Reading time ( words)
At the recent CPCA Show in Shanghai, Orbotech celebrated having over 100 of their Orbotech Diamond™ direct imaging (DI) machines in the marketplace. Barry Matties caught up with Meny Gantz—VP of marketing for Orbotech’s PCB division—to talk about the drivers behind the success of Orbotech Diamond systems before turning the conversation toward the future and Industry 4.0. Orbotech’s large footprint comes with a massive amount of data collection as they now widen their focus to smart factory solutions and managing data to support their customers’ increasing demands.
Barry Matties: First, can you talk a little bit about the ceremony that you had this morning?
Meny Gantz: This morning, we held a ceremony to celebrate the success of Orbotech Diamond for solder mask direct imaging. Orbotech Diamond launched only a few years ago and has become very popular. In fact, it’s one of the market leaders for solder mask DI, which is a definite reason for celebration.
Matties: DI for solder mask is really taking off. What’s the driver behind that?
Gantz: Technology has become more sophisticated and complex, and the traditional exposure methods are no longer enough. Today’s high-end products require high-performance digital imaging, and the Orbotech Diamond is precisely that—a high-quality, high-productivity, high-yield solder mask DI solution, which meets customers’ cost needs.
Matties: When measuring the process benefits, what are the key considerations?
Gantz: There are a few parameters when measuring a DI system, and all of them are important. Firstly, quality is a must, including high-quality solder dams, solder resist opens, and registration. Good registration is key as today’s panels are more complex with their new materials and a high potential for distortion.
Secondly, capacity is a critical issue, and this is one of Orbotech Diamond 10’s clearest advantages. Our customers tell us that our solution is the fastest in the market, and one of its most important parameters is its ability to work with multiple types of solder resists. Based on the number of systems we have in the market, Orbotech Diamond has been field proven to successfully work with a very wide variety of solder resists.
Matties: We’re also seeing inkjet solder mask coming into play. They’re making great strides there. Is there any interest in that technology from Orbotech’s point of view?
Gantz: Yes. We introduced inkjet technology for solder mask earlier this year at IPC APEX EXPO. We are very excited about this great technology, which has been successful at a number of sites. This is the first time we are using additive printing for solder mask in the production flow process. The inkjet for solder mask eliminates a number of manufacturing processes, making it simpler and shorter with reduced handling. I believe that it will become more and more popular as a production tool in the future.
Matties: The other interesting trend that we’re seeing is around - smart factories. Obviously, Orbotech has a lot of footprint in the industry in various process areas. Talk about the strategies that you’re sharing or bringing to the marketplace around Industry 4.0.
Gantz: As you mentioned, Industry 4.0 is becoming a must in today’s industry. Technologies are becoming increasingly complex, and the amount of data being produced is only growing. Manufacturers need to have more visibility into their production to make it work for them. Orbotech Smart Factory provides the manufacturer with a smart solution based on visibility, traceability, accurate data, optimization of production services, and much more. The solution sits on a central server and communicates with all Orbotech equipment, gathering data and providing significant actionable information to customers.
Matties: Being inside the Orbotech environment is one thing, but the big issue here is all of that information now has to communicate with other processes. Some other languages and standards are being incorporated into this strategy. How are you playing with others, if you will?
Gantz: Industry 4.0 is already being implemented in PCB factories. We know from our customers that they want their data to help them manage the different stages of the PCB manufacturing process, and our solutions enable that. Orbotech Smart Factory communicates with the whole range of our solutions, of course, and in the future, we intend to enable communication with third-party solutions.
Matties: It seems like there’s a race to find the standard for the PCB side. IPC CFX is a making some good progress on the assembly side. But on the PCB side, particularly in North America and Europe, the smaller factories may not have the resources to implement a site-wide Industry 4.0 strategy that a large factory will have.
Gantz: I agree. Implementing an Industry 4.0 roll out in a small factory requires a great deal of resources and investment that may not be easy for those small factories to allocate. At the same time, tremendous developments are already occurring in this field in Asia. As a global player, Orbotech’s aim is to develop solutions not only for the larger, early adaptors but also for the smaller QTA factories.
In Asia, many Tier 1 PCB makers are already implementing ambitious industry 4.0 growth plans. A number of our customers are already using the Orbotech Smart Factory solution for Industry 4.0—mainly for high-end applications, such as SLP, mSAP, and flex. By working closely with our customers to define their key issues, we successfully developed the right tools to enable them to communicate with their Orbotech solutions, and in turn, to implement Industry 4.0.
As a result of the huge amount of information that PCB factories generate, we will also see Industry 4.0 playing an increasingly central role as artificial intelligence (AI) evolves. The mammoth amount of data that can be managed by AI will undoubtedly optimize process control. For example, an AI-driven AOI system will be able to detect repetitive abnormalities and direct the automatic adjustment of the process, which will increase yield.