American Standard Circuits Acquires Sunstone Circuits
WEST CHICAGO, IL – American Standard Circuits and Sunstone Circuits in July announced a merger of their respective printed circuit board fabrication operations.
Terms of the deal between the two privately held manufacturers were not disclosed, but all current operations will be maintained, the companies said. Matt Stevenson, who has been with Sunstone more than 17 years, has been named vice president and general manager of the merged entity, ASC Sunstone Circuits.
In a statement, the companies called the deal a “strategic alliance [that] brings numerous advantages to customers.”
“Together, we bring an unmatched combination of expertise, capabilities and resources to our customers,” said Anaya Vardya, CEO, American Standard Circuits, in a statement. “This merger will enable us to deliver greater value, innovation and responsiveness, solidifying our position as the premier PCB manufacturing partner.”
The combined firms will offer a broad range of PCB types, materials, and certifications, including single-sided, double-sided, multilayer, RF/microwave, flex/rigid-flex, HDI, ultra HDI, and metal-backed boards.
Sunstone Circuits will continue to offer its quickturn prototype and low-volume services, while ASC, which has multiple operations, provides higher-volume runs.
“The acquisition is complementary,” Vardya elaborated in an interview with PCD&F/CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY. “Sunstone does a lot of quickturn. ASC has many outlets for the follow-on production,” citing facilities in West Chicago and overseas.
There is “virtually no overlap of customers,” he added.
The addition of Sunstone, which is capable of accelerated prototyping (24-48hr.) and operates outside Portland, OR, gives ASC factories in the US Central and Pacific time zones, plus overseas.
Sunstone will maintain its dynamic online PCB quoting options and automated front-end design and engineering tools. Customers now have access to a comprehensive and user-friendly design software solution that includes powerful tools for schematic capture, PCB layout and integrated parts library, the companies said.
Sunstone’s longstanding relationship with Screaming Circuits will continue post-merger, while its customers will now have access to ASC’s global sourcing division and network of partners and suppliers of components, materials, and manufacturing services from various locations globally.
“We have customers that require a total solution,” Vardya said. “We always wanted to be a total solution for customers.”
Terry Heilman, CEO, Sunstone Circuits, added: “This merger represents a transformative opportunity for our customers. By leveraging the strengths of both companies, we are positioned to provide a comprehensive range of PCB solutions and deliver unparalleled customer experiences. We are excited to embark on this journey together.”
Heilman and Sunstone Vice President and COO Rocky Catt will remain with the merged entity for an unspecified period.
One of the older PCB fabricators in the US, Mulino, OR-based Sunstone was founded in 1972 and has 104 employees. American Standard Circuits was founded in 1988.
Vardya said ASC will “continue to look” for other acquisitions. “Our plan is to grow organically and through acquisition. It’s one reason we aligned with private equity a few years ago.”
Ansys and Altium to Connect ECAD, Simulation Tools
PITTSBURGH – Altium and Ansys are partnering to improve the electronic design and development process by digitally connecting Altium’s electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) tools and Ansys Electronics Desktop.
The integration, set to be available in the second half of 2023, is meant to create a new level of digital continuity while helping to reduce development time and the risk of design errors, the companies said in a release.
The companies said the connection will facilitate seamless collaboration, streamlining the exchange of design data and enabling engineers to work together more effectively within a fully integrated workflow. By eliminating the need for import/export translations and replacing manual, ad-hoc communication methods, the integration supports predictive accuracy, synchronization, and productivity, while reducing the risk of errors. As a result, the digital bridge also minimizes the potential for respins and delays.
“As companies innovate to meet the demand of today’s competitive landscape, they face new product complexities and engineering challenges that require extensive cross-domain collaboration and advanced simulations. And the outdated, manual integration methods being utilized are holding them back,” said Tomek Brzuchacz, head of CAD software at Altium. “This digital connection between ECAD and simulation enables electrical engineers and simulation engineers to work together with ease and accuracy, helping companies to accelerate design time and minimize additional costs.”
“Electronics designers and engineers work tirelessly to produce the countless connected devices and applications demanded by today’s market, and it is critical to equip these innovators with the same level of connectivity during design and development,” said John Lee, vice president of the electronics, semiconductor and optics business unit at Ansys. “With a bidirectional link between Ansys and Altium solutions, electrical engineers will no longer be slowed down or interrupted by data communication and can focus on design, innovation and collaboration.”
