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92 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2019 Flex007 Feature by Barry Matties I-CONNECT007 I recently spoke with Philip Johnston, man- aging director of Trackwise Designs, about the company's patented length-unlimited multilay- er printed circuits aimed at replacing conven- tional wire harnesses. Originally created for the aerospace industry, Trackwise has since seen growing interest from a number of dif- ferent industries. Jake Kelly, managing director and chairman of Viking Test Ltd., also joined the conversation to discuss the importance of having a flexible equipment supplier when dealing with such a unique technology. Barry Matties: For our readers, can you give us an overview of Trackwise Designs? Philip Johnston: Trackwise Designs was formed in May 1989. We just celebrated our first 30 years this month. It was started as a PCB de- sign bureau, hence the name. Soon after, we moved into manufacturing, and in the mid- 1990s, we were asked to make a nine-foot-long PCB, which was one of the early mobile phone base station antennas. The company devel- oped a means of making long PCBs, and that was originally the main USP. Now, as the frequency of the mobile tele- phony has gone up, by the laws of physics, the size of the circuits has come down. Our origi- nal USP has morphed into the manufacturing of antennas using printed circuit technology, and we export these all over the world—about 70% of our product goes to export. We've re - tained our large format manufacturing capa- bility, which is still needed for some niche ap- plications like aircraft guidance radars and long, linear scales for silicon chip manufac- turing machines. A few years ago, a large U.K. aerospace engine manufacturer came to Track- wise and said they were looking to replace the wire harness inside of their aerospace engine with flexible PCBs to save weight and space. And because aerospace engines are big, these PCBs were going to be big. They knew that we manufactured these big boards, so they came to see us. One of the requirements was that the roughly eight-meter-long run should be manufactured as a single piece rather than a daisy chain of in- 26 Meters of Flex!

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