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24 The PCB Magazine • August 2016 by Barry Matties Recently I sat down with Managing Director Steve Driver of Spirit Circuits. We discussed the company's future, and the interesting decision to build a new facility in Craiova, Romania, and how Whelen's Alex Stepinski influenced the design. Barry Matties: Steve, we're sitting at your facility in what appears to be a sunny day here in England. Steve Driver: Absolutely. Every day is sunny in England. Matties: That's why I carry my umbrella. Driver: It's a myth. The rain's a myth. Matties: I just went on a nice tour of your facility, and it looks like you guys are doing some inter- esting things with metal backed boards here, but you're also setting up a new facility in Romania at the moment. Let's just jump right into that, since I've already spoken with your managing director, Martin Randall, about what you're doing here. Tell me about what you are planning to do in the fu- ture, in Romania. Driver: The Romanian project is customer-driv- en. We have a dominance in the LED PCB sec- tor. More than 30% of our business revenues here are on LED boards. We have a high de- mand for metal backed PCBs, single-sided PCBs using CEM-1 or FR-4 laminates. Nobody wants to make it any more. It's expensive to come from China because the freight is killing it. The freight is 20–25% of the landed cost. So we're building our first plant in Romania and it's go- ing to be for single-sided PCB manufacturing. We have the building ready. The containers are being loaded with the equipment now. Pilot production will be around the September/Oc- tober time frame. We have 12 employees here from Romania being trained, with another four arriving on the 30th. Matties: What sort of manufacturing is this? You were talking about a fully automated process, is that the idea? Driver: For Phase 1, no. Phase 1 is using all the equipment we've got. We have made several ac- quisitions over the last few years, so we've got a whole bunch of PCB equipment around us. That is going to be installed in the next few months. It will be a standard shop using standard tech- nology—screen printing, photo mechanical, etching, drilling, routing—with some new equipment from Viking and Technic. For Phase 2 we plan to install the Lunaris machine from Mutracx and have a digital section of the fac- tory. This will be Q1 2017. Then we have a plan for Phase 3 to build a turnkey digital PTH shop, but that's about 18 months down the road. FEATURE INTERVIEW Steve Driver

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