Apex 2022 Takeaways

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Another year has passed us by and while we are still coming out of a seemingly cyclical, never-ending pandemic, I am happy to report that this years’ 2022 IPC APEX Expo did take place in-person, in sunny San Diego!

The six-day expo kicked off Saturday with the IPC Committee Meetings. This was the first opportunity since APEX 2020 for in-person gatherings and the turnout was exemplary. As a member of a handful of committees, I think I speak for all involved that it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to shake hands and be in the same rooms discussing electronics manufacturing standards development in detail, while not having to hear the all-to-common phrase, “You’re on mute!”

By Tuesday, the conference was in full swing; from standards development meetings, professional development courses and technical sessions, touching on all aspects of the electronics industry, with attendance at near-full capacity. Topics covered included everything from machine data analytics in the electronics manufacturing services industry, designing printed circuit board (PCB) stack-ups to function at high speeds, microvia design and test, high-density interconnects/semi-additive processes, to name a few with an expo-wide underlining emphasis on Industry 4.0/CFX or the smart-connected factory.

Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony which opens the exhibition floor to the public, the day started with a very entertaining and informative keynote by New York Times best-selling author David Pogue. He took the room through a journey of the progression of technology, discussing many industry ‘hot topics’ such as AI, smart city infrastructure, climate change and how disruptive technologies being developed today will have a significant influence on shaping how the industry will look ‘tomorrow’. His presentation concluded with his musical rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” titled “I Want an iPhone” which had the crowd in tears at its conclusion. Here is a link to a past performance if you’re in need of a good laugh! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFJWn3F5tNs

Walking out on the expo floor there was a plethora of activity. One major drawback from the 2021 virtual APEX, albeit an obvious one, was the difficulty in exhibitors’ reaching their target audience in a desired manner. Technologists/Engineers are a hands-on group of individuals and as we may enjoy a virtual presentation of the latest SMT equipment capabilities, nothing resonates better then being able to stand at the booth, watch a solution in action and ask questions as they may pertain to our points of interest or current electronics factory bottlenecks. It was difficult not to notice the crowds gathered at booths throughout the exhibit hall fully engaged in demos and conversing with suppliers.

I found NANODIMENSION’s (a sponsor of 2022 APEX) DragonFly IV to be particularly intriguing. A multi-material 3D printer fabrication device for additively manufactured electronics (AME) coupled with their FLIGHT software suite, provides cutting-edge solutions to the forefront of the industry’s technology roadmap. Integrating ECAD designs into 3D MCAD software with the printing capability, they have created an environment to solve some of the toughest challenges during the electronics product development phase. By providing a seamless approach from digital design to functional devices, they are dramatically decreasing the iterative process inherent with electronics development. I am curious to see how they scale this technology in the future.

With today’s global supply chain issues at the forefront of dialog in the news, the electronics industry supply chain is no stranger to the consequences of such issues and certainly has felt the pressure from previous, as well as the current component shortage crisis.

In John Mitchell’s (President and CEO of IPC) keynote speech, one of the topics he spoke about was supply chain resiliency. “Years of optimizing around just-in-time (JIT) systems had left organizations woefully exposed. The flexibility businesses had built into their organizations left them fragile and vulnerable to dislocations in the marketplace. The very cost-cutting and efficiency measures businesses had implemented to help them compete worked to their detriment during Covid.” He summarized that industry needs to strategize business models to determine the ideal combination of optimization and resiliency to be prepared for the next global supply chain catastrophe. A daunting but necessary task if electronics businesses around the world are to make it through to the other side.

I hope I speak for all in attendance that the 2022 IPC APEX Expo was a major success! From the in-person meetings and sessions to the keynote addresses and expo floor, it seemed as if 2021 APEX was just a blip on the radar. Kudos to IPC and its volunteers for putting on a great event and a great way to kickoff an excellent year of shows!

Not to mention it was nice to cheers a pint with a colleague, customer or supplier if you chose, I think we’ve all had enough “virtual happy hours”.

Curious to see what IPC has in store for 2023. See you next year San Diego!

We appreciate your interest in ACDi and look forward to discussing your electronics layout and manufacturing requirements in greater detail. Please visit our website at www.acdi.com for more information, or feel free to reach out direct to me to schedule a no-obligation consultation via video conference at your convenience.

Jesse Vaughan

Technical Sales Engineer