Around the World

Biden Invokes Defense Production Act for PCB Production

WASHINGTON, DC – President Joe Biden has authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to spur domestic and Canadian production of printed circuit boards, citing the technology’s importance to national defense.

A presidential determination signed by Biden in April permits the Department of Defense to utilize its Defense Production Act Title III authorities to invest $50 million in advanced microelectronics capacity and ensure the production of state-of-the-art integrated circuits in the US.

“United States industry cannot reasonably be expected to provide the capability for the needed industrial resource, material, or critical technology item in a timely manner,” Biden said in a memo released by the White House. “I find that action to expand the domestic production capability for printed circuit boards and advanced packaging is necessary to avert an industrial resource or critical technology item shortfall that would severely impair national defense capability.”

The Defense Production Act ruling also calls for more “advanced packaging” that permits multiple devices to be packaged and mounted on a single electronic device, shrinking them and making power use more efficient.

“The rapid changes occurring within the microelectronics industry make it imperative for the Department of Defense to ensure that this critical sector can support the nation’s defense needs. The Presidential Determination will allow the DoD to use additional tools to ensure the resilience of American microelectronics manufacturing,” Anthony Di Stasio, director of the Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization (MCEIP) office. “We are committed to working with our interagency partners to expand the microelectronics domestic industrial base in the United States.” Article ending bug

Emerson to Acquire National Instruments

ST. LOUIS – Emerson Electric in April announced it will be acquiring National Instruments for $8.2 billion. The agreement comes after NI rejected multiple offers from Emerson, which initially offered $7 billion.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of Emerson’s fiscal 2024, subject to the completion of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by NI shareholders.

NI, which provides software-connected automated test and measurement systems, had $1.66 billion in 2022 revenue and operates in more than 40 countries, serving approximately 35,000 customers across semiconductor and electronics, transportation, and aerospace and defense markets.

“We are pleased to reach an agreement with NI, whose best-in-class test and measurement product and software offerings accelerate Emerson’s progress toward a cohesive, higher growth and higher margin automation portfolio,” said Lal Karsanbhai, president and CEO, Emerson. “With this expansion into test and measurement, Emerson will enhance its automation capabilities and gain a broader set of customers that relies on NI’s solutions at critical points along the product development cycle.

“These capabilities provide Emerson industry diversification into attractive and growing discrete markets like semiconductor and electronics, transportation and electric vehicles, and aerospace and defense that are poised to benefit from secular growth trends. NI’s business is well-aligned with our vision for automation and we look forward to working together to bring more comprehensive and innovative solutions to our customers, accelerate growth and position Emerson to deliver significant shareholder value.”

“Over the past several months, we’ve been evaluating strategic options for the future of our business with the intent to maximize its value,” said Eric Starkloff, CEO of NI. “We ran a robust and comprehensive process, considered a range of potential options, and believe this represents the best outcome for all NI stakeholders. This transaction is a strong testament to the improvements and initiatives we’ve implemented in recent years that have transformed NI into a software focused company with higher growth, better profitability and lower cyclicality. We’re thrilled that Emerson recognizes the value we’ve created and we believe they will help us build on our momentum to further position NI as a leading provider of software-connected automated test and measurement systems.” Article ending bug

IPC CTC Calls for IC Substrate Manufacturing Facility in US

BANNOCKBURN, IL – The establishment of a pilot facility in the US for manufacturing IC substrates is a first step towards re-establishing semiconductor packaging within the US, and the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 can be used to jump start the effort, according to a white paper released by the IPC’s Chief Technologist Council.

After decades of offshoring for the PCB and IC substrate industry, the experience base in implementing and executing the operational management of an IC substrate fabrication facility is nearly nonexistent in North America – for both the leadership skills required as well as the process engineering expertise which provides the backbone of these operations, the paper states. No real “surplus” of PCB manufacturing expertise is available to seed an IC substrate fabrication facility, and this is amplified by the fact that PCB companies are generally risk-averse.

While the CHIPS Act is meant to jump start the effort, the competition for funding has led to the proposed creation of complicated, highly centralized mechanisms that are likely to eat up funding while failing to address the underlying needs.

