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Apex: exhilarating, exhausting, but never dull: an attendance drop stained an otherwise eventful week.

Late February's Apex trade show was among the best we can remember for new equipment, materials and software. So much so, we would add, there is far too much to talk about here.

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But we'll take a shot.

The Products

Agilent Technologies' (agilent.com) Medalist 5DX automated x-ray inspection's 8.4 software release reportedly contains specialized algorithms that permit inspection of QFN components with reduced false call rates; defect characterization on non-wetted direct FET (field-effect transistor) by using an open slope paste test; and a threshold enabling inspection for solder presence along side edges of capacitors.

Aqueous Technologies (aqueoustech.com) debuted the SMT 1000 Quad Defluxer, a four-chamber batch cleaner said to cut discharge to just 40 gal./hr. The machine has separate wash and rinse pumps for each chamber, and moves boards by about 0.75" in each direction during the wash cycle to avoid shadowing. The firm also rolled out Vitrex AT200 and Vitrex-CA defluxing chemicals.

BEST Inc.'s (solder.net) PCB land repair kit for repairing lifted and damaged lands on boards includes three Sn-plated circuit frame patterns, offering nearly three times as many usable replacement land patterns as previous circuit frames. Frames can be used on Pb-free and SnPb boards. Includes a large variety of circuit frames, professional-grade stainless steel tweezers, Exacto knife, mixing sticks, resin and hardener.

BPM Microsystems (bpmmicro.com) showed the new Helix automated desktop device programmer, which comes with a tray input and output handling system with a reject location. The new system is designed to have the same dph and is based on the Helix-TU-10 design. The handler integrates two 7th generation programming sites and can program up to four devices simultaneously per site.

Cookson Electronics' (cooksonelectronics.com) Alpha AutoClean 40 semiaqueous cleaner is formulated for efficient removal of pre- and post-soldering flux residues from flux spray equipment, ovens, pallets, carriers, jigs and assemblies. A mildly alkaline (pH value of <12) blend of synergistic surfactants and emulsifiers it can be heated, used in ultrasonic machines and sprayed on hot equipment.

CyberOptics' (cyberoptics.com) LNC 60 is used to simultaneously align components on six nozzles on each placement head inside Juki's newest pick-and-place machines. The LaserAlign sensor reportedly permits rapid, on-the-fly component alignment.

Data I/O's (data-io.com) PS588 high-volume offline programmer now features ICOS 3-D inspection. It is said to combine programming and 3-D inspection into one high-speed process. A robotic head picks and presents device to the ICOS inspection module, where x, y and z axes are visually inspected for flaws or damage. Post-programming inspection reportedly ensures all passed devices fall within the coplanarity tolerances before output to media. It also inspects lead pitch and slant.

Datacon Technology's (datacon.at) 2200 Evo multichip die/chip bonder has a dispenser system and bonding system that work in parallel in a single module for throughput up to 5000 cph. It processes up to 25 different 300 mm wafers in single pass in a footprint of 116 x 122 cm. An optional dispenser can be retrofitted, as can a second dispense unit.

Electrolube's (electrolube.com) EADPI invertible airduster is suited to removing dust and airborne contamination from delicate and inaccessible areas of electronics equipment. It produces a high-pressure blast to ensure quick contamination removal, and uses pure, compressed, inert gas aerosol that is nonflammable, non-CFC and non-HCFC. it can blast off water and other solvents after cleaning.

Elektrobit's (elektrobit.com) JOT Automation line features J210-50 bare board unstacker, which automatically feeds boards onto a production line, has a pass-through length of 19.7", and adjustable track height from 29.5-39.4", with a support mechanism that relieves the load on the boards at the bottom of the stack; J204-50 segmented conveyor, which transports and buffers PCBs between process machines using multiple-drive technology; J215-33 single magazine handler, for high-mix, low-volume production; and J501-44, a compact inline high-speed router.

Everett Charles Technologies (ectinfo.com) showed the Pogo Pb-free probes, which come with a proprietary coating that increases hardness to over 500 knoop.

FineTech's (opto-bonder.com) Opto-Bonder Femto handles power laser/laser bar bonding, flip chip and VCSEL bonding, MEMs, sensors and micro-optics, chip on glass, and simple die attach. Has a reported accuracy +/-0.5 [micro]m and a footprint of 1270 x 900 mm. Features include motorized x, y, z and theta movements, maximum die size up to 4" diameter, and substrate size up to 6" diameter with automatic pattern recognition.