SEL Hosts Ribbon-Cutting for New PCB Factory
MOSCOW, ID – Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new printed circuit board factory here on Jun. 28.
The 162,000 sq. ft. facility houses the operation to fabricate the printed circuit boards used in its products that protect, monitor, control and automate electric power systems around the world. The facility is expected to employ around 60 people, with positions ranging from a variety of engineering roles, including chemical, mechanical, software and computer-aided manufacturing to equipment operators and maintenance workers.
Construction on the facility began in spring 2021.
ECIA Releases New Component Training Modules
ATLANTA – ECIA Foundation announced the release of the second stage of its e-learning modules for teaching the basics of the electronic components industry to new employees.
Phase II of the members-only PACE training program consists of five new courses covering the following topics:
- Supply Chain Management: The Hidden Value of Distributors
- Establishing the Distribution Strategy: Supplier Needs vs. Customer Wants
- CRM, ERP and More: The Platforms Powering the Digital Supply Chain
- Demystifying Sales: Pricing, Roles and More
- Driving the Future with Electronics: Evolving Industries and Applications
ECIA developed the introductory five courses and an interactive platform with Lectrix Group, a sales strategy and marketing group. Since its launch in May 2022, the program has seen more than 1,000 learners and received positive reviews.
“The response to this program has far exceeded our expectations,” said David Loftus, president and CEO, ECIA. “It was intended to capture and underline the importance of the channel to the broader tech industry. This curriculum provides the next generation of electronic component industry champions a baseline working knowledge of our industry, and that will help attract and retain the talent that is so essential to our member companies.”
Phase I courses cover the basics of the electronic component channel and includes these topics:
- An Introduction to the Electronics Industry: Manufacturers, Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives, and Distributors
- The Supporting Industry Partners
- Taking a Product to Market: How a Component Manufacturer Launches a New Product
- An Introduction to Basic Electronic Components
- Electronics Industry Terms and Conditions
Member companies can gain access to the training by creating a profile on the ECIA website and then visiting ecianow.org/PACE.
US Outlines CHIPS Act Funding Opportunities
WASHINGTON – The US Department of Commerce in late June announced an expansion in funding opportunities for large semiconductor supply chain projects, as well as a separate process for smaller projects coming later in the year.
As part of the CHIPS and Science Act, the Department of Commerce is overseeing more than $50 billion to revitalize the US semiconductor industry, including $39 billion in semiconductor manufacturing incentives. The first funding opportunity seeks applications for projects to construct, expand or modernize commercial facilities that produce leading-edge, current-generation and mature-node semiconductors.
This same funding opportunity is now open to materials and manufacturing equipment facility projects with capital investments equal to or exceeding $300 million.
Large-scale supply chain projects that are now eligible will follow the five-part application process laid out in the first funding opportunity: statement of interest, pre-application (optional but recommended), full application, due diligence and award preparation and issuance. Applicants will be evaluated based primarily on the extent to which the application addresses the program’s economic and national security objectives, but they will also be evaluated based on commercial viability, financial strength, project technical feasibility and readiness, workforce development, and broader impacts.
An additional funding opportunity will be released in the fall for supplier projects below the $300 million threshold with a tailored application that smaller businesses can navigate.
“After the pandemic exposed holes and bottlenecks in our semiconductor supply chains that sent shockwaves across our economy, the CHIPS and Science Act is a historic opportunity to ensure our microchip supply chain resilience,” said US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we’re already seeing billions in private sector investment bolster the semiconductor supply chain. We’re laying out our vision for how we’ll build on that progress by responsibly making investments to ensure resiliency and success for the clusters we will create.”
Alongside the funding opportunity for larger supply chain projects, the Commerce Department also released a “Vision for Success” outlining strategic objectives for investments in the semiconductor supply chain. The goals in the vision paper include: 1) strengthening supply chain resilience, including by reducing chokepoint risks flowing from the geographic concentration of critical semiconductor inputs; 2) advancing US technology leadership, including by incentivizing major US manufacturing equipment and materials suppliers to increase their footprints in the United States and attracting non-US suppliers of the world’s most advanced equipment, materials, and subsystems to establish large-scale footprints in the US; and 3) supporting vibrant US fab clusters, including by ensuring that each CHIPS-funded cluster is supported by an ecosystem of reliable suppliers.