The CTC’s recommendation for the funding is to build an IC substrate fabrication pilot line, which neither has to be, nor should be, state-of-the-art as its initial technology point. Rather, it should be set up to allow for capabilities to grow quickly, targeting state-of-the-art in the future without being held hostage to these eventual requirements in the short term. The committee also recommends that this facility be implemented as a US asset, following a consortium model like the High Density Packaging User Group, permitting any company to join, participate, contribute and realize the benefits of the effort.

The CTC says the facility should not be “squeezed” into a surplus building that is donated, but should instead be constructed with the end in mind. Plan for the next iteration/generation of equipment, acknowledging that more is required, and that more is both possible and required. The expansion space must be available at time zero, so that as version 1 is implemented, version 2 is already being planned and has available space. When version 2 is implemented, version 3 is planned for the space that the newly obsolete version 1 currently occupies. The model would be to continue to swap out the equipment, incrementing capability at a sustainable pace.

This facility would not only start to resolve the IC substrate manufacturing shortfall, but would also be geographically located to facilitate the other weaknesses that have been identified in the semiconductor packaging ecosystem, the paper says, and there should be a university presence nearby with an outstanding and recognized electronics curriculum, ideally staffed with highly experienced industry subject matter and operations experts. The curriculum can utilize this pilot facility as a sort of “Unit Ops Lab” specific to PCB or IC substrate fabrication.

Additionally, it should have easy access to semiconductor and outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) facilities, the paper said, using the Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing (CAMM) advocated and administered by Binghamton University in New York as an example for the model of ecosystem that should be built. Article ending bug

Wild River Technology and Cadence Collaborate to Improve Simulation Measurement

HILLSBORO, OR – Wild River Technology and Cadence in April announced a collaboration to improve simulation to measurement correspondence using WRT’s next-generation Channel Modeling Signal Integrity Platform.

Cadence chose WRT’s CMP-50 Advanced Channel Modeling Platform for benchmarking its Clarity 3D Solver against the associated EM correlation across multiple workflows and is inclusive of WRT’s 400-800 gigabit Ethernet simulation solution for designing critical interconnects for PCBs, IC packages and systems on IC (SoIC).

CMP-50 incorporates critical structures for material identification in 3-D for anisotropic materials, crosstalk analysis in the x-y and z directions, and a host of additional interconnect solutions that typically challenge EM solvers. This generation improves launch and via design methodology along with crosstalk analysis and changes the trajectory of traditional EDA development often conducted in a hardware- and measurement-less vacuum.

“The Wild River Technology team is well-known to be highly skilled and trusted signal integrity technologists,” said Gary Lytle, product management director, multiphysics systems analysis technology, at Cadence. “As such, this collaboration allows us to not only prove out the accuracy of Clarity against known measurements but also allows mutual customers to better understand how to take accurate measurements and why that’s important when simulation meets the real world.”

“The Cadence team dug really deep, and we found the simulation-measurement correspondence to be excellent,” said Al Neves, founder and chief technologist, Wild River Technology. “It’s been very productive collaborating with Cadence and its savvy engineers. We were able to address fundamental problems of practical electromagnetics using both our CMP-50 platform and the Cadence Clarity 3D Solver.”

Cadence is utilizing a host of advanced correspondence tools (S-parameters) and complementing time-domain transformed (TDR) impedance data along with proprietary tools being developed that corresponds S-parameters as vectors, such as the Modified Hausdorff Distance metrics and causal material models. Article ending bug

Altair Establishes $1M STEM Scholarship at Columbia University

TROY, MI – Altair has established a $1 million scholarship for students pursuing a four-year engineering or STEM-related undergraduate degree at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The Altair #OnlyForward scholarship will award 10 students with $25,000 annually, which they will receive each year of their undergraduate studies until graduation.

“Sponsoring these life-changing scholarships is an honor for Altair,” said James R. Scapa, founder and chief executive, Altair. “Throughout our history we have always prioritized diversity, as it is a foundational pillar of our culture and thereby our success. The Altair #OnlyForward Scholarship was established to celebrate and develop the next generation of diverse, world-class talent that will impact our world for years to come.”

