MacDermid, IPC hit joint milestone
By Terry Costlow, IPC online editor
Sep 02, 2012
MacDermid joined IPC in 1962, when a commercial communications satellite was advanced technology. The two organizations have accomplished much together since then.
Plenty has changed in electronics since 1962, when integrated circuits were an emerging technology and Telstar became the first commercial communications satellite. But many things have
remained the same, including many companies that have maintained solid partnerships for five decades.
One of these companies is MacDermid, which is currently celebrating its 50th year as an IPC member. The specialty chemical company has been remained an active member over that lengthy timeframe.
The relationship isn't the only thing that's held up for decades. While many of the state-of-the-art technologies of 1962 are long gone, one of MacDermid' s mainstay technologies has remained viable.
"Plated-through electroless copper got its start in the early 1960s and it's still among our biggest sellers," said Denny Fritz, who was inducted into IPC's Hall of Fame earlier this year.
The long-term success of that plating technology has been helped by the availability of standards that help OEMs determine which suppliers meet their needs. Standards play a big role in the complex materials and processes that form the infrastructure for complex electronic systems.
"For every one of the technologies we've introduced, we still use IPC standards as the benchmark for our testing," said Joe D'Ambrisi, vice president for MacDermid. "We do round robin testing and use the IPC subcommittees for almost all our technologies. It provides a baseline of information on the performance of our processes."
Those round robin tests helped MacDermid move a new technology from troubled concept to market success. In the 1990s, MacDermid developed immersion silver, a technology that it thought would become a big success.
But when they started telling OEMs about their efforts with the new finish, staffers were largely given a cold shoulder. OEMs said silver migrates, so they weren't interested in trying out the fledgling technology.
"We regrouped and went to IPC, where we got a fair, impartial analysis of our technology versus the alternatives," D'Ambrisi said. "We got feedback from everyone in the supply chain, including our competitors. We never would have been successful with it if we hadn't had that forum. Immersion silver remains a very popular product."
This ability to share ideas with members who represent every level of the supply chain is a key reason MacDermid has remained an active IPC participant for five decades. Many employees have attended committee meetings and trade shows, bringing back a wealth of information that helped the company plan its strategies.
"IPC has provided MacDermid with a tremendous amount of benefit, there's no other place where we can communicate with everyone in the supply chain, from companies at the bottom of the food chain right up to the OEMs. Meeting with these representatives gives us insight into what companies are thinking and planning," D'Ambrisi said.
The relationship between IPC and its members often fosters a lot of good will. Many of the volunteers who work on IPC committees stay with it for several years, finding it rewarding to help the industry set standards while helping themselves and their companies succeed. MacDermid's original members still remain close.
"We're still in close contact with our first IPC reps, Gene Weiner and Jerry Siegmund, who are both in the IPC Hall of Fame," D'Ambrisi said.
Looking forward, MacDermid expects to see more globalization. That will be true for IPC as well as its member companies.
MacDermid has more printed circuit employees overseas than in the United States and foreign buyers account for around 80 percent of the company's printed circuit revenues. Fritz noted that suppliers went offshore before fabricators did, so MacDermid was among the pioneers of this movement.
"One of the things we hear most about the future of the printed circuit industry is that the electronics supply chain will continue to be far more global. For IPC to remain as relevant as it has been, everyone inside and out has to recognize that," D'Ambrisi said.
Many people feel that helping create the standards that serve as the industry's infrastructure is a way of giving something back to the industry. MacDermid goes beyond that, helping its employees build better futures for their families. Now that MacDermid has become the fifth company to hit that landmark anniversary, it's going to invest in the future when it receives the $1,500 honorarium that's given to companies when they hit their 50-year milestone.
"The first chairman of MacDermid, Harold Leever, set up a scholarship fund for children of MacDermid employees," D'Ambrisi said. "We award 20-25 annually. We'll be adding the IPC prize to our scholarship fund, so it will do a lot of good for many years."