Arkema to Acquire Controlling Stake in PIAM
COLOMBES, FRANCE – Arkema will acquire a 54% stake in South Korean polyimide film producer PI Advanced Materials for €728 million ($791 million).
PIAM had sales of more than €200 million in 2022, and expects sales to grow 13% per year, driven by demand for polyimide in lithium-ion batteries, 5G antennas, high-resolution OLED displays or flexible screens, and supported by recent capacity expansions.
The transaction will be fully financed in cash, and after approval by Chinese and Korean antitrust authorities, should be finalized by the end of 2023, Arkema said.
“PIAM is an outstanding company with a unique technological positioning, state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and invaluable customer relationships,” said Thierry Le Henaff, chairman and CEO, Arkema. “This acquisition is fully aligned with our strategy to be at the forefront of high-performance materials for high growth end markets supported by megatrends such as electric vehicles and advanced electronics.
“After the divestment of PMMA, the acquisition of Ashland adhesives and the current start-up of our bio PA11 plant in Singapore, Arkema is delivering another significant milestone of its strategy focused on innovative materials for a sustainable world,” said Le Henaff.
With two production sites and two R&D centers in South Korea, PIAM employs approximately 320 people.
NI Stockholders Approve $8B Emerson Merger
AUSTIN, TX – National Instruments stockholders approved the company’s acquisition by Emerson Electric during a special meeting in June, with stockholders receiving $60 per share in cash for every share of NI common stock they own.
The $8.2 billion merger agreement was first announced by Emerson earlier this April.
“Today’s vote by our stockholders validates our belief that this transaction represents the best outcome for all NI stakeholders,” said Eric Starkloff, CEO, NI. “We thank our stockholders for their support and look forward to accelerating our position as a leading provider of software-connected automated test and measurement systems in this next chapter as part of Emerson.”
The proposed transaction is expected to close in the first half of Emerson’s fiscal year 2024, subject to the completion of customary closing conditions.
Technoprobe to Acquire Harbor Electronics
MERATE, ITALY – Technoprobe, an Italian manufacturer of chip testing solutions, signed a binding offer in July to acquire California-based PCB maker Harbor Electronics.
Under the terms of the offer, which includes a 30-day exclusivity period to finalize and sign the final acquisition agreement, Technoprobe will pay around $50 million net of any adjustments related to changes in the target company’s cash holdings.
Harbor Electronics, founded in the 1980s in Santa Clara, CA, and acquired in 2015 by the Shenzhen-headquartered Fastprint Circuit Tech group, is a manufacturer of advanced PCBs for testing systems for major semiconductor manufacturers. Last year, the company reported revenues of around $52 million, an EBITDA of about 16%, and a net financial position of about $5 million.
With the acquisition, Technoprobe will further strengthen its technological competencies in the testing area by vertically integrating its production process through the in-house production of advanced printed circuit boards for its probe cards and final test boards, the company said in a release.
“The acquisition of Harbor Electronics has an important strategic value because it allows us to consolidate the process of vertical integration of the production process of our probe cards by leveraging the significant technological synergies of two important players in the testing field,” said Technoprobe CEO Stefano Felici. “In addition, the distinctive skills of Harbor Electronics will allow us to increase our knowledge in the final testing segment.”
Amara Raja Electronics Acquires Stake in Design Alpha
CHITTOOR, INDIA – Amara Raja Electronics announced the acquisition of a stake in engineering design firm Design Alpha. The acquisition will position Amara Raja Electronics (AREL) as a fully integrated electronics systems design and manufacturing (ESDM) company, unlocking numerous opportunities in the electronics manufacturing business, the company said in a statement.
Based in Kochi, India, Design Alpha specializes in supporting deep science and engineering development by offering design expertise and services. AREL did not disclose the percentage of shares it acquired.
Besides opening doors to partnerships with large multinational corporations and expanding their customer base, the acquisition will also facilitate seamless integration of design and manufacturing processes, along with the provision of value-added services to enhance product performance, efficiency, and reduce time to market, the company said.
“The acquisition will accelerate product development for AREL and allow us to leverage specialist knowledge,” said AREL director Vikramadithya Gourineni.