“This scholarship will empower our students to make remarkable achievements in the classroom and lab, in the community, and beyond,” said Shih-Fu Chang, dean of Columbia Engineering. “We are extremely grateful to Altair for generously supporting education and opening doors for underrepresented students in engineering and applied science at Columbia.”

The Altair scholarship is designed to assist incoming/first-year students pursuing an undergraduate degree in engineering and applied science, and who have demonstrated leadership in or support for the African American and/or Latino community. Additionally, the scholarship aims to support students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, have worked or lived in diverse environments, and have demonstrated experience in or commitment to working with historically underserved, underrepresented, or underprivileged populations. Ideally, the scholarship will benefit first-generation college students.

Columbia Engineering will select and announce the first cohort of scholarship recipients in the fall of 2023. Article ending bug

APCT Acquires San Diego PCB

SANTA CLARA, CA – APCT has announced the acquisition of San Diego PCB, a printed circuit board design services company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We are delighted to partner with San Diego PCB to provide our customers with a complete PCB lifecycle solution from design and layout to prototyping and production,” APCT CEO Steve Robinson said in a statement. “Over the past 20 years, San Diego PCB has built a strong reputation for quality, service and efficiency and is the perfect complement to APCT products. I am delighted to welcome everyone on the San Diego PCB team to the APCT family.”

“We are tremendously excited to join the APCT platform,” said Tony Bell, division manager of San Diego PCB. “APCT shares our dedication and commitment to putting the customer first and is an ideal partner for San Diego PCB. Through this combination, we’ll continue to provide our customers with best-in-class PCB design services, and we’re excited to leverage APCT’s quick turn prototyping and production fabrication capabilities to serve even more of our customers’ needs.”

San Diego PCB merged in 2003 with Milwaukee Electronics. Article ending bug

Sunshine PCB Acquires Vision Industries

SHENZHEN, CHINA – Sunshine Global Circuits has announced the acquisition of Malaysian PCB manufacturer Vision Industries. Closing of the acquisition is subject to government and regulatory approval and is expected to be finalized in May.

The acquisition is meant to extend Sunshine’s manufacturing capabilities into Southeast Asia and enhance Sunshine’s product offerings in microwave and RF circuit boards, as well as further establish Sunshine Global Circuits as a premier international PCB manufacturer after the establishment of Sunshine USA in 2011 and the acquisition of Sunshine Germany in 2013, the company said in a release.

“This acquisition will allow Sunshine and Vision to integrate our capabilities and services to enable us to better serve our customers world-wide,” said Mark Zhang, president and chairman of SGC. “With this acquisition as the starting point, Sunshine will gradually increase the technology and production capability in Penang. We will add HDI process, advanced automation, and quick turn prototyping to elevate the current capabilities while maintaining our high-mix, low-to-medium volume model. Sunshine will devote the necessary resources to scale the Penang facility to be the best manufacturer in Southeast Asia for Rigid and RF PCBs.” Article ending bug

Infinitum Gains PCB Fab Capability with Circuit Connect Acquisition

AUSTIN, TX – Electric motor OEM Infinitum has acquired Circuit Connect, a printed circuit board fabricator based in Nashua, NH, for an undisclosed amount.

In a press release, Infinitum said the acquisition of Circuit Connect supports its efforts to become more vertical and immediately permits a substantially higher production capacity of PCB stators. The acquisition of the 30-year-old PCB fabricator also provides a framework for continuous volume growth, which is critical to meeting the high demand for Infinitum’s electric motor technology.

Circuit Connect has supplied Infinitum with PCB stators for more than five years and has been closely involved in developing the manufacturing process and quality product. The company has 21 employees who will join the Infinitum family, while continuing to service existing customers via the operation from Nashua.

Infinitum’s unique air core motor motors replace heavy iron found in traditional electric motors with a lightweight, printed circuit board (PCB) stator said to be more reliable and require fewer metals such as copper.

“Our PCB stator is the heart of our sustainable electric motors and what allows us to deliver the efficiency and energy savings that is so important to our customers and the planet,” said Ben Schuler, founder and CEO, Infinitum. “Circuit Connect has worked side by side with us advancing and improving how PCB stators are made. Their acquisition will help us ensure consistent delivery of quality stator components as we execute on our hypergrowth phase and scale up manufacturing to meet demand for our motors that can power the world with less energy and waste.”

