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94 PCB007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2018 The last few IPC APEX EXPO events have focused heavily on Industry 4.0, which is all about the Internet of Things (IoT), automa- tion, and data exchange between machines. Where do we go from here? Perhaps we can learn some lessons from the sheet metal and plastic industries. Integration of 3D Printing I first wrote about this burgeoning technol- ogy back in the September 2012 issue of The PCB Magazine with a column titled "Will 'Old' PCB Technology Save American Manufactur- ing?" which compared 3D printing to the orig- inal additive process of manufacturing PCBs. Many of us old-school, pre-1980s technology board guys remember actually running the ad- ditive PCB process back in the day well before the subtractive process became the preferred methodology. The additive process was quite simple and had far fewer process steps than the complicat- ed travelers seen in today's PCB shops. There was nei- ther a need for copper clad raw laminate nor cur- rent selective electroplat- ing technologies. A nega- tive image was defined on a resin substrate, and met- al was selectively added, or built up, to form the cir- cuitry and interconnects. This was followed up in the October 2013 issue of The PCB Magazine with "Point of View: 3D Print - ing—Tales from the Road," Industry 5.0: Can We Learn From Other Industries? which highlighted the successful utilization of 3D printing from my travels in a variety of indus- tries, none of which were PCB manufacturing: Medical Peking University's Dr. Liu Zhongjun has been using EBM 3D printing for the past nine years to develop new spinal implants (Figure 1). During that time, he has created hundreds of orthope - dic implants that have been custom engineered to fit each specific patient's body. He explains, "In the past, we used clinical titanium mesh, but with the growth of bone, titanium mesh could easily stick into the bone and cause collapse. 3D-printed implants fit the bone completely and allow the bone to grow into the implants." Zhongjun continued, "In this aspect, 3D-printed implants are more reliable than traditional ones." The Right Approach by Steve Williams, THE RIGHT APPROACH CONSULTING Figure 1: 3D-printed spinal implant. (Source: Spinal Surgery News)

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