Around the World

Icape Group Makes 3 US Acquisitions

FONTENAY-AUX-ROSES, FRANCE – Icape Group has announced the acquisition of three US companies: PCB Solutions, Ustek Inc. and Nujay Technologies.

The three companies have each specialized in PCB distribution in the US for over 20 years. PCB Solutions and Ustek also distribute technical parts, representing 10% and 30%, respectively, of their businesses. In total, the three companies have a portfolio of more than 180 North American customers from a variety of industries, ranging from medical equipment design to the automotive sector. In 2022, these three companies generated a cumulative net revenue of over $5 million and an EBITDA margin of over 10%.

In making the acquisitions, Icape strengthens its foothold in the US by gathering a strong pool of industrial customers, as well as new distribution channels, and the different locations of the new acquisitions (in Ohio, California and Utah) also enable the group to cover the entire US territory, the company said in a release.

“Since the launch of our external growth strategy in 2021, all acquisitions made by Icape Group have been focused on the European continent. By acquiring the assets of PCB Solutions, Nujay Technologies and Ustek, we are proud to significantly strengthen the international footprint of our solutions dedicated to printed circuit boards and technical parts, as well as the value creation potential of our North American subsidiaries,” said Yann Duigou, CEO, Icape Group. “The assets we integrate today brought us a substantial portfolio of over 180 North American customers from a wide variety of industries, as well as their dedicated distribution channels, both in the United States and in Asia. By joining Icape Group, these assets will be able to benefit from numerous synergies as well as from the expertise of our subsidiaries to deliver the highest possible quality of service to their local customers, which should ensure us significant post-integration profitable growth in the short- to medium-term.” Article ending bug

DoD Awards $17M to Microelectronics Industrial Initiatives

WASHINGTON – The Department of Defense’s Office of Industrial Base Policy has awarded a combined $17.5 million in contracts to support two initiatives that will strengthen the resilience of the defense microelectronics industrial base – including a project to promote production of ultra-high-density interconnects for PCBs.

The DoD, through its Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization (MCEIP) office, awarded $11.5 million in the Defense Business Accelerator (DBX) and Printed Circuit Board Market Catalyst project, which will harness private capital and commercial market forces to scale defense-relevant technologies and rapidly expand the industrial base.

The PCB Market Catalyst project will deliver a detailed plan for the creation of a new company that will stimulate demand for domestic production of ultra-high-density interconnects for PCBs. The plan will then be presented to the DoD for a decision on whether to fund the creation of the new company. The PCB Market Catalyst will enable the US to surmount an impasse that has left it behind in the global PCB market. DBX leverages commercial market forces to accelerate the transition of emerging defense technologies into sustainable businesses to fill supply chain gaps. Both DBX and PCB Market Catalyst are being executed by the US Partnership for Assured Electronics in partnership with Advanced Technology International, with initial funding from MCEIP of $11.5 million over three years.

The Enterprise Parts Management System (EPMS) is a cloud-based enterprise-wide microelectronics parts management tool intended to enable parts management at program office levels across DoD throughout the entire parts lifecycle. EPMS will give DoD the ability to aggregate information on parts used in DoD systems and manage those parts at the enterprise level. This enhances insight into critical risks and enables rapid access to remediation measures that are vital to ensuring warfighter safety and mission success.

The $6 million investment will support the iterative design and development of the cloud-based platform. This tool will support Military Service and defense agency weapon system program offices; prime system developers and maintainers; and acquisition, sustainment, research, development, testing, and evaluation offices across the Department. JRC Integrated Systems, LLC of Washington, D.C. and Systems Innovation Engineering of Mullica Hill, New Jersey will execute the EMPS project.

“EPMS will provide an important ‘whole-of-DoD’ view of the microelectronics parts supply chain and enable better life-cycle management of this critical technology for DoD weapon systems,” said MCEIP Director Anthony Di Stasio.

The two teams will assess DoD, Military Service, defense agency, and commercial capabilities to identify the best make-buy solution and then down-select to the best value in the iterative design and build of this innovative new system.

