Rex Rozario: The PCB Industry’s True Renaissance Man


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You may know Rex Rozario OBE, as a part of the team that developed the first circuit board in England in the 1950s, or for being the founder of Graphic PLC, which has been serving the industry for 50 years and achieved phenomenal, long-term success in China. What you might not know about are the many other lives of Rex: the successful restaurateur, the developer and co-owner of a marina voted best in the UK, and the drummer in a band called The Flintstones. As a matter of fact, in one of his past lives, Rex took drum lessons from Jim Marshall, of Marshall Amplifier fame. If you can’t tell already, Rex is cool.

In this exclusive I-Connect007 multi-part interview that was conducted recently, I will introduce you to all of the people that Rex Rozario is, and where he, his team, and Graphic PLC are headed to next. 

Barry Matties: Rex you’ve been working with circuit boards for a long time. Please begin by explaining how you began in the PCB industry.

Rex Rozario: When I left Ceylon, which is now Sri Lanka, I went to England to finish my studies at two technical colleges, Reading and Acton, before graduating at Brunel with an electrical and electronics degree. While at university, I did odd jobs to keep the cash coming in and I got involved doing some work for a condenser company; I learned quite a bit about condensers. After I graduated, I found a very large condenser manufacturer not far from the university, called the Telegraph Condenser Company, and it employed about 3,000 people.

I applied and was offered a job as a lab technician because of my experience working part time on condensers. When I joined I had already paid for a vacation and they honored that. But when I returned, a guy was doing my job. He said that he had started the day I had left or whatever. So I assumed that because I was on vacation and I hadn't been there long enough that possibly I was fired and caught the bullet.

Then the manager wanted to see me. He said, “I'm glad you're here, come with me.” I asked where we were going and he said, "To the managing director’s office." Of course, this company employed 3,000 people and nobody ever saw the managing director. Nobody even knew what he looked like. I didn’t know what to expect. I walked into his office and there were six other guys sitting at the table. He started talking and said he had a new venture in mind and they had just acquired the license to manufacture. Here of course is where printed circuits came into the picture.

Then he had a phone call, and back then you didn't have mobile phones, so he had to dash off to the next office. I turned and asked the others, "What is he talking about?" They hadn't a clue. They said, "He keeps talking about printed circuits." He came back and said he was forming a team and we were part of this team. He introduced each person. They were all skilled. One guy, the most important guy, was a silkscreen specialist, another was a chemist, a mechanical engineer, photographer, etc. Those were the key people, and I was coming in now as a technician with my electronics degree.

Dr.Rex.jpgThen we were given a shed across the road by rail lines, about 1,000 square feet I’d say, and that's it. We said, "Where do we start?" He said, "You don't have to worry." The license was bought from Dr. Paul Eisler who formed a company called Technograph. We were Telegraph, and we acquired the first license to manufacture, and he was brought in as a consultant. It was like the blind leading the blind. We didn't know where to start or where to get the materials from. Everything was done by trial and error and development. The first material was wallpaper material. We had to use this material, which was paper based, impregnate it with resin, buy the copper sheets and actually brush the adhesive onto that, stick it on, and then of course put it into a press. So from day one we had experience of how to use a heated platen press, and that's how multilayer technology came in, from day one. And then we had to print and etch.

Paul Eisler’s innovation wasn't very high tech. He used the graphic arts litho plate-making technology that used the same sort of printing as silkscreen or photo printing solutions. So that's how we started, with single-sided boards, and it was pretty straightforward.

(See historical video, next page.)

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