Henkel Corp.'s (henkelelectronics.com) Hysol FP5110 non-conductive paste underfill encapsulant is formulated for flip-chip image sensor modules and adheres to 2- and 3-layer flexible circuits (polyimide or epoxy adhesive). An alternative to mechanical soldering, it bonds bumps to substrates through a Pb-free-compatible thermal compression process, eliminating flux application, reflow and cleaning. The underfill is an automated substitute for manual anisotropic conductive film processes, and enables automated deposition and is compatible with thermal compression and ultrasonic bonding processes. Reportedly cures at 180[degrees]C in 10 sec., and stores at - 15[degrees]C.

HumiSeal's (humiseal.com) UV40 UV-curable conformal coating is said to adhere to many common solder masks and resists a range of solvents. It reportedly has a high insulation resistance, moisture insulation resistance and a reliable moisture-activated secondary cure mechanism.

Huntsman Advanced Materials' (huntsman.com/electronics) Araldite 7047 one-component, silver-filled epoxy adhesive is said to combine high electrical and thermal conductivity. A high purity, 100% solids system for void-free circuit and IC bonding, it has a reported work life of up to four days at room temperature and cures in one hour at 329[degrees]F. It is compatible with Pb-free processing.

Indium Corp.'s (indium.com) Indium3.2 Pb-free water-soluble solder paste increases finished goods reliability with a unique chemistry that enhances the cleanability of the flux residues after high-temperature Pb-free reflow, without sacrificing stencil life and robust printing process. In addition, Indium3.2's high humidity resistance saves money by minimizing solder waste.

I&J Fisnar's (ijfisnar.com) PPD-130 peristaltic pump dispenser maintains a clean, safe bench environment during low viscosity fluid deposition. The dispenser is air-free and eliminates operator contact with hazardous material. It is self-priming, and has a reverse direction for emptying tubes and returning fluid to the source after use. It is for small shots and continuous operation.

JNJ Industries's (jnj-industries.com) Lead-Free Solder Paste Remover is a proprietary blend of aliphatic glycol ethers, isopropyl alcohol and DI water. Is RoHS-compliant, and can be used with any type of solder paste, Pb-bearing or Pb-free, no-clean or water-based. It cleans stencils, screens, misprinted boards, tools, benches, and machinery, and also cleans or removes uncured SMT chip bonder epoxies.

Juki Corp.'s (jas-smt.com) Juki 100 table/benchtop selective solder machine has gliding, frictionless board carrier. Small board supports can be placed between the PCB and top for board leveling, with no special carriers or software needed. A sky-hook system can be used for topside board leveling. It includes a four-step setup, no-tools maintenance, and can be set up using portable units of exhaust, air, power and nitrogen.

Kester (kester.com) has devised a low-cost, low Cu-dissolution alloy, called Ultrapure K100LD. The eutectic SnCu alloy has controlled metallic dopants to control the grain structure within the solder joint and to minimize copper dissolution into the solder pot. It is said to sharply cut common defects such as icicling and bridging. An improved grain structure also results in shinier solder joints.

Kyzen Corp. (kyzen.com) introduced Aquanox A4625B, an MEA-free aqueous blend cleaner designed for batch washers. It can be used at low concentrations for cleaning efficiency without damaging delicate substrates.

Mimot's (mimot.com) MX pick-and-place machine includes cascading modularity with placement rates up to 80,000 cph, 216 feeder slots per segment, and full range component capability. Also features double placement areas in each module, multilevel transport system for line balancing, and is said to eliminate local head downtimes.

OK International's (okinternational.com) Thermal Tweezer Nozzles are for use with multiple stacked components, glob-top encapsulated die, or small devices that are easily damaged by excessive temperature. They reduce thermal stresses on PCBs during multiple rework operations for stacked device components by confining heat to localized area of stacked solder joints, thereby preventing the PCB from reaching reflow temperatures.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Qualitek's (qualitek.com) LF Green Pb-free solder paste comes in SnAgCu and SnAg, and reportedly remains green until reflowed. Once reflowed, clear residues remain with normal metallic joint appearance. It comes in no-clean, water-soluble and RMA flux types, in type 3, 4 and 5 meshes.

