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FEBRUARY 2020 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 79 Key decisions are being made at every level now. Tier 1s are currently making most of the decisions about board build and materials for advanced safety. Clark: I see technology, design, and materials used in other market segments now being used in automotive, but with a twist. A great exam- ple is vision systems for advanced safety. From a PCB design perspective, we see many simi- larities to a tiny, handheld PCB with multiple layers of stacked microvias. The twist is that the cameras for a car are in continuous use as it is driven, and the required level of reli- ability is much greater. Placement and align- ment of the camera lens are more critical than in a smartphone. Therefore, adhesive materials change, but material suppliers learn from one industry and innovate for the next as required. For radar designs, we see the adoption of high-frequency, low-loss substrate materials used in the telecommunications market. Now, the automotive PCB fabricators need to be- come experts in manufacturing these materi- als. The frequencies are much higher than 5G even, so tolerances are immensely critical. Johnson: How do these drivers change your product offering? Clark: I see it in two ways. There are products being used in other markets that will fit well in the new safety system designs. This is a matter of educating the automotive supply chain that these products exist and how to benefit from them. There are other instances where we need to innovate specifically for the enhanced requirements of the automotive industry, but we learn from our historical offerings. Johnson: Automotive is demanding something like two orders of magnitude more reliability in the field than the industry as a whole currently delivers. While no one step in the PCB fabrica- tion process can deliver all of that reliability, are your products capable of helping with that improvement? Clark: We continue to test our individual prod- ucts to automotive reliability criteria, which are ever-changing. We also test the synergies of our materials and how, when paired togeth- er, they can offer even greater improvements. This is an advantage we have over current technology within the industry. We touch a broad range of segments in electronic build, including PCB fabrication chemistry, joining materials, and chemical solutions for semicon- ductors and packages. Johnson: Are the Tier 1s making the key de- sign decisions, or is that coming from the auto- motive company design teams? I'm wondering how much visibility into the changing dynam- ics a board fabrication house, for example, may need and/or be able to access. Clark: Key decisions are being made at every level now. Tier 1s are currently making most of the decisions about board build and materi- als for advanced safety. However, we see car- makers keeping some designs to themselves. We even see carmakers sourcing electronics manufacturing services (EMS) for design. PCB fabricators see the advantage of working with many levels of the automotive supply chain. Some players in the industry already have rela- tionships with both the Tier 1s and carmakers. Johnson: Who is your ideal customer? Clark: One who is open with information and willing to collaborate. Without an open ex- change of information, it can delay the deliv- ery of project goals. When you engage the re- sources of two or more companies, it shortens the time to success. This is critical because this market is changing so quickly. Collaboration is crucial.

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