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80 PCB007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2022 In Nolan Johnson's September 2022 column, "New Era Manufacturing," he referred to the carriage whip manufacturing businesses that met their fate by failing to adapt while other carriage businesses with more robust prod- uct applications remained standing. He said this relates to our industry in the sense that the needs of our world are evolving, that the wants and needs of PCB fabricators and their customers are bound to change. ere will Closing the Innovation Gap always be a demand for PCBs, since it is the foundation of modern technology, but market challenges are inevitable. PCB fabricators are dealing with increasing material and labor costs, all while major quick-turnaround jobs are declining. e questions we must ask are: Where do we go from here? How can PCB fab- ricators overcome these challenges and get an edge in the market? How can we best adapt? First, let's look at how our industry has adapted. ere have been many advancements in automation technology applications since we entered the fourth generation of the Indus- trial Revolution. We are introducing robotics and advanced data analytics to our PCB fab- rication processes. is has certainly been a step in the right direction for us to combat the before-mentioned obstacles. Although auto- mation brings a lot to the table, will it ever be enough? For some fabricators, it may seem suf- ficient. However, this may be a relatively short- term solution. But we must address the grow- ing issue of where we will find engineers who will innovate and influence PCB manufactur- ing technology—before it eventually throttles the growth of the industry. I was also interested in Paige Fiet's Septem- ber 2022 column, "Let's Make Manufacturing 'Cool' Again." She wrote that the new gener- ation of engineers is not as interested in man- ufacturing anymore, as she made mention of the large shi toward computer science where generally there is a higher status and cozier The Chemical Connection by Christopher Bonsell, CHEMCUT

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