Virtual SMTAi Show Preview 2020

Virtual SMTAi Show Preview 2020

What a year! Do you remember early February of this year, when we were all together in the beautiful San Diego sunshine? The major worries were about the wildfires in Australia. We had just arrived at a new decade, and the forecasts were very rosy for the electronics industry. We heard about 5G, self driving cars, the explosion of electronics in every aspect of our lives that would lead to astounding growth. If you mentioned Zoom meetings, no one would know what you were talking about.

But here we are. Rosemont and O’Hare airport in Chicago are deserted. SMTAi will be held virtually next week. The industry has adapted to a new reality and 2020 is winding down. We all have spent a lot more time with our families than we expected to, which is a shiny silver lining. We’ve caught up on some household chores. And our industry is weathering this storm well; electronics are essential for solving these challenges and we can be proud of how the industry has responded in providing the tools needed for healthcare professionals and to equip educators and home offices.

According to the IPC’s recent Economic Outlook report, in both the United States and Europe, manufacturing has recovered a significant portion of ground lost to the pandemic, but most sectors remain below prepandemic levels. “While manufacturing is expanding, manufacturers remain cautious. New orders and production are expanding on both continents, and backlogs are growing. This, in turn, is keeping prices firm, but manufacturers are not expanding employment, and inventories remain lean. Capital investment is likely to remain in check. Demand is anything but certain, and manufacturers are responding to an uncertain environment by trying to keep costs contained. The initial recovery brought strong growth rates almost across the board as the economies reopened; however, as growth slows, we are likely to see a divergence in across sectors. The electronics industry continues to appear to have weathered the pandemic most favorably. Production is up in recent months and positive on a year-over-year basis in both the United States and Europe,” it states.

We did some informal polling about what people miss most about not going to tradeshows this year. The Indium Corporation team commented, “We have missed the face-to-face interactions trade shows provide to learn about new and emerging industry trends and witness some of those advancements first hand.”

SEHO marketing manager Heike Schlessmann said wistfully, “What we all really do miss is the direct contact and talks to our customers, although we restarted our inhouse seminars and reopened our technology center for customers a few weeks ago. And personally I miss being away from home for a few days,” she added.

Tracey Schropp, CTSM, Manager, Global Tradeshows & Customer Events, Nordson Electronics Solutions agreed. “We miss the ability to show attendees the people behind the brand; also tradeshows are the most important place to show editors and analysts what we are doing, what our company is about.”

We agree. There is no substitute for the serendipitous meetings and interactions with customers and global team members that help guide the marketing and strategic planning process. At least that’s the common perception. Innovation breaks through, however. Here at EMSNOW we’ve found that recording interviews and panel discussions through webinars and podcasts instead of in on-site studios on the show floor, has resulted in very high quality and informative discussions. When people have time to reflect and interact from their home offices, we find they are more relaxed and thoughtful. No one misses the sore feet, the backbreaking unpacking and packing, and the long hours of in-person events.

When we asked folks what their favorite booth giveaway, the hands-down favorite was chocolate, with beer coming in a close second. York peppermint patties, Cheap pens (believe it or not)! And koozies were also mentioned.

The Indium team shared that their favorite trade show memory. “The most meaningful trade show interactions to us are when a customer approaches you with a problem, and then says ‘I am so pleased I came here to meet you today.'” That’s what it’s all about.

When will trade shows return? “We expect trade show returns to differ based on their country of origin,” noted the folks at Indium. “Some shows have resumed in Asia since June. In China, we expect it to return faster than other regions unless there is a serious comeback in the number of COVID-19 cases. In the US and Europe, we expect many trade shows to return in early 2021 as smaller events, with bigger events to follow. Overall, we anticipate all trade shows will continue to demonstrate enhanced hygiene and sanitation protocols moving forward, such as through the use of social distancing, face coverings, and sanitization products.”

“Tradeshows have just started to return in Asia, but large-scale, physical events in the USA will more likely not be seen until Spring 2021,” lamented Tracey. “The industry anticipates the pace of returning to increase between Q2 and Q4 2021. Many tradeshows may come back as hybrid events at first until travel is back in force and a COVID vaccine needs to be accessible. The expectation is there will be less participation as exhibitors scale back their investment and budgets get cut, and travel restrictions lead to lower attendance. Other changes expected are new cleaning and sanitation protocols, and smaller, more regional events. Although the virtual platform for technical conferences can attract more attendees since travel is not required, the feedback we hear is that the buyers will still be looking to the face-to-face forum to engage with vendors. Also, the absence of live events has reinforced the value proposition of attending such events to upper management.”

