A New Way to Make Electronic Components

A New Way to Make Electronic Components

Mar 28, 2017

The Ability to 3D Print Electronics Is Here By Mark Shortt, Editorial Director, D2P Magazine When you think about the innovation that’s happening today in the field of electronics, there’s a lot to wrap your head around as people debate the future of Moore’s Law, the fate of silicon transistors and possible role of carbon nanotube chips, and materials that could, possibly, widen the application range of flexible, conformal electronics. One look at the nine manufacturing innovation institutes that are part of the national Manufacturing USA network (formerly the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) gives you a pretty good idea of the impact that electronics will have in furthering the development and adoption of emerging manufacturing technologies and innovative products. PowerAmerica, one of the nine manufacturing innovation institutes, is working to develop advanced manufacturing processes that will enable large-scale production of wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, which allow electronic components to be smaller, faster, and more efficient than they would be if the semiconductors were made from silicon. At the same time, NextFlex, America’s first Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is working to support the advancement of technologies and materials that will bring flexible, stretchable body-worn electronics into the mainstream. Two others—America Makes, dedicated to strengthening capabilities in 3D printing, and the new Advanced Functional Fabrics of America—are working in areas where new developments and breakthroughs will impact how electronics are manufactured and applied to next-generation products. We’re living in a digital age in which collaboration helps further not only the development of new technologies, but also their interdependence across a wide spectrum of industries. So it’s not surprising, then, that we’re seeing some of the more intriguing developments in electronics today happening as a result of applying breakthroughs in materials, 3D printing, and software. These developments, whether they’re highly conductive silver inks for 3D printing, or better ways of integrating electronics into stretchable polymer fabrics, are changing the ways we manufacture electronics and how we incorporate them into more functional parts, components, and products. One of these breakthroughs is the development of innovative 3D printing technologies that offer new ways to manufacture electronics. These direct-write methods are barely beginning to scratch the...

Makers: Why The Electronics Industry Needs to Pay Attention

Makers: Why The Electronics Industry Needs to Pay Attention

Nov 6, 2015

By Hailey Lynne McKeefry, EBN  The Maker Movement, which is allowing innovative ideas to bubble up from individuals, is changing the way electronics hardware is being brought to market. The electronics industry had better sit up and take notice since this group is coming up with some of the best and brightest new ideas.  “There’s a deeper meaning to maker movement: it’s letting people leverage a new way to bring electronic hardware to market,” said Glenn Bassett, co-founder and managing director of consulting firm NuVentures Ltd., in a talk this week at the ECIA Executive Conference in Chicago. “It encourages people to reuse intellectual property and build upon it.” By any measure the maker movement is taking off.  For example, the Maker Faire Bay Area, which is in its 10th year, is expected to attract more than 1,200 maker entries, more than 145,000 attendees, and more than 95 sponsors in 2015.  TechShop locations are cropping up across the United States, giving would be designers and inventors tools and expertise to get what they have in their heads or on paper into a makeable and marketable form. In fact, by some estimates there are currently more than 150 million makers in the United States, Bassett said. “Hardware is cool again,” Bassett said, reminding the audience of predications made in the late 1990s that the hardware was dead, having given way to the predominance of software. “Now, t’s cool again to create things because the barriers to creation and production have started to fall down. Young people are interested in it again.” Although building a factory remains out of the reach of the average inventor, powerful computer-aided design (CAD) software is increasingly affordable. “These products now are intuitive to use and give you head start, putting you well into process of designing a product without designing a circuit,” Bassett said. “The same is true on the 3D modeling side of things. The access to the means of design is everywhere.” Further, there is a perfect storm of tools, community and capital to support would-be electronics innovators, Bassett said. A variety of open-source electronic prototyping platform, such as the Arduino, Beetle and Raspberry Pi boards, aid quick and easy design. Meanwhile, the maker...

Electronics Onshoring Expected to Net $2.5 Billion

By: Barbara Jorgensen, EBN In the grand scheme of the manufacturing industry, $2.5 billion is not a lot of money. But for electronics companies and workers in the US, it’s a bonanza. Within the next three years, reports the IPC, both OEMs and EMS companies are expected to bring more than $2 billion worth of manufacturing services and jobs back onshore. Respondents to IPC’s survey of more than 200 electronics companies indicated they would establish both new operations and repatriate offshore manufacturing through 2015. If past trends continue, most of that value will come from OEMs: Survey results showed that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were largely responsible for operations returned to North America from overseas since 2009, accounting for more than 90 percent of the value and number of jobs brought back. The electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry was also a big contributor. One-quarter of operations that returned to North American since 2009 came from China, with other countries making up the other 75 percent. The EMS industry accounts for the largest share of overseas operations that participating companies plan to bring back to North America in the next three years. New operations, however, represent a much larger share of future North American production, and these planned new operations were reported primarily by OEMs. The reasons cited most often for onshoring include quality control and customer proximity, the IPC finds. Other research found that rising labor costs in China are also driving the move back to the...