“These two awards directly support the Biden-Harris Administration’s initiatives to strengthen America’s supply chains as outlined in Executive Order 14017,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy, Dr. Laura Taylor-Kale. “They will foster collaborative procurements, provide more visibility into global diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages solutions, and facilitate the rapid dissemination of risk information such as obsolescence, evidence of counterfeit parts, and software vulnerabilities.” Article ending bug

CEA and Siemens Collaborate to Expand Applications of Digital Twin

PLANO, TX – Siemens Digital Industries Software and CEA-List, a technological research institute focused on smart digital systems research, have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on research to further extend and enhance digital twin capabilities with artificial intelligence and explore greater integration of embedded software on both virtual and hybrid platforms.

The research collaboration will bring together the two organizations’ combined industry expertise with the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio and CEA-List’s toolset to help break down the barriers between electronics design, software development and mechanical engineering disciplines using digital twin technologies. This is expected to help customers to significantly reduce the time and cost of verification and validation and to drive significant improvements in product quality and accelerate time to market across the full electronics systems product lifecycle; from architectural exploration to design and development. Alongside this, the research will further explore the use of digital twin technologies for autonomous driving, smart robotics and health domains.

“With the strong increase in electronics and software content of products and systems, there is a clear need for multi-domain, multi-fidelity system simulation solutions to relieve multiple design and verification challenges. We share a vision with CEA of an even more comprehensive Digital Twin and believe we can implement this vision through the power of the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio because it covers everything from Electronic Design Automation software and hardware tools to system, sensors and multi-physics simulation software,” said Jean-Marie Brunet, VP and GM, hardware assisted verification division, Siemens Digital Industries Software. “From chip-to-system, this collaboration with CEA-List is expected to further expand the application domains and technology breadth of these solutions.”

“At CEA-List, we are delighted to partner with Siemens, who share our common vision about the importance of a more holistic Digital Twin. CEA-List will contribute its expertise in digital technologies and tools from immersive and functional digital twin platforms (XDE and Papyrus), artificial intelligence and code verification areas,” said Alexandre Bounouh, CEO of CEA-List. “We believe that the Siemens and CEA-List Digital Twin research roadmap can offer best in class tools for generating rapid immersive and functional digital twins enhanced with artificial intelligence. This can certainly boost the competitiveness of companies by integrating Digital Twin technology early to innovate in their products and processes while keeping humans in the loop and reducing their environment impact.” Article ending bug

SnapEDA Rebrands as SnapMagic, Adds AI PCB Design Features

SAN FRANCISCO – SnapEDA, a provider of footprints and models for electronic components, has announced a rebranding as SnapMagic and the release of a new AI-based tool for circuit board design.

The new tool, SnapMagic Copilot, combines artificial intelligence with the firm’s proprietary dataset. The combination, SnapMagic said, streamlines certain repetitive aspects of electronics design.

For instance, the new tool auto-completes circuits and suggests related parts to fill out a design. Users can issue instructions in plain English – for example, requesting “non-inverting amplifier with a gain of 2” – and SnapMagic Copilot will use “solid” circuit theory fundamentals to design the circuits using available parts. It can also propose a manufacturer-endorsed reference design.

For bills-of-materials, the tool will suggest pin compatible replacements at different price points, and can recommend alternatives when inventories are low.

“SnapMagic Copilot is a natural extension of our mission: to help engineers design electronics faster by removing barriers,” the company said on its website. “It is possible because of the massive proprietary dataset (millions of schematic symbols, footprints, designs), that we have been creating in collaboration with component suppliers since our inception.”

SnapMagic Copilot is intended to augment PCB tools, the founders said, and support the 20+ formats supported today on SnapEDA (now called SnapMagic Search). “This means that engineers can add AI to their PCB tools instantly, without switching tools.”

SnapMagic also announced a new round of funding from AI and developer tool investors. It did not disclose the amount or the investors. Article ending bug

Krypton Solutions to Invest $100M in Karnataka Facility

BOMMASANDRA, INDIA – Krypton Solutions is planning to invest $100 million to establish a PCB fabrication facility in the Indian state of Karnataka, the company confirmed to PCD&F/CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY in October.

“We are planning a PCB plant in India in 2024,” Dipak Patel, owner, Krypton Solutions, told PCD&F/CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY.

