EIPC’s Winter Conference in Lyon, France: Day 2 Review
EIPC’s 2018 Winter Conference in Lyon, Review of Day 1
Part 2: EIPC’s 2018 Winter Conference in Lyon, Review of Day 1
The first day of the conference had started and ended in the dark—a long and technically intense day! After a convivial conference dinner and a good night’s sleep we were back on the bus, this time in daylight at the slightly later time of 8:00 a.m., for the journey from downtown Lyon back to Alstom’s conference facility in Villeurbanne, and it wasn’t raining. In fact, there was even some sunshine later in the day!
Nine presentations in two sessions this second day, the first session on process improvements introduced and moderated by EIPC board member John Fix, manager and director of marketing and sales at Taiyo America.
His first presenter was Steve Payne, manager of European Operations for iNEMI, the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative, who discussed future PCB fabrication and material requirements for the global industry segments. He explained that iNEMI was a not-for-profit, R&D consortium of approximately 90 leading electronics manufacturers, suppliers, associations, government agencies and universities. An important function of iNEMI was to roadmap the future technology requirements of the global electronics industry, to identify and prioritise the gaps in technology and infrastructure, and help to eliminate those gaps through timely, high-impact deployment projects.
The iNEMI Technology Roadmap, updated every two years, provided focus and direction to the electronics supply chain on technology trends and challenges in manufacturing rigid, flexible and optoelectronics substrates for the next ten years. The roadmap considered seven market sectors: aerospace and defence, automotive, high-end systems, IoT, medical, consumer and office, and portable wireless, each of which had specific requirements for future PCB technologies and materials, including miniaturisation, durability in harsh environments, increasing signal speeds, high density interconnect and other factors which were often interrelated. The iNEMI Technical Plan originated from a GAP analysis of the Technology Roadmap, with the objective of predicting and quantifying the technical requirements of a PCB over a ten-year period for each sector.
Payne examined in detail the issues associated with miniaturisation and high-density interconnect, embedded components, optical PCBs, flexible and stretchable circuits, and the role of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things in the PCB fabrication supply chain.
He commented that, historically, PCB fabrication had generally been undertaken by large electronics OEMs with substantial R&D resources, whereas it was now mostly outsourced to a few large and many small-to-medium sized companies, most of which had limited resources for development work. Consequently, they tended to rely on materials and equipment suppliers for incremental improvements to their technical capability. Payne believed that PCB fabricators could benefit from participation in collaborative projects to leverage collective expertise and involve the complete supply chain.
Using raw data to develop an intelligent manufacturing solution for the problem of registration control within the PCB smart factory was the subject of the presentation of Andrew Kelley, CTO of XACTPCB and a long-standing expert in the management of the PCB registration process. He began his discussion of smart manufacturing by quoting Arthur C. Clarke: “Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerising video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.”
He explained that the future capability of a PCB plant would depend upon an ability to collect, collate, integrate and understand process data, and the key to registration control was to develop lots of disconnected raw data into an intelligent manufacturing solution. Data was a strategic business asset, but the real value was in the information, insight and actions derived from analysis of the data. And without data, it was not possible to derive the information required to make decisions and improve products and processes. Data was often collected within factories but its true value was rarely realised. Kelley emphasised the point that all data related to past events, whereas all actions affected the future. And data tended to be used more to provide management reports than to benefit manufacturing requirements. Connected data was fundamental to the concept of the smart factory, with machine networking and automated data capture essential. The goal of manufacturing intelligence was to capture, collate, integrate and understand process data, and to provide a bridge between people generating data and people using it.
Focusing specifically on the optimisation of multilayer registration, he asked: “For a single-lamination, 8-layer product how many different material/process combinations could be involved?” In fact, there were more than 40 million potential combinations without considering the options of copper thickness, copper pattern or process routes. It was not feasible to acquire the amount of data required to always know which innerlayer scale factors to use, and historical data alone would never be able to provide all the answers required.
Kelley used the pictorial analogy of building with LEGO® bricks: starting with a foundation of data, building information based on data, building knowledge based on information, building wisdom based on knowledge, and taking action based on wisdom, in a continuous measure-learn-predict cycle. Machine learning was a statistical process that took accumulated data and used it to derive algorithms that explained the data and could be used to predict future data. Self-learning, autonomous systems were becoming a reality in the field of manufacturing due to the availability of data, improved machine learning and algorithms, and more powerful computers.
Putting this concept into the context of registration control, Kelley demonstrated how the principles could be applied in the manufacturing process: Beginning with a new part number, design and construction data from CAM and planning was sent to the registration control system, which predicted material movement and sent scale factors to innerlayer manufacture. After lamination, the registration was measured at the X-ray drilling stage and the measurement data was channelled back to the registration control system while the job proceeded in manufacture. The registration control system learned from the measurement data and refined the scale factors so that the next job was compensated more precisely, and so on.
Having begun by quoting Arthur C. Clarke, Kelley ended by quoting Terry Pratchett: “Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time!”
With more than 4000 AOI systems installed world-wide, Orbotech’s development programme continued to seek innovative solutions. In a presentation entitled “How AOI can enhance the ability to control the PCB manufacturing process,” Uwe Altmann introduced their new Ultra Dimension product. This machine combined several functions, and offered savings in space and operating costs. Pattern inspection and laser via inspection were completed in a single scan with a proprietary technique which captured and analysed three different types of image. Detection capabilities were enhanced, with fewer false calls and reduced set-up time. The machine was capable of automatically measuring conductor widths, enabling tighter impedance control on advanced fine-line applications. It also had a remote multiple-image verification facility, reducing the number of verification stations required and assisting the operator in differentiating between real and false defects. Altmann used a video to illustrate the practical functionality of the system, and the high-decibel blast that ensued when the sound button was eventually located made certain of the attentiveness of the audience!
Supreme showman Don Monn, Taiyo America’s European sales, new product development and OEM manager, described how solder mask needs could be re-defined with inkjetting.
Reviewing the history of solder mask, which had originally been intended as an aid to wave soldering, he described a chronological succession of technologies: screen-printed heat-cured epoxy, screen-printed UV-cured acrylic, liquid photoimageable epoxy-acrylate contact printed, liquid photoimageable epoxy-acrylate direct imaged, and all of the problems of the past related to registration, adhesion to copper, mask-in-hole, mask-on-pad, dam retention, legend adhesion, and performance through multiple final finishes, together with equipment and maintenance costs, waste disposal and associated environmental issues.
Then he came to inkjet! Coverage where it was needed, no tack drying, no exposing, no developing, less handling, simple clean-coat-cure process sequence, no artwork, no mask-in-hole, no spread/crawl effects.
He posed a list of rhetorical questions about what customers and end-users wanted and needed: Are holes getting bigger? Are line and space widths growing? Are panel values decreasing? Are defects becoming acceptable? Are lead times increasing? Is resolution becoming a non-issue? Should you be building extra to cover scrap?
He urged PCB fabricators to find their niche and concentrate on building what made them money, adding equipment as required to sustain their business. And to re-define their needs so far as solder mask was concerned. What were the needs? He listed excellent and repeatable registration, keeping the mask out of the holes, keeping the mask off the pads, eliminating broken or missing dams, reducing or eliminating rework and scrap, accurately sized mask-defined pads, robustness through all final finishes, and meeting the customer’s schedule.
These needs could be satisfied with inkjet solder mask, which was in the final stages of development and qualification, and would benefit the businesses of PCB fabricators in many ways, in particular improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness and make the business stronger.
Editor's Note: To read the continuation of this article, click here.