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JANUARY 2021 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 35 for a panelized 10-unit product, essentially sav- ing time and money. Therefore, special tools, jigs, and fixtures need to be created to be able to make the transition at the same time from prototype to pilot, medium, and production runs. Further, it's important to utilize automated tools and robotics as much as possible. Robot- ics, with its vision system in particular, makes the process a lot easier for placement accuracy. Those assembly systems measure with a laser beam to keep accuracy intact, which is espe- cially critical for microelectronics involving CoB, flip chip, and wire bonding. We are talking about accuracies in sub-mils and in some cases, microns. Sometimes, one- or two-micron accuracies are needed to make those portable and wearable devices. Robotics and automated equipment would make it a lot easier for making the transition from prototype to production. At the same time, we must make sure that we have batch modules for testing the devices after the whole assembly is performed as part of the final quality assurance process. When production units are completed, sam- ple size for testing must be defined. This involves how testing small-to-medium run products can be tested in a short period of time. In some cases, test fixtures and test programs must be made, which can test and measure dif- ferent units at the same time. This allows pro- duction to run efficiently and in a very small period. Keeping IP in the U.S. In summary, our industry has made signif- icant headway toward production units for advanced medical products such as wearable, portable, ingestible, and insertable devices. We've got the knowhow and equipment for the necessary PCB microelectronics assembly and manufacturing. But even more CAPEX is nec- essary to assure production stays in this coun- try, and can be performed conveniently and as easily as possible. Keeping these products in the U.S. protects the medical OEM's IP since there is virtually no theft when it comes to manufacturing within the U.S. due to stringent laws. These are strong safeguards that are available to OEMs. Plus, the other major benefit is that logistics and supply chains are here in the U.S. OEM per- sonnel can eliminate costly and time-consum- ing travel back and forth between the U.S. and offshore countries where production has been located. SMT007 Zulki Khan is the president and founder of NexLogic Technologies Inc. To read past columns or contact Khan, click here. Printed electronics are inexpensive and pave the way for low-cost electronic devices on unconventional sub- strates—such as clothes, plastic wrap, or paper. However, these devices need to operate with low energy and power consumption to be useful for real-world appli- cations. Researchers from the University of Cambridge, working with collaborators from China and Saudi Arabia, have devel- oped an approach for printed elec- tronics that makes low-cost devices that recharge out of thin air. Even the ambient radio signals that surround us would be enough to power them. The technology is based on thin-film transistors which are "ambipolar" using only one semiconduct- ing material to transport both negative and positive electric charges. If electronic circuits made of these devices were to be powered by a standard AA battery, the researchers say they could run for millions of years uninterrupted. The work paves the way for a new generation of self-powered electronics for biomedical appli- cations, smart homes, and infra- structure monitoring. (University of Cambridge) Easy-to-Make, Ultra-Low-Power Electronics Could Charge Out of Thin Air

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