Cost Saving, The Latest Inkjet Printing Technology of Microcraft
Interview with Mr. Garrett and Mr. Garrett's regional sales manager, Mr. Garrett, on the adoption of manufacturing technology by Mr. Garrett, Mr. Garrett. Harding emphasized the industry's attention to inkjet printing technology, explained how to apply it to PCB process in PCB factory, and analyzed the trend and advantages of inkjet technology.
Barry Matties：Garrett, Would you like to give us a brief introduction to your company?
Garrett Harding: I've been working for microcraft for nearly three years, working with the West Coast sales representative for North America. This is the first time I have really stepped into the PCB industry. Before that, I worked in the automobile and printing industry. It is my technical expertise that gives me the opportunity to take up the present position. So far, everything has gone very well. Our customers are very proud of their industry and pay close attention to the technical trends in the industry. Working in this industry makes me very passionate
Matties: I'm glad you've joined the industry and brought your skills to the industry. Have you always been involved in sales and marketing?
Harding: I've been in sales and HR. What I have in common since I graduated from university is that I work in Japanese enterprises. I have lived in Japan for seven years and speak Japanese, which is one of the reasons why I finally chose to work in microcraft.
Matties: we're going to talk about inkjet printing today, but microchraft also offers many other technologies. Can you elaborate?
Harding: microcraft was founded in 1972 and has been developing for nearly 50 years. From 1972 to 1993, the company mainly produced electronic devices for audio equipment, and then turned to more complex control devices for ships and other military equipment. In 1994, microcraft first released the Emma series flying needle tester, which was an important turning point for microcraft. Since then, grid testers and other types of test equipment have been phased out. Although some devices are still in use, almost no grid testers will be purchased now. In 2002, microcraft launched its first inkjet printer, which was mainly used in PCB industry and other industries for inkjet printing of identification ink and anti-corrosion ink.
In 2016, we established a subsidiary to develop solder mask inks. Last year, we acquired infinite graphics software in Minnesota. This company has worked with us for more than 20 years to develop various functions for our testers and printers. They will also write some format conversion software to convert commonly used formats such as Gerber and ODB + + into test and print data.
When we learned that they were going to sell the company, we announced the acquisition at the first time, and the whole process was very smooth. We can focus more on developing advanced features for testers, such as testing 5g boards and backtracking defects, and developing new features for printers to simplify data preparation and improve print quality.
Matties: what do you think are the trends of inkjet technology?
Harding: the inkjet printing technology for PCB identification is quite mature. If a circuit board factory doesn't have an identification printer, they should buy one, just as every factory should buy a flying needle tester. Because inkjet printing logo has been widely accepted, the industry will turn to the development of new ink-jet printing technology, involving printing solder mask ink and conductive ink. The development trend of additive manufacturing will continue to rise. If you want to be a real additive manufacturing factory, it means gradually adopting ink-jet printing technology in different fields.
Matties: do you think it's easier for manufacturers to persuade customers to use inkjet technology now? Or are there still challenges?
Harding: it depends on the type of customer. In my experience, if you are engaged in the production of military equipment, some manufacturers have to spend more than a year verifying printers or getting their customers to accept the technology. In addition, it is no longer a problem to persuade customers to use ink-jet printing logo, because this kind of ink can meet the requirements of all standards, including IPC, UL, and even exhaust emission standards.
Nolan Johnson: what makes people interested in this technology?
Harding: before I joined microcraft, there were a lot of people who were interested in this technology. Now the quality and speed of this technology have been significantly improved, so large and medium volume production plants have begun to consider adopting this technology. As I mentioned earlier, two PCB customers with mass production purchased our equipment this year, and we have a lot of equipment already produced in Asia and Europe.
The main reason why manufacturers consider switching to this technology is that it can reduce the investment in equipment, manpower, power and plant site, thus saving a lot of time and cost. After removing some steps of traditional solder mask process (coating, drying, developing, etc.), the possibility of errors in these steps is also reduced. And inkjet technology is environmentally friendly, which is one of the reasons why people are interested in this technology. Different states in the United States have different laws for waste chemicals, and the cost of treating waste chemicals is also different. Ink jet technology can really achieve zero waste emissions.
For OEMs, what really appeals to them is that this technology allows them to have new coating methods and make PCB production easier in-house. In this way, they can control the process more closely, make innovation quickly, and more importantly, strengthen the confidentiality of the technology.
Matties: who would benefit from the savings? Will the manufacturer reduce the price, or will the saved cost be regarded as the extra profit?
Harding: of course, it is expected that manufacturers can reduce their prices due to cost savings, so that customers can benefit together, and at the same time, they can enhance their competitive advantage. But OEMs are more interested in manufacturers who can keep up with technology trends. Sometimes OEM's requirements can only be met by inkjet printing identification, such as printing the serial number used to improve traceability, which can reflect the advantages of inkjet technology. This technology can also be used in conjunction with solder mask - traceability is placed in the solder mask to reduce operational steps and errors.