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APRIL 2018 I FLEX007 MAGAZINE 59 achievable for manufacturers to be successful. That holds true for the flex and rigid-flex space as well. That industry is evolving, and designers are still struggling to do it right. Our core focus is still engineering at APCT, and that's what we are. We're a service company. We happen to build circuit boards, but this acquisition is still the same. We are a services business. We're working with designers, and we're working with engineers, helping them develop a concept, and then we build the solution for them. And that starts with early involvement, helping them through the design aspects of it. And it's fun. It's been exciting. We grew 40% last year in that model, which was a big year of growth for us. I think we've found an area that has value, and there is a need. With any business model where you find value and a need, if you don't mess up the exe- cution, you should have a successful opportu- nity. This is what we're seeing now. Shaughnessy: And now you have flex and rigid- flex. The last time we talked, you said flex was on your radar screen. Robinson: Right, we had no flex or rigid-flex. That was really my goal in 2017, to bring that opportunity. You want to diversify your offer- ings, but you also want to provide something your customers are asking for, and most of my customers were asking me for that. In 2018 we are going to try to perfect that, and now we've got customers asking for new technologies. They're talking to us about some of the ther- mal conductive materials out there, especially in the automotive and the lighting industries. How do we develop that for them and work on that? As miniaturization has gone to levels even beyond our capabilities of 40 micron or less trace and space, we're being pushed for more. Our engineering team is now looking at the additive process, buildup processing, and some of those new technologies that are com- ing out and just starting to emerge. We will continue to chase those processes, as long as there is market behind it. I don't want to chase them just to prove that it can be done; I want to chase them because there is some value and customers need it and there is a market. Shaughnessy: I've talked to a couple of people here who say it's hard to find somebody who can build their flex the right way. One com- pany owner told me that the worst things they have had to deal with is the assembly of flex, because with all the fixturing, it's almost like starting over from scratch. Robinson: It's different. You know I have a few people on my team who have familiarity with that processing. I think you learn two things in that industry. Number one, you don't see many rigid and flex facilities combined. They've all pretty much abandoned that strategy; you see flex-dedicated or rigid-dedicated factories. Flex requires a little different mentality and a different thought process. I've learned that the upfront engineering and the time associ- ated with developing a plan for flex is a lot more comprehensive than with advanced HDI or other tough technologies we can get on the floor in a couple hours or a day or so. With flex, it takes a few days to coordinate that. The challenges we see are cycle time, along with miniaturization. You know it's going that route as well. How do you do it right? How do you do design? That's why I am excited about having design guys on my team that are at the early stage with the flex. This gives us an opportunity to lay the board out in the right way. It's all about how you lay your circuitry with the way that product is bending. Shaughnessy: Do you have some flex designers now? Robinson: We do, at the Cirtech facility, and they supply designs to customers as well. And the other piece is assembly. We're look- ing at putting some of that down there, too. Most reputable flex or rigid-flex facilities have some type of assembly in-house as well. We'll look at that maybe for that region. I've never embraced the assembly aspect of it because it is a conflict with a lot of our customers, and I don't want to create that. But with the flex and

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