Samsung's SM-321 component placement platform handles PCBs up to 24 x 20". Throughput is a reported 21,000 cph, and the chip range is 0201 to 55 m[m.sup.2] devices. It supports the SM Series slim format feeders, which handle standard EIA 481 tape sizes, and also have optional SM Series intelligent feeders for component traceability and inventory management. (Available from Dynatech, dynatechsmt.com.)

Seika Machinery's (seikausa.com) Sayaka PCB router is said to enable high-precision, low-stress depanelization and is reportedly easy to program. The router can cut paths as close as 0.5 mm to a component, and has a cutting path accuracy of +/-0.01 mm.

Siemens's (siplace.com) new SIPlace OS fully automated, high-speed inline inspection system checks solder paste and component placement. Is capable of 2-D measurements of the length and width of a component, and 3-D height measurement as well, aided by a new 3-D sensor technology. The company also showed the A-Series die placement and die bonders, which come in two versions: the A-1 eutectic/epoxy die bonder (a single gantry version), and the A-2 epoxy die bonder (which has two gantries).

Sony Manufacturing Systems's (sonysms.com) SI-G200 cellular mounter comes equipped with eight nozzles and incorporates a wide range of mounting capability (0603 to 50 mm x 100 mm board sizes) with placement precision at 40 [micro]m at 3 Sigma. It is said to be capable of generating speeds of 45,000 cph and precision of 45 [micro]m at 3 Sigma.

Speedline Technologies (speedlinetech.com) displayed its new Electrovert VectraES wave soldering system, which is Pb-free capable and has a new servo-controlled reciprocating spray fluxer that features an air atomized spray head, pressurized tank flux supply system, self-cleaning nozzle and the ability to spray in one or both directions with recipe control. The machine also has new preheat technology, called Low Mass Forced Convection, a one-piece module said to minimize cross-board and top-to-bottom product temperature differentials. The machine is said to cut dross up to 40%. The company's XYFlex Pro+ has a special dispensing system for depositing underfill at high-volume production speeds. The machine, which comes with an optional dual lane, will be available in May. Speedline also showed the FXD dispenser, which is replacing five dispensing platforms, and aimed at the mid-range market. It is capable of 0.003", 3-Sigma accuracy, and handles panels up to 20 x 20".

Universal Instruments's (uic.com) Genesis GC-120Q quad-gantry machine has a reported top throughput of 120,000 components per hour. Its four Lightning heads are said to accommodate 01005 to 30 mm components.

Valor (valor.com) debuted vPlan, an enterprise-level, assembly process engineering software tool said to synchronize process engineering in an easy-to-use package, from CAD to machine level (SMT, PTH and manual assembly) in three steps.

Besides its new XPM3 reflow oven and 6745 selective soldering system (profiled in the February 2007 issue, pg. 97), Vitronics-Soltec (vitronics-soltec.com) unveiled a high-volume wave machine, Delta, which has closed loop controls for precise solder and preheat temperatures, and constantly monitors wave height, flux density and board temperature.

Whew.

I tried to focus here on products new to North America. It was a big show, and I have no doubt missed a few: Any omissions or errors are mine and are unintentional. For a list of other new products, visit circuitsassembly.com.

The News

Cimnet Systems (cim-sys.com) and Direct Logix (directlogix.com) are bundling the companies' respective engineering planning and management software. The combined solution is said to completely automate front-end operations, from quoting to pre-production engineering and design.

The NSpec AOI line will be rebranded under its OEM name, Marantz. Thanks in large part to Christopher Associates (christopherweb.com), there are now 4,500 installations worldwide.

Sunstone Circuits (sunstone.com) announced the branding of its PCB123 design rule check tool suite, parts library and design and fabrication services under a single name: ECOSystem. Explains CEO Terry Heilman, "We want to support designers from the time their project is conceived up until it is completed. Sunstone stands by our customers with a global commitment to 24/7/365 customer service." Sunstone has also merged its PCB-express.com and PCBpro.com brands under the Sunstone name. Customers can now order PCBexpress Quickturn prototypes and PCBpro full-feature through Sunstone Circuits.

