EPTE Newsletter: Internepcon Japan 2020


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The largest electronics exhibition in Asia opened January 15 at Tokyo Big Sight. The three-day event was larger than last year with more trade show participants as well as visitors. However, the trade show was not on the main floor this year. Tokyo Big Sight is now home to media that is covering the 2020 Summer Olympics, and hundreds of exhibitions and conventions will have to cancel or change venues.

Internepcon Japan 2020 was somewhat displaced, and the show was divided among the different halls at Tokyo Big Sight. This was an inconvenience for visitors, and it was nearly impossible to visit all booths during the event. I decided to focus my attention on a few select companies due to logistics and a time constraint. The most popular trade show booths were affiliated with car electronics, ultra-high density, wearable devices, and 5G ultra-wideband.

Fine pattern generation is an ongoing project for printed circuit manufacturers. Chemical suppliers JCU and Okuno demonstrated line pitches less than 5 microns produced through a semi-additive process. These processes can generate one-micron traces, but circuit manufacturers are not ready to use the ultra-fine circuits. Current assembling processes and connection technologies that use soldering and wire bonding are not capable of using ultra-fine traces. Compass, a tape shape flex circuit manufacturer in Hong Kong, displayed finer traces than 15 microns designed for driver modules for display devices and double-sided chip-on-film (COF) with microvia holes produced reel-to-reel manufacturing process.

Low-loss materials for high-frequency circuits are an ongoing design project. American laminate suppliers Rogers and Nelco dominate the market for rigid circuit boards. Liquid crystal polymer (LCP) film is leading the flex circuit industry. New low-loss materials—such as low-loss polyimide film, fluoropolymer resins, and PEEK resin—are looking for second positions. One problem is the high cost. 

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P-ban.com, an online printed circuit supplier, displayed various products, including multi-layer rigid boards, flexible circuits, and rigid-flex. One of their main features is a series of flexible thick-film circuits produced by a screen-printing process, with fine line circuits down to 30-micron line/space. The company also displayed monocoque circuits, a unique hybrid 3D circuit produced by thick film technology.                

Chinese circuit manufacturers and distributors continue to increase their presence at these trade shows. Most of them claimed they are capable of supplying a broad range of circuit products, including rigid, flex, and rigid-flex. They provided snapshots of their manufacturing plants in China. I was impressed with their buildings and manufacturing equipment; most of their facilities looked better than circuit manufacturers in the U.S. and Japan.

The Chinese manufacturers also displayed typical examples of the circuits. The quality levels of the samples were not on par with Taiwanese and Korean manufacturers. It may take a few more years for them to catch up and have an equivalent quality level.

Headlines

1. Nikkei Electronics (industrial media in Japan) 1/20

Organic EL will be major instead of LCD displays in 2020. followed by micro-LEDs.

2. NTT East Japan (telecommunication provider in Japan) 1/22

Made JV NTTe-Sports to strengthen the services in the globally growing market.

3. YAMAHA Motors (motorcycle manufacturer in Japan) 1/21

Will enter the robot market cooperating Waseda University targeting at least 5% market share.

4. Panasonic (electronics company in Japan) 1/22

Has been developing a series of VR simulators to realize the human-machine interface (HMI) systems.

5. ZTE (telecommunication provider in China) 1/21

Launched the first 5G SA network in Eastern Africa cooperating with MTN Uganda.

6. Renault (car manufacturer in France) 1/22

Kicked off the R&D project “INCIT-EV” with 32 companies to develop EV-relating technologies.

7. Toshiba D&S (semiconductor company in Japan) 1/23

Commercialized small-size MOSFET devices for automobile applications introducing TSOP6F that reduce SMT space 70%.

8. Dai-Nippon Printing (printing company) 1/23

Developed a thin heat sink device “paper chamber” for 5G smartphones (thickness: 0.25 mm), which will generate more spaces for batteries.

9. Sharp (electronics company in Japan) 1/23

Unveiled a 70” touch panel screen “PN-CD701” for conference room use. It will start to ship in March (standard retail price: 1,030,000 yen).

10. AIST (R&D organization in Japan) 1/24

Developed a thermo-couple device based on organic material PEDOT/PSS that works under low temperatures (120°C).

11. Mitsubishi UFJ Bank (bank in Japan) 1/27

Has been introducing arm-type robots to complete the automation of office work.

12. Fujitsu (electronics company in Japan) 12/2

Started the shipment of the supercomputer “FUGAKU” that has a 100x higher speed compared to the previous machine “KEI.”

13. Toshiba (electric and electronics company in Japan) 12/6

Developed a cancer diagnosis system. A drop of blood is enough to detect 13 kinds of cancer with 99% accuracy, analyzing micro-RNAs in two hours.

14. SMK (component supplier in Japan) 12/10

Commercialized a BtB connector series “PB-F2” for floating circuit boards of automobile applications. Volume production will start in April 2010.

15. Panasonic (electronics company in Japan) 12/10

Agreed with Nishikawa, bedding product supplier, to start support service in March 2020 for comfortable sleeping.

16. Asics (sportswear supplier in Japan) 12/11

Co-developed a low-cost, wearable motion capture suite with Tokyo University for analysis of various sports.

17. MinebeaMitsumi (device manufacturer in Japan) 12/12

Co-developed a stepping motor with high precision with Renesas Electronics for robots, OA equipment, medical devices, and more.

18. TE Japan (connector manufacturer in Japan) 12/12

Commercialized a high-reliability connector series “SFP + Stack Type Dual Line Connectors” for high-speed, double-sided printed circuits.

19. Toshiba Device and Storage (semiconductor manufacturer in Japan) 12/12

Commercialized a system power source IC “TB9045FNG” for automobile modules.

20. TDK (component supplier in Japan) 12/12

Commercialized a noise suppression filter “MAF1608GAD-L Type” with high efficiency for smart speakers or tablet PCs.

21. Taiyo Yuden (component supplier in Japan) 12/15

Developed the all-solid-state lithium secondly battery with SMT package utilizing multilayer ceramic capacitor technologies (size: 1005 ~ 4532).

22. Murata (component supplier in Japan) 12/15

Developed the smallest chip capacitor (0.25 x 0.125 x 0.125 mm for 0.1 micro-Farads). Volume production will start in 2020.

Dominique K. Numakura is the managing director of DKN Research LLC. Contact haverhill@dknreseach.com for further information and news.

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