Congressman Visits Pro-Tech Interconnect Solutions
CHASKA, MN – PCB manufacturer Pro-Tech Interconnect Solutions recently hosted a tour of its facility here by Rep. Tom Emmer.
Pro-Tech’s Chaska facility has 83 employees and manufactures PCBs for the military, aerospace, medical and commercial industries.
“Manufacturing products like chips and semiconductors here at home doesn’t just provide good-paying jobs to Minnesotans. Investing in the production of this essential technology is important to our national security,” Emmer said. “Thank you to the team at Pro-Tech for sharing their work with us.”
“Pro-Tech Interconnect Solutions LLC is the only 100% woman-owned and operated “rigid” printed circuit board manufacturer in the USA,” said Pro-Tech President Melanie Bera Anderson. “We build boards for the F-35 jet, medical implants and equipment, to commercial controls.”
Pro-Tech was founded in 1968, and since 2018 has been operated by American Circuit Corp.
IPC: European Electronics Industry Needs Further Support from EU
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – Key segments of the European electronics manufacturing industry face significant challenges and require more support, according to a new report from IPC.
The report says the recently enacted European Chips Act is a welcome step, but “the near singular focus” on the semiconductor industry “has obscured critically important segments of the electronics ecosystem,” specifically printed circuit boards and electronic assembly, without which semiconductors cannot function.
Over the past 20 years, the European PCB sector experienced a steep decline, the report says, shrinking from approximately 20-30% of global production to just 2% today. Over this time, the EU has become “highly dependent on China,” which now accounts for some 65% of total EU PCB requirements.
The EMS sector has experienced “solid” average annual growth in recent years, fueled by factory investment by large global companies and by the growth of the downstream markets the sector serves, including automotive, industrial, aerospace, defense, and healthcare. However, the EU imports roughly 90% of required EMS products and services.
The European Commission is continuing to examine vulnerabilities in its industrial supply chains. In June, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) hosted a meeting on electronics assembly and printed circuit board manufacturing with key industry stakeholders, including companies from the renewable energy, aerospace/defense, automotive, and industrial sectors. The structured dialogue was called on the heels of an IPC meeting in April that brought together leaders of government and industry to press for an EU strategy to strengthen silicon-to-systems innovation and manufacturing.
USI Opens Second Factory in Poland
KOBIERZYCE, POLAND – Universal Scientific Industrial inaugurated its second factory here in June, and expects to create up to 1,000 jobs once the facility is fully operational by the first quarter of 2024.
“This new plant will strengthen our manufacturing capabilities and enable us to meet the growing demand for electric vehicle and green energy solutions in the European market,” said senior vice president Brian Shih, USI.
USI is a subsidiary of ASE Technology and parent company of AsteelFlash.
“Today we are proud to create a milestone for USI/AsteelFlash customer service,” said Felix Timmermann, executive director of USI Poland and executive vice president of Asteelflash. “We are strengthening our readiness to support our customers’ manufacturing and relocation efforts and ensuring that we are doing the best we can for our customers. We are convinced that this new activity will unleash our potential here and will be the start of something big.”
“We hope that the presence of such an important investor for the industry as USI, and its direct association with the Taiwanese ASE Technology, will attract new investments in Poland and contribute to the development of the electronics and semiconductor industries, sectors for the Polish, European and global economies,” said Marcin Fabianowicz, head of direct investments in Poland as managing director of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency.
GPV to Open 3rd Factory in Slovakia
PIESTANY, SLOVAKIA – GPV has entered a lease agreement for a new electronics factory here near its two existing factories in Slovakia. The additional factory is expected to start production from early 2024.
The new factory comprises a total of 18,000 sq. m., and the company will initially use 11,000 sq. m. with the option to expand and use the additional space at a later stage if needed.
In a release announcing the move, GPV said customers have been requesting additional production capacity in Europe, and after GPV’s merger with Enics in October 2022, the company managed to expand production capacity to better accommodate customer needs in the short time while continuing to look for a possibility to establish additional production capacity in Europe.
“With the additional space in Slovakia, we will have an even stronger operational footprint in best-cost Europe. We have a strong pipeline driven by increased demand from satisfied customers and we have a strategic ambition to regionalize European demand also in the light of the ESG agendas. Furthermore, we experience a big appetite toward best-cost Europe from existing and new potential customers, who wish to be served close to their core markets,” said Bo Lybæk, CEO, GPV.