“As a leader in PCB fabrication in the US for more than three decades, Circuit Connect’s dedication to customer success aligns well with Infinitum’s mission to build motors with reliability and extended life,” said Rick Clutz, founder, Circuit Connect. “We look forward to continuing to serve our customers and are excited about the next chapter as we ramp up production to help create motors that can have such a lasting and positive impact on the environment.” Article ending bug

Wus Takes Over Majority of PCB JV with Schweizer

SCHRAMBERG, GERMANY – Wus Printed Circuits has approved the acquisition of a majority stake in Schweizer Electronic (Jiangsu), increasing its share of the printed circuit board fabricator to 70% from approximately 13%.

Wus also plans to carry out a capital increase of around EUR29 million at the joint venture in China, in which Schweizer Electronic AG will not participate. Schweizer will hold around 20% of the JV when the transactions are closed.

The JV will continue to operate under the name Schweizer Electronic. Under the new majority structure Schweizer Electronic will retain a seat on the board.

Schweizer, which generates almost 30% of its consolidated sales through its JV for high-frequency PCBs, has also agreed to significantly expand its cooperation with Wus. It retains its flagship printed circuit board fabrication plant in Schramberg, with a focus on ensuring high production volumes of chip embedding technology, while also having full access to the technologies of the other Wus plants. In addition to sites in Germany, Taiwan and China, the company plans to expand in Thailand.

“This enables Schweizer to address additional product and market segments and increases the opportunity for additional growth without the need for own high investments in production capacities,” the company said in a press release. Article ending bug

Jabil Building Production Facility in Croatia

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Jabil has announced the construction of a new production facility in the Croatian city of Osijek. Construction of the new facility is planned to be completed in 2024, and the factory will create more than 1,500 jobs for local workers, the company said in a press release.

The company said it is also planning to open a factory to produce medical prosthetic parts, plus printed circuit assemblies for the automotive industry.
Recruitment has begun and will continue through 2023. Article ending bug

Tempo Automation Announces Acquisition of Optimum Design Associates

SAN FRANCISCO – Tempo Automation announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Optimum Design Associates, an electronic design services company with offices in the US and Australia.

By vertically integrating electronic design and manufacturing, Tempo expects to be able to engage with customers even earlier in their product design process, streamlining the hardware development journey and providing a more efficient and faster way to get electronic products to market, the company said in a release announcing the acquisition.

Tempo said the anticipated benefits of the acquisition include access to Optimum’s experienced engineering team and cross-selling opportunities to expand the customer base. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

“This acquisition will be a significant step toward our vision of transforming the speed and quality of electronics prototyping,” said Joy Weiss, CEO, Tempo Automation.

“Our proprietary design management tools and library services are natural extensions to Tempo’s Accelerated Manufacturing Platform,” said Nick Barbin, cofounder and president of Optimum. “The acquisition is an efficient way for us to accelerate our roadmap and offer PCB assembly services to our customers.” Article ending bug

DoE Announces $50M in Smart Manufacturing Incentives

WASHINGTON, DC – The US Department of Energy has announced $50 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for states to accelerate the use of Smart Manufacturing technologies through providing access to tools and assistance.

The State Manufacturing Leadership Program is meant to remove existing barriers that prevent innovative, data-driven tools and technologies from being used by small- and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs). These tools will allow SMMs to increase production efficiency and play key roles in bolstering the domestic manufacturing base.

“Unlocking the potential for small- and medium-sized clean energy manufacturing facilities to use the same technologies as larger facilities will make us more competitive on a global scale,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This funding opportunity will ensure that the benefits of a clean energy economy are felt across the country.”

The program will support all US states, including Washington DC and US territories, in accelerating the deployment of smart manufacturing technologies by SMMs by providing financial assistance to SMMs to implement smart manufacturing technologies and practices and broaden access to high-performance computing resources.

