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10 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2018 At NEPCON, I also interviewed Ralf Wagen- fuehr of Rehm Thermal Systems, to get his unique insights on the topic of flex assembly challenges, from the perspective of a reflow oven technology supplier. Michael Gouldsmith and Zen Lee, both with Themaltronics, provide their views from a hand soldering technology standpoint in a short article. This month, we are also featuring an inter- view with Jason Michaud of Miraco, and Harry Chan of Vexos Corp. In our columns department, Michael Ford discusses digitalization and the use of Internet of Things (IoT) in the manufacturing environ- ment, and IPC's John Mitchell examines the manufacturing industry skills gap, and how his organization is helping bridge that gap through training and education. Finally, we have a couple of technical arti- cles that highlight microflux coated solder preforms as a novel approach to void reduction and evaluate the impact of solder alloy powder size and stencil technology on the transfer effi- ciency of solder pastes. I hope you enjoy this issue of SMT007 Maga- zine. In next month's issue, we'll feature best practices in PCB assembly. Watch out for it. SMT007 While we were planning the launch of Flex007, one of the flex experts we spoke with mentioned that apart from the design and manufacturing of flex printed circuits, a criti - cal challenge that needs atten- tion is assembly. Their flex- ible nature requires specific strategies for paste print- ing, chip mounting, solder- ing—whether reflow, wave, or hand—and rework/repair processes. And this brings me to the June issue of SMT007 Magazine. This month, we investigate the many chal- lenges in flex circuit assembly and highlight some of the strategies, techniques and best practices to help assemblers deal with flex circuit issues. First, we feature an experts' discussion with Lenthor Engineering's David Moody and Matt Kan, as well as BEST Inc.'s Bob Wetter- mann, who offer their wide-ranging views on flex and rigid-flex circuits. Among the issues highlighted are materials, paste printing, depan- elization, and mois- ture, and ways to address those chal- lenges—including upfront engagement between designers and assemblers. Meanwhile, at the recent NEPCON China 2018 event in Shanghai, I spoke to Steven Fang, direc- tor of sales for Asia at OK International, who shared the challenges he sees in flex circuit assembly. Fang notes that soldering is critical, given that flex circuits may easily be damaged when subjected to extreme temper- atures during soldering and rework. Among other things, Fang believes that operators need smarter hand soldering systems, which would help them recognize whether the solder joints are good or not. Stephen Las Marias is managing editor of SMT007 Magazine. He has been a technology editor for more than 14 years covering electronics, components, and industrial automation systems. Steven Fang

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