APEX Lights Up Las Vegas

For the first time since it’s inception, IPC APEX Expo was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, March 15 – 17th. The venue was a little old and tired, but the exhibition went off successfully with a lot of European-style booth build (as opposed to pipe and drape), indicating that suppliers were confident and spending money on their displays.

With few notable exceptions, the PCB and EMS assembly industry was well represented and the show floor seemed relatively busy over all three days. The largest buzz around the show centered on the factory automation debate and the launch of the OML specification by Mentor Graphics.

Of the many new products on display, my Editor’s Choice goes to the new batch cleaner from Austin American, which has a rose tester built into the cleaner, providing full testing and traceability of every board.

Also new on the show floor was a closed-loop lead tinning system from ACE, which utilized a unique side-tinning technique on quad flat packs to avoid shorts. The system can be used for tinning, removing gold from the intermetallic to avoid gold embrittlement and retinning.

ECD made a successful entry into the Dry Cabinet market last year with their SmartDRY range of cabinets. Each cabinet returns to optimum humidity extremely fast and is armed with a colorful traffic light system to show when a cabinet door has been open more than 30 seconds (red), is not back to optimum humidity (amber), is at optimum humidity (green).

Mentor Graphics caused the biggest stir of the show. Following the successful introduction of their OML in February, the company launched two new IoT Line Controllers that they claim will interface with any piece of production equipment and translate the data output to OML.

MIRTEC have enjoyed significant success with their MV-6 3D AOI system that they are offering for well under $100,000, resulting from their bulk buying of equipment from Korea. A decision has not been reached as to whether to re-order a further 500 machines, or whether to replace the offer with a different solution.

Mycronic expanded the capability of its MY600 printer by entering into an agreement with Advanjet to offer their range of dispensing valves. The MY600 capable of dispensing up to four times faster than the nearest competitor.

Indium Corporation had a strong focus on “Avoiding the Void.” As geometries and devices get smaller, void reduction or elimination becomes a bigger problem. There are a number of ways to mitigate this, but Indium have focused on the flux chemistry to help outgas voids during reflow.

Henkel continued their product evolution with a thermally conductive product from the Technomelt stable. Technomelt has been on the market for a couple of years as a robust encapsulant material, but the new thermally conductive version is particularly useful for LED heatsinks and helping evacuate heat from electronics assemblies.

Seica is an Italian company that is growing and expanding rapidly, both through product introduction and acquisition. The Pilot 4DV8 is a unique flying prober that operates on a vertical axis. All probers work on a horizontal plane, but Seica believe the vertical plane reduces oscillation and board warpage.

Their sister company Seica Automation manufactures 3D AOI, board handling equipment and more. The 3D AOI system inspects conformal coatings for coverage, air bubbles, cracks and measure the thickness of the UV coating.

Panasonic Factory Automation demonstrated their “Total Line Solution’, featuring many of the new partner companies they have joined forces with to share their PanaCiM™ platform. These include Koh Young, Simplimatic, Heller, Essemtec, Atek and others.

Kurtz Ersa USA displayed among other things their new Versaflow 4/55 which has a unique double pot system that can be extended up to six pots for high volume applications.

Digitaltest launched their new Condor platform that accommodates large boards up to 500 x 600mm with a 0.625μm accuracy. The machine also offers powered up test, functional test and AOI as standard.

The Nordson Group recently acquired MatriX Technologies into the Test and Inspection division. The first new machine to come out of this partnership is the X3# inline x-ray inspection system. The X3# offers image capture rate of 4-5 per second in 2D up 2 seconds per image in 3D using multifocus sealed tubes ranging from 120Kv/40W to 150 Kv/75W.

KYZEN received an NPI award for its ph-neutral chemistry AQUANOX A4708 rapidly cleans under densely populated, low-gap PWB assemblies and is effective on all flux types, including no-clean and water soluble residues. KYZEN also demonstrated their batch monitoring and balancing system.

Viscom made the American debut of the X7056 combined 3D X-ray and 3D AOI. The in-line automatic X-ray inspection system is equipped with powerful digital flat panel detectors and X/Y stages. It can also be optionally equipped with Viscom’s new high-speed 3D XM camera module with high resolution top-down and up to eight angular views. Fast shadow-free 3D automatic optical inspection (AOI) and simultaneous 3D automatic X-ray inspection (AXI).

Microcare introduced six new aerosol based cleaners including three new flux removers, one contact cleaner and one polar flux remover for the most aggressive and aged fluxes.

Nordson ASYMTEK made the US debut of the Spectrum II Premier with the IntelliJet jetting system. It dispenses small dot sizes at high frequencies without compromising the precision, high yield, and long-term reliability needed for flip chip underfill and advanced semiconductor packaging applications.

LPKF demonstrated a new fast laser router for board singulation. The fexible system is also capable of etching barcodes, graphics and other numbers and text onto boards or components.

APEX Factory Automation exhibited the SJ Inotech 520SI printer with integrated 3D SPI among many other innovate Korean products. The SJ Innotech LED printer is 1200mm long, but prints boards along the x axis, which is more stable and controllable compared to other LED printers in the market.

Inventec had a small vapor phase cleaning system on their booth to demonstrate their new Topklean EL20P capillary action by taking into consideration two main parameters: the penetration coefficient and the solvency power, it has a lower surface tension compared to other co-solvent agents in the market. The high wetting performance of Topklean EL20P allows it to efficiently clean hard to remove, lead free fluxes after reflow.

IPC APEX Expo moves back to San Diego next year, February 14 – 16th. This will be home to the show for the next 5-6 years.

–TREVOR GALBRAITH

■ Austin American Aqua Rose batch cleaner.

■ Austin American Aqua Rose batch cleaner.

■ Mentor Graphics’ IoT Line Controllers.

■ Mentor Graphics’ IoT Line Controllers.

■ ECD SuperDRY 48F cabinet.

■ ECD SuperDRY 48F cabinet.

■ MIRTEC MV-6 OMNI.

■ MIRTEC MV-6 OMNI.

■ Seica Pilot 4DV8.

■ Seica Pilot 4DV8.

■ Mycronic MY600.

■ Mycronic MY600.

■ Kurtz Ersa USA Versaflow 4/55.

■ Kurtz Ersa USA Versaflow 4/55.

■ Viscom X7056.

■ Viscom X7056.

■ LPKF laser router.

■ LPKF laser router.

■ Nordson ASYMTEK Spectrum II Premier.

■ Nordson ASYMTEK Spectrum II Premier.

■ MicroCare’s new line of aerosol based cleaners.

■ MicroCare’s new line of aerosol based cleaners.

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