Highlights from Medtec Europe, April 12-14 2016, Stuttgart

21 April 2016

By Dieter G. Weiss, EIPC

The Medtec Europe exhibition and congress, an exhibition for the medical technology industry, organized by UBM Canon Europe Ltd. London, was hosted for the 15th time in Stuttgart and supported this year by the VDMA. As some of the EIPC member companies exhibited there (such as ILFA, MSE and DYCONEX), we visited the exhibition in order to get an overview of the companies from the electronics industry and want to share our experience with you.

First of all some numbers, without any guaranties. There are 626 companies listed in the exhibitor list, and as several companies share their booth with sister companies or with partners, a total of 528 booth were spread in three halls of Stuttgart Messe next to the airport. The exhibition area was well separated in supplier areas which made it easy for me to see, that the focus of my visit should be hall 5 where I focused on two supplier zones: electronic components, motors & motion control, pumps & valves and full service contract manufacturing, international pavilions. The only interesting company outside Hall 5 was Heraeus in Hall 3 which in my opinion should have been closer to some of their customers, the hybrid manufacturers in Hall 5.

As my personal sectors for this exhibition are slightly different, I report in accordance to my special denomination. Let’s start with the hybrid manufacturers, a small but very impressive product line, which always catches my attention as this was home of my first job after university.

Heraeus Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG, Hanau, Germany

Already in 2015, Heraeus Medical Components won the innovation award for its Cermet-system, a ceramic insulator with platinum conductive lines, manufactured in HTCC (High Temperature Co-fired Ceramics) technology. The aluminum oxide ceramic is casted and the greensheets are punched and filled with a conductive paste. Circuitry with lines and spaces of 150 micrometer can be printed and multilayer technology is possible. The product is finally fired at temperatures of more than 1.500 degrees C and needs to shrink at a very tight tolerance. With this technology many new applications in medicine technology such as implants, are possible.

Hightec MC AG, Lenzburg, Switzerland

HightecI love innovative products and innovative companies, Hightec for sure is one of them. They work in thin film technology and use different kind of ceramic substrates (AlO, AlN, glass) as well as polyimide (HiCoFlex). The polyimide can be applied liquid on a glass substrate in thicknesses between 5 µm and 20µm, circuitry will then be formed in thin film technology and the polyimide film can then be peeled off from the glass carrier. Very thin and small circuitry as well as rigid flexible circuits can be formed this way which can be used for very long micro cables (on display was a 85cm micro cable for catheter application) as well as endoscopy capsules, hearing aids or retina stimulators to name just a few. Assembly and bonding of microcircuits as well as packaging of dies, sensors and MEMS are part of their service offer as well.

The process of integrating high density functional groups – realized by HiCoFlex® technology with embedded components – into flexible PCB by lamination process will be available soon.

Lust Hybrid-Technik GmbH, Hermsdorf, Germany

Lust HybridLust is working in thick Film technology on AlO and AlN but can handle modules in FR4 for SMT and chip on board technology as well. Their impressive products on show included LED applications in thick film with chip on board, wire bonding in gold (ball/wedge) with selective passivation and ceramic housing, power modules with heavy wire bonding in aluminum and soldering of the ceramic subassemblies on heat sinks including power resistors in thick film technology and hybrid modules in multilayer technology and integrated resistors for active and passive trimming to defined resistance.  The company is certified to ISO 9001, EN ISO 13485 and ISO/TS 16949.

Dirk Schoenherr and Frank Hofstedt were busy explaining the different technologies and the products on show most of the time. Expertise and good explanations are the first step to new business. I am sure, they will get it.

Microdul AG, Zürich, Switzerland

Hybrids are just a part of Microdul, who are a manufacturer of fabless semiconductors. They manufacture ASICs and develop these together with their customers. Microdul is one of the few companies worldwide to offer CMOS mixed-signal arrays. They can be delivered as bare die, flips chips, chip scale packages and common SMD packages. With these delivery forms it becomes obvious, that they do have die and wire bonding capabilities and can package their products on FR4 modules as well as ceramic modules. Hybrids are manufactured in thick film technology. They as well use bare copper and steel for cooling purposes as a substrate base and form circuitry on top.

Micro Systems Engineering, Berg, Oberfranken, Bavaria and and Micro Systems Technologies, Baar, Switzerland

Micro SystemsOur member company MSE was on the show together with their Swiss parent company MST. I was welcomed by Mrs. Widmann and the President of sales and marketing of MST, Michael Fink. MST is a member of the Medical Cluster as well.