The decision to invest was announced during a meeting between the company’s representatives and an official delegation led by MB Patil, Karnataka’s Minister of Large & Medium Industries.

Krypton Solutions intends to set up its new plant in Bommasandra, Bengaluru and has already engaged in preliminary discussions with the government.

“During the meeting, the company also explored potential investment opportunities in Mysuru and Chamarajanagar within the state. Furthermore, Krypton expressed interest in forming local partnerships and sought support in identifying suitable entry and growth partners in the Indian market,” Patil said in a statement.

Krypton also has EMS facilities in Plano, TX; San Jose; and India. Article ending bug

IPC Updates Board Qualification Spec

BANNOCKBURN, IL – IPC has released IPC-6012F, Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid Printed Boards, the base standard for bare circuit boards.

IPC-6012 provides requirements for the qualification and performance of rigid printed boards based on constructions and /or technologies such as; single-sided, double-sided printed boards with and without plated-through holes (PTH), multilayer printed boards with PTHs with or without buried/blind vias/microvias, active/passive embedded circuitry printed boards with distributive capacitive planes and/or capacitive or resistive components and metal core printed boards with or without an external metal heat frame, which may be active or non-active.

Among the many additions to IPC-6012F, are expanded requirements in the following areas: printed board cavities, copper wrap plating, “Intermediate” target lands, solderability testing, dewetting, microsection evaluation, internal plated layers, dielectric spacing and reliability issues with microvia structures.

“The hard work put in by the IPC D-33a Rigid Printed Board Performance Specifications Task Group over the past three years has resulted in a substantial revision to IPC-6012,” said John Perry, IPC’s director of printed board standards and technologies. “IPC-6012F incorporates test coupon designs well suited to evaluate complex, interconnected via structures as part of an overall effort to address microvia reliability. Add to that new criteria for printed board cavities, hole registration, internal plated layers and dielectric spacings and you have a performance specification that addresses advances in rigid printed board fabrication processes.” Article ending bug

Calumet Electronics to Build Substrate Manufacturing Facility in MI

CALUMET, MI – Calumet Electronics is on track to building a substrate factory in the US with a 60,000 sq. ft. facility on its campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of up to $51 million. That amount includes a $7.5 million incentive from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and a 15-year tax break of up to $758,877 per year.

Over the next three years, while the company scales its substrate production with training and technology, 270 of its current 350 employees will be retained to maintain the standard current production needs. Forty existing employees will receive initial upskilling critical to manufacturing advanced package substrates and complex PCB technologies in support of the semiconductor ecosystem and defense complex.

“We extend our gratitude to Governor Whitmer, MEDC CEO Quentin L. Messer, his dedicated team for their tireless effort and unwavering support, and the Michigan Strategic Fund,” said Calumet Electronics President Stephen Vairo. “Additionally, we thank InvestUP, Warner, Norcross & Judd and Marketing Department for helping bring this project over the finish line. The funding will allow Calumet Electronics to advance our technology with a primary focus on bringing semiconductor and microelectronics manufacturing back to the United States. We are thrilled about the prospect of expanding our operations and facilities right here in Calumet, MI, creating increased opportunities for career retention, upskilling, and job growth in the Copper Country.”

Calumet is pursuing federal funding to address the needs of the Defense Industrial Base and support the strategic semiconductor and defense goals of the State of Michigan. In response to concerns raised by US defense and commercial OEMs regarding the availability of package substrates produced within the US, Calumet Electronics may become the primary supplier, potentially even an exclusive supplier to US strategic programs, the company said. Article ending bug

Amphenol to Acquire PCTEL for $140M

WALLINGFORD, CT – Amphenol has announced an agreement to purchase wireless equipment maker PCTEL for $139.7 million. The transaction is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter or in early 2024, subject to customary closing conditions and approval by PCTEL stockholders.

Amphenol said the acquisition of PCTEL, which specializes in purpose-built Industrial IoT devices, antenna systems, and test and measurement products, will enable the company to further expand its portfolio and strengthen its position in the market.

“Our team has done an excellent job of growing the business, establishing a leadership position in both antenna and test & measurement (T&M) innovation, and meeting our customers’ strong global demand for high reliability applications,” said PCTEL CEO David Neumann. “Amphenol is a leading global provider of interconnect, sensor, and antenna solutions. Their sustained financial strength and unique entrepreneurial culture will create a valuable home for our employees around the world. We look forward to the accelerated growth opportunities enabled by the combination of our two companies.”

