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I spoke with Brian Wojtkiewicz at PCB West about Taiyo’s latest developments in solder mask technology. We discussed the company’s strategies, including advances in flexible circuits, HDI, and much more.
Nolan Johnson: Brian, it’s great to talk to you again. Tell me what’s new.
Brian Wojtkiewicz: We’ve still got the new things coming. We have a lot of inkjet technology. People are interested in that. Our flexible dry film solder mask for flex circuits is doing very well. We’re seeing a lot of interest.
Johnson: Why should a designer think about building your products into the design? What are the reasons? What do they get out of it?
Wojtkiewicz: Well, you get reputation. Taiyo has been there and everybody respects our products. I still think they leave it to the fabricators but they’re coming to us to get information. A lot of them will do the spec in.
Johnson: Are we reaching a point where your products start to have an impact on the performance of the board and the design?
Wojtkiewicz: I think there’s some of that impact. They know it’s good product out in the field. It’s reliable and that stands out a lot.
Johnson: Regarding Taiyo products and reliability, what are the problems they might see for reliability that they want to avoid?
Wojtkiewicz: Just overall product degrading. After going through multiple assemblies, it doesn’t hold up. That’s what I’ve seen on the part of customers. OEMs call me up and say, “Hey, we’re seeing lifting after assembly; we clean it and it’s still lifting. What’s causing that?” We get involved and trace it back to who’s building the board. We know most of the processes everybody’s using so we can go back, and help them get built. It’s worked out well.
Johnson: That takes you into the fabricators to help them with their processes and procedures, right?
Wojtkiewicz: We’re always in the fabricators’ shops. I’m out in the field talking to them, helping the operators understand the process, and making things work better because then we don’t have issues down the road.
Johnson: Looking at the market, what do you see as opportunities over the next 18 months?
Wojtkiewicz: We’re still on the cusp of inkjet technology taking off. We’re seeing a lot more shops adding inkjet. A few of them already know they’re getting machines in a few months and they’re asking, “What do we have to do?” So, I think inkjet will we be doing that. We’re looking at other new products, thermal dissipation products, and how to help in the thermal management of the boards.
Johnson: That certainly is becoming much more important.
Wojtkiewicz: Yeah. That’s a big influence there. How are these boards getting smaller and running faster? Components are hotter. How can we dissipate the heat? Everything’s smaller. We used to build 18” x 30” boards all the time and those boards are now 16 x 50. It’s getting smaller so that technology is moving.
Johnson: Coming over the horizon right now is ultra HDI, where you’re starting to get down sub-50 into the 30-micron range.
Wojtkiewicz: We’re seeing that. A select few customers are doing it. You need the right equipment set to be doing for it. You just can’t drop it in and say, “Hey, I’m going to do HDI material on this.”
Johnson: Does it change formulations or requirements at all?
Wojtkiewicz: You need the direct imaging materials for that. We’re working with that and newer dielectrics to help them with those materials. We’re working on that all the time. We’ve got the R&D group constantly working on it.
Johnson: It sounds like there will be some slight tweaks and adjustments to optimize those requirements as well.
Wojtkiewicz: Many of these customers are starting to see they’ve got to get into a niche. They say, “We’ve got to find something. We just can’t be the same or do what Joe down the street is doing. We’ve got to find something where we’re going to stand out.”
Johnson: Right. What your products can do that fit their niche.
Wojtkiewicz: That’s how some of the newer products have come to be. We talked about thermal cooling. I was just talking to the guys, saying, “I need to figure out how to move this heater up.” Hey, let’s talk about it. Go in the lab, make something. “Yeah, we’ve got some stuff here.”
Johnson: That seems to be working. Thanks for taking the time to give us an update.
Wojtkiewicz: It’s my pleasure.