We’re down to the last hour of Productronica. All in all, it was a better-than-expected show, modest by historical standards but strong compared to everything else this year. Perhaps more important, after a year of malaise, there is a noticeable improvement in the general outlook for 2010. The optimists far outnumbered the pessimists this week.
Time was, Productronica was equal parts assembly and fabrication. No more. While assembly commands four-plus halls, the fab side has been reduced to a single hall. On the fabrication side, laminate makers Isola, Arlon, Kingboard, Ventec and others were on hand, many in booths more in tune with the current market conditions and expectations for the show. Precious little equipment was being shown. Gone are the days when visitors could see 40 to 60 ft. plating lines in action.
David Rund, president of Taiyo America, called the show “excellent,” adding that with 80% market share in the US, Europe was the next big market for the soldermask supplier to target. He added that many attendees appeared concerned about the supply chain, and were attempting to assess their supplier’s financial viability before ordering product.
I did see a few sales were made. Teknek sold a CM8 clean machine to Graphic. David Westwood will become GM of Teknek US and, with marketing manager (and wife) Jenni Westwood, will be moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, to launch the company’s operations.
LPKF was drawing a crowd to gawk at the sharp BMW motorcycle on display, a vehicle (get it?) to hightlight LPKF’s micromachining and LDS laser process that the automaker uses in a number of its products, mostly for steering control boards.
Holmuller is quickly coalescing with parent company Rena. It was a little odd not seeing Joe Kresky there, however.
Electrolube introduced some 13 products this week, most of which were non-VOC flavors of conformal coatings. Customer demand is driving its push into that technology, Karen Harrison said.
Kodak rolled out Accumax, a new red-sensitive film. The company agreed that not many visitors were from outside Europe.
Staff I spoke with at Ventec, Isola and others remarked that the show was smaller than in the past.
Rogers called the show “smaller than usual, but not too bad,” estimating perhaps 20% of the attendees they saw were from outside Europe. Interestingly enough, the attendees were almost all PCB manufacturers, not the OEM designers the company typically targets. John Hendricks says it could be because the visitors want to see the company’s tech support staff, and because they are now offering more high temperature products that would appeal to fabricators. The company is ending its polyimide lines because, as Hendricks told me, that is “a dogfight we don’t want to be in.”
Meanwhile, Arlon was showing EP-2, its enhanced polyimide for high-speed digital applications, which features a Tg of 250®C, lower moisture absorption and lower electrical loss.
Saw old friend Hans Friedrichkeit, the longtime Photo Print PCB maven, now with PCB-Network. He’s also a board member for the Productronica show.