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66 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2024 line from over 100 factory lines across North America. "Our platform empowers companies to maintain complete control over their design as they bring it back home, while at the same time, our network facilitates a seamless transi- tion to the optimal factory line with the neces- sary capabilities—no matter how specialized— without the typical research time burden." Nearshoring electronics production can offer significant benefits, but it also presents unique challenges. One of the biggest hurdles compa- nies face is regaining control over their designs aer years of overseas manufacturing. As Ken- ney explains, "Over time, changes get made, and while the product works, the original design files and bill of materials (BOM) might not reflect the reality of the product coming off the assembly line." MacroFab seeks to bridge this gap. "We work with customers to rebuild their original BOM while assessing their exist- ing product, deciding whether to continue with the current design or redesign for better functionality before nearshoring to Mexico." Kenney highlights another key challenge: "Finding the right factory in Mexico can be a complex task," she says. "e infrastructure, labor force, and overall factory capabilities need careful consideration. is is a time-con- suming process, and in fast-paced industries like the ones we serve, time is precious. Mac- roFab takes care of all that for our clients." ese challenges aside, it is clear that Mex- ico continues to emerge as a beneficiary of the changing manufacturing landscape, and bears watching in the future. SMT007 References 1. "Mexico Is Now the Top Exporter to the U.S. Is There Room for Growth?", Feb. 20, 2024. Preeya Kuray, PhD, is a material scientist. To read previous columns, click here. A new DC-DC power converter is superior to previous designs and paves the way for more effi- cient, reliable and sustainable energy storage and conversion solutions. The Kobe University devel- opment can efficiently interface with a wide range of energy sources while enhancing system stability and simplicity at an unprecedented efficiency. Solar power, batteries–including those in electric vehicles–and computers all depend on DC, mak- ing lossy AC-to-DC conver- sion necessary. An alternative to this is the establishment of DC microgrids that integrate various renewable DC energy sources and storage devices and deliver energy directly to data centers and other DC appliances. This requires a device that can convert dif- ferent voltages flexibly, as each DC device typically needs a different voltage and batteries provide different voltages depending on their charge and capacity. This also needs to be done bidirectionally, since batteries are used both as energy sources and sinks. The power electronics researchers MISHIMA Tomokazu from Kobe University (Japan) and LAI Ching-Ming from the National Chung Hsing University (Taiwan) teamed up in a project for the "development of elemental technologies for high power density power distribution systems con- tributing to low-carbon data centers" and now achieved a significant breakthrough. The evaluation of their prototype showed an impres- sive efficiency of up to 98.3 percent. (Source: Kobe University) A Flexible and Efficient DC Power Converter for Sustainable-energy Microgrids

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