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84 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2020 the key to continued collaborative success as technology races forward. Who's Leading This Dance? Today's cutting-edge technology is demand- ing 20+ layer rigid-flex, flex with stiffen- ers, rigid-flex HDI, and rigid-flex platforms by nearly all industries—from defense and aerospace to medical devices and commer- cial. The needs of these different industries once-segmented manufacturers and the tech- nologies that each offered. But now, manu- facturers who are becoming dominant solu- tions providers excel in collaboration as they ramp up to offer the same high level of tech- nology, capabilities, reliability, quick-turn ap- plications, testing, and appropriate certifica- tion across all industries. Perhaps the delivery expectations that we have grown accustomed to in our personal lives are also influencing expectations in our business lives. However it started, shorter lead times and quick turn are becoming the norm, not the exception. Where once 40-, 50-, or 60- day lead times were typical for the defense and aerospace industries, for instance, the demand for decreased lead time continues down to 15 days or less. To meet speed demands, manu- facturers are being challenged to create more efficient processes and to increase discipline by constantly monitoring key production KPI to meet demands without sacrificing quality or economics. They don't want shorter lead times or quick-turn to live in isolation but to be a companion with advanced technology solu- tions, reliability, and capacity. Views From the Industry We asked three technology leaders to pro- vide their views of today's manufacturing chal- lenges and changes. Sherry Barone CEO/Co-founder of ATTP "The most challenging thing for the defense industry is the manufacturing process." It takes a long time to develop the most so- phisticated designs. The most critical deter- minant of development-to-deployment time is manufacturing. As an example, it can take up to three to six months to develop a design, which then may take a year or two to test, integrate, and potentially field test. Another challenge in manufacturing is for designs to become lighter and stronger, functionally advanced with ca- pabilities that are modular. You want to have software that is adaptable for the smaller mod- ules so that you can add on features as you continually advance the software applications. The defense industry is highly focused on flex designs for mobile applications with 5G. Mobile technology is going to expand to en- able more software applications and more data exchange at higher speed with signal integrity and enabling advanced cybersecurity. 5G is an energy alternative application that uses signifi- cantly less energy. The new 5G technology and current applications are projected to be a $35 billion industry over the next couple of years. Flexible PCBs are going to be in high de- mand for the development of defense industry applications. Innovation in the PCB industry is going to need to get faster to keep up with a growing demand for product speeds. It is a unique opportunity for designers and manu- facturers to come up with capabilities that of- fer high speeds, quicker and cheaper. Steve Robinson CEO/president of APCT "We are committed to continually investing in the future." In the last 18 months, we have been in conversations with our defense, aerospace, and medical industries customers, to name a few, listening to what they value the most from a North American supplier. All of our customers are driving their technologies to new levels, and in support, this has allowed us the flexibility to launch QTA and quick-turn, reduced cycle time offerings in the flex, rigid- flex with stiffeners, and rigid-flex platforms.

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