Working with PCB technology and standardization as I do, it is always interesting to see the new trends and where the PCB industry is moving. Changes tend to happen at a slow pace; still, I visited productronica this year for dedicated meetings and expected to learn about new processes and production equipment. What hit me was the different manufacturing focus between Asia and Europe. 5G applications and smartphones—both making an impact in the news as a high focus in Asia, where most of the production is placed—were hardly mentioned at productronica 2019. However, I picked up on other new trends in the PCB industry.
A Crystal-clear Focus for Europe
It’s crystal clear that the European manufacturers have another focus, including the technologies they do best, where high reliability is in focus, with complex buildup, advanced rigid-flex boards, or printed circuits where there are specific demands for the material. The focus is more toward what the customer requests within technology and demands and less on new processes and equipment for extremely fine-line applications, like 5G applications and smartphones, which are already established in Asia.
However, it’s no secret there have been struggles for European PCB manufacturers lately. I recently learned that seven German factories had shut down this summer. Still, it seems the course is set in the right direction, at least that’s my impression after visiting productronica 2019 and talking to several industry colleagues.
Walking through hall B3 for PCB and EMS production equipment, talking to people, and looking for new trends and changes, I realized almost no stands had groundbreaking news, processes, materials, or equipment, going one step further in manufacturing solutions, precision, or processes. What I found was a focus on what I call panel-by-panel engineering or adapted processing.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the December 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.