A New Trend in Assembly Shows?

Years ago, three major events dotted the US electronics assembly trade show landscape. They included Nepcon East, Surface Mount International, and the mother of them all, Nepcon West.

While Nepcon West was the undisputed champ, all three shows were worth attending, and exhibitors often made new product announcements at each one.

Interestingly, and for reasons too detailed to get into here, none of those shows exist today. And for much of the 2000s, the place to roll out new products became IPC’s Apex. Other events were relegated to regional status, and traditionally were staffed as much by distributors as by OEMs.

There’s a few small signs that trend may be shifting again. While IPC Midwest, taking place this week in the Chicago suburbs remains a local show (and honestly, could they make seeing the exhibitor list any more user-unfriendly?), SMTAI is at long-last beginning to fill the niche for a seasonal alternative to Apex. To wit, we’ve received numerous press releases of late reporting new products to be introduced at SMTAI. That’s evidence suppliers see the venue as a viable place to make product launches.

Also at SMTAI, on Oct. 18, I am cochairing (with CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY columnist Sue Mucha) a panel titled “Global Strategies for Lowering EMS Costs” at SMTAI in Ft. Worth, TX. Topics include EMS in Eastern Europe; networking technical trends; improving quality, delivery and cost in high mix manufacturing; and vapor phase technology, and feature speakers from Kimball, Tailyn, Fabrinet and IBL Technologies. We conclude with a panel on building an EMS cost model.

I can’t mention these events without touting our own. Next week marks the 20th annual PCB West conference and exhibition at the Santa Clara (CA) Convention Center. Traditionally the industry’s leading conference for printed circuit board design and fabrication, we have beefed up the electronics assembly side (with a big assist from the Silicon Valley SMTA Chapter). Highlights include papers on low silver solder alloys, advanced packaging, new plasma-based PCB surface finishes, and lead-free electronics risk reduction, presented by such leading companies as Hewlett-Packard and Amkor. Check out the program at pcbwest.com.  We really hope to see you there.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He is also vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversees all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 20 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow