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78 The PCB Magazine • May 2016 in DESs, no acid is required in the plating for- mulation helping to minimise the risk of "black pad." A bright uniform gold coating, as shown in Figure 2, is possible in a short period of time (~5 minutes). With nine months left, the project is pro- ceeding according to the initial timeframe. Lab- oratory scale trials at the University of Leicester, while still ongoing, have resulted in a number of interesting plating formulations for both im- mersion palladium and gold plating processes, some examples of which have been described above. We are now engaged in further valida- tion of the coatings. Working with Bob Willis of The Smart Group, our coatings will form part of a trial to evaluate the properties of a number of surface finishes in a variety of assembly and soldering conditions. This exciting opportuni- ty will provide us with the chance to directly quantify the quality of our coatings against the current industry standards with testing being carried out by a well-known, impartial, industry expert. In addition, C-Tech and Merlin will fur- ther develop scale-up protocols for the process, developing an understanding of plating behav- iour along with bath evolution and replenish- ment procedures. PCB Acknowledgement This project is co-funded by Innovate UK. References 1. E. L. Smith, A. P. Abbott and K. S. Ryder, Chemical Reviews, 2014, 114, 11060–11082. 2. E. L. Smith, A. P. Abbott, J. Griffin, R. C. Harris, C. O'Connor and K. S. Ryder, Circuit World, 2010, 36, 3–9. 3. A. P. Abbott, J. Griffith, S. Nandhra, C. O'Connor, S. Postlethwaite, K. S. Ryder and E. L. Smith, Surface and Coatings Technology, 2008, 202, 2033-2039. 4. A. D. Ballantyne, G. C. H. Forrest, G. Frisch, J. M. Hartley and K. S. Ryder, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2015, 17, 30540–30550. 5. A. D. Ballantyne, D. Price, T. Perrett and K. Ryder, The PCB Magazine, 2015, 22–30. Dr. Andrew Ballan- tyne (left) is a research associate and Karl Ry- der (right) is professor of physical chemistry at university of leicester in the uK. maCfest: manufaCturinG advanCed CoatinGs for future eleCtroniC systems The robotics industry is on the precipice of a major break- through. Soon, industrial robots will be used at lower cost in small-scale production thanks to the operating system developed by the Dutch-German partner- ship SInBot. Doctoral research by maarten Essers from the university of Twente shows that the results from preliminary tests are promising. major companies in the manufacturing industry are using smart robots for mass production more frequently. This is not economically viable for small production runs, because reprogramming industrial robots is an expensive and time consuming process. An additional problem is the hierarchical structure of the operating system, which means that significantly more machines are involved than strictly necessary. Smart Factories are Everywhere The new design architecture results in more flexible robots that are easier to use in smaller production environments. Essers predicts that "factories will get a complete overhaul in the near future, especially with respect to small and medium enterprises. Smart factories will pop up everywhere and small-scale production will become completely automated with the help of self-learning smart ro - bots. They will be used in the food, feed and metal industries as well as in other manufacturing sectors. Breakthrough with New Generation Robots

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