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Getting to Know Your Designer
In this issue, we examine how fabs work with their design customers, educating them on the critical elements of fabrication needed to be successful, as well as the many tradeoffs involved. How well do you really know your customer? What makes for a closer, more synchronized working relationship?
In this issue, the biggest names in PCB manufacturing share their economic outlook for the upcoming year and beyond. As you will see, they were all bullish on our industry, but there was some apprehension as well. No one wants to get burned by another the supply chain disruption.
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AT&S Technology Enables the World’s Smallest DigicamJuly 6, 2021 | AT&S
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
The image sensor is smaller than a grain of rice, lighter than a postage stamp but more powerful than any previous development of its kind. With a size of 1mm2 and a weight of about 1 gram, the image sensor is so small that not only can it be installed in smartphones, VR cameras, and other wearables, but it can also be integrated into medical applications such as endoscopes.
After all, miniaturization is becoming increasingly important in microelectronics. High-end applications must become smaller and smaller, and at the same time, it is a matter of having more and more space available for additional or more powerful components and new features to increase the functionality of the respective applications. Especially in the field of medical technology, miniaturization takes on another important component: the smaller the devices used for diagnosis or treatment, the gentler it is for the patient.
“The image sensor not only creates sharp images due to its 100,000-pixel resolution, but it also has low power consumption thanks to our smart connection architecture,” says Markus Maier, Global Account Manager at AT&S. AT&S developed the printed circuit board for the sensor, while the sensor itself was built by the Styrian supplier of high-performance sensor solutions, ams OSRAM. ams OSRAM is a leading global supplier of optical solutions headquartered in Austria, with which AT&S has already collaborated on technology projects in the past. The successful cooperation between the two Styrian high-tech companies is also proof of how Austrian know-how is helping to shape the high-tech world. The digicam sensor, which provides digital video output, enables all kinds of visual sensing for mobile applications. One of the first products to integrate the AT&S solution is ams OSRAM’s NanEye, one of the smallest digital cameras on the market. NanEye has a wide range of applications, such as eye-tracking in VR goggles, but can also be used in the medical field. The AT&S development is integrated, for example, in a camera head used for endoscopic examinations.
For AT&S, this product is very special – firstly, the AT&S hardware design team from AISS (Advanced Interconnect Solution Services) created the layout. Second, the interconnect design was realized using ECP (Embedded Component Packaging) technology. ECP enables both active and passive components to be integrated into laminate-based substrates, i.e. high-tech printed circuit boards, in a minimum of space. “Instead of placing the components on the PCB, they are integrated into the PCB. They ‘disappear’ inside the PCB,” Maier says. Moreover, the NanEye project is an example of one of those products that AT&S will be offering more frequently in the future, for in addition to the technology, AT&S has also developed the circuit board design. “This product fits perfectly into our strategy and also shows where our journey will take us,” explains Günter Köle, Director Advanced Interconnect Solution Service at AT&S. “In the future, we will not only develop interconnect solutions, with which we have become one of the global technology leaders, but we will become a provider of complete solutions. I am proud that with our solutions we are helping to develop products that not only set new standards but can also be used to solve society’s challenges and problems,” says Günter Köle.
Ventec Giga Solutions, the equipment division of Ventec International Group, has started offering a refurbishment service for separator plates used in PCB lamination processes.
Every year or so, I like to chat with my friend, M&A expert Tom Kastner of GP Ventures. I know he has been busy the past few years, so I was anxious to find out more about it. He is the one person I know who really has his finger on the pulse of the industry. Tom has always been a great source of information for me and the industry as a whole.
In a recent article for Design007 about sustainable PCBs, my colleague Ramon Roche wrote about the various environmental regulatory requirements all of us have to meet every day. He emphasized that regulations are used as a starting point. He stated, “We also require our suppliers to comply with local social and environmental regulations and be ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified, where applicable.” The ambition to create sustainable printed circuit boards (PCBs) is a continuous effort, and no single regulation makes a complete solution. However, applying all these standards together can help to create the most sustainable PCB possible.
It’s a well-known fact that if your company is not growing and moving forward every single day, it is dying. The same rule applies to technology companies: To stay alive, you must grow your technology by keeping up with your customers’ product technology needs. Too many printed circuit board fabricators are dying a slow death because they are not willing or able to invest the time, energy, money, and passion to always work on their technology.
One of my great joys as a grandfather of eight is spending time with them at the park. It doesn't take too long until I'm getting stuck on a slide that is too small for me or on the seesaw, with me on one side and them trying to lift me. At that point, they learn some harsh lessons in physics and how heavy Grandpa really is. A seesaw is a relatively simple device, but it’s a great way to explain a rather complex concept in PCB design: design tradeoffs. Each decision made throughout a design comes with inherent pros and cons.