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PCB-Oct2014

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8 The PCB Magazine • October 2014 by Ray Rasmussen i-ConneCt007 The title of my column this month was pro- vided by Joe Fjelstad. It came in the form of a comment at the top of an email he sent to me a few months back. I think it perfectly de- scribes the theme of this column, as does the quote below from an article about the BotFac- tory: "The guys at BotFactory hate to solder. Their eyes start gleaming when they talk about how future generations of their new desktop circuit fabrication platform, Squink, could bring to an end the days of soldering for engineering stu- dents and hackers. It's messy. It's hot. They never want to do it again." I recently came across a quote on the topic of change from Bill Gates, which I believe is quite appro- priate as we all try to figure out where this technology is going. Gates said, "We al- ways overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and under- estimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction." Futurist Ray Kurzweil says this: "If we look at the life cycle of technologies, we see an early period of over-enthusiasm, then a 'bust' when disillusionment sets in, followed by the real revolution." The market hype associated with print- ed electronics and 3D manufacturing over the years has suggested that these technologies will be game-changers. The speed at which they're "changing the game," in reality, may lull some folks to sleep as they see PE and 3D more as fads as opposed to new ways of making circuits. That brings to mind another Kurzweil quote: "Our intuition about the future is linear. But the reality of information technology is exponen- tial, and that makes a profound dif- ference. If I take 30 steps linearly, I get to 30. If I take 30 steps expo- nentially, I get to a billion." The Gartner Chart in Figure 1 was pulled from this press re- lease back in August. In my June 2013 column, I posed the idea that the combi- nation of 3D and PE technol- ogies would create dramatic changes in the industry (more hype?). I suggested that the timing for this con- vergence (PE and 3D) and the PCB was somewhere in the future. But I don't believe that's the case anymore. Like the second half of Gates' quote on change and Kurzweil's on expo- nential change, we are likely underestimating what will oc- cur over the next decade; things are changing exponentially. For me, it's not what the guys at the Botfactory are do- ing, it's who is doing it. These aren't the industry experts, giant technology companies or huge EMS providers. It's the GenXers. They're by-passing the tradition- al industries entirely. They've got- ten hold of cheap 3D printers along with the materials being developed for printed electronics and they're starting to build PCBs and assemblies. Sure, it is just rudimentary circuits now, but this will change. Think about it: the way i see it C o l u m n New Young Voices Finding the Right Tune To Sing

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