Here is a sampling of what will be featured next week at the Virtual SMTAi show

From Koh Young comes several announcements focused on collaboration. They have joined forces with Mentor, a Siemens business, to deliver an enhanced programming solution, which will benefit the printed circuit board assembly market. Building on the AI-powered Koh Young Auto Programming software (KAP), Mentor integrated its Valor™ Process Preparation Software to further simplify Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) programming and reduce production costs by saving time through the implementation of Mentor’s Open Product Model.

“The synergy between our companies has resulted in an outstanding solution that is designed to help reduce time to market and improve production quality across the line,” said Mr. JD Shin, Chief Sales Office for Koh Young Technology. “We are especially excited about this particular collaboration with Mentor, because it was in direct response to the voice of the customer. The partnership highlights the benefits customers can realize when two suppliers work together towards a common goal. It was a win-win for everyone.”

The are also especially proud of the case study with Laritech. Here’s a video to explain what that’s about.

Indium Corporation’s Chris Nash was recently interviewed by Eric Miscoll about recent innovations. The company continues to innovate alloy technologies with a new high-performance, high-reliability low-temperature alloy. Durafuse LT is a novel, low-temperature alloy system designed to provide high-reliability in low-temperature applications that require a reflow temperature below 210°C. Where traditional low-temperature solders often produce brittle solder joints that are susceptible to drop shock failures, Durafuse LT offers improved drop shock resilience, outclassing BiSn or BiSnAg alloys, and performing better than SAC305 with optimum process setup. Durafuse LT:

  • Provides a solution for heat-sensitive components and flex polymers
  • Prevents thermal warpage of processor components and multilayer boards
  • Meets low-temperature requirements for step soldering, particularly in RF shield attachment and rework applications.

Zestron was also recently featured on Eric’s Virtual EMS show.

EMSNOW Up Close: Sal Sparacino, Zestron

ZESTRON is featuring its Next Gen pH Neutral Cleaning Agent at Virtual SMTAI. VIGON® NX 700, based on MPC® (Micro Phase Cleaning) Technology, is designed to be used in inline and batch cleaning systems. It is a pH neutral cleaning agent offering superior defluxing performance on PCB assemblies especially under low profile components. The cleaning agent removes a wide range of electronic assembly flux residues and offers excellent material compatibility on a variety of sensitive materials. VIGON® NX 700 qualifies as a Low VOC product with applied VOC concentrations below 25 g/L.

Eric was also delighted to interview André Corriveau, CTO of Cogiscan about the complexity and nuance surrounding digital transformation. While Covid is accelerating this process in the EMS industry, it’s not a simple topic. Data is the foundation. It is not a simple task. Factory data collection, hosting and management must be carefully mapped to successfully transform the business. It requires technology, and Cogiscan is the expert, having solved many of the issues. Listen in to hear about the latest advances and where they have been investing.

With the SelectLine platform, SEHO developed a selective soldering system that provides the highest precision and solder joint quality, and features maximum flexibility even for unusual assembly dimensions.

The SelectLine machine concept is consistently modular, thus ensuring clear cost benefits. Several modules with different dimensions can be configurated individually with fluxer, preheatings, soldering units, cooling modules, selective brush unit and AOI system. Thus, the SelectLine adapts to virtually any manufacturing requirement and if the production conditions should change, it may be expanded, the configuration can be modified, or SelectLine modules can be shifted to different manufacturing lines at any time. Up to six soldering units and more than 15 parallel workstations can be integrated in one system.

“It is our aim to continuously create added value for our customers by constantly improving our machines and existing processes, optimizing them for future applications and implementing innovative ideas,” says Alexander Blum, Product Manager Selective Soldering Equipment at SEHO. Many of these innovative ideas are integrated in the SelectLine and have made the selective soldering machine one of the most successful within the SEHO portfolio.


It is well worth your while to watch this pre-show video to learn how the virtual show will work.

x Brown