Orbotech Celebrates Success of Orbotech Diamond and Discusses Future Trends

May 31, 2019

At the recent CPCA Show in Shanghai, Orbotech celebrated having over 100 of their Orbotech Diamond™ direct imaging (DI) machines in the marketplace. Barry Matties caught up with Meny Gantz—VP of marketing for Orbotech’s PCB division—to talk about the drivers behind the success of Orbotech Diamond systems before turning the conversation toward the future and Industry 4.0. Orbotech’s large footprint comes with a massive amount of data collection as they now widen their focus to smart factory solutions and managing data to support their customers’ increasing demands.

Barry Matties: First, can you talk a little bit about the ceremony that you had this morning?

Meny Gantz This morning, we held a ceremony to celebrate the success of Orbotech Diamond for solder mask direct imaging. Orbotech Diamond launched only a few years ago and has become very popular. In fact, it’s one of the market leaders for solder mask DI, which is a definite reason for celebration.

Matties: DI for solder mask is really taking off. What’s the driver behind that?

Gantz Technology has become more sophisticated and complex, and the traditional exposure methods are no longer enough. Today’s high-end products require high-performance digital imaging, and the Orbotech Diamond is precisely that—a high-quality, high-productivity, high-yield solder mask DI solution, which meets customers’ cost needs.

Matties: When measuring the process benefits, what are the key considerations?

Gantz There are a few parameters when measuring a DI system, and all of them are important. Firstly, quality is a must, including high-quality solder dams, solder resist opens, and registration. Good registration is key as today’s panels are more complex with their new materials and a high potential for distortion.

Secondly, capacity is a critical issue, and this is one of Orbotech Diamond 10’s clearest advantages. Our customers tell us that our solution is the fastest in the market, and one of its most important parameters is its ability to work with multiple types of solder resists. Based on the number of systems we have in the market, Orbotech Diamond has been field proven to successfully work with a very wide variety of solder resists.

Matties: We’re also seeing inkjet solder mask coming into play. They’re making great strides there. Is there any interest in that technology from Orbotech’s point of view?

Gantz Yes. We introduced inkjet technology for solder mask earlier this year at IPC APEX EXPO. We are very excited about this great technology, which has been successful at a number of sites. This is the first time we are using additive printing for solder mask in the production flow process. The inkjet for solder mask eliminates a number of manufacturing processes, making it simpler and shorter with reduced handling. I believe that it will become more and more popular as a production tool in the future.


Matties: The other interesting trend that we’re seeing is around - smart factories. Obviously, Orbotech has a lot of footprint in the industry in various process areas. Talk about the strategies that you’re sharing or bringing to the marketplace around Industry 4.0.

Gantz As you mentioned, Industry 4.0 is becoming a must in today’s industry. Technologies are becoming increasingly complex, and the amount of data being produced is only growing. Manufacturers need to have more visibility into their production to make it work for them. Orbotech Smart Factory provides the manufacturer with a smart solution based on visibility, traceability, accurate data, optimization of production services, and much more. The solution sits on a central server and communicates with all Orbotech equipment, gathering data and providing significant actionable information to customers.

Matties: Being inside the Orbotech environment is one thing, but the big issue here is all of that information now has to communicate with other processes. Some other languages and standards are being incorporated into this strategy. How are you playing with others, if you will?

Gantz Industry 4.0 is already being implemented in PCB factories. We know from our customers that they want their data to help them manage the different stages of the PCB manufacturing process, and our solutions enable that. Orbotech Smart Factory communicates with the whole range of our solutions, of course, and in the future, we intend to enable communication with third-party solutions.

Matties: It seems like there’s a race to find the standard for the PCB side. IPC CFX is a making some good progress on the assembly side. But on the PCB side, particularly in North America and Europe, the smaller factories may not have the resources to implement a site-wide Industry 4.0 strategy that a large factory will have.

Gantz I agree. Implementing an Industry 4.0 roll out in a small factory requires a great deal of resources and investment that may not be easy for those small factories to allocate. At the same time, tremendous developments are already occurring in this field in Asia. As a global player, Orbotech’s aim is to develop solutions not only for the larger, early adaptors but also for the smaller QTA factories.

In Asia, many Tier 1 PCB makers are already implementing ambitious industry 4.0 growth plans. A number of our customers are already using the Orbotech Smart Factory solution for Industry 4.0—mainly for high-end applications, such as SLP, mSAP, and flex. By working closely with our customers to define their key issues, we successfully developed the right tools to enable them to communicate with their Orbotech solutions, and in turn, to implement Industry 4.0.