The company said the additional factory will strengthen its site profile to respond with the requirements from the European core regions, and it will pave the road to support growth in the coming years.
“We expect to be able to combine the strengths from our 19 existing operating business units to further increase our competitiveness in the high-mix EMS market. I look forward to following the process, and I see this as an important strategic step in strengthening our operational footprint to serve our customers even better,” Lybæk said.
Scientists Develop Technology to Quickly 3-D Print Flexible Smart Devices
SINGAPORE – Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Panasonic and Singapore Center for 3-D Printing have developed a new multi-material printer using multi-wavelength high-power lasers for quick and easy 3-D printing of smart, flexible devices.
The multi-material printer works by utilizing varying wavelengths of laser, creating thermal and chemical reactions capable of transforming common carbon-based materials (polyimide and graphene oxide) into a new type of highly porous graphene. The resulting structure printed with this new graphene is not only light and conductive, but it can also be printed or coated onto flexible substrates like plastics, glass, gold and fabrics, creating flexible devices.
Electronic devices and components have traditionally been made of rigid materials such as metals, silicon, and ceramics, but there has been an increasing interest in the creation of flexible wearable electronics that can be bent, twisted, and easily conformed to various surfaces.
“Our project aims to find a way to 3-D print new materials like organic polymers and carbon-based materials like graphene, which has properties that allow them to be printed or coated onto flexible substrates like plastics or fabrics, creating flexible and stretchable circuits,” said project co-leader Murukeshan Vadakke Matham, an associate professor from NTU School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and SC3DP, the national center of excellence in 3-D printing housed at NTU.
“3-D printed flexible electronics paves the way for more comfortable and mobile wearable devices as it can be lighter and smaller,” added Murukeshan, who is also principal investigator at Singapore’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC). “We can now create unique structures that were previously impossible with traditional rigid electronics.”
The newly created 3-D printer has already attracted interest from various companies, including American multinational manufacturer Jabil-MTI Penang.
Jabil-MTI Penang aims to integrate 3-D printed graphene-based electronics into a smart infusion system. A proof of concept has been demonstrated through a prototype of a low-cost intravenous (IV) fluid bag with an embedded printed sensor powered by artificial intelligence. The device monitors the status of the IV drip, regulates parameters such as pressure flow and temperature, and transmits the information to a smartphone in real-time. This allows medical personnel to remotely monitor, control and detect abnormalities efficiently.
The research team also tested the possibility of integrating 3-D printed components into the fabrication of high-performing electronics like pressure sensors and heaters.
“We greatly value NTU and Panasonic teams’ creative thinking and innovative approach, and we are excited about the possibilities for future collaborations,” said Jabil-MTI Penang project manager Lim Lai Ming. “We eagerly look forward to exploring further opportunities to work together and leverage both their teams’ exceptional innovation expertise.”
“Our technology allows the creation of highly porous and conductive graphene-based material for use in different applications,” said project co-leader Dr. Low Mun Ji, general manager of Panasonic. “Compared to traditional graphene manufacturing methods, our method is faster, cheaper, and highly compatible with a wide range of materials.”
Incap Acquires US-based Pennatronics
HELSINKI – Incap has gained a foothold in the US with the acquisition of the Pennsylvania-based EMS company Pennatronics in a cash and stock transaction.
The enterprise value of the acquired company is $18.6 million, and the agreement also includes a potential additional earn-out of a maximum of $3 million. The transaction will be paid in cash except for the amount of approximately $1.6 million which will be paid in Incap’s shares.
Pennatronics has 102 employees working out of a 6,000 sq. m. production facility near Pittsburgh, PA, and offers complete electronics manufacturing services including PCB assembly and box-build assembly, as well as engineering and sourcing services. The company saw $30 million in revenue in its last financial year, and its EBITDA was $2.9 million.
Incap said the acquisition is in line with its growth strategy and will establish Incap’s presence in the US market and create a foothold for further expansion in the country. Pennatronics’ US production facility complements Incap’s current production facilities located in Estonia, India, the UK and Slovakia.
The company said the acquisition will broaden Incap’s customer base and will allow for US-based services to be offered to existing and new customers while Pennatronics’ customers will benefit from opportunities to source services from Europe and India, and in the long term, the acquisition is expected to bring cross-selling opportunities and synergy benefits.
