||2011-12-05 13:39:41, Read : 1,181
| The following is a story from EMSNow. |
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Author: Raymond Foo, Asian Editor
Productronica 2011, the largest gathering of the electronics production industry, took place in Munich, Germany last week in chilly November weather. Having attended the last four editions of this massive biennial trade show, I walked through the halls with a feeling of excitement and anticipation, that of meeting old friends and acquaintances who have been in this industry for as long as I have, some for much longer.
At close, official figures indicated 38,500 visitors from more than 80 countries walked through the gates of the New Munich Trade Fair Centre. Together with the feeling of homecoming, there was also another kind of expectation I had, that of getting a first-hand look at the various new product launches or "world's firsts" that the show has come to be famous for. This was exhibited by 1,234 exhibitors from 39 countries covering 77,000 square metres in seven halls.
Among leading companies that exhibited at the show, many have had a record year so far. One stencil and screen printing specialist that I spoke to had expanded their footprint with the hiring of new personnel and the addition of new capabilities to their various print platforms for the SMT, semiconductor and alternative energies segment.
Pick-and-place provided some of the most exciting technologies seen at the show. Many are well-established players in the industry and one even celebrated its 20th anniversary in the halls. Another unveiled a completely new addition to its range of placement solutions. Deemed as the first intelligent and flexible SMT solution, it is designed for customers looking for ways to reduce changeover times in dynamic production schedules. If pick-and-place took centre stage at this year's show, then test and inspection came a very close second. Newer, more sophisticated and higher resolution camera systems continue to drive this segment of the industry.
Besides capital equipment, solder materials providers introduced plenty of new products at the show as well. Environmental responsibility and solder reliability continue to be the central themes of these companies. Low VOC, VOC-free, halogen-free and halide-free fluxes, as well as solder pastes that promise to reduce voiding, dendrite formation, corrosion, graping and head-in-pillow defects were all on show. Taking the rising prices of metals into account, solder materials providers are also offering low-cost alloys that have no or low amounts of silver, some through licensing agreements with other companies.
These are just some of the highlights from the show. All in all, the mood was one of optimism for the year ahead. Despite the poor financial outlook following the stagnant US economy and current European debt crisis, most suppliers I spoke to were renewing their activities in current markets as they look to expand into new ones.
One key difference to their strategy is that unlike previous years, the focus today is not purely on volume anymore. If we were to use the old industry adage of "smaller, faster, cheaper," the "faster" has been replaced by "more flexible with higher quality". Together with lower defects and energy-savings, modularity with the option of offering customized solutions for the customer has become the most important competitive advantage for equipment suppliers, as is a wide range of solutions for every application for materials suppliers.