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IPC Printed Circuits Expo APEX

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Standards, Business and Professional Development Boost Industry Spirit and Progress at

Roland Girouard, SMTnetcom Editor

An emerging theme from the recent IPC APEX EXPO can be easily stated with one word: change. The world is changing. The economy is changing. Our industry is changing. However, one thing remains constant: IPC APEX EXPO is considered the premier technical conference and exhibition for printed circuit boards, design, electronics manufacturing and test in North America.

The event, held March 29 to April 2 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Convention Center in Las Vegas, offered a myriad of opportunities for learning and business development.

6,077 attendee and exhibitor individuals from 42 countries gathered to take advantage of educational sessions, standards committee meetings and business development activities on and off the exhibit floor. "This is a very exciting time," said David Buhrkuhl, president of SPEA America. Though these are not words often heard these days, Buhrkuhl added that new technologies are driving the industry and opportunities still exist. "It was our best show in the 10 years of SPEA America. We were constantly busy with customers on the show floor. Now that APEX EXPO is over, we have much work to do."

Change � The new industry buzzword?

At his Tuesday morning keynote presentation, Ray Kurzweil, author, entrepreneur and futurist, set the focus on change, talking about the exponential rate of change the industry is experiencing. He challenged everyone to keep that in mind as they move forward, ever adapting and innovating.

During the IPC Technology Roadmap session, presenter Joe Fjelstad's message echoed Kurzweil's: Change is inevitable. "We're all headed somewhere. It's kind of nice to know where that is," said Fjelstad, founder of Verdant Electronics and co-founder of SiliconPipe. The four-person panel � Jack Fisher, Principal, Interconnect Technology Analysis, Inc.; Dieter Bergman, IPC director of technology transfer; Denny Fritz, technology consultant, MacDermid, Inc.; and Fjelstad � talked about how the 2008-2009 IPC Technology Roadmap looks beyond the horizon. It's a "definition of needs" that allows electronics industry companies to anticipate new and evolving technologies.

Industry members, especially OEMs, can use the roadmap to find new approaches that will overcome today's limits and meet future needs. Fjelstad mentioned several unique interconnect methods, specifically screen, offset and inkjet printing, as well as solderless and optical technologies, that are allowing the industry to "jump the interconnection gap."

Just as technologies are changing, environmental, health and safety issues IPC members face are changing, too. At the Environmental Laws and Regulations forum, moderated by Fern Abrams, IPC director of government relations and environmental policy, the panel discussed new and emerging EHS issues. Mike Hutchings, Sun Microsystem, explained how energy efficiency and total energy use will become more important (and will have more of an impact on IPC member companies) as energy regulations are implemented globally. IPC EHS Committee Cice Chairman, Kelly White, Jabil Circuit, discussed the growing emphasis on corporate social responsibility. And IPC EHS Committee Chair Lee Wilmot TTM Technologies, illustrated the increasing impact of customer expectations on supply chain relationships.

As all facets of the industry change, the electronics manufacturing supply chain must, as Fjelstad said, "Open ourselves to ideas beyond what we're doing presently."

Keeping supply chain relationships strong

IPC hosted its first ever OEM Summit during APEX EXPO and one message resonated the loudest: The supply chain must work together to meet everyone's goals. Summit topics varied from halogen-free to quality management to material reliability. Panelists included Martin Rausch, Intel; Kitty Pearsall, IBM; and Michael Roesch, Hewlett-Packard. Summit attendees left the session with the following takeways:

  • Each participant in the supply chain has very different interests. Acknowledge the interests of your supply chain before starting a relationship, then set expectations.
  • Environmental issues such as the transition to halogen-free put pressure on the supply chain. Industry should work together to: Identify technology readiness, supply chain capability, as well as the reliability characteristics for Brominated Flame Retardant- (BFR) free alternatives, and define the technical limits for all BFR-free materials across all market segments.
  • OEMs need to influence industry standards; standards must be enforced throughout the entire supply chain, and standards should evolve along as technology changes.
  • In today's environment, there are many qualified suppliers. Engage with your OEMs, show them your strengths, produce reliable and quality work and become or remain an actual supplier.