“I am very excited about widening our geographic presence and gaining foothold in the US market,” said Incap CEO Otto Pukk. “I am also very happy to welcome the Pennatronics team of 102 professionals onboard. The acquisition will benefit both companies’ existing customers with opportunities to source from new areas and I am convinced that, together with Pennatronics, we can create new opportunities to expand our business in line with our growth strategy.”
After the acquisition, the former owners of Pennatronics, Ralph B. Andy and Keith D. James, are committed to support Incap over the transition period.
“I am enthused about the opportunity for our seasoned management team and dedicated employees to join forces with Incap,” said Andy, who serves as president and CEO. “The Pennatronics team is excited to become Incap’s first factory and cornerstone facility in the US to help fuel their future growth. This combination will enable us to take our business to the next level and provide our customers with enhanced capabilities and even greater value. I wish Incap North America a successful future as they expand their production footprint into the US.”
Note Grows in UK With DVR Acquisition
STOCKHOLM – Note has expanded its manufacturing capacity in the UK with the acquisition of electronics manufacturer DVR. The EMS company will pay GBP9 million ($11.4 million) in cash, plus potential earnouts of up to GBP3 million ($3.8 million) based on future growth and profitability targets.
DVR is located in Basildon, Essex, and the British EMS market, which corresponds to the Scandinavian market in size, is expected to have clearly higher growth than the European EMS market in general, Note said in a release announcing the acquisition. Through the addition of a fourth plant in England, the company said it gains greater coverage and becomes a larger player in the growing British EMS market.
“Our business continues to develop strongly, and we are now making our third acquisition in the past year. We are very excited that DVR will now become part of the Note Group,” said Note president and CEO Johannes Lind-Widestam. “The acquisition strengthens our position in the UK EMS market, which we strongly believe in and which is expected to have a strong growth in the coming years. DVR has a strong customer portfolio with exciting projects and we also see opportunities for synergies with our existing customers and suppliers. We look forward to continuing the profitable growth journey together with customers, staff and management at DVR.”
DVR offers PCB and box-build manufacturing, with a substantial number of its customers in the industrial and greentech segments. The company was founded by the Hellings family and has been run and developed most recently under the leadership of David Hellings, who will continue his role as CEO of the company. The company has around 95 employees.
“I have come to appreciate Note as a company that shares our core values of long-term customer relationships and high quality in what we do,” Hellings said. “We have many exciting customers and projects in our portfolio and see great advantages for both us and our customers to become part of a larger group and continue to develop our business together.”
Entech Expands in Australia and Malaysia
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – Entech Electronics will expand in its native Australia and add its first plant in Malaysia, the EMS firm announced.
Entech, a contract manufacturer offering PCB assembly, turnkey assembly, prototyping, and bare PCB supply, has begun construction of a new Adelaide factory and HQ, with an anticipated move-in date of April 2024. The factory is being built on a 10,000 sq. m. site, with 4,500 sq. m. under cover, said Wayne Hoffman, CEO, Entech Group.
“It is a significant factory here in Adelaide … with the capability to take our factory floor space to double what it is at the moment,” he said.
The company said that continuous improvement, growth, and a focus on the global supply chain of electronics components and materials has also set the stage for its third manufacturing location and further expansion into Southeast Asia.
The company has a factory in Shenzhen, and has operated a Singapore supply hub for the past three years, reaching out to businesses in Malaysia in preparation for its latest overseas expansion.
Hoffman said the new Malaysian operation would feature “glue and screw operations” but also the full supply chain of plastics, metalwork, hardware, wiring and harnessing through to finished product.
Critical Manufacturing Expands Operations into Mexico
PORTO, PORTUGAL – Critical Manufacturing has announced an expansion into Mexico to help meet the growing demands of American manufacturing systems. The new facility will serve as a strategic hub, fostering collaboration and innovation within the local manufacturing ecosystem, the company said.
As part of the expansion, the company named Juan Ledezma, an industry professional with a deep understanding of the Latin American market, general manager of Mexico.
“Our expansion into Mexico marks a significant milestone for Critical Manufacturing,” said Francisco Almada Lobo, CEO and cofounder. “With our strong foundation and a visionary leader like Juan Ledezma at the helm, we are poised to provide unparalleled support to our customers in Latin America and nearshore projects. We are excited to embark on this new chapter and contribute to the region’s manufacturing excellence.”
