AT&S Highlights the Future of PCB Industry

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  • Roughly 80 customers found out about the latest developments in high-grade printed circuit board (PCB) products for the automotive, industrial and medical technology segments
  • The focus was on global megatrends and their impact on the electronics industry, in particular in the area of PCB technology
  • Miniaturisation and modularisation are among the key concepts in interconnect technology

Miniaturisation and performance enhancement are leading trends not only for mobile devices such as smartphones; applications in the automotive sector and in medical technology are also getting progressively smaller, more efficient and more powerful. The AT&S Technology Forum on 30 September and 1 October was dedicated to these current core issues in the electronics industry and provided an outlook of the future of PCB technology.

The global megatrends are at the frontline of all developments. “Megatrends such as globalisation, urbanisation, mobility, health, the growing world population, changes in the world of work and structure of society (buzzword “silver society“) drive the industry”, AT&S Management Board member Heinz Moitzi explains in his keynote presentation. “Whether it is new mobility solutions, innovative production technologies in industry or completely new applications in medical technology – the increasing interconnectivity through the Internet of things is the key to new applications. AT&S concentrates above all on wearable applications for both the consumer and the professional segment, networked solutions in the automotive segment, industry 4.0 applications such as machine-to-machine communication and solutions in medical technology like online patient monitoring.”

This was also confirmed by Hannes Voraberger, Head of R&D at AT&S, especially when talking about the trends in the electronics industry and their impact on interconnect technology: “Nothing is more constant than change”, says Hannes Voraberger. “Changing markets due to autonomous electronic systems, progressing miniaturisation and modularisation as well as the changes of the value chain in the electronics industry through integrated electronic modules or even all-in-one packages will change the electronics industry permanently”, Voraberger adds. He presented current research and development projects such as IC substrates, substrate-like PCBs, thermal solutions and solutions for high-frequency applications. At present, roughly 400 employees worldwide are dedicated to research and development (R&D) at AT&S. But also existing AT&S technologies such as flex PCBs are suitable for new applications in the area of miniaturisation due to their properties. At the conference, current issues of the printed circuit board industry including data processing and the advantages and disadvantages of flex and rigid PCBs were also discussed.

Walter Moser, CSO of the Business Unit Automotive, Industrial and Medical at AT&S, emphasised that innovations are increasingly only possible through collaborations and partnerships: “Electronic designs have to be harmonised with one another and developed together. In doing so, the cooperation with our customers plays a key role”, says Walter Moser.

Board member Heinz Moitzi outlined the role of CSR in the area of innovation using examples of projects at the AT&S plants such as the consumption of water and gold. “All our development activities – whether it is miniaturisation, functional integration, or printed solutions – are clearly related to sustainability because they aim at more efficient resource management”, Heinz Moitzi explains.

A particular focus at the Technology Forum was placed on “Advanced Packaging” – innovative process engineering solutions for component and semiconductor packaging solutions – from currently 2D packages to 3D packages, in which the components are connected horizontally and vertically in several layers to form a single circuit. Rozalia Beica, Chief Technical Officer of the market research and technology and strategy consultant Yole, described the market drivers – increased functionalities and performance and a higher number of connections –, the growth potential and the present technologies and developments. AT&S is the clear market leader in embedding, i.e., embedding active and passive components. Her conclusion: all packaging platforms will grow, THE solution does not exist, and many parallel developments and technologies will characterise the packaging market. Thinner packages, a further reduction of gaps and lower production costs will determine the success of certain package solutions.


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