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JANUARY 2018 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 31 Alex Stepinski flanked by Jochen Zeller (left) and Henk Van der Meij (right). by Patty Goldman I-CONNECT007 If there was a buzz word in the PCB hall at productronica this year, it was probably Whel- en, as in Whelen Engineering and Alex Ste- pinski, VP of Whelen's circuit board division. Numerous pieces of equipment bore "Sold to Whelen" signs, including a few machines in the AWP booth. I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Alex and the fellows at AWP, including VP Jochen Zeller, who focuses on wet processing and VP Henk Van der Meij, whose focus is automation. Patty Goldman: Alex, let's start with you telling me how AWP came to be working with Whel- en Engineering. Alex Stepinski: We selected AWP to do a turn- key project for us in Charlestown, New Hamp- shire. Goldman: Henk, can you tell me a little bit more about AWP, and what you do, specifically? Van der Meij: AWP is a German company, with our headquarters of engineering in Germany. We have the manufacturing side in Poland, where we manufacture all kinds of handling units, recycling units, and horizontal wet pro- cess machines. In addition to the factory in Po- land, we also have a sales and service office in Suzhou, China, to cover the Asian market, and we work together with an agent network in North America for all our products. Goldman: Alex, you say you selected them to work with you? Stepinski: The first phase of our project at Whelen Engineering was a great success for our company, so our ownership decided to do a new investment focused on advanced HDI, thin substrates, fine line and space, as well as very dense designs on a thicker scale. We can take very dense features and put them up to 6.2 millimeters thick, for instance. We are putting together an ecological factory, a green facto- ry, for the advanced HDI MSAP/SAP market in the same kind of a way we did our first phase. We are taking the spirit of the first phase to the highest level of technology currently around the world. To do this, we searched the world. I spent six months traveling overseas. I went to over 50 board shops in 20 countries to learn the best practices, and less than best practices, as to how people make PCBs. We took all the pluses that we found and some of the minuses, and then I went and sat with some key suppliers around the world, including AWP, to develop a next-generation process that incorporated all this cumulative learning and gave us some nice competitive advantages. Zeller: All the equipment that we are going to supply to Whelen is fully integrated to meet Whelen Engineering and AWP Explain their Unique Collaboration

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