June marks the start of summer, and with that, the EIPC’s annual summer conference. Highlighted by its thought-provoking presentations, social outings and factory tours, the conference continues to be valuable and productive for attendees. This year should prove no different, with EIPC set to celebrate its 50th anniversary. I spoke with EIPC Executive Director Kirsten Smit-Westenberg about what can be expected from the upcoming conference in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Barry Matties: We are just about two weeks away from the upcoming EIPC Summer Conference, and it’s a big one.
Kirsten Smit-Westenberg: Yes, we are calling it the 50th Anniversary Conference.
Matties: Congratulations on that. Why don't you tell our readers a bit about the role and mission of EIPC?
Smit-Westenberg: The EIPC is the European institute for the PCB community, and represents the PCB industry in Europe. We organize network events to bring or create a platform that brings together the supply chain. We're looking forward to our 50th anniversary this month.
Matties: I know you have winter and summer conferences, but do you have other regional events in between?
Smit-Westenberg: Those are the two primary events we have, and we also run one-day seminars or workshops in an informal setting, in which we focus on one topic from the conference that experienced very high interest. We do several of these during the year.
Matties: Do you also look at market conditions and provide feedback for your members?
Smit-Westenberg: Yes, we do. We’d like to do a bit more on that, and we're looking into the possibility of how we can get this kind of information. These network events are perfect to find these subjects to base our conferences on, and to provide market details. After the conference we also have an evaluation form that's been handed out to the audience, and that's where we get the feedback to see what they're interested in; we can organize things that we think the industry needs, but we want to know from the industry members themselves what they need and then organize around that.
Matties: It's really based on the feedback.
Matties: Specifically, at the 50-year anniversary, I know you have Walt Custer speaking. Who are some of the other speakers and things that we can expect from the program?
Smit-Westenberg: We will start with a keynote session from Walt, then we have Yole Development and Atotech speaking. It will be a busy program that will run over two days. We normally stop on Friday at lunch time, but since we had so many speakers requesting a presentation, we will run an extra session after lunch on Friday, for a total of six sessions. These six sessions will address several topics. For example, we’ll discuss business, technology, European PCB history, and because it's our 50th anniversary, we’ll go back in time a little to see how we started and how far we've come. We’ll cover automotive safety process reliability and traceability. There will also be a little bit about PCB material, process for advance application, PCB design, and new material and processes for PCB manufacturing.
Matties: You're covering quite a range of topics there. Do you expect this to be one of the largest crowds ever, since it's the 50th year?
Smit-Westenberg: I really hope so. Registration is now at the highest number we have had for many years, and we're hoping to get to around 150 in attendance. We're now around 120-something. So it's looking to be a very nice event, and we have, of course, our bonus program also, which will be on the first day, right after the last session. We will go to Unimicron, the new automated multilayer factory, and have a tour. After that, we will take our guests to a castle in the area and have a lovely networking dinner.
Matties: Yeah, I understand that factory is quite spectacular.
Smit-Westenberg: I went to the opening in April, and it was very impressive. Everything's new, of course, but the number of actual machines or robots that are in that hall is incredible. I think it's one of the most advanced in Europe now.
Matties: I think you're right. That will be a special experience for the guests.
Matties: Is there anything else you would like to share with the industry regarding EIPC or the upcoming event?
Smit-Westenberg: If you have not been to one of EIPC's conferences, this might be the best opportunity to experience what we do; we try to have all the audience interact with the speakers. After each session we have a panel discussion in which we bring the speakers together on the stage and take questions from the audience, about anything that they would like to speak. It’s good experience to see how we do these events. You will see the benefit of attending these kinds of events and perhaps even become an EIPC member.
Matties: Kirsten, thank you for sitting down with me today. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.
Smit-Westenberg: Thank you very much for your time.