As a result of the huge amount of information that PCB factories generate, we will also see Industry 4.0 playing an increasingly central role as artificial intelligence (AI) evolves. The mammoth amount of data that can be managed by AI will undoubtedly optimize process control. For example, an AI-driven AOI system will be able to detect repetitive abnormalities and direct the automatic adjustment of the process, which will increase yield.

Matties: The idea behind a smart factory is to optimize your factory in real time, which doesn’t necessarily mean building a large batch of boards and sending it to an AOI machine. It means testing each board inline as it is being manufactured and adjusting the process accordingly. How are you moving into the inline inspection model?

Gantz Providing information in real time, or almost real time, is extremely important; it is a critical part of inline inspection. Our solutions can deliver the data in this short time period based on protocols that enable the data to move very quickly. They provide critical feedback to the PCB manufacturers in real time—not a few days later after significant damage has already been done. Another must-have element of the inline model is a combination of data automation and physical automation. This means that Orbotech solutions can handle changes made to the process, which ensures increased yield.

Matties: Are you saying that you’re looking for a process that’s conveyorized, but, an inline process, for example? So, as the board comes out of an imaging process or a wet process, that it’s inspected as it goes from one process to the next without interruption?

Gantz That has been an industry vision for many years now. To make it a reality, there are a number of issues that need to be resolved, such as the harsh chemical processes and the general environment of a PCB factory. Take, for example, AOI for high-end PCBs, which requires highly sophisticated optics to support fine resolutions. Controlling the environment here is critical as harsh chemicals can impact the fine optics, and by extension, AOI performance. We are working together with our customers and key process players to optimize these processes.

Matties: I was at a large factory that was doing an incredible job of loading the machines. It was fully automated, but it was the standard model of a large stack of boards that had already been processed, and they sorted the good from the bad. How do we move into optimizing the process in real time?

Gantz That’s an interesting question. It essentially requires looking at the AOI room in a far more holistic way than is traditional. It means changing the way verification happens and turning an unwieldy process into an automated one with virtually no handling and better yields. Automating the collection of defect images and analyzing them in an offline station results in the manufacturer eliminating false defects without having to touch the board again.

About 18 months ago, Orbotech launched this process with its Remote Multi-Image Verification. Recently, we introduced the RMIV Pro—an upgraded version of RMIV and a part of the Ultra Dimension™ AOI solution. Orbotech’s RMIV Pro automatically and simultaneously grabs defect images during the inspection process. These images are taken via different channels and are integrated into a single multi-color image, which enables operators to accurately differentiate between real and false images in a very short timeframe. This represents a real revolution in the AOI room and enables the optimization of the process in real time.

Matties: In today’s marketplace, we know that AOI equipment works. We know we can automate the AOI process, but what about the data? How do we leverage that? Essentially, we’re talking about a digital factory—having information that goes in and collecting only the relevant information as it comes out. Since there are so many data capture points, it’s easy to become overloaded with data. What information do you think is the most critical for fabricators in their data collection?

Gantz As you mentioned, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with data, so it has to be analyzed in a smart way that brings real value and isn’t just noise. This means actionable manufacturing and process intelligence. Fabricators need greater production visibility and to see what is really happening on their shop floor in real time—for example, defect distribution and images or quality control data. They need to be able to track production down to the unit, and they need to have access to analyzed data over time. This enables them to better understand the big picture, to control production quality and efficiency, and ultimately make smarter, faster decisions.

Matties: How soon do you think we’re going to see the full impact of 5G in the PCB sector?

Gantz 5G is a fast-growing end market and has already made an impact in some places, particularly on PCBs that require line/space with very high accuracy. I think the full impact will be felt in 2020 and beyond, so right now, we’re at the beginning and are working to address the issues that 5G raises. The improved network capabilities and additional functionality that 5G will enable via its higher speeds and faster responsiveness will lead to changes across the electronics industry and will open up worlds of new possibilities. This will drive much more demand from the PCB makers, and in turn, from capital equipment makers like us.

Matties: I appreciate your time today, Meny. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you want to share with the industry?

Gantz This is an interesting time for the industry. There are lots of changes taking place as well as challenges and opportunities. We keep looking ahead as we continue to push boundaries. Orbotech is working closely with our customers to understand their current and future needs to provide them with solutions that answer those needs and to continue to design the future of PCBs.

Matties: Well, I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.

Gantz: Thank you.