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8 SMT Magazine • January 2017 by Stephen Las Marias I-CONNECT007 Understanding Plating and Surface Finishing We recently covered the HKPCA and IPC Show 2016 in Shenzhen, China. The overall mood at the event was very bullish on the com- ing year, despite recent news about raw mate- rial cost hikes, in particular that of copper clad laminates. Equipment and systems manufactur- ers say 2017 is expected to see more capital in- vestments as the electronics manufacturing in- dustry gets a little bit of clarity—for lack of a bet- ter word—in terms of the no-longer-hyped In- dustry 4.0 trend. That is because China "got it" with its Smart Factor y 1.0 model. Basically, Industry 4.0 will take years of development—from an electronics manufacturing standpoint—before we have a fully automated electronics assembly line with - out human intervention. What Smart Factory 1.0 promotes is that the industry already has ad- vanced equipment with automation features de- signed to replace manual labor and improve pro- cesses—so the first step (the "1.0" tag) is to adopt these systems to transform production process- es and make the more efficient. The thing is, it's not so much as shooting for the moon, but tak- ing baby steps to get there. The industry will get to 4.0 eventually; but for now, it's important to optimize processes first and make them more ef- ficient, which I believe is another part of the vi- sion of intelligent manufacturing. Equipment manufacturers also remain bull- ish because while most industry segments are not faring so well, one major growth driver re- mains: the automotive electronics sector. This is due to the continually increasing amount of electronics in cars, the development of more electric vehicles, and government initiatives to make driving safer than ever . So much for my recap of the general atmo - sphere at that show and what these manufactur- ers think 2017 will be. Of course, it is too ear- ly to tell, but at least it gives us some sort of in- sight as to the developments to expect through- out the year. Moving on, this month' s issue focuses on the impact of plating and surface finishing in electronics assembly. True, plating and surface finishing may be more directly significant in PCB fabrication (we are covering the same topic in The PCB Magazine and The PCB Design Maga - zine to provide you an end-to-end coverage on E DITOR'S NOTE

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