SPI, ZDT to Build PCB Plant in Thailand
BANGKOK – SPI has closed a 10 billion baht ($279.4 million) deal to partner with Zhen Deng Tech to build a PCB manufacturing plant in Thailand.
The investment will establish a plant in Saha Group Industrial Park in Thailand’s Prachinburi Province, with a goal to propel Thailand as a key PCB production base in the ASEAN region, SPI said in a release. The company expects an initial investment of 10 billion baht for the first phase and additional investments of more than 50 billion baht ($1.4 billion) by 2030.
“Saha Group is fully prepared to cooperate with all partners and investors. Our land availability and well-established network in Thailand can help our partner’s businesses grow quickly and comprehensively in all aspects,” said SPI CEO Vichai Kulsomphob. “Currently, Saha Group Industrial Parks cover four strategic locations across Thailand: 1. Kabin Buri in Prachinburi Province, 2. Si Racha in Chonburi Province, 3. Lamphun in Lamphun Province, and 4. Mae Sot in Tak Province. This investment collaboration with Zhen Ding Tech Group utilizes over 300 rai of land, marking a significant move for the future of Saha Group under the era of technology transformation. This will create over a thousand job opportunities in engineering fields to Thailand. We believe that expanding investment under the concept of Eco-Tech Industrial Park will not only benefit the community directly but also enhance the level of market competitiveness for the overall industry of the country.”
5G/6G MAESTRO Publishes Materials Development and Electrical Test Roadmap
MORRISVILLE, NC – The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) has released the Materials Development and Electrical Test Roadmap, which is part of the 5G/6G mmWave Materials and Electrical Test Technology Roadmap (5G/6G MAESTRO).
MAESTRO, managed by iNEMI, is a joint industry/academia project sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Office of Advance Manufacturing’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology (MfgTech) Roadmap Program. This is the second of two roadmap documents that provide a comprehensive 10-year hardware roadmap for mmWave materials development, characterization and electrical test. The first document – Low Loss Dielectric Materials Characterization Roadmap – was published earlier this year.
“This roadmap gives industry an idea of where the technology currently is and where we need to be in the next 10 years to support the development and manufacture of competitive leading edge 5G and 6G networks in the US,” says Shekhar Chandrashekhar, CEO of iNEMI.
The substantial information compiled to create the MAESTRO reports and roadmap documents is the result of significant collaboration among individuals in approximately 30 industry and academic settings.
“When teams across the private sector come together around technology roadmapping, their collaborative work creates that optimal R&D plan to achieve real breakthroughs,” said Mike Molnar, director of the NIST Office of Advanced Manufacturing. “These technology roadmaps have proved invaluable to advancing US competitiveness and future leadership in building the industries of tomorrow.”
This latest chapter of the roadmap focuses on material development needs for several applications and is divided into the following sections: devices (semiconductor technologies), package integration and assembly, antennas and antenna subsystems, thermal management, co-design and multi-physics analysis, and radio frequency (RF) photonics. It also addresses electrical test, identifying gaps, challenges and potential solutions for the electrical testing-related issues of next-generation communication systems.
“It is important for the technical community at 3M and other companies to have access to this kind of roadmap,” says Charles Hill, senior research physicist, 3M. “It helps industry identify research and development priorities and know where we can best focus our efforts for our respective businesses.”
“Roadmap elements can provide the direction for driving future research and collaboration that are synergistic with emerging applications. The teams contributing to MAESTRO have helped set the stage for creating a pre-competitive environment for 6G systems development,” says Professor Madhavan Swaminathan, department head of electrical engineering and the William E. Leonhard endowed chair at Penn State University, and director for the Center for Heterogeneous Integration of Micro Electronic Systems (CHIMES).
Implementation strategy. The MAESTRO team was also tasked with developing an implementation strategy to execute the vision of the roadmap and promote the growth of a strong US workforce in RF and mmWave communication technologies. Download a copy of the MAESTRO implementation strategy here.
Several partnerships focused on key findings of the roadmap are currently underway. Examples include:
Standard Reference Material Development
- iNEMI mmWave Permittivity Reference Material Development Project team – developing a permittivity standard reference material (SRM) that will be handed off to NIST in 2024.
Packaging and Integration (including Antenna Subsystems)
- ASIC (American Semiconductor Innovation Coalition) Advanced Packaging team – developing a white paper for RF system-in-package (SiP) technical elements to help guide the vision for an advanced packaging manufacturing program.
- Mid Atlantic Semiconductor Hub (MASH) – preparing proposals to create regional hubs focused on promoting research, development, and commercialization of semiconductor technologies . This group will also work toward driving strategies in the mmWave space.
