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40 PCB007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2021 vision system to make recommendations to digital feature size adjustments that encompass variations in the external processes, such that the features exit the etch process at optimized feature size. Johnson: It sounds to me like, through the DART technology, you're able to compen- sate for the specific performance of the other equipment in the line—the etch equipment, for example. DART is adjusting the raster pat- terns to get a more precise result out of that specific piece of equipment. Hogan: Yes, Industry 4.0. Conceptually, digital imaging in the first phase was to basically get rid of silver film and take some of the human error out of registration. DART starts to take some responsibility for the output from develop/ etch/strip by building these feedback loops. Currently, the feedback loop is not live where every panel off the machine is being measured in an automatic way. We're developing that; it's in our technology roadmap. e key thing is it's at the operator level. If an operator can do this and make these adjust- ments without calling a process engineer, stop- ping the line, and doing some development effort, that's important because it needs to be at a level where an average person can analyze the results. We put all the analytical recom- mendations on-screen. Johnson: If you can adjust the imaging in DART for variations on your line throughout the day, then you can most definitely adjust the output for different lines in the same facility. Oper- ators can make adjustments at the image to dynamically dial each board into the center of the process window—or at least closer to the center of the process window. Hogan: at's right. Some of the development concepts go back a few years, when customers were doing some controlled impedance work and they needed a specific group of lines to be within a very tight tolerance or confirm their size. e issue of controlling feature size in the aggregate becomes compelling if you're try- ing the 2-mil line and space and your features are maybe within five to 10%; that means the space between the lines is closing up and your develop process is much more challenged. DART becomes a yield game changer in some- thing like that. To a very large extent, tools like this will allow the user to get much more out of their existing equipment set. Johnson: at does seem to be a theme for cap- ital expenditures right now: taking a system- wide view of any equipment being purchased. How does your system add value, not just to that particular gate in your manufacturing process? Hogan: e modern factory floor collects a ton of data. Industry 4.0 and DART are about put- ting the data to work to digitally adapt at the imaging level so that the result is deterministic. e government talks about expanding manu- facturing; hopefully they will get the message and start to help our customers out with some tax benefits for acquiring capital equipment that lowers costs and expands technology. Capital equipment that isn't fully expensed in the first year reduces our ability to be cost competitive given our higher labor costs. ere was some accelerated depreciation, which was good. I think it was a good down payment. But if the country is going to rebuild the manufac- turing base, the government must think of it more broadly and allow the customers the tax deductibility and the expensing of equipment to be accelerated permanently. is aligns the objective of expanding manufacturing and technology with tax policy. Johnson: Federal legislation passed in the U.S. recently to help encourage U.S. technology— military tech, in particular—to take care of our own militar y electronics needs, specifically. Of course, one would anticipate that's going

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