MSE, located in the north of Bavaria manufactures hybrids in thick film technology as well as low temperature C-fired ceramics (LTCC). Substrates can then be assembled with chip on board, flip chip, chip scale packages, MCM and all standard SMD components. Underfill and encapsulation is part of the assembly as well.

Newest technology development enables the production of SDBGAs using transfer molding technology in small and medium sized volumes. Design services can be handled for LTCC/HTCC, thick film products, organic substrates, direct bonded copper (DCB) and thin film technology.

 muRata Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Yes I know, they are not necessarily a hybrid manufacturer but a component manufacturer, still with their ceramic resonators (Ceralockand their ultra-small passive components (008004) such as multilayer ceramic capacitors they have a certain connection to hybrids. MuRata focused on wearable solutions for the medical industry on Medtec and displayed MEMS air pressure sensors, low profile flexible thermistors, optical sensors for heart rate monitoring, bluetooth smart modules with built-in antenna, µDC-DC converters on ferrite substrates and ultra-small RFID tags with LTCC technology.

Next come the PCB manufacturers, where I added the 3D-MID manufacturers as well, due to the fact, that the only European PCB companies on the show were our member Companies ILFA and Dyconex.

Dyconex AG, Bassersdorf, Switzerland, /dyconex

Dyconex is an MST Company which I covered before. They were part of the Swiss Pavilion, organized by the Medical Cluster. Dyconex is a good example that PCB manufacturing in Switzerland is still possible, even with the pressure of the exchange rate of the Swiss Franc. Dyconex manufactures PCBs in flexible & flexible rigidized, rigid-flex, and rigid designs as well as packaging substrates. Technologies include ultra-fine line technology with microvias, stacked and filled vias, LDI technology and sputtering processes. liquid cristal polymers are being used as well to manufacture multilayers and components can be embedded.

Ilfa GmbH, Feinstleiter Technlogy Hannover, Germany

IlfaThe first thing that was visible at the ILFA booth was the new corporate image, with the µ Logo next to the company name and the addition “Feinstleiter Technologie”, standing for ultrafine line technology. I met Sylvia Kleimann, Uwe Braun and Jörg Schrader at the Ilfa booth. In the past Ilfa has always been known for being innovative and they still have these systems on show that integrate micro cooling systems into the PCB (ILFACOOL and have edge metallization as well as ultrathin multilayers, boards with blind, buried and stacked vias, rigid flexible PCBs and impedance controlled boards.

But the new product, which was explained by Uwe Braun were boards with embedded components. Now, I do now, there was a PCB manufacturer in Karlsruhe (long time ago) who printed resistors on innerlayers and had laser trimming and lately we read about a famous PCB company in Schramberg, which integrates bare dies into multilayer PCBs. But at Ilfa I saw cross sections of Boards, where normal resistors and IC in dual inline packages are embedded into the PCB. Uwe must have seen the questionmark in my face, so he explained the problem to me. If you want to integrate bare ICs into the board, you need big quantities, otherwise you have difficulties to get bare dies. Ilfa and their customers are focused on small and medium quantities and so they looked at a different way to solve the problem. Congratulation Ilfa.

  Tekscan Inc. South Boston, USA,

According to the company brochure, tekscan is the world’s leading innovator and manufacturer of tactile pressure and force measurement sensors and systems. Well, what this got to do with PCBs? The FlexiForce force sensor is an ultra-thin flexible printed circuit. Basematerials are Polyester (for the standard force sensor) and Polyimide (for the high-temp. Model). Conductors are printed with a silverpaste followed by a layer of pressure-sensitive ink. A smart idea and one could think of ways how to integrate such a sensor into a hybrid or a PCB.

Flexible Circuit Technologies, Minneapolis MN, USA,

Flexible Circuit Technologies manufactures its product offerings of flexible and rigid-flexible circuits in three own factories in Shenzhen and Xiamen, China as well as Gyeonggi-do, Korea. They have an interesting statement on their homepage: “Home country and USA based flex manufacturers tend to be more expensive when supporting commercial applications. Asian based brokers attempting to serve abroad tend to offer far less control over manufacturing processes, quality systems, and lead times, while offering more risk.” Well, I need to think a little longer about this statement.

Harting AG Mitronics, Biel Switzerland

Most of you know Harting from their reliable connectors, but they have much more to offer. I today focus on their 3D-MID technology, which is being produced in Biel, Switzerland. They have two different ways of manufacturing 3D-MID; laser direct structuring and two component injection molding. It is impressive to see finished goods, especially if you know, that they are running in annual quantities of more than 600.000 pieces for the automotive industry. For this application in laser direct imaging a pitch of 300 µm is possible and the finished circuits are inspected with a Viscom S6056 MID system, which was specifically developed for MID circuitry from the S6056 platform. Solderpaste is applied with special dosing systems similar to the application for the glue to fix the components. The MID boards are then vapor phase soldered. Applications can be found in any industry sector today, where space or weight are considered to be a problem.