Following the closure, PCTEL will no longer be listed on any public market. Article ending bug

Foxconn Subjected to Tax Inspections by Chinese Authorities

TAIPEI – Foxconn’s Chinese facilities were recently subjected to searches by Chinese tax authorities, and speculation is rampant that the investigation was spurred by Foxconn’s largest shareholder’s bid for the Taiwanese presidency.

The company had its offices in Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces searched by tax officials, according to a report in China’s Global Times newspaper.

The Ministry of Natural Resources also inspected Foxconn offices in Henan and Hubei provinces, where the company has major factories. Foxconn employs hundreds of thousands of workers across China.

Observers suggested that the tax investigation is a smokescreen to put pressure on Terry Gou, Foxconn’s founder and principal owner. Gou is running for president of the island nation, and his independent bid could split the vote for the Kuomintang party, which is said to be preferred by the Chinese leadership because of its mainland leanings. Article ending bug

New Roadmap Identifies Critical Semiconductor Research Priorities

WASHINGTON – The Semiconductor Research Corporation has unveiled the Microelectronics and Advanced Packaging (MAPT) Roadmap, which defines critical chip research priorities and technology challenges that must be addressed to support the “seismic shifts” outlined in the Decadal Plan for Semiconductors released by SRC and SIA in January 2021.

The Decadal Plan identified five seismic shifts in the industry related to smart sensing, memory and storage, communication, security, and energy efficient computing. The MAPT Roadmap continues the spirit of the Decadal Plan and discusses how to achieve its system-level goals, outlining the implementation plan for the semiconductor industry.

The fundamental research that will transform these obstacles is focused on advanced packaging, 3-D integration, electronic design automation, nanoscale manufacturing, new materials, and energy-efficient computing. The MAPT Roadmap is framed around fundamental and practical limits of information and communications technology sustainability: energy sustainability, environmental sustainability, and workforce sustainability.

Federal government and private sector investments in semiconductor R&D have propelled the rapid pace of innovation in the US semiconductor industry, spurring tremendous growth throughout the U.S. and global economies. The MAPT Roadmap is intended to serve as a guide to sustain and expand public and private investments in chip research to help unlock the transformative technologies of the future. Article ending bug

Indium Acquires Low-Heat Solder Developer

CLINTON, NY – After partnering with the company last year to develop a supercooled liquid metal solder paste, Indium Corp. in October announced the acquisition of Safi-Tech. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Last year, Indium collaborated with Safi-Tech to launch a supercooled BiSn solder paste using the latter’s solder platform. That platform permits molten metal to remain liquid far below its freezing point by encapsulating it in a smooth shell – known as supercooling. The shell of these microcapsules can be removed using a traditional flux and reflow process, or by mechanically crushing a powder of supercooled liquid metal microcapsules. Using this platform, industry-standard alloys such as SAC 305 can be soldered at below typical low-temperature solder (LTS) specifications, while other alloys can be soldered at temperatures as low as ambient.

“Safi-Tech’s supercooling platform is an exciting addition to our award-winning product portfolio, allowing us to deliver next-generation soldering materials,” said Ross Berntson, president and COO, Indium. “This innovation has far-reaching potential and embedding Safi-Tech into Indium gives it the opportunity to succeed widely and quickly.”

In addition to acquiring the Iowa-based company, Indium will also benefit from Safi-Tech’s cofounder, coinventor and president Dr. Ian Tevis joining the company as an R&D manager. In this role, Tevis will oversee a team dedicated to application technology and manage the ongoing research and design of Safi-Tech supercooled products.

“As a key partner to Safi-Tech over the past five years, we have witnessed Indium’s position as an industry leader first-hand,” said Tevis. “We are confident that the company’s state-of-the-art facilities, network of customers and equipment suppliers, and talented team members will accelerate our work in bringing supercooled solder to a worldwide audience.”

Originating from Iowa State University with the discovery of no-heat and low-heat solder and metallic joining products, Safi-Tech was founded in 2016 by Tevis and Dr. Martin Thuo. It was backed by Rhapsody Venture Partners.

