I was recently approached by a leading industry consultancy group and was asked, ..."if there have been any major advances or developments in the field of electronics production, what are they?"
It got me to thinking, we've certainly witnessed some enormous changes in equipment offerings from vendors over the last 10-15 years or so when this was stll very much a through-hole society. In that time we've certainly seen more than a few "breakthrough" package styles make it out of the lab and onto our production floors... we've had to adapt with providing for new processes like BGA and for some, even flip-chip. But what about breakthroughs on the equipment side? What technology has become so essential that we just had to buy it or be left behind? What technology is uniquely our own and not a simple adaptation form other industries? (loosely alluding to the use of real-time x-ray which was, of course spun out of the medical industry)
For most I suspect that we've probably justified every expense carefully and only embraced emerging technology like x-ray and AOI once the guinea pigs proved it actually worked on the real production floor or our customers deemed it essential! ...but by-and-large SMT production is still as simple as print-place and reflow, inspect test and ship, isn't it?
I had to ask myself: Have there really been any "breakthroughs" in equipment or process and if so, where and which would be most significant?
So I throw this out to our all-knowing audience to stir some debate--- Two questions...
1.)Where have you observed the single greatest breakthrough occurring in our humble industry... and (to hopefully make this thread even more interesting)
2.) Where do you think the challenges still lie (mostly) un-addressed?
Are the promises for a brave new tomorrow where equipment and process automation evolves at the frenetic pace of the PC still way off in the distance or are we seeing technology that will help us meet the challenges of manufacturing tomorrow? Should we be grateful or angry with the way this indusrty has responded with process solutions to meet our modern needs? Your comments?