Amphenol Acquires Trackwise Designs
STONEHOUSE, UK – Amphenol has acquired Trackwise Designs, a UK-based flex circuit manufacturer that was in financial distress. Terms of the deal weren’t initially disclosed.
The new Amphenol Trackwise Designs is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amphenol Sincere, and will support the company’s goal to become the leading cell connection system production company in Europe, Amphenol said in a release.
“Trackwise Designs, together with the continuous expansion of the factory in Hungary and the increase of flex printed circuit production capacity in Europe will result in achieving this vision,” Amphenol said.
In July, Trackwise announced a delay in the release of its annual financial results after it had failed to secure a contract to supply cell connection system FPCAs to a Tier-1 supplier, and later announced that it was up for sale after its board reviewed future options for the company.
Dongwei Plans Thai Production Facility
SUZHOU, CHINA – Dongwei Technology, a supplier of vertical plating and surface treatment equipment, has announced plans to build a production base in Thailand, with an investment of RMB61 million ($8.6 million).
The investment includes the establishment of a new Thai company, purchase of land, construction of factories, purchase and construction of fixed assets and other related matters. The project is located in the Logana Ayutthaya Industrial Park and is subject to approval of the local registration authority.
The company said the investment will help enhance its global sales capabilities, increase penetration in key overseas areas, enhance its global influence and popularity, and strengthen its position in the field of global electroplating equipment.
UK PCB Supplier Goes Out of Business
WASHINGTON, ENGLAND – Faraday Printed Circuits, a UK-based PCB supplier that operated for more than 35 years, has closed its doors after a drop in orders amid challenging trading conditions.
The company, which was established in 1987 and had expanded from a 4,000 sq. ft. operation to a 22,300 sq. ft. site, fell into administration under FRP Advisory, but the firm was unable to find a buyer for the company.
“Unfortunately, like many other businesses in the manufacturing industry, Faraday Printed Circuits was not immune to a significant fall in demand and mounting external pressures, most notably rising costs, made the business financially unviable,” said joint administrator and FRP Restructuring advisory partner Allan Kelly.
The administrators are now preparing to sell the company’s assets and have urged interested parties to get in touch. In the company’s accounts to the year ending May 31, 2023, its fixed assets were valued at around £737,000 ($930,000), while liabilities amounted to approximately £1.2 million ($1.5 million).
Icape Acquires German Parts Supplier
FONTENAY-AUX-ROSES, FRANCE – Icape Group has acquired 100% of the assets of Bordan Electronic Consult, a German company specializing in the design of custom-made technical parts.
Since 2002, Bordan Electronic Consult has been developing a range of services focused on the distribution of technical parts to some 30 customers, mainly based in Germany, and offers a wide spectrum of products, of which almost 80% are custom-made. In 2022, the company generated €0.9 million in revenue and a gross margin of over 35%.
With the acquisition, Icape has established its CIPEM operation in Germany, dedicated to the distribution of “custom-made” technical parts. The long-term partnerships forged by Bordan will enable the company to diversify its sourcing with suppliers based in Germany, Japan and Taiwan, while also generating potential purchasing, cost and sales synergies in the short and medium term, Icape said in a release.
“We are delighted to be able to integrate Bordan Electronics Consult’s assets into Icape Group,” said Yann Duigou, CEO, Icape Group. “This well-known German player in the distribution of custom-made technical parts reinforces our position as a technological expert at the service of our industrial customers. This new operation should also generate synergies by pooling our respective know-how. The objective of this acquisition, in line with our external growth strategy and our previous operations in this high-stake territory, will be to participate in the improvement of our local subsidiary’s organic growth and profitability.”
Foxconn to Invest $1.5B in India
TAIPEI – Foxconn will invest more than $1.5 billion in an Indian construction project to fulfill its “operational needs,” the company announced in Taiwanese security filings.
The $1.54 billion investment was made through a Foxconn subsidiary, Hon Hai Technology India Mega Development, which has been registered in India’s Maharashtra state since 2015. A concurrent filing said the same subsidiary would budget the equivalent amount in Indian rupees for a construction project to fulfill “operational needs.” The company did not disclose any additional information about the project.
Post-Covid, Foxconn has looked at different strategies for better supply chain resiliency. Considerations include moving some of its production outside China. Among the pending projects in India are a $600 million project in Karnataka state and a $500 million factory in Telangana state.
VDL Acquires Rena Electronica
EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS – VDL Groep has announced the acquisition of Rena Electronica, a Dutch manufacturer of smart electronics and LED lighting.
