EIPC: A European Community of PCB Technology Professionals and Manufacturers
In mid-June, I had the great pleasure of attending my first EIPC Conference in Leoben, Austria (pictured above). EIPC (European Institute for the PCB Community) is an organization that has been around for over 50 years and serves the European Electronics Industry and supply chain while maintaining activities that involve the global industry. In this article, I speak with Tarja Rapala, the technical director for EIPC to discuss the purpose, activities, and scope of work of this busy and dynamic organization.
Judy Warner: Please tell us about EIPC--what the history is, what the current goals of the organization are, and what kind of companies and members it serves.
Tarja Rapala: The EIPC is the European Institute for the PCB Community whose membership is comprised of electronic industry professionals from Europe. We support and provide our members with platforms to exchange business and technical information. One of our primary goals is making the European industry visible globally and to spread the news about what’s going on in Europe as well. Germany has a very strong position in the European PCB industry, so we try to arrange gatherings on a regular basis there. We are also arranging some workshops in the German language in cooperation with the German FED association. We are also planning more workshops in different locations around Europe.
EIPC is an independent organization that belongs to the World Electronic Circuits Council (WECC) and is part of the organizations represented at the ECWC (Electronic Circuit World Convention). Here, we are a group of eight industry-related trade associations globally: one from the USA (IPC), one from Europe (EIPC) and the remaining associations are from Asia (JPCA, CPCA, HKPCA, KPCA, TPCA, and IPCA).
EIPC Chairman, Alun Morgan welcomes delegates
Warner: Please tell us about your professional industry experience and your role at EIPC.
Rapala: I joined EIPC in September 2018 as technical director. In this role, I’m following the footsteps of Michael Weinhold, whose well-regarded global reputation encourages me to follow high standards. I have 30+ years’ experience in managing complex electronics projects within multicultural environments across Asia, the USA, and Europe.
For 10 years I worked in China as VP of Technology for a global PCB company. I returned back to Finland in the summer of 2018 and I’m still exploring the European landscape to understand it better. I’m excited to add value to my EIPC work through my knowledge, network and especially my decade long Asia experience that I hope will bring a new perspective and fresh ideas.
A key part of my role is to support Kirsten Smit-Westenberg and Alun Morgan in the organization of the summer and winter conferences. The role also extends to putting together other technical workshops in Europe, based on various topics of interest within the European supply chain.
I represent EIPC in WECC meetings and events such as the CPCA, TPCA, and the IPC show. EIPC is also working on standardization through IPC, IEC, and WECC. We’re working in close collaboration with the member companies to maximize the efficiency of our small EIPC team. This helps us stay active and prolific within a dynamic global pace.
Mr. Daniel Geiger, Vice Mayor of Leoben welcomes visitors
Warner: We've just concluded the summer conference, please give us a synopsis of the event and why you chose Leoben, Austria as the location for this year's event.
Alun Morgan demonstrates gesture-controlled drone
Rapala: The conference’s goal is to support the global technology requirements and challenges like 5G, digitalization, AI, and the constant requirements for higher speed. The goal was achieved through presentations that gave us an insight into the European industry approach and solutions for these global trends. The topics covered ranged from material selection criteria to process selection, product testing, reliability and much more. This offered an opportunity to learn how to support product traceability and reliability, how to measure and test higher speed and cleanliness, and which are critical factors for higher speed applications in the next generation 5G applications. The presentations were given by companies like Ericsson, Ucamco, Polar Instruments, Gen3 Systems, Gardien, Elmatica, Orbotech, Agfa-Gevaert, Taiyo, HDPUG, Rogers Corporation, EMC, and the David Bernard Consultancy.
Technically rich content engaged conference attendees
The highlight was a session on new innovations emerging throughout Europe. Other presentations were from companies like Indubond (new multilayer pressing technology), Lackwerke Peters (new coating technology), SunChemicals (advanced LPSIM and direct imaging), Frauenhofer IZM (high density RDL technologies for fan-out panel packaging), Meyer Burger NV (inkjet printing technology), Tactotek (smart molded structures bring surface to life), and Picosun (atomic layer deposition [ALD] to avoid tin whiskers and new solder mask solution for PCB).
Each year we select a strategic location for the conference to include a visit to either one of our member companies or any other interesting facility within our business area. This year AT&S gave us an opportunity to visit their factory in Leoben. Participants got an insight into how this successful PCB manufacturer in Europe has grown from being a local business to a global technology leader (they are the largest revenue-producing PCB fabricator in Europe). AT&S also introduced in a keynote their embedded component technology, including the importance of PCB design. The development work was done in cooperation with European partners, while the manufacturing is done in Leoben.
One of many tour groups inside AT&S
Warner: Approximately how many people attended this year's summer conference and what types of companies and roles were represented?
Rapala: There were 122 attendees, which was about 20% growth over our last conference.
Warner: What are some ways EIPC would like to grow and expand their reach?
Rapala: The function of the EIPC is to promote the interests of the membership and this is served by facilitating connections of all stakeholders in the European Electronics Supply Chain. We believe that EIPC training workshops and technical snapshots provide a unique opportunity for PCB makers and PCB designers to learn about the latest trends in PCB technology and provide real value for attendees wishing to further their careers and to improve the cost-effectiveness for their companies. The EIPC puts the PCB at the center of its activities and will continue to develop courses and programs that emphasize the importance of the PCB as an enabler for innovative electronics solutions.
Warner: What benefits might EIPC have specifically for hardware engineers?
Rapala: Through becoming a member or subscribing to our newsletter, hardware engineers will get updated information on new PCB technology solutions and gain an understanding of technical challenges from PCB manufacturing to reliability as a key benefit from EIPC. By attending our conferences, they have the opportunity for networking with PCB industry professionals. They gain a wider understanding of what is happening in the PCB technology arena and how important that is for their hardware design. Additionally, it's a forum where they can share their knowledge and challenges from a design perspective. They can propose activities and topics they are interested in which would support their design work as well.
Warner: How can our readers get more information about EIPC and future conferences?
Rapala: Your readers are encouraged to visit our webpage or contact us directly.
Warner: It was a pleasure meeting you in Leoben, Tarja and congratulations on a successful conference. We appreciate you sharing this information about EIPC and the excellent resources it offers.
Rapala: Thank you for attending the conference, Judy, and allowing us the opportunity to share EIPC with your readers.
Parting gifts and farewell from our hosts and tour guides
Special thanks to Alun Morgan, EIPC Chairman and Kirsten Smit-Westenberg, EIPC Executive Director for their gracious invitation and hospitality.
Additional thanks to AT&S for the hospitality and tour of their impressive facility.