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8 The PCB Magazine • August 2014 by Ray Rasmussen I-connect007 The PCB Dream I had a recent discussion with a board fabri- cator about the expansion of his business. The company was looking into the possibility of buying an existing facility and asked that I keep them informed if I came across any companies that were interested in selling. My first thought was that these guys know how to run a business; they'll do well with a good, strategic acquisition. Then, after thinking about it a bit, I changed my mind. Why buy someone else's obsolete fac - tory with all of its environmental baggage? You might buy a business for a strong customer base or if you were looking for a new capability, but it would have to be re- ally compelling. Instead, build something new. What if you could put together a new, state- of-the-art, highly auto- mated factory without waste treatment (no air or water)? I have the op- portunity to visit such a factory being built right here in the U.S. by an OEM that is making the necessary investments. Think about it: Increasingly better CAD and CAM software makes going from design to direct imaging more of a reality. If you fully investigat- ed a one-off panel production flow, just in time, along with a system like Mutracx which guaran- tees panel quality, you could flow from design through etch without a pause. I imagine a PCB factory looking more like a PCB assembly line, with long columns of equipment moving prod- uct through the factory. I believe everything is available to take a board from one end to the other in a smooth flow, without too many stops. And if we just invested a bit more in those areas where product stops, we could build a PCB from end to end, quickly and efficiently. So, if you were starting a PCB facility from scratch, how would you build it? I know that many of you out there can see what's happen- ing and what's possible with the newer systems that are now available. I'd love to see your plan for the PCB factory of the future. Please send me your thoughts. I'll share them with the rest of the readers. Let's see what's doable, today. Watch for my article this fall that describes a new factory currently taking shape, one that is adopting all of the latest technologies in order to become the PCB factory of the future. PE, 3D PCB Machine I've been really in - trigued by the marriage of printed electronics and 3D printing. After intently watching the emergence of printed electronics over the last 5–10 years, I can clearly see the intersection be - tween the PCB and PE industries. And now, with the rapid advancement of 3D printing, we're starting to see applications for full-blown PCBs. Considering the cost associated with prov- ing out a PCB design, offering up PCB proto machines seems like the logical first market for these systems. With a market PCB protos alone to be in the billions of dollars, with thousands of potential systems, it must look quite attractive to those building these systems. It's not just the cost of the PCB; it's the value of the time as well. Taking a couple of days or weeks out of the prod - uct development cycle is worth a lot more than the PCB. With that in mind, we see the introduc- tion of a few new entries to the market. Recently, we posted this article on pcb007. com: FirePick Delta 3D: One Step Closer to Desktop Electronics Manufacturing. The sys- tem described in the article is quite interesting the way i see it f e a t u r e c o l u M n Bits and Pieces

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