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114 I-CONNECT007 I REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2023 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE As we wrap up another successful IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego for me, the two major themes of the conversations in the aisles were what's ahead for the industry in 2023 and how artificial intelligence is slowly becoming ubiq- uitous in electronic manufacturing. After a slow start to trade shows in 2022, it was great to ramp up participation to levels close to normal, or perhaps a "new" normal. We have kicked off 2023 with our industry carrying over big backlogs from 2022, where we added 35,000 jobs and saw incredible growth. We're unlikely to add another 35,000 jobs in 2023, as we're expected to see nega- tive growth in the U.S. economy in the begin- ning of this year, though there may be some growth in the second semester. Hopefully, we will creep into positive territory by early 2024. Some of the major challenges of 2022 have been ameliorated: material and shipping prices have come down, matching improve- ments in component availability. However, these improvements came at the price of higher inflation, which inevitably applies downward pressure on demand for consumer products. As we start 2023 with a healthy backlog, the question in everyone's mind is whether the stack of orders in the books will materialize. When lead times are long like they were in 2021 and 2022, customers tend to push purchase orders in the expectation that a solid demand will materialize. As infla- AI and Cautious Optimism Show Review by Bill Cardoso • CREATIVE ELECTRON

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