Productronica, Day 1

Initial thoughts from Productronica:

Traffic was a bit slow relative to past years. The show itself seems smaller — and again, this is relative, as it remains bigger than almost all the other major electronics assembly trade shows combined — with traditional powerhouses like Siemens, Universal Instruments and other placement companies occupying booths that, while they would still qualify as monstrous at any other show, no longer fill entire halls on their own. (This is a good thing.)

Assembleon introduced its iFlex placement line, consisting of two multifunctional (with up to eight heads each) machines and a high-speed chipshooter. The dual-lane line uses the same feeders as the A series, is well-priced for all regions and is said to be capable of 400 cph placement speeds and less than 10 defects per million.

Speaking of Assembleon, the company reupped its licensing agreement with Yamaha, which, according to CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY sources, is for one year with a one year option. We saw Scott Zerkle, the new GM of Yamaha IM America.

Other products of note on Day 1:

  • Juki introduced multiple lines and made upgrades to several others, including a new vision system (called Sentry), which combine multiple cameras in the pick-and-place head with an integrated AOI, all of which reportedly require no additional programming time. Also on display was the JX series of low-cost high-speed placement machines; the JX-200 features a high-resolution camera for vision placement.
  • Kyzen debuted  the E5321 alkaline cleaner for pallets and general maintenance.
  • Speedprint added a glue and paste dispenser to its SP 710 printer.
  • Goepel’s Opticon AOI can handle up to 32 devices under test simultaneously.


  • Chris Fussner, whom readers will remember from TransTechnology, is setting up a US division.
  • Aqueous Technologies CEO Mike Konrad says 85% of its customers are cleaning no-clean flux.
  • News out of Bangkok is that the flooding was so bad, some factories are soaked even on their second floors. Expect a big wave of new machines to replace the thousands lost in the flood.
  • The big drop in the solar market will claim many victims. Some folks think, once all the bloodletting is over, there will be only a handful of companies left. Others aren’t so dire, but the clear consensus is that there is tremendous overcapacity in solar (estimates run north of 35%) and that it will be two to three years before demand and supply reach equilibrium again.
  • Most equipment advances seen so far are evolutionary, with incremental improvements in speed and accuracy.


The Right Place

I don’t usually toot my own horn, but I’m proud of this interview with a number of leading placement companies. Unlike the usual industry “interview” — which consists of written answers to a list of emailed questions — we managed to get all the parties in the room for a face-to-face sit down. And kudos to Greg Berry from Assembleon, Kevin Clue from Universal, Bob Black from Juki and Steve Pollack from Essemtec for keeping their competitive instincts in check long enough to provide a candid discussion about today’s pick-and-place platforms.

We’ll try to organize something similar with a group of soldering equipment vendors in April. If there is something you would like to see asked or otherwise covered, feel free to email me or post a comment here.