National Electronics Week Unveils Some Surprises
My recent visit to the National Electronics Week (NEW) at the National Exhibition Centre (N.E.C.) in Birmingham, England, 12-14th April was my first in many years. Back in the days of ‘Silicon Valley Scotland”, Nepcon UK dominated the landscape, occupying three halls. Today, NEW is a shadow of these past glories and only covers half a hall!
That said, there was some surprising pockets of innovation that made it worth the visit. Amfax is a small UK startup that displayed an AOI system that uses laser triangulation to fully inspect the board in an extremely short cycle time. The key benefits are the fact that it produces hard metrology data and does not require an operator. In the Industry 4.0, factory automation evolution, manufacturers will require hard data from their AOI systems, as opposed to comparative Pass/Fail information.
The Peak Group displayed some innovative, highly customizable test systems, offering a range of testing capabilities including functional test, ICT, Boundary Scan, device programming etc. The company also manufactures fixtures for EMS companies.
Dr. Chris Hunt, from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), stopped by the Global SMT & Packaging stand and discussed a number of R&D projects they are working on. These include a novel method for affixing micro-controllers and other electronics devices to wearable materials. NPL are also working on conductive adhesives for high temperature applications and a new humidity testing method to test conformal coatings.
Bob Willis made his debut with the IPC Rework Challenge. Sponsored by Global SMT & Packaging, this is a new contest that builds upon the highly successful hand soldering competition from IPC.
NEW is planning to rebrand itself as “What’s New in Electronics” in 2017. Event director, Claire Saunders told Global SMT & Packaging that the aim is to introduce more innovative start-ups and involve universities, representing the entire electronics supply chain.
– TREVOR GALBRAITH