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June 2016 • SMT Magazine 81 have an assurance on that. The correct method to justify and to verify the machine accuracy. Las Marias: Has solder paste printing reached its limit? Where do you think are tolerances and pitch- es headed? Sim: Due to the requirement to reduce in prod- uct size and increase in functionality, custom- ers now are starting to explore packaging all the functionalities within a chip. For instance, in a phone, the Wi-Fi, wireless, GPS, everything can be compacted into packages and this packaging process also requires printing. So even if cus- tomer packed everything inside, you will still have the challenge of accuracy for these sys- tems in package. Now, most customers find the 0.3 CSP a chal- lenge, so they have been using that as a guide- line for their machine selection. But we know the electronics industry is looking at smaller than that. I don't know how small it can be, but customers will continue to explore smaller and smaller components. Las Marias: How's your market in China? Sim: This year, the market is not much different from last year. I don't think there will be a lot of growth, but even then it will be a marginal one. China is still the largest market in the world, no question about it. And the whole market is segregated into very different segments. Hand- held devices carry quite a big proportion of the SMT market. We can see the demand for hand- held devices is still good, but it's not growing in double digit levels. Las Marias: Is there anything else you would like to add? Sim: Another factor that customers should fo- cus on is throughput. If you can have a high throughput, you can drive down cost. And all customers think of that. Although, customers are going for dual lane printers. Three years ago, we came out with a pretty decent solution where we packaged two printers into one—a back-to-back configuration. We are helping cus- tomers in deploying dual-lane SMT line, instead of the single-lane SMT line, to enable products on top and bottom, running at the same time, and in the process we saved on footprint. That's one thing we have been working on for the past years. On top of that, we came out with some- thing very interesting. For many years, people are have measured the speed of the printer us- ing the core cycle time. Core cycle time typi- cally doesn't include the cleaning process. Most of the time, the printer's measurement when it comes to speed is the core, which means the PCB moves in, the machine does the alignment, the board moves up to the stencil, goes down, and exits. This is how the current printing in- dustry measures the cycle time—but we feel this is not realistic, because customers will never run production that way. We realized it's the full cy- cle time, not the core cycle time, that's an im- portant consideration. So we came up with the parallel processing concept. In a printing process, there are many things happening. Your board moves along the line, then after alignment it moves up for printing to take action, and after printing it is followed by board separation, then exit. Then wiper cleaning process will take place to clean the stencil, because after printing on several boards, the stencil will get dirty or clog. This has been a very typical printer cleaning process. We realized that if we can make certain actions or sequences running concurrently, then we can cut down the entire cycle time tremendous- ly. For example, if my board is moving in for the alignment, my stencil can go and do clean- ing. Which means the cleaning of the stencil does not affect my overall cycle time. Imagine a very traditional way of printing: I print, I clean. Now, while printing, I am cleaning. It is a big development. We have introduced this to many customers and they are getting really excited because they can really see and feel the differ- ence. So if we can make the cleaning process negligible in terms of cycle time, then the over- all throughput will be greatly improved because they can print more. Las Marias: Adam, thank you very much. Sim: Thank you. SMT IMPROVING THE SOLDER PASTE PRINTING CYCLE TIMES

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