Zestron (zestron.com) discussed its latest service, CoRE Test, a water stress test for coating reliability. A quick and easy test, it can be performed during design.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Show

As is typical when a big show relocates, there was no shortage of frowns on exhibitors' faces as they grappled with nuances of the new site, different hotels, unions, and a somewhat dicey neighborhood. This happens almost any time a show moves, however. The upside is the convention center itself, which is beautiful and well laid out. The downsides are the lack of local infrastructure, which is somewhat shocking considering the show was held in downtown L.A., the second largest city in the U.S. Exhibitors cited shortages of higher-end hotels and restaurants adjacent to the convention center, and the position of the center itself, which is at the intersection of two of the most-traveled interstates in the country, making driving to the show a daunting exercise. That the show setup was on holiday (President's Day) and during the Chinese New Year were also sore spots.

According to IPC, the show drew 5,087 attendees, down 15% from 2006. Wednesday, the second day of the show, was the busiest. Tuesday was slower than normal. Thursday was a washout. The assembly side of the show was far superior to that for bare boards, and the design nook was, well, quiet.

"This was the best Apex in many years, at least from a lead count perspective. The convention center only served room-temperature RC Cola, but it's a small sacrifice for qualified leads," Aqueous Technologies president Mike Konrad told CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY. Sony marketing manager Vera Chang added that the "quality of customers was good, although traffic did seem low."

Some others were decidedly less enthusiastic, however, but were unwilling to be quoted. In the end, it will be up to each exhibitor to decide whether the attendance merits changes next year. Whether they were happy or not--and we're not willing to project anything based on the anecdotal comments we received, which were all over the map--time tempers frustrations.

Usually.

RELATED ARTICLE: 'Water Will Seek Its Own Level'

As chairman of the Apex Trade Show Subcommittee, Jeff Timms is something of a lightning rod for exhibitors, pleased or not. (His day job is vice president of Siemens Electronics Assembly, Americas.) He spoke with CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY after this year's show.

CA: What's Siemens' take on all the trade shows that have popped up of late? Is this a good thing--"more stores equals more places to reach customers"--or in conflict with the one-time goal to reduce the total number of shows?

JT: In general, I believe trade shows are a reasonable means to reach customers. They are for sure not the only means, and I do not believe in all cases that they are the best means. They are, however, a way to get face-to-face with a fairly large number of customers in a short period of time. We have to be careful, however, that we do not dilute their effectiveness by having too many with too little impact. I believe a smaller number of shows with larger attendance offers our customers a better value due to the scope of the product offering and the scope of the technical content. We need to strike a balance; in time the water will seek its own level in this area.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CA: As a followup, would Apex better serve our industry if it rotated to Guadalajara or Juarez in order to take advantage of the fast-growing Mexican market?

JT: Not a single Tier one supplier would knock the potential of the Mexico market. However, we are dealing with a different dynamic in that many--not all--decisions to purchase capital are made outside of Mexico. This aspect of the business complicates the selling process for us and the decision process for our customers. In the end, it deemphasizes Mexican trade shows for capital equipment.

CA: It's been suggested that placement OEMs are getting away from the agreed-upon IPC-9850 standard. Do you feel that is happening, and if so, what would you suggest be done?

JT: I don't believe it is up the equipment suppliers to promote the IPC-9850 standard as much as it is up to the customers to demand a specification based on the standard. At Siemens, we typically present three numbers: the specification of the machine running in optimal circumstances (which gives an idea of max speed in ideal conditions); the specification using IPC-9850 (for throughput under known circumstances and design criteria); and an actual customer PCB running the way the customer can expect to see it in their factory. This is where the rubber meets the road and the one that really counts.

CA: Siemens is rolling out an AOI to the North American market, joining Samsung, Yamaha and others in offering a multi-part line solution. What's the demand for turnkey lines and why wouldn't an assembler choose that route?

JT: I believe that AOI is an interesting market. There is no clear world leader and nearly all the current suppliers have some level of shortcoming (at least, that is what we hear from our customers). By entering the world of AOI we feel we can offer a level of integration that a dedicated AOI supplier cannot. We also feel we understand the placement side of this business better and, as such, can design a process that will be more effective in both pre- and post-reflow environments.

Mike Buetow is editor in chief of CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY; mbuetow@upmediagroup.com.
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Title Annotation:Apex Recap
Comment:Apex: exhilarating, exhausting, but never dull: an attendance drop stained an otherwise eventful week.(Apex Recap)
Author:Buetow, Mike
Publication:Circuits Assembly
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Words:3065
Previous Article:Humidity and pollution effects on Pb-free assemblies: a study of how metallization and operating voltage influence electrochemical migration.
Next Article:Placement machine tolerances and limitations: DfA is the best solution for grappling with varying machine tolerances.
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