Seeing More Changes in AOI

Are we about to see more changes in the PCB inspection market? Earlier this year, of course, Orbotech sold out its (dwindling) position and Agilent closed its stake. Still, there are plenty of players left, ranging from Japan’s Omron and Sony, The Netherlands’ Marantz, Taiwan’s Test Research Inc., Germany’s Viscom, Korea’s Mirtec and Koh Young,, and CyberOptics, Landrex and YesTech in the US. And that doesn’t even include the x-ray players.

Like Orbotech and Agilent, several of these companies are publicly held, and subject to the pressures and whims of shareholders and the managers eager (or desperate) to impress them. Some firms, like CyberOptics, TRI, Mirtec, Marantz and Koh Young, have been busy developing and introducing new products this year, moving into new plants (TRI), and opening new regional units (Koh Young). Some of the others, however, have been sitting on the sidelines.

Based on contacts in the AOI industry, we fully expect one or more of the remaining leading players to announce plans to exit the industry later this year. It will be a shame, not to mention cause some near-term pain for customers, but over time will lead to stronger, more stable AOI supply base.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was 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 spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 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