SMT007 Magazine

SMT-Feb2015

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10 SMT Magazine • February 2015 This was the year of the wearables. With Ap- ples's iWatch coming out soon, everyone was trying to get a jump on them with their own watch or wearable device. We've posted some of the broader announcements about markets, technologies and such but shied away from the plethora of product introductions. There was just too much stuff. Dan Feinberg, our techno-geek editor at large, really got into it at this year's show, pro- viding a solid flow of information for our read- ers. We only asked Dan to take a look at one product for us,: the Voxel8 3D printer for elec- tronics. And if you read our January issues of both The PCB Magazine and SMT Magazine, you would have seen our coverage of structural elec- tronics. The exciting thing about this segment is that it allows electronics to be built into every- thing. We just have to figure out how to become part of this revolution and not a casualty of it. Voxel8 As I mentioned, Voxel8 introduced a 3D electronics printer at CES. The important part of this story isn't just the printer and its impli- cations for the electronics industry as we know it, but rather, who's behind it. These are serious folks with serious money. Voxel8 isn't destined for the hobbyist market like most 3D printers. Instead, they've developed a product which will likely be a foundational piece of the coming revolution in structural electronics. The company is a Harvard University spi- noff and has some serious backing. Here is something from a recent posting on our web- site; you'll see what I mean. …Voxel8 is collaborating with Autodesk on Project Wire, a Spark powered design tool for 3D printed electronics. Project Wire is a new design tool under active development at Autodesk that pro- vides electronics and 3D printing enthusiasts with the ability to place components and route 3D wires. Foxconn in Mexico A couple of years ago, I mentioned Fox- conn's consolidation of its Mexican operations in Ciudad Juarez. An article published by Open Democracy, On the Border: Foxconn in Mexico, talks about this new operation with a focus on the workforce. The article is slanted toward the workers and the conditions they face. It's cer- tainly another side of the story that we in the trade press rarely cover. I found it interesting, and based on what I've been reading about the factory conditions in Asia, Mexico is just more of the same. Of course, it has to be said that not all companies are bad actors. And even in this case, we don't know the entire story. Most of them likely do a good job of caring for their workers. And most OEMs these days are under constant pressure from NGOs to improve con- ditions in the factories of their suppliers. The article only tells one side of the story, but it is interesting. IPC aPeX eXPO Right around the corner, the IPC show and conference looks to be an exceptional event this year, with the show floor sold out and confer- ence attendance up. As usual, we will be there in force with the I-Connect007 team conducting interviews, covering events and supporting our customers. IPC has listed over 300 new prod- ucts from show exhibitors, so there's plenty to see. Please stop by our booth and say hello. The Future Barring some unforeseen political event or act of God, all signs point to a very good 2015 here in the U.S. Once Europe and Asia get back on track, and if energy prices remain relatively low, 2016 and beyond should bode well for the industry. The Internet of Things, printed elec- tronics and 3D printing will certainly keep us all on our toes as we work to build the products of today while keeping an eye on the products of tomorrow. We have a lot to be thankful for in 2015. See you at IPC APEX EXPO! SMT ray rasmussen is the publisher and chief editor for i-Connect007 publications. He has worked in the industry since 1978 and is the former publisher and chief editor of CircuiTree Magazine. To read past columns, or to contact rasmussen, click here. bITS aNd PIeCeS continues the way i see it

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