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Page 33 of 97

34 The PCB Magazine • February 2017 by Dick Crowe BURKLE NORTH AMERICA Technology and process developments in mature industries like the printed wiring board industry are not always easy. Many new prod- ucts are evolutionary enhancements of exist- ing processes. Often, these developments en- hance the process and improve overall process control. The concept for direct digital imaging, as an example, has been around for some time, beginning in the early 1980s. Early pioneers were Excellon Automation and Eocom, in Or- ange County. At that time the industry was en- trenched with dry film photo imaging and, at least in the North American market, there was little interest in pioneering a concept as revolu- tionary as direct imaging along with its atten- dant issues of cleanrooms and other environ- mental aspects. Dry film was viewed as a more robust application. Market adoption of liquid resist was also tempered by the high cost of the liquid material versus dry film. Often, the equipment provider has a vision- ary leader who brings technology changes for- ward, but the collaboration between the equip- ment provider and the consumable supplier is often not a close one, or it's nonexistent. As digital technology started to penetrate other applications, for example, digital cam- eras, the vision of lowering costs and improv- ing image quality began to take hold. But the equipment was, and still is, very expensive and requires high-cost service contracts. Nonethe- less, fabricator after fabricator began embracing the newer product offerings for primary imag- ing, but not solder mask, which was an entirely different requirement. Taiyo, as the leading supplier of liquid sol- der mask products in North America, also had a visionary concept moving forward. During IPC APEX EXPO 2016, executives from Taiyo and Schmoll sat together and worked out a testing plan that Taiyo would implement to develop a solder mask product that met the North Ameri- can marketplace needs. Schmoll provided the equipment for the testing and development, Taiyo the develop- ment protocol, and Burkle North America the installation and maintenance expertise. The re- sult is a solder mask product and process that is being introduced during IPC APEX EXPO 2017. Read further (pages 36–48) for the views of both Schmoll's Thomas Kunz and Taiyo's John Fix as they address this program. FEATURE

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