With this funding, states and territories will be able to create new programming or build on existing programs that provide technical assistance to SMMs. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals for funding that cover initiatives such as, but not limited to:

  • Promoting the benefits of smart manufacturing technologies among SMMs based on national and regional economic development and supply chain priorities
  • Identifying and providing financial assistance to facilitate SMMs’ access to and implementation of smart manufacturing and high-performance computing resources and technologies
  • Securing partnerships with labor unions and other stakeholders to expand and diversify the smart manufacturing talent pool and develop, promote, and scale adoption of smart manufacturing training. Article ending bug

Foxconn Plans $800M Investment in Southern Taiwan

TAIPEI – Foxconn is planning to invest T$25 billion ($820 million) in the next three years in new manufacturing facilities in southern Taiwan to support its electric vehicle ambitions, the company said in early April.

Foxconn, which is seeking to diversify its revenue base by expanding into the EV market, said the investments in Kaohsiung will include plants for making electric buses and batteries for EVs. Article ending bug

Ocutrx Acquires Spectrum AMT

IRVINE, CA – Medical manufacturing company Ocutrx Technologies has announced the acquisition of Spectrum Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, a Colorado-based electronics manufacturing and assembly company.

With the acquisition, the consolidated Ocutrx Spectrum company now has seven SMT lines, including ISO Optics Lab capabilities, to serve medical, commercial and government entities. Spectrum is known for providing high-relability hardware and NPI support to its customer base, with a history of more than 25 years for many defense, NASA and commercial space flight programs.

Ocutrx said the acquisition will fuel its efforts to repatriate its supply chain and leverage Spectrum’s infrastructure to produce its medical headsets in compliance with FDA standards on US soil. The company will also work with Spectrum’s clients like Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, Honeybee Robotics, Barber-Nichols and NASA to enable growth opportunities in new non-medical verticals including the aerospace, robotics, 5G, 5G-MEC, automotive, gaming and AR/XR defense markets.

“The acquisition of a revenue positive, EBITDA positive company is a huge milestone for us in controlling our growth and in healthcare generally. It is also a quantum leap to bring new 3-D visualization and AI tools for surgeons in the operating room,” said Michael A. H. Freeman, CEO. “And, the fact that the DoD and Fortune 500 companies are looking more and more for AR/XR and AI solutions creates a unique opportunity out of this business combination integration.”

Spectrum founder and CEO Jeff Riggs is staying on as a minority partner with Ocutrx and will remain CEO of Spectrum for several years to permit Ocutrx and Spectrum to fully integrate. Article ending bug

Note Acquires ATM Electronics

STOCKHOLM – Note has added a second plant in Eastern Europe through the acquisition of Bulgarian electronics manufacturer ATM Electronics.

In a release announcing the acquisition, Note said it expects that the demand for electronics manufacturing in Europe will continue to develop strongly in the coming years, and the SEK36 million ($3.5 million) purchase of ATM Electronics is meant to meet that growing demand. Note also plans to grow ATM’s manufacturing while also increasing its offerings to customers to include complete PCBAs and turn-key products.

“Note continues to develop strongly. We are enthusiastic about this acquisition, which, in addition to adding another profitable plant to the group, also expands our manufacturing capacity in Eastern Europe,” said Johannes Lind-Widestam, CEO and president, Note. “We see great value in the fact that we are now expanding the possibilities to offer our existing customers advanced electronics manufacturing in a very cost-effective part of Europe.”

ATM Electronics currently has around 80 employees at its manufacturing facility in Sofia and at an assembly facility in Petrich, and its principal owner Sergej Shardin will continue in his role as CEO. Article ending bug

ISC Buys MX Electronics Plant in CA

SANTA ANA, CA – Interconnect Solutions Company, a provider of electromechanical and interconnect solutions, announced on Apr. 20 that it has acquired the Santa Ana-based assets of MX Electronics Manufacturing.

In a statement announcing the acquisition, ISC said the addition of MX Electronics’ assets adds capacity in many existing business lines, plus capability in printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) to better serve both existing and future customers. ISC is part of Tide Rock’s manufacturing portfolio.

“We are thrilled to be able to continue serving customers of MX Electronics just up the road from where they’re used to,” said Mark Papp, president, Tide Rock YieldCo. “This acquisition is a natural fit for our company. It will add important capabilities to our shop and allow us to provide our customers with even greater value.” Article ending bug