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Digitalisation progressing in the electronics industry

26th June 2017
Lanna Cooper

Digitalisation is progressing and electronics is making its way into more and more areas of life. In this context, the functionality of the devices is essentially determined by the circuit board. At the PCB & EMS Marketplace and on the highlight day 'Sustainable EMS' in Hall B3, manufacturers of printed circuit boards and EMS providers will show concrete examples of how they are meeting increasing requirements in the automotive industry, medical technology, industrial electronics and mechanical engineering.

productronica will take place on the grounds of Messe München from 14th-17th November, 2017.

Sales of the printed circuit board industry in the DACH countries are increasing rapidly. Compared to the previous year, the value increased by 13.6% in March 2017. Overall, the first quarter total finished eight percent above the same period last year, as reported by the ZVEI association PCB and Electronic Systems. Sales and incoming orders achieved the highest absolute values in 15 years. Especially companies within the automotive industry regained jobs in the short term that had been lost to Asian companies. Local supply shortages in copper films were the cause.

High-tech circuit boards from Europe
Asia accounts for 91% of global PCB sales, America 5% and Europe the remaining 4%. In addition to mass-produced printed circuit boards, however, medical systems, the military and aerospace increasingly require complex assemblies such as High Density Interconnect (HDI), flexible and rigid-flex circuit boards. This is a chance for high tech PCBs from Europe, because they score with quality, stability, flexibility, and consulting services.

An example is Posalux SA from Biel, which has been a productronica exhibitor since the launch of the trade fair. It will present its high precision drilling and milling machines for PCB manufacturing to the international audience in 2017. With the Ultraspeed DUO, the Swiss company is demonstrating a new machine generation that performs all tasks from prototyping to the manufacture of larger series and all the way machining of the most demanding printed circuit boards.

The circuit board manufacturer Cicor Technologies also comes from the country of precision timepieces. With DenciTec, a new technology platform manufactures circuits with extremely high density. Using it, new functions can be integrated without increasing the circuit board size. In the best case, an average of up to 70% of the area can be saved over all layers.

Increasingly smaller structures in and on circuit boards with an increasing number of components present completely new challenges for test specialists such as Seica Spa from Italy. On the one hand, it must be ensured that embedded components are not damaged. On the other hand, miniaturisation and the increased use of high frequency technologies leave little space for test points. The Seica Pilot V8 system combines flying probe technology with high frequency tests.

Digitalisation, mechatronics, automation and human-robot collaboration (MRC) will fundamentally transform industrial manufacturing. Companies such Schunk from Lauffen benefit from this and demonstrate on a single depaneling machine how intelligent grippers can optimise circuit board production without the use of external sensor technology.

EMS: from the product idea to a system
The growing demand for electronic devices across a wide range of industries will also provide the EMS service providers with a dynamic environment in 2017. According to investigations conducted by the consulting company MP Corporate Finance, the largest growth opportunities are in the automotive and lighting sectors thanks to the increasing demand for connectivity and 'smart' electronics. To this end, the contract manufacturers must demonstrate as a 'one-stop shop' the same high level of skills in design, engineering and manufacturing and be involved in products from the idea to after-sales services. With the increase in services, some EMS manufacturers are moving into business models such as Joint Design Manufacturing (JDM) and Outsourced Design Manufacturing (ODM).

PCB & EMS marketplace and highlight day 'Sustainable EMS'
The companies have already changed considerably in recent years. They increasingly work as 'problem solvers', handle services such as the purchase of materials and even offer themselves as partners in the product launch phase. However, there is no lack of new challenges. In addition to advances in circuit board technology and increasing miniaturisation, global developments such as rising raw material costs, global crises and growing competitive pressures require continual adjustments. Ultimately, contract manufacturers will have to position themselves with better service and more sophisticated products delivered with unprecedented speed. In addition, they will have to do this with simultaneous control of costs and sustainable production.

The PCB & EMS cluster with the highlight day 'Sustainable EMS' provides an optimal platform for meaningful discussions and networking for the entire PCB and EMS industry. Exhibitors, visitors and partners can meet there, exchange information and find the right supplier for their requirements.

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