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Editor Pete Starkey speaks with André Bodegom, managing director for Adeon Technologies in the Netherlands, about changes he has seen over the years in major industry sectors, challenges in the European market, and other areas of growth.
Pete Starkey: It’s good to speak with you again, André. Could you please give us a brief personal background to your present position?
André Bodegom: I studied as what we call “a fine-instrument maker” in Holland; in England, you would say “a toolmaker.” I started as a process engineer in a PCB shop in 1986. I worked in ACB in Belgium in 1992, which was part of the transition to field engineer with Adeon from 1992–1996. I moved into the field of capital equipment sales in 1996 and became a major shareholder in Adeon in 2002 and 100% owner since January 2009.
Starkey: Looking at the European PCB manufacturing industry from your perspective, what’s the most significant change you’ve seen in the past few years?
Bodegom: The industry is always on the move toward finer lines and spaces, different surface finishes, and new materials. And if you look at the way we see the market over the past few years, I think most European PCB companies have had a fairly good run behind them. Looking at these PCB companies, we believe that all sectors have been growing, although at a modest rate, perhaps with one or two exceptions like the automotive area. We’ve seen quite steady growth in aerospace and industrial, and even in telecom, datacom, and sensor and LED technology. The medical sector has seen some erratic movements, but it seems to be okay overall, and it’s only a small part of the market.
We also believe that the larger European players have all expanded in capacity, judging by their investments in additional equipment. And I think that the investment went predominantly into direct imaging, optical inspection, and a lot more automation. At Adeon, we’re not involved in wet chemistry, but we’ve seen many customers make large investments in plasma and vacuum filling of microvias.
One of the biggest changes we see is in the level of automation. Years ago, I told you that we foresaw a lot of automation coming up; that is now happening. But we also see higher demand from end-users who want to get more involved in the processes of the PCB manufacturers. They want to see how traceability is controlled so that they can make their judgment on the types of materials and processes and try to translate that into any of their potential future problems.
We still see the increasing influence of the Asian market through more brokers and agencies. As a result of all that we have seen unfortunately over the last couple of years, some smaller companies could not stay up to speed with all of the investment in new technology and faster and more automated equipment; they’ve had to close their doors, which is a shame since the landscape in Europe is already fairly small. But we have also seen people who have found a good niche and are doing very well in the European market.
To read this entire interview, which appeared in the November 2019 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.