Technical conference sessions and professional develoment courses help increase industry IQ

A who's who lineup of the major players in the electronics interconnet industy descended upon Vegas for the technical conference and professional development courses. Attendees were privy to the latest in advanced technologies; design; eco-compliance; lead free technologies; materials; process improvements; solder joint reliability; and more. New technical conference sessions this year included a focus on moisture sensitivity, high temperature processing, die attach, and electronics and the environment. That was in addition to the annual focus on the key areas of soldering, advanced packaging, materials and reliability. Of the 3,350 verified attendees, 629 attended conference sessions and 778 attended 41 full- and half-day educational courses. Committee meetings were exceptionally well attended and participants reported great progress on many documents. The exhibitor base included 380 exhibiting companies, representing leading suppliers and many other valued participants in the industry supply chain.

"In these tough economic times, the quality and reliability of PCBs and assemblies can have an immediate impact on a company's profitability," said Dr. Greg Munie, IPC technical conference director. "We set firm goals to put together technical conference sessions and professional development courses that offered companies tangible information on issues critical to their success."

Proving the importance of networking

Tim Kardish, CEO, APS Novastar said his staff is currently busy following up on "high-quality customer inquiries." He added, "IPC effectively matched workshop and conference content to attendee needs for these challenging times. We look forward to participating in 2010."

Summing up, Tom Fosyth, vice president, Kyzon said, APEX 2009 was a much better event for our company than we expected. Our numbers were very good, actually better than previous years. Also, there was a near absence of etire kickers' everyone was on a mission � and needed to bring home answers. Well, they got them."

Related Press Release

Standards Development, Business Development and Professional Development at IPC APEX EXPO Boost Industry Spirit and Progress

Apex 2009 Awards - Press releases

IPC Honors Best Papers at IPC APEX EXPO� 2009

Volunteers Honored for Contributions to IPC and Electronics Industry Fifty Awards Presented at IPC APEX EXPO�

Phoenix International and Uyemura International Corp. Earn IPC Corporate Recognition Awards

Two Industry Veterans Receive IPC's 2009 Hall of Fame Award

What's next?

While the declining attendance numbers reflect a declining industry, economic recovery is on the horizon. IPC APEX EXPO will return to the Mandalay Bay Resort & Convention Center in Las Vegas, April 6-8, 2010. For more information on exhibiting or presenting a paper or course at the 2010 shows, visit Call for Participation

APEX 2009 Featured Exhibitors

Ovation Products

Pioneer of the award-winning Grid-Lok�, HD Grid-Lok™, Magna-Print™ and Stinger™ dispensing technologies, Ovation Products has OEM partnerships with many market-leading equipment suppliers and its technology solutions are installed worldwide.   »»»

APEX Featured Product: Magna-Print™ High Performance Squeegee System


Magna-Print™ universal squeegee systems delivers one size of holders that accommodates all squeegee blade sizes. Equipped with a unique blade locking system, a wide variety of standard blade sizes and types and fully adjustable paste deflectors, the Magna-Print system offers one simple tool that allows for robust performance and fast, easy blade changes. With one holder for all blade sizes and no special tools required for changeover, costs are significantly reduced, inventory control is simplified, machine downtime minimized and throughput is greatly enhanced.  »»»

Press releases:

Ovation Products celebrates SMT Vision Award win for innovative dispensing technology


Established in 1968, Manncorp specializes in surface mount production equipment for mid-volume PCB assembly, including flexible pick and place systems, lead-free reflow ovens, stencil printers and rework equipment. Manncorp's eTurnkey Systems' are fully integrated manufacturing solutions of pre-selected printing, placement and reflow equipment geared to user throughput and budgetary requirements.   »»»

APEX Featured Product: MANNCORP MC391 Dual-Head Pick & Place w/Conveyor


Unquestionably, the most accurate and versatile pick and place system in its price range, the dual-head MC391 accommodates 96 intelligent feeders. Cognex� vision processing, plus bottom vision camera for larger devices. Dual vision heads for 5,500 cph placement rate. Large 14.75" X 23.4" placement area. Linear-encoded- X-Y drive for a .002� (a .05mm) placement accuracy.   »»»

Production Solutions

Manufacturer of substrate support tooling systems for the electronics industry. The focus of our projects has been on improving the methods of assembly of PCB  »»»

APEX Featured Product: RED-E-SET Universal Board Support System


Red-E-Set Universal Board Support System is proven to reduce changeover time, improve quality and eliminate component damage on any screen printer, placement machine or dispenser. Introduced at Apex 2009 is the next generation of support products � Red-E-Set SZ. The SZ unit is completely hands free and provides fast, easy and flexible tooling setup and changeover.