The addition of Rena’s specialists and machines will boost VDL’s production capacity, particularly with its subsidiary, VDL TBP Electronics, which specializes in printed circuit board assemblies, VDL said in a release.
Rena has a turnover of €12 million ($15.2 million) and more than 50 employees.
“Our ambition is to be a one-stop-shop industrial partner. Besides our competencies in mechanics and software, with VDL TBP Electronics in our ranks, we’ve taken a big step forward in electronics,” said Willem van der Leegte, president and CEO, VDL. “With Rena’s skilled employees and high-quality machines, we’re further expanding our production capacity, enabling us to better fulfill the increasing demands of our clients.”
“By becoming part of VDL, we’ll be able to grow further in added-value innovative solutions together,” said Jochem Winkelman, general manager, Rena Electronica. “This acquisition ensures long-term continuity for our clients and employees.”
Hanza Acquires EMS Firm Orbit One
STOCKHOLM – Hanza will acquire all shares in Orbit One, a Swedish contract manufacturer of electronics and electromechanics. Hanza will pay an estimated SEK367 million ($35.1 million) for Orbit One, plus potential adders based on the company’s performance in 2024, up to a maximum of SEK91 million ($8.7 million).
Closing is subject to regulatory approvals, which are expected to be received by early January 2024 at the latest.
Orbit One has annual sales of approximately SEK1.1 billion ($105 million) with an operating profit (EBITA) of approximately SEK70 million ($6.7 million). It operates two production facilities in Sweden and one in Poland and has a total of approximately 620 employees, of which approximately 65 are engineers.
Orbit One holds a strong position in the Nordic EMS market and has a stable and diversified customer base, and its acquisition strengthens Hanza’s manufacturing cluster in Sweden and Central Europe, adds capacity and expertise in electronics manufacturing and contributes to increased earnings per share, Hanza said in a release.
“Hanza is a good and long-term new owner with the strength and ability to continue developing Orbit One,” said Orbit One board member and co-owner Mats Johansson. “We complement each other in an excellent way and the merger creates one of the Nordic region’s most competitive contract manufacturers. Furthermore, Hanza, like Orbit One, places great emphasis on creating a good corporate culture with sustainable and sound values. This has been an important factor in the choice of a new owner.”
“Orbit One is a respected colleague in the industry that has positioned itself as one of the leading electronics manufacturers,” said Hanza CEO Erik Stenfors. “It is therefore with pride that we announce this acquisition that further develops Hanza’s manufacturing cluster in Sweden and Central Europe in a very good way. The acquisition is also fully in line with our communicated strategy Hanza 2025.”
“Hanza’s unique manufacturing concept together with Orbit One’s leading position in electronics manufacturing is a perfect combination,” added Orbit One CEO Mattias Lindhe. “Together we will be able to develop and expand our businesses and become even stronger in our industry. This deal is good for both our customers and our employees.”
US DoD Awards Nearly $10M to 7 Microelectronics Firms
WASHINGTON – Seven microelectronics firms received nearly $10 million in combined funding to commercialize technologies of interest to the US military services as winners of the Defense Business Accelerator (DBX) Microelectronics Challenge. The initiative is funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) and led by the US Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE).
The challenge aims to revolutionize how the DoD drives the development of dual-use technology, which can be used for both civilian and military applications. The challenge is testing the hypothesis that the DoD can accelerate growth of a robust domestic industrial base by focusing its resources on commercialization of early-stage, hardware-intensive technologies and then scaling them into resilient businesses in partnership with private capital.
The DBX Microelectronics Challenge offered an opportunity for advanced technology innovators to vie for funding of up to $2 million each to further commercialize their emerging technologies. The winning companies also will receive commercialization support through an ongoing accelerator program, which includes one-on-one coaching, access to resources and more. The accelerator program’s goal is to not only mature the technology but also scale the domestic business to fill critical gaps in the microelectronics supply chain.
After evaluation of 279 submissions received via an open solicitation, 25 finalists pitched their ideas at the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit on Nov. 28. A panel of industry experts, investors and a DoD representative judged the presentations, selecting the following seven challenge winners for a combined $9.6 million in funding:
- Freedom Photonics LLC ($1,500,000)
- Gigantor Technologies ($2,000,000)
- Momentum Optics ($1,675,000)
- Mosaic Microsystems ($1,000,000)
- PseudolithIC, Inc. ($1,000,000)
- SiliconCore Technology, Inc. ($1,675,000)
- Soctera, Inc. ($750,000)
“Typically, the timeline from selection to contract award and receipt of funding is several months. DBX leverages the flexibility of Other Transactions Authority (OTA), along with some innovative structuring of the OTA agreement, to enable awardees to receive funding within 48 hours of their selection at the pitch event,” said Christopher Zember, senior fellow for Industrial Base Resilience who is supporting DoD as the architect and lead for this project.
