As electronic assemblers struggle to cope with increasingly complex packages and board designs, MYDATA, the SMT business unit within Nasdaq OMX-listed Micronic Mydata AB, reports a surge of interest in its jet printing technology. Software-controlled and stencil free, the technology is now used in 25 countries and hundreds of plants worldwide. In 2011, MYDATA’s system sales increased by 47 percent – a record year representing gains in market share for its entire SMT product line, including a strong growth for jet printing equipment.
Screen Printing Hits a Wall
“Screen printers are still needed, but they’ve hit a wall for certain applications,” says Brian Duffey, President of MYDATA Automation Inc. He cites a growing need to handle QFNs, pin-in-paste, package-on-package, flexible substrates and other challenging applications such as jetting into board cavities. In one case, a customer needed to pack 69 components onto one square centimeter. “Jet printing allows the kind of paste control that makes that possible,” he says.
Three Driving Trends
The company says three trends are driving the adoption of stencil-free printing, particularly within the consumer electronics industry: firstly, the need for quicker response times; secondly, the demand for perfect solder joint quality, with zero rework needed; and finally, the growth of increasingly complex board designs due in part to miniaturization and mobility. One final observation, says Global Jet Printing Sales Director Nico Coenen is that the MY500 Jet Printer is being used for both in-line, add-on jobs at very high speeds as well as for short-run and prototyping production.
“Because the MY500 Jet Printer is completely software-driven and requires no stencils, the operator can easily apply precisely controlled solder past volumes or adhesive on complex boards for perfect solder joints every time,” says Coenen. And since every job is prepared offline with CAD or Gerber data, the operator can prepare and print a new job in minutes, eliminating the need to wait for stencils. Explains Coenen: “Rather than wasting valuable time cleaning, storing, retrieving and ordering stencils, the manufacturer can now take an order in the morning and deliver finished boards in the afternoon.”
Rapid Return on Investment
According to Coenen, interest in the technology may have reached a tipping point, mirroring changes in the industry. “For customers handling two or three setups a day and 50 or more new stencils every year, it’s an investment that pays for itself very quickly,” says Coenen.
Gaining Momentum in US
Widely adopted by leading technology companies across Europe and Asia, the technology also perfectly aligns with the requirements of the US market due to its ability to optimize solder paste deposits on every PCB pad and provide total control to production engineers. The IPC APEX Expo show in San Diego (February 28 to March 1, Booth #3429), explains Brian Duffey, provides an excellent opportunity for potential US customers to see the MY500 Jet Printer in action. “When you see the type of problems it solves and how it reduces the total cost of ownership, you know that jet printing is here to stay,” concludes Duffey.
About Micronic Mydata AB
Micronic Mydata AB is a global high-tech company that develops, manufactures and markets laser-based pattern generators for the production of photomasks as well as advanced surface mount technology (SMT) equipment for flexible production of electronics. Pattern generators are used by the world’s leading electronics companies for the manufacture of television and computer displays, semiconductor circuits and advanced electronic packaging. SMT equipment, which includes software applications, is used for the surface mounting of electronic components and stencil-free jetting of solder paste. SMT equipment is used by large and small manufacturers of electronics in the aerospace, aviation and telecom sectors. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Micronic Mydata has subsidiaries in China, France, Germany Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States. Micronic Mydata AB (publ) is listed on NASDAQ OMX, Stockholm, Small Cap: MICR. For more information, please visit our web site at: www.micronic-mydata.com.