Due to the increase of densely populated double-sided circuit boards the need for flexible, easily setup board supports has also increased. To meet this demand there are several RED-E-SET models to choose from: motorized and manual inline, motorized tower and the semiautomatic. Whatever your board support requirements we have the solution.  »»»

MIRTEC Corporation

Manufacturer of desktop, in-line (AOI) automatic optical inspection, and real-time x-ray inspection equipment.  »»»

APEX Featured Product: MV-7xi In-Line AOI System


New at APEX, MIRTEC introduced its MV Series Remote Management Software (RMS). This software allows remote management of up to eight MIRTEC AOI systems simultaneously, allowing MIRTEC customers to further maximize the efficiency of their inspection process. The software for MIRTEC's MV Series is powerful yet simple to use. A comprehensive package type library provides simple "Drag and Drop" component programming. The Automatic Teaching Tool (ATT) software provides automatic teaching of component locations using CAD centroid data.  »»»

Press releases:

MIRTEC's MV-3L Desktop AOI System Wins a 2009 NPI Award

Kyzen Corporation

Manufacturer of award winning cleaning products, chemistries and services for electronics and advanced packaging applications from sprayable aqueous cleaning formulations to engineered vapor degreasing solvents  »»

APEX Featured Product: AQUANOX® A4241


Kyzen's AQUANOX® A4241 PCB and Stencil Cleaner is a new aqueous cleaning solution designed with a revolutionary inhibition technology to be effective on the toughest soils while protecting even the most sensitive parts from etch or darkening. A4241 can be used in a multi-process environment for use in spray batch, spray in-line and stencil cleaning processes.  »»»

Press releases:

Kyzen Corp.'s AQUANOX� A4241 Wins a 2009 NPI Award

Kyzen Corp.'s AQUANOX� A4241 Wins a 2009 SMT VISION Award

Siemens Electronics Assembly Systems

Siemens Electronics Assembly Systems is a leading supplier of surface mount technology (SMT) equipment, software, and services to the electronics assembly market.  »»»

APEX Featured Product: SIPLACE X-Series


The new Siplace X-Series powered by Siplace MultiStar delivers the ideal combination of chip shooting speed along with extensive component range capability required for flexible end of line placement. The SIPLACE X-Series lets you combine your ultimate SMT line with software, services, options, machine and head versions as well as placement and setup concepts such as i-Placement, Combined PCB or Productivity Lane that offers previously unheard-of capabilities.  »»»

Valor Computerized Systems

Valor Computerized Systems, Inc.'s Manufacturing Visibility Dashboard Solution provides real-time performance visibility. Valor's dashboards display the key performance indicators (KPIs) that enable critical visibility into each specific operational environment. The dashboards quickly identify trends or patterns in-progress, and help derive the
insights needed for early corrective action. The dashboard displays real-time and historical machine, line, and factory level KPIs such as OEE, changeover time, first pass yield, nozzle/feeders errors, scrap and material consumption, and more. Valor or its customers also can create custom dashboards to suit individual manufacturing needs and specific KPIs.

Industry Leaders' Comments

Brian O'Leary, Sales Manager - Americas


Was APEX worth it? Absolutely. We scaled back our booth this year and trimmed costs. We also got creative with our 2009 Profiling Guide as a high-impact, low-cost way of driving traffic and it seemed to work. Traffic, nevertheless, was down at least 30 percent, but the quality of sales leads was up. I got the impression those that were at the show were serious buyers and came with a solid agenda compared to past years where they may only have come to �kick the tires� and see what was new. Despite the doom and gloom in the economy, I was more excited about this APEX than in previous years and look forward to 2010. Now if they could only drop a cup of coffee under $5�Vegas...

Geron Ryden, Marketing Manager


APEX was a tremendous success for us at Juki this year. Though traffic was lighter than in years past, we still saw a lot of activity from key accounts and customers in the form of pre-show appointments, frequent visits to our secret room to view a new product that will vastly improve efficiencies and yields, as well as the positive feedback of the introduction of a few of new award -winning products: IS Shop Floor Solutions software, the JX-100 entry-level machine and the FlexSolder Selective and Stamp Soldering machines. We are excited about following up on our contacts from APEX and look forward to a bigger and better show in 2010.

Don Naugler, General Manager

VJ Electronix Inc.

We came to APEX with fairly low expectations due to current conditions. It looked like the overall attendance was down. But booth traffic, the level of interest in our new products and the quality of leads was right up with some of the best years.