The collaboration between USPAE, a nonprofit organization with members spanning the electronics ecosystem, and the DoD’s Manufacturing Capability Expansion & Investment Prioritization Directorate (MCEIP) has been instrumental in driving this initiative forward. Tactical support from Advanced Technology International (ATI), and specifically its TechConnect division, has further fortified the success of the DBX Microelectronics Challenge.
“We’re honored to move the area of microelectronics forward with this funding and the ongoing accelerator program that we’ll make available to the winners over the next eighteen months,” said Nathan Edwards, executive director of USPAE. “The outcome will be faster access to dual-use technologies for which the military services already have a validated interest.”
Commerce Department Announces First CHIPS Act Incentives
WASHINGTON – BAE Systems’ New Hampshire-based operations will receive a $35 million grant to quadruple its production of a chip used in F-15 and F-35 fighter jets in the first CHIPS Act funds to be distributed by the US Department of Commerce.
The award is the first of several expected in the coming months, as the Commerce Department begins distributing the $39 billion in federal funding that Congress authorized under the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act. The money is intended to incentivize the construction of chip factories in the United States and lure back a key type of manufacturing that has slipped offshore in recent decades.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that the decision to select a defense contractor for the first award, rather than a commercial semiconductor facility, was meant to emphasize the administration’s focus on national security.
“We have been clear since day one that the CHIPS for America Program is about advancing our national security and strengthening domestic supply chains, all while creating good jobs supporting long-term US economic growth,” she said in a statement. “As national security becomes as much about the chips inside of our weapons systems as the weapons systems themselves, this first CHIPS announcement shows how central semiconductors are to our national defense.”
SEMI and SIA both released statements applauding the first distribution of funding from the CHIPS Act.
The announcement “represents an important milestone on the path to fulfilling the tremendous promise of the CHIPS and Science Act and reinforcing America’s national security, critical supply chains, and the economy,” said SIA president and CEO John Neuffer. “We applaud Secretary Raimondo and the CHIPS Program Office team for working diligently to begin getting CHIPS incentives out the door. We look forward to additional projects being funded and stand ready to continue working with Commerce Department leaders to ensure the CHIPS and Science Act reinvigorates US semiconductor production and innovation for years to come.”
“We commend the thoughtful approach the US Department of Commerce has taken in awarding incentives and are pleased to see the advancement of incentives to bolster the resiliency of the domestic semiconductor supply chain,” said Joe Stockunas, president, SEMI Americas. “In order for the global semiconductor industry to support the push for digitalization and a diverse range of smart applications over the coming years, we must go beyond elevating just one facet of the supply chain and pursue a fortified ecosystem encompassing equipment, materials and advanced packaging. SEMI has advocated with the US Chips Program Office to distribute incentives with this goal in mind, and we are confident in their understanding of the industry’s needs.”
The CHIPS and Science Act provides a 25% tax credit for US facilities that produce semiconductors or chipmaking equipment and $52 billion in funding for new or updated semiconductor-related manufacturing programs. The funding includes $39 billion for grants available to semiconductor manufacturers as well as equipment and materials suppliers and $11 billion for federal semiconductor research programs.
Ag Express Electronics Establishes Wire Harness Division
DES MOINES, IA – Ag Express Electronics, a provider of solutions, sales, service and support for electronic devices for farmers, agriculture dealers and OEMs, announced the establishment of Integrated Circuit Works, a dedicated division focused on wire harness manufacturing that will expand to include electronics assembly and printed circuit board manufacturing.
The Integrated Circuit Works division, formerly Alliance Group Technologies in Warren, IN, was awarded ISO 9001:2015 by National Quality Assurance (NQA) in August 2023.
“Today, we are focused on wire harness manufacturing and box builds, but in the very near future, the division will expand to feature repair services and printed circuit board manufacturing in an ISO 9001:2015 environment,” said COO Eric Randolph.
“Ag Express has always been at the forefront of innovation in the agricultural industry. Our new Integrated Circuit Works division is a natural progression that empowers the company to contribute meaningfully to the success of our clients,” added Jim Steinke, chief growth officer. “Achieving this certification reflects the world-class manufacturing culture nurtured at Ag Express and the overall commitment to quality and reliability that runs deep in our company’s DNA. As the Integrated Circuit Works division scales, we expect to expand into other industries such as construction, public works, forestry, and more.”