Additive Electronics Conference Set for October 2019


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Johnson: What does the overall agenda look like?

Dunn: After the keynote from Jabil, we’ll have other end users explain what is driving their need in the market and what they have been doing to try to meet that need. Then, we’re going move into the different options that are available throughout the additive space to help meet some of those needs as well as more practical applications. We’ll also hear about some of the processes or materials that are in production implementation, and we’re going wrap it up with interactive panel discussion.

The panel discussion will focus on a case study or two that outlines a current end-use need, and the panelists will weigh in on how their approach could contribute to the solution.  We’ll finish the event with time for networking.  These emerging technologies are so new to everyone; the more we can reach out and make connections to follow up with when there are questions down the road, the more beneficial it’s going to be for everybody.

Johnson: That’s a great agenda given the objective. In addition to the keynote, is there anything you’re especially looking forward to?

Clark: The panel discussion is important. We’ve always had great success at SMTA international when we have panel discussions because they invite a collaborative conversation. The panel discussion creates more ideas, and we want the audience to be interactive. That should bring a slightly different dynamic to this conference, which fits very well with it being our first venture into additive.

Johnson: Is the intention to make this a recurring event?

Clark: The industry lends itself well to this to be a reoccurring conference. This event doesn’t only speak to miniaturization but also to density from a perspective of packing many electronics into different products. We are packing a lot of electronics into automobiles right now, but it’s not necessarily that everything is going to be on a miniature level. Instead, how are we going to put that many electronics into a steering column shaft or get more function into a shark fin antenna? Maybe a printed electronic or a 3D plastic mold becomes advantageous. We have to weigh these things out as an industry. Miniaturization is important, but I don’t think it’s the sole target of additive.

Johnson: That’s an important point. Additive is not just making it smaller; it gives you design options that you didn’t have before.

Clark: Right, and that’s one of the things that Tara and I wanted to be sure that this conference spoke to because a lot of PCB-minded people think that additive is for IC substrates, which isn’t true. People are doing additive for all sorts of different scales now, so I’m excited to have those conversations. I’m interested to see who’s doing it on what level and that’s why the conference title “PCB Scale to IC Scale” comes into play; let’s make sure we’re not missing anything because it’s not just about miniaturization.

Andy Shaughnessy: As we’ve been talking, I looked up Jabil, and they have a giant team working on additive. As you said, they’ve been doing this for a long time, and when they talk about it being used for prototyping, they say, “It’s like prototyping on steroids.” This could be a good thing for designers to learn more about given that additive is more friendly to 3D than the subtractive etch-type; it seems like it’s more of a fit with 3D.

Dunn: Very much so.

Shaughnessy: Not that long ago, additive was more of a niche thing, but it seems to be gaining in acceptance.

Clark: People are going to be surprised how it’s not as niche anymore, especially once they hear from the speakers. Applicators are doing this technology on a regular basis, so people are going to understand that it’s reaching more market segments and in more volume than we had originally anticipated. We’re, considering this an inflection point, but I feel that some designers are missing the boat right now; they could be making easier choices or bring ease to fabrication if they were using additives.

Johnson: There are fewer steps, right?

Clark: There are a few steps, and this is going to be a manufacturing change. There’s likely going to be a capital investment for one or two things that are changing on the shop floor or an added piece of equipment. But when you lessen the steps, there’s less room for error. And in high-frequency applications, there are a lot of things happening now—not necessarily for additive, but you have that conversation of death by a thousand cuts. For those of us who understand how a PCB is fabricated, it’s insane. There are so many steps and waste associated with it that this could even be an environmental play. Let’s listen to what additive has to offer and see what changes we can make it as an industry.

Shaughnessy: If you can call it green, you get interest from everyone.

Dunn: Exactly, and it provides a format where end users and designers have an opportunity to talk about their challenges and be heard from fabricators and others supplying into the industry. I like the idea of having open, collaborative discussions, and I hope that we will be able to do that during the panel discussion as well as during the different networking segments.

Johnson: We’re excited to be a part of this conversation.

Clark: Sounds good. Thanks.

Dunn: Thank you.

To register for this event, sign up here.

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