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MARCH 2022 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 33 A m e r i c a , o u r i n d u s t r y," Brassard responded. "The member companies of the PCBA A, which include a rapidly growing list of PCB manufacturers and PCB sup- ply chain companies, are committed to raising aware- ness and driving a resurgence of PCB manufacturing in the United States." LaBeau shared that the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE) is also gaining traction and playing an important role in provid- ing the DoD with an inter- face to industry experts and channeling pro- gram funding. "USPAE leadership provides expert guidance, advice, and opportunities to meet other organizations and people from the industry and government who are working to solve the same problems," she said. "e DoD's Executive Agent for PCB and electronic inter- connect technology is also providing leader- ship at a critical time for the industry. Aer two challenging decades for the PCB indus- try, the uptick of activities of these and other organizations is a good sign." O'Neil's report offers a different perspec- tive, based on his expertise in accounting prac- tices as well as printed circuit manufacturing. "e U.S. PCB fabrication industry has long been a shining example of American ingenu- ity and applied R&D, from the 1950s through today," he wrote in his report. "However, a major shortfall throughout that period is that the PCB industry does not define itself as an R&D enterprise. As we will show here, PCB fabrication has become dominated by research and development with some select, low- volume production." He instructs PCB manufacturers to re-evalu- ate their business model and their value prop- osition; specifically, "they need to better allo- cate costs between customization per order and R&D," he says. "Rather than attempting to provide commo dit ized s o lut ions in an unsustainable model in which R&D is treated as operational expenditures, a better model would be to invest in standardization through appropriate R&D spending. Taking full advan- tage of R&D tax credits could help many companies fund the investments required to achieve consistent yields and sufficient capacities of advanced PCB fabrication." O'Neil's report says the USICA and related proposals to boost U.S. investment in R&D aim to reinforce and revive the United States as the global leader in semiconductors, while improving strate- gic autonomy. He also says that expanding the scope of these bills and the subsequent public-private R&D programs to include PCB fabrication is an even more pressing challenge. "is is not a matter of pitting the semi- conductor and PCB industries against one another; it is quite the opposite," O'Neil says. "e U.S. government and all stakeholders need to recognize that each sector is vitally important to the other, and the success of both is critical to reestablishing long-term strength and resiliency." Reviewing the three IPC reports, as well as following the work of the USPAE and PCBAA, the need for well-informed strate- gic direction from Congress becomes appar- ent. But O'Neil and Carano remind us that we're an ingenious industry, well adapted to overcoming constraints. It's a certainty that the U.S.-focused organizations, such as PCBAA and USPAE, would welcome as much of Carano's suggested collaboration as they can ge t. SMT007 Todd Brassard

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