, blah blah blah.

Some of the recognition methods as well (laser advances)

Don't know if this stuff is considered earth shattering, however, it has guided recent offerings from equipment manufacturers in the HMLV era.

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Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 3 September, 2003

Major advance: Productionization of SMT.

Minor advances: * Realization and control of solder paste characteristics * Vision alignment controls in printers. * Evolution from mechanical centering [through laser alignment controls] to vision alignment controls in placement machines. * De-emphasis of IR and vapor phase reflow. * Largely eliminating the use of freon [and the like] in cleaning boards. And it�s corollary, realization of low residue fluxes in soldering. * Dissemination of knowledge through SMTA, conference training, trade journals, internet message boards, and the like.

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Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 4 September, 2003

With so much Miniaturisation over the last ten years,one kind of non-stop breakthough will be the size of components placed so accuratly and in such large volumes. And the ongoing problems arising from everything getting smaller.

What about Tracebillity does this count as a breakthrough?

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Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 9 September, 2003

everyone made good observations in the arena of improvements.

being rather pessimistic today, I'd like to say the one core area of little (if none at all) improvement is the over-reliance of human (aid/non-aid) inspection of SMT output soldering defects.

It seems machine-based inspection equipment (eg. AOI) still has the limitations to filter out SMT soldering defects, despite the advances and hype over IT era.

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Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 12 September, 2003

In my humble opinion:

1. Use of computers and software to support cad programming and industrial automation. 15 years ago I was making programs with a pair of calipers and a swing arm digitizer. Now in a few hours an entire line (2 P&P machines, printer, AOI and build sheet documentation) can be complete.

2. Self correcting industrial automation. Machine inspects its own work and creates corrective action AUTOMATICALLY.

3. Thermal profiling software. Lets face it most of us would rather go to the dentist than have to do a thermal profile. Automation additions to software have signifficantly reduced the time to complete a profile and increased the accuracy.

4. BGA rework centers. Again software and hardware marriage have produced some fantastic integrated rework centers.

5. Lead free solders on ECA's.

This question can be misleading. I place a different emphasis on say Lead-free solder than you might. Especially, if I am a consumer products manufacturer. Those that do medical probably don't care about LF issues at all (lucky bastards!). Make sense? The answers you get may lie along target markets.

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Dominador Sagun


Manufacturing breakthroughs? | 12 September, 2003

Amen to #1

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