Cicor Management AG, Zurich, Switzerland,

Well, it is difficult where to list Cicor, as they are a PCB manufacturer, they are a 3D-MID manufacturer, they are a hybrid manufacturer, they are an EMS manufacturer and according to their brochure, they simplify this by calling themselves a solutions provider. It would take up too much space to list all of their competences here, so I limit it to list their factories, three in Switzerland, two in Germany one in Romania, and one each in China, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia. It is worthwhile having a look at their homepage. Before I forget to mention it: Cicor had an impressive implant for the retina of the eye on show.

Finally just having had this first EMS manufacturer on my list here, I finalize my report with the other EMS manufacturers who were on the show.

Bavaria Digital Technik GmbH, Pfronten, Bavaria

Bavaria Digital Technik is an EMS, focusing on medical electronics and the printing industry, offering solutions from single components, to electronic assemblies and complete systems. This medium sized company concentrates on medium sized customers for whom they are a reliable partner.

ECR AG, Rotkreuz, Switzerland,

ECR is a member of exceet group and specializes in networking solutions based on machine-to-machine (M2M) and IT security. As a specialist in industrialized development and manufacture of complex electronic components and systems ECR Electronics has focused on medical technology. A good example on show was a wearable device they manufacture for Biovotion AG, which constantly checks heart rate, blood oxygenation, skin temperature, skin blood perfusion and motion.

Exception EMS Ltd. Calne, Whiltshire, UK,

Exception is a larger contract electronics manufacturer, who manufactures time critical and small and medium sized quantities in the UK and has four manufacturing partners for large quantities in the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Thailand and China. The have EN 13485 approval for design, development and subcontract manufacture of active medical devices and an annual turnover of more than 20 Mil.£.

Friwo Gerätebau GmbH, Ostbevern, Germany,

FriwoI met Christian Hielscher, Business Development Manager Medical of Friwo at their booth. Friwo manufactures power supplies and special batteries and is known as the perfect system supplier for all kind of mobile power supply solutions. One might ask, power supplies, isn’t this typical cheap stuff coming from the Fareast? Well, after you listen to Christian, you know how important reliable power supplies are for markets where we talk about lives, about reliability and about quality. So far I thought, all power supplies are more or less equal, now I realize there are power supplies for medical equipment, open frame systems, hidden systems for in wall mounting, systems with interchangeable adapters, desktop systems, switchmode power supplies for lithium ion systems, for lithium ironphosphate systems, for nickel/cadmium systems, for nickel metalhydrate systems and for lead systems and they all comply with IEC 60950. On top comes a huge program of battery packs and additional adapters and supply material. Good job, Christian Hielscher.

Iftest AG, Wettingen, Switzerland,

IftestIftest has been focusing on the medical electronics market for long. I remember them exhibiting on medica in Dusseldorf long time ago already. They are a member of the Swiss technology network, Forum MedTech Pharma and Medical Cluster. Medical Cluster is a cluster of 1,450 Companies with 52,000 employees and an annual turnover of 11.6 bn € of which 8.7 bn € are exports, focusing on innovative high-tech solutions. The Medical Cluster was the organizer of the SWISS pavilion, where Iftest AG was exhibiting together with ECR AG, Harting AG Mitronics and Micro Systems Technologies AG.

I was welcomed by Werner Kunz Managing Director of sales and marketing of IFTEST AG. Iftest is not only an EMS provider but as well offers complete hardware and software development and thus is an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) as well. They offer new product introduction (NPI) and prototyping to their customers and are highly respected for this in the medical technology industry.

The Swiss Medical Cluster as well hosted a wine & cheese party on Wednesday after closure of the show. This event to only demonstrated Swiss hospitality but as well was a good venue for the Swiss exhibitors to explain, that Swiss cheese is not just Swiss cheese but is a headline only for all different kind of high quality cheeses manufactured in Switzerland, similar to Swiss electronics just being a headline of all different kind of high quality electronical products made in Switzerland.
Wine and cheeses

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  • Cicor Group

    Cicor is a globally active group of leading companies in the electronics industry. The group’s companies provide complete outsourcing services and a broad range of technologies for the manufacture of highly complex PCBs, 3D-MID solutions, hybrids circuits, electronic modules, plastic injection molding and box-building.

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