The ASMPT subsidiary provides a fully integrated, modular MES. The company said its decision to invest in Mexico aligns with its broader strategy of expanding its global footprint and fostering digitalization across international markets, and its commitment to providing localized support and expertise will enable Mexican manufacturers to accelerate their digital transformation journeys and achieve operational excellence.
“I am honored to lead the Mexico operations of Critical Manufacturing and contribute to the growth of the Latin American manufacturing industry,” Ledezma said. “Our mission is to empower organizations to embrace digital transformation and realize the full potential of their manufacturing processes. We look forward to partnering with local businesses, driving innovation, and supporting our customers’ success in this dynamic and evolving business environment.”
CMS Electronics Establishes Prototype-Focused Subsidiary
KLAGENFURT, AUSTRIA – CMS Electronics announced the expansion of its product portfolio with the establishment of a new subsidiary, PCBWhiz.
PCBWhiz utilizes an AI-assisted platform that provides instant quoting for prototype production. The software automatically analyzes specifications and extracts key technical parameters through its advanced algorithm. This enables immediate matching with the technical capabilities of production, as well as real-time checks on material availability and automated pricing of prototypes. Customers are presented with technical queries or alternative suggestions for components if material availability is insufficient, ensuring a seamless order process and timely initiation of production, and the price remains unchanged after the order is placed.
With the option to choose production locations in Europe or Asia (soon expanding to South America and Southeast Asia), PCBWhiz said it prioritizes data security and protection. All customer data generated through the platform is securely stored in Frankfurt, Germany, ensuring compliance with ISO27001 (Information Security Management System) and GDPR regulations.
“Our aim is to revolutionize prototype production through flexibility and applied technology/system in processing,” said director Markus Quendler. “Our platform empowers customers to perform design for manufacturability (DfM) checks on their PCBs and analyze the bill of materials (BoM) for material availability and lifecycle status online 24/7 before placing an order.”
CMS Electronics said the new subsidiary allows customers to benefit from the combined strengths of both companies and gain access to world-class prototyping solutions. The company said the move underscores its commitment to innovation and ensuring customers have access to the latest and most efficient technologies.
Katek Completes Acquisition of Nextek
MUNICH – Katek SE announced that it has finalized the acquisition of Madison, AL-based electronics supplier Nextek. The acquisition, which was first announced last November, expands Katek’s presence in North America and strengthens its industry presence in the fast-growing areas of homeland security and defense, medical technology, energy, high-end industrial, and aerospace, which is new for Katek, the company said in a release.
With around 160 employees and annual sales of more than $43 million in 2022, Nextek is a developer of highly complex products for critical application areas, especially in the areas of prototyping and production of small to medium quantities and complements Katek Canada (formerly SigmaPoint) as a high-volume provider of complex electronics. Both companies benefit from the reshoring trend in North America, which is progressing massively due to the current economic and geopolitical tensions, Katek said.
In addition to quickturn prototype manufacturing, Nextek offers sophisticated PCBA and complete device construction (box-build) as well as analytical engineering, product engineering and extensive test services for its customers. Nextek is ISO 9001 certified and has obtained certifications and approvals in the field of aviation (AS 9100D), medical technology (ISO 13485) and military technology (ITAR registered), and has laboratory facilities for material testing and ensuring the required quality in critical application areas.
“The acquisition of Nextek is already our second pillar in North America. It not only enables us to serve our European customers local-to-local directly in the USA, but also opens up the opportunity for Katek to benefit from the generally strong growth trend in North America,” said Katek CEO Rainer Koppitz. “With the relocation from Asia and the high investments in North America as well as in connection with the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ of the American government, we are well positioned to achieve success. Nextek ideally complements our existing location in Canada in the field of high-value electronics and is already very profitable.”
“Nextek is thrilled to be part of the Katek Group. We anticipate a successful integration and a bright future with great growth opportunities as part of Katek,” said Nextek CEO John Roberts. “We look forward with excitement to tapping into the anticipated additional business potential on both sides of the Atlantic. Combined with the strength and capabilities of Katek Canada, we at Nextek see a very promising future for Katek in North America. The entire Nextek team can’t wait to take the next steps together with Katek as part of ‘TeamBlue.’”
