At the press conference held on the first day of the annual SMT/Hybrid/Packaging Exhibition, Udo Weller, the head of Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, expressed surprise that, despite all of the harbingers of doom and soothsayers of a slough of despond, numbers attending his show in Nürnberg were very good indeed.
Downstairs, Weller had rented the same amount of exhibition space as he had back in 2007; he was expecting some 24,000 souls through the turnstiles, much as usual, and some 400 conference delegates. True, the number of exhibitors was down a touch, but, given the decline in travelling budgets, overall, he could see no major change. Approximately 30% of the exhibitors were internationals, the lead country being the U.S., hotly followed by Switzerland, Asia and the UK.
Weller paid tribute to the efforts of Dr. Randolf Schliesser of VDE/VDI Innovation + Technik GmbH, who had, with tireless dedication, been successful in the conception, creation and commissioning of a fully operational production line involving the assembly of radio sensor nodes on advanced technology PCBs.
Weller mentioned the "Optics meets Electronics" group stand on which the Fraunhofer Institute had brought together companies involved in the sphere of opto-electronics and, finally, the Service Point EMS platform for contract manufacturers who develop and produce electronics assemblies and systems.
Then it was the turn of Professor Dr. Ing E. Herbert Reichl of the Fraunhofer IZM in Berlin, and Committee Chairman of SMT/HYBRID/Packaging, to talk about packaging for high brightness LEDS. As systems become smaller, there is a need for system integration towards more functionality. LEDS have many common applications, as anyone who has seen a new-model Audi coming toward them will vouchsafe, but it is the future applications that excite, and a market figure of $8.2 billion that will add to the frisson of expectancy.
Reichl illustrated an example of LEDS used in the world of fashion, with some evocative lighting in a lady's dress, and when he mentioned head-up displays we do not think he was necessarily talking haute couture; more windscreen interiors. By 2011, the LED market will be worth some $7 billion, and the good doctor highlighted the sterling work being performed by the Fraunhofer Institute in the realm of micro reliability and lifetime prediction for LEDS, as well as those companies and universities involved with automotive forward lighting.
Dr. Ing. Klaus Dieter Lang is also from the Fraunhofer IZM in Berlin, and spoke on multifunctional flex boards. With component size dropping below 0.2 mm by 2010, the demand for rigid PCBs is declining, and flex is now showing positive trends, as these platforms allow for ultra thin chip integration into the substrate. He illustrated the work being done at the institute on smart labels on polyimide for high reliability in various environments, and as embedded passives will increase, the work being done on polymer electronics on a reel-to-reel basis at TU Berlin was regarded as highly pertinent. One sees the narrowing of interests between the work here and the work being done in the field of printed electronics, as was so very well covered in Dresden last month at the IDTEchEx conference.
Dr. Randolf Schliesser is the man behind the creation of the production line running in Hall 6, and this was described being an example of PCB technologies as innovation drivers in power management. (It was the laser de-panelling part of this line that was of particular interest.) AT&S in Austria are quite good at all of this too, bit more of that later. The production line mirrored the demands from industry in system integration for industrial automation, with data logging on site; it brought together the innovative resources of several companies who had jointly succeeded by working together tirelessly over the last 12 days in the creation of a production line that met these industry demands, and was fully and smoothly operational to boot.