Weiner’s World


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Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in November 2016 at www.weiner-intl.com and is being reprinted here with special permission from the author. 

Here we go again! The winter holiday (and trade show) season is upon us! Electronica's mood was upbeat. Next, the Asia and San Diego shows. 

We just received word as we were preparing for our trip to next month's HKPCA/IPC event in Shenzhen China that the CPCA (China Printed Circuit Association) show suddenly changed its March 2017 date and venue. It is now no longer co-located with the SEMICON show in China and it will be held March 7−9 (not March 14−16) at the new National Exhibition and Convention Center at the Shanghai New International Expo Center. Apparently, SEMICON wanted more space and the government offered the CPCA a great price to make the change. 

Meanwhile, the HKPCA show, now billed as our industry's largest event, will have nearly 550 exhibitors—of which 20% are new. 

The annual member meeting of HDP* USER GROUP INTERNATIONAL will be March 1−2, 2017 in Sunnyvale, California, USA. The meeting will be hosted by Juniper Networks on its campus.

*High Density Packaging consortium. 

A New Look at IoT? 

Mentor Graphics has published a very helpful white paper, “The Internet of Things for Electronic Manufacturing.” It addresses overcoming the bottleneck of establishing efficient machine-to-machine and machine-to-human communication. 

January 18−20 will see the 46th NEPCON JAPAN show host 2,270 exhibitors in six concurrent shows: Wearable Expo, RoboDex, Automotive World, Smart Factory Expo, Light-Tech Expo, and NEPCON JAPAN. 

The triennial 14th Electronic Circuits World Convention will be held in KINTEX, Goyang City, South Korea April 25−27, 2017 along with KPCA show. The event will be hosted by the Korea Printed Circuits Association (KPCA) and the World Electronic Circuits Council (WECC). 

Circuit Connect has installed a 4-channel Maskless/Chime Ball Technology direct imaging (DI) system from Technica USA. 

A number of familiar "players" showed their "complete" lines of specialty products for printed electronics at IDTechEx Printed Electronics held on November 16−17 in Santa Clara, California. These included Dow, MacDermid, and Sun Chemical. The latter showed a nanosilver ink designed for use with industry-leading inkjet and aerosol jet systems, technology which utilizes printed conductors on packaging to interact with touchscreen enabled devices, and a value package designed to speed the design and development of membrane touch switches. 

To the Rescue 

Wong’s Kong King Distribution has once again come to the rescue of hundreds of global printed circuit fabricators with the acquisition of global IP, manufacturing, service, and distribution rights for Multiline’s post etch ATP, OPE, and ECP punching systems. WKK, which has distributed Multiline’s product in greater China for decades, has acquired the world-wide IP and manufacturing rights for these products formerly produced at Multiline's now closed New York factory. WKK has already started to provide technical service to customers in the U.S. and has established an American distributor to continue its support there. WKK will name a new Canadian distributor shortly. WKK has been manufacturing Multiline machines for the past eight years under license from Multiline at their factory located in Champing, China. 

Finding Employees and the Millennials 

Finding and hiring qualified employees has been a frequent topic of conversation this past year. Conversations in the printed circuit fabrication industry mention both the diminishing number of "grayheads" and the scarcity of young replacements and successors. Bob Ferguson, a seasoned executive of our industry and now CEO of BreakFree Strategies, featured facts and recommendations for the hiring of millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) in his newsletter this month. Some of them jolted me into thinking about how we, our businesses, and the millennials must change or we will find our enterprises dying of attrition or gobbled up by other concerns. The millennials, said to be the most educated generation ever, must also change and face the realities of working in a competitive world that has standards and rules (which can be modified—but not trashed).  

I wonder if we have created a generation of unemployable “overeducated” people with unrealistic demands, who lack the basic work skills necessary to rebuild a country's manufacturing structure. I yearn for the days when we had vocational schools training the technicians and supporting workers. 

What do you think? 

As Predicted Several Months Ago 

Taiwan-based PCB makers, in response to price hikes by copper-clad laminate (CCL) suppliers, have raised quotes to reflect increased costs. China-based CCL maker Kingboard Laminates raised prices due to continual hikes in copper foil prices, which have significantly risen because makers have increased supply of more profitable copper foil used to produce lithium batteries for use in electric vehicles in the China market. (Digitimes) 

M&A: Merger Mania Continues Seemingly Unbridled 

Ampel Inc. has acquired Image Circuit Inc., a PCB fabricator based in Elgin, Illinois. Ampel is a 35,000 square-foot PCB fabricator headquartered in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. 

Qualcomm is buying NXP Semiconductors N.V. for $47 billion in cash. NXP is a developer of high-performance, mixed-signal semiconductor electronics, with products and solutions in automotive, broad-based microcontrollers, secure identification, network processing and RF power spaces. The combined company is expected to have annual revenues of more than $30 billion with positions in mobile, automotive, IoT, security, RF and networking markets.

Rogers Corporation announced that it has acquired DeWal Industries for an undisclosed price. DeWal has annual sales of about $50 million. DeWal makes PTFE, specialized polyethylene films, and unique tapes and specialty products for the industrial, aerospace, automotive, and electronics markets. Rogers' sales for the third-quarter totaled more than $165 million with a 37% gross margin. 

After recalling millions of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, Samsung appears to be changing its future direction to enter the world of connected cars with the purchase of Harmon International for $8 billion. I wonder if their software will protect against unwanted intrusions. 

SEMI initiated a special interest group (SIG) formed of members throughout the supply chain (including Fabless, IDM, Foundry, OSAT, EDA, equipment and materials vendors) called the “SEMI integrated Packaging, Assembly and Test” Group or SiPAT Group, to address the ever-increasing demand for smaller packages as Moore's law fades into the twilight. Different applications in the vast IoT—industrial, automotive, medical, etc.,—are posing increased challenges for both physical packages and the accompanying software. 

The binary challenge as to which is more difficult in designing a new package, the physical system or the secure software, was said to be unanswerable, according to a senior executive of Jabil in a recent conversation. We have since learned that the challenge of software security for IoT functions may have been solved by a small Florida company recently acquired by Analog Devices. 

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