Michelle Ogihara, Sales and Marketing Manager

Seika Machinery Inc.

The IPC APEX Exhibition and Conference is still considered the major big show for us. Seika Machinery is looking to support our industry for the long term and part of this plan is to continue purchasing space in major exhibitions. In this manner, we can provide more exposure for our new products and capabilities to current and potential customers while showing our commitment to the electronics assembly market overall.

Masato Nakamura, Deputy Assistant Manager of International Business Development Department

Nihon Superior Co. Ltd.

Despite the current economic conditions that seemed to reduce the number of attendees, APEX 2009 turned out to be most memorable as we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our SN100C lead-free solder. First, on behalf of all of Nihon Superior, I would like to express appreciation for the support that has led us to the 10th anniversary of the first high-volume production use of SN100C. We would not be celebrating this occasion without the confidence of every SN100C user to be innovative in lead-free technology and without the greatest cooperation from our SN100C global partners. It was an honor to celebrate this milestone and receive congratulations from the visitors at the show. We have seen a tremendous growth in the popularity and interest in SN100C at APEX over the last several years, making this year, indeed, a special one.

Doug Farlow, President and CEO

Production Solutions Inc.

Although overall attendance was light, it was clear that those that came had a purpose. In our discussions with attendees that came to our Red-E-Set booth, equipment utilization, faster changeover due to smaller jobs, and reduced workforce as well as improving quality and first pass yields were number one on their minds. Companies are striving for flexibility, efficiency and lean operations. Tools such as our Universal Board Support system are enabling manufacturers to squeeze the most out of their SMT lines while increasing revenue with just a minor investment. We thought the overall tenor of the show was very upbeat and positive.

Neil MacRaild, President

Ovation Products

Though the total attendance at APEX 2009 was significantly down as compared to previous years, Ovation's experience at the show was quite positive. Assembly specialists may not be shopping for new equipment right now, but they are looking for ways to make their current equipment set more efficient and productive, which provides an excellent opportunity for us. All of our award-winning innovations are designed to enhance the performance and productivity of existing SMT equipment. Technologies such as Stinger, Ovation's printer-adaptable dispensing system that allows for automatic dispensing functionality within a screen printer platform, our Magna-Print universal squeegee blade holder which provides remarkably simple blade changeover, and our well-known Grid-Lok automatic board support system have all been engineered to exponentially improve throughput, reduce complexity and lower costs.

Dave Suihkonen, President

R&D Technical Services

APEX was certainly down from last year, but it was obviously economy-driven with travel budgets slashed a bit. However, with our new vapor phase rework station continuing to gather momentum, we did see a number of quality contacts that we feel ultimately will make the 2009 show worthwhile.

Brian D'Amico, President


I am delighted to say that APEX 2009 turned out to be surprisingly well attended. In spite of the fact that we had a fairly obscure location, there was a lot of interest at the MIRTEC booth this year! Just to give an idea, on the very first day of the show from 10 a.m. until roughly 2 p.m., there were customers lined up for demos on our equipment. This was very surprising since we had a total of six machines at this show. We received steady traffic for the first two days with a welcomed respite on the third day. With a little over 100 qualified leads, I consider APEX 2009 to be a success!

Tom Forsythe, Vice President


While the industry as a whole was ready for an APEX in line with the general economy, the results were far better. Despite attendance numbers in line with expectations, it seemed that the sightseers or maybe, in this case, the gamblers stayed home. Everyone that Kyzen spoke to had a project on a tight budget and a short timeline. Our numbers were up over prior years and each of person we spoke to needed answers that they found at APEX � in the technical sessions, the committee meetings, our booth (of course), and at the awards presentations where the best technologies were recognized for all to see.

Mike Konrad, President

Aqueous Technologies Corp.

In the shadow of the current recession, there was some doubt about the success of APEX. Many companies reported tight travel budgets and capital equipment budgets alike. Even a few exhibiting companies gave way to their fears and reduced the amount of equipment to be exhibited at the show. Once the show began, while it was not quite business as usual, it was surprisingly good. We experienced steady traffic throughout the show. We met with current customers, sales representatives, a couple of vendors, gave a couple of papers, met with the press and, most importantly, we accepted two purchase orders in the booth. All in all, it was another good show., 98 Elm Street, Portland, Maine 04101 USA, Tel.207-780-0887. You have received this mailing because either you are a registered member of or have expressed interest through one of our affiliate partners.Click here to unsubscribe.

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