“We have been tremendously impressed by Indium’s vision for Safi-Tech and the capabilities they possess,” said Carsten Boers, managing partner at Rhapsody Venture Partners and lead investor in Safi-Tech. “This transaction was the natural next step in our great collaboration and we look forward to seeing the success which comes from it.”

Ed.: Listen to the PCD&F/CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY podcast on low-heat solders with Indium and Safi-Tech here. Article ending bug

AIM Solder Purchases William Rowland’s Solder Business

LUTON, UK – AIM Solder UK has announced the acquisition of William Rowland Ltd.’s solder products business, encompassing solders and alloys. Financial terms were not disclosed.

This acquisition will expand AIM Solder’s capabilities and enhance customer offerings in the metal industry, the company said in a release.

“This strategic move allows AIM Solder to further enhance its position in the solder industry by leveraging William Rowland’s legacy and expertise in this specific sector,” said Ricky Black, president, AIM Solder. “We are excited to welcome William Rowland’s solder customers into the AIM Solder family, and we are committed to preserving the values that have made them a trusted name in this field.” Article ending bug

ECIA Publishes Update on Anti-Counterfeiting Standard

ATLANTA – ECIA’s Global Industry Practices Committee (GIPC) has published an ECIA Update document based on the five-year review process conducted by SAE’s AS6496 Standard Committee. There have been changes to the standard, which is out for the final vote. The updated version, AS6496A, is expected to be available by the end of the year.

The Society of Aerospace Engineers’ (SAE’s) AS6496 is an anti-counterfeiting measure outlining requirements for mitigating counterfeit products in the authorized supply chain by distributors performing authorized distribution. SAE adopted this standard on Aug. 20, 2014, with the official title of “Fraudulent/Counterfeit Electronic Parts: Avoidance, Detection, Mitigation and Disposition – Authorized/Franchised Distribution.”

The standard is used by authorized distributors to reduce the risk of counterfeit components entering the aerospace supply chain, but it is a reliable anti-counterfeiting model for any customer.

The ECIA Update includes a background on the standard, a detailed explanation of what has changed in the updated version, and how customers in any industry can mitigate the risk of counterfeit components entering their manufacturing processes.

“A number of ECIA distributor members have been working on this standard since its inception,” remarked Kevin Sink, VP of total quality, TTI. “Anti-counterfeiting measures are deeply embedded in the way authorized distributors do business. The best way to avoid counterfeit components is to buy components from authorized distributors.”

Read the ECIA Update here. Article ending bug

Zollner Opens Chinese Plant Expansion

TAICANG, CHINA – Zollner Elektronik has expanded its plant here to meet the growing demands of the international market.

With around 17,000 sq. m. of building space, the new plant building includes a cleanroom, two stories of production space for PCB and device assembly, a large warehouse area, a large cafeteria, and social areas as well as office space. The additional production space takes up 15,000 sq. m. and was conceived specifically to increase the company’s production efficiency and capacity and create more jobs, Zollner said in a release.

The company said the expansion also underscores its long-term vision and commitment to the Taicang region and is a significant milestone in the history of the company.

“We are confident that Taicang offers excellent opportunities and conditions, particularly for the production of complex products, which will unlock further possibilities and potential for our company,” said board member Markus Aschenbrenner. Article ending bug

Cicor to Acquire STS Defence

BRONSCHHOFEN, SWITZERLAND – Cicor will acquire STS Defence, a UK-based provider of sustainment, support and modernization solutions for the aerospace and defense markets.

STS Defence has earned an outstanding decades-long reputation for solving complex technical challenges by delivering innovative solutions and programs, and employs around 150 people, Cicor said in a release announcing the acquisition.

The company said the combination of the strengths of Axis Electronics, which was acquired in 2021, and STS Defence, will ideally position Cicor to implement the most demanding customer programs with a focus on the UK market. STS Defence generated sales of GBP27.5 million ($33.5 million) in the fiscal year ended on June 30.

Cicor said it will continue to provide engineering support and manufacturing services from the existing STS Defence site under the current management team, and closing of the transaction is expected within 2023 and is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Article ending bug