SMTAI: Good Times in Orlando

SMTAI this week in Orlando was a good show. A good regional show, but a good one nonetheless. Traffic on the show floor was strong the first day, and not bad the second morning before slipping off to the usual end-of-show vacancy. The technical sessions were very strong; the session on EMS that I chaired drew about 30 folks, which is about as good as it ever does.

Not much new in the way of technology. DEK did show its ProActiv squeegee, which oscillates during the print stroke in order to pack more paste into the apertures. My old friend Phil Zarrow points out that the concept isn’t exactly new — roughly 25 years old, to be exact — but sometimes good ideas take awhile to find their place.

Tom Sharpe gave a scintillating keynote on a trip to China, showing just how systemic counterfeiting operations have become. He notes some 29,000 incidents of counterfeits were reported to the US Department of Commerce between 2005 and 2008. And he warned that the process by which some are marking fake parts now renders the ink impermeable to scratches, which means simple tests for isolating counterfeits may no longer work.

Rod Howell, founder of EMS firm Libra Industries, made an extraordinary gesture with a $5000 donation to the Charles Hutchins Grant, which underwrites the costs of a student doing post-graduate work in the fields of electronics packaging or assembly. And the SMTA has renamed its best paper award in honor of the late Rich Freiberger, a former director of the trade group and one of its most avid supporters. A nice touch.