Kurtz Ersa Breaks Ground on Mexico Facility
JUÁREZ, MEXICO – Kurtz Ersa has broken ground on a new production facility here to meet the growing demands of the North America market.
The new plant will play a pivotal role in the production of Ersa soldering machines and will also serve as a preproduction center for Kurtz´s US factory, the company said in a release. The expansion will create Kurtz Ersa´s third-largest manufacturing site after Germany and China and will initially focus on manufacturing Ersa Hotflow reflow soldering systems.
“Mexico was chosen as the ideal location for this expansion due to its strategic advantages,” said Albrecht Beck, Kurtz Ersa president and COO. “Its central location on the border provides excellent access and facilitates access to strong local markets in the Americas. Additionally, Mexico boasts a wealth of highly educated and motivated workforce to maintain our high German quality standards at a modern state-of-the-art factory.”
With Kurtz Ersa’s rapid growth in the Americas, the new production facility in Chihuahua will better serve local customers, minimize its CO2 footprint, shorten delivery times and reduce freight costs, the company said.
The new production plant is expected to commence operations by spring 2024, and will join the company’s existing service and logistics hubs in Plymouth, WI, and Guadalajara as its third major service and logistics hub in the region.
Otis Worldwide Opens PCB Production Center
BERLIN – Otis Worldwide has opened a new €8 million ($9 million) PCB production facility dedicated to advanced and complex PCB designs, as well as rapid prototyping and industrialization.
With the new production center, located in its SSI1 Electronics Berlin factory, Otis said it is building on the expertise of its Berlin-based teams in the design and production of PCBs, a field of growing strategic importance for many industries.
Otis’ PCBs are used in elevators and escalators around the world, and around 75% of the equipment manufactured in Berlin is destined for European construction projects, as well as the modernization market. The remaining 25% is exported overseas.
SIA Calls for Halt on China Chip Restrictions
WASHINGTON – The Semiconductor Industry Association has called on the US government to refrain from any more restrictions on chip sales to China, saying additional measures against the country could disrupt supply chains and prompt continued retaliation from China.
“Recognizing that strong economic and national security require a strong U.S. semiconductor industry, leaders in Washington took bold and historic action last year to enact the CHIPS and Science Act to strengthen our industry’s global competitiveness and de-risk supply chains,” the SIA said in a statement released in mid-July. “Allowing the industry to have continued access to the China market, the world’s largest commercial market for commodity semiconductors, is important to avoid undermining the positive impact of this effort. Repeated steps, however, to impose overly broad, ambiguous, and at times unilateral restrictions risk diminishing the U.S. semiconductor industry’s competitiveness, disrupting supply chains, causing significant market uncertainty, and prompting continued escalatory retaliation by China.
“We call on both governments to ease tensions and seek solutions through dialogue, not further escalation. And we urge the administration to refrain from further restrictions until it engages more extensively with industry and experts to assess the impact of current and potential restrictions to determine whether they are narrow and clearly defined, consistently applied, and fully coordinated with allies.”
Tempo Automation Lays Off Nearly All Employees
SAN FRANCISCO – Tempo Automation in late July laid off 62 of its employees, leaving only seven employees on its payroll in an effort to reduce overhead and keep the company operational, according to an SEC filing.
CEO Joy Weiss and Ralph Richart, Tempo Automation’s chief technology and manufacturing officer, are remaining with the company but will cut their base salaries by 50% for the foreseeable future. The company’s chief financial officer, Ryan Benton, has resigned.
The company is trying to reduce overhead to better position the company to fund its planned operations while meeting obligations as they come due. Tempo has “experienced negative cash flows since inception that raise substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue,” the filing said. The company lost $7.4 million in the first quarter on revenue of $2.8 million.
The company said it is working to identify alternative sources of capital and means of reducing expenses that may permit it to continue, including raising debt or equity capital and other alternatives, but there is no guarantee that it will be able to raise additional capital, or that the plan of termination and related workforce reduction will be sufficient to permit the company to continue operations.
Tempo Automation went public in November through a special-purpose acquisition company deal with South Korean firm Ace Convergence Equity Partners that was worth around $100 million. Earlier in the month, the firm Tempo Automation executed a $7 million promissory note with Asia-IO Advanced Manufacturing Partners to finalize the previously announced acquisition of Optimum Design Associates.