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BRUSSELS – The European organization charged with collecting and collating comments to the latest RoHS exemption list has scheduled a series of meetings to discuss the preliminary input with stakeholders.
 
Öko-Institut e.V. has signaled its intention to discuss the use of lead in high-melting-temperature type solders (i.e. lead-based alloys containing 85 % by weight or more lead); in solders for servers, storage and storage array systems, network infrastructure and telecommunication equipment; and in electronic ceramic parts (e.g., piezoelectronic devices). Cadmium is also up for discussion, as are seven other exemptions.
 
Not expected to be discussed is an exemption for lead in solders consisting of more than two elements for the connection between the pins and the package of microprocessors with a lead content of more than 80 % and less than 85 % by weight; lead in solders for electrically connecting semiconductor die and carriers within flip chip packages; or lead in finishes of fine-pitch components other than connectors with a pitch of 0.65 mm or less with NiFe lead frames and lead in finishes of fine pitch components other than connectors with a pitch of 0.65 mm or less with copper lead frames. It is unclear whether by foregoing discussion on those proposals the Institute is suggesting a fait accompli.

"The aim is to discuss these nine exemptions within five days," Öko spokeswoman Stéphanie Zangl said.
 
The organization has put online all non-confidential documents obtained during the consultation: http://rohs.exemptions.oeko.info/index.php?id=17.
 
The meetings will be held June 9-13, and is by invitation as the number of participants is limited, Zangl said.
BOXBORO, MA – If XRF is the best choice for detecting the presence or absence of RoHS-banned substances, why aren’t more companies using it?

That was one of the unavoidable questions during the Boston SMTA chapter meeting Tuesday, as several leading XRF suppliers explained their systems’ pros and cons and weighed the problems of the nearly two-dozen assemblers in attendance.
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EDINA, MNSMTA has issued a call for papers for SMTA China South (Aug. 26-28) and SMTA China North (Nov. 10-11).
 
These events will be held in conjunction with Nepcon South China and Bohai Electronics Week.
 
Topics to be covered include 01005 and chip-scale-package assembly; 3D SiP; challenges of PCB fabrication technology and surface finish; component supply integrity; cost reduction initiative; advanced low I/O packaging; flex circuit assembly; market trends in assembly manufacture; manufacturing engineering; materials and process characterization; Pb-free processes and product reliability; package on package; process control excellence; production and supply chain management; RoHS compliance and materials; risk-free rework/repairing, and inspection and failure analysis.
 
SMTA requests technical papers for the technology or vendor conferences. Papers are requested in both Chinese and English; Chinese presentations are recommended.
 
The deadline for abstracts for China South is May 15, and for China North, July 10.
 
Submit abstracts to peggy@smta.org.
SINGAPOREVenture Corp. reported sales of S$56.7 million ($42.1 million), down 20% from a year ago. The company's losses extended to S$20.7 million, down from a loss of S$16.2 million last year.

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EL SEGUNDO, CA – Worldwide hard disk drive unit shipments grew 18.9% last year, according to iSuppli Corp.
 
Annual HDD shipments crossed the half-billion-unit threshold for the first time, and revenue rose 4.6% year-over-year to $32.8 billion, says the research firm.
 
Beyond strong demand growth from notebook PCs and consumer electronics products, HDD makers benefited from a second-half cease-fire in the price war that had dictated market conditions over the past three years.
 
Although the price war continued to rage in the first half of the year, the second half brought a rebound and an appreciation of the value of HDDs. Pricing was supported by the arrival of high-capacity 1Tbyte HDDs, a key milestone in the face of technology challenges from NAND flash memory, says iSuppli.
 
Seagate Technology maintained its lead in the global HDD market, with its share of shipments rising to 34%, from 33.1% in 2006. The company shipped 175 million HDDs in 2007, up 22% year-over-year.
 
Second-ranked Western Digital shipped 113 million HDDs and increased its share to 22%, from 19.6%. The company benefited from its foray into the enterprise secondary storage market with its premium-priced RAID edition drives, says iSuppli.
 
No. 3 Hitachi Global Storage Technologies increased its share to 17.3%, from 16.1% in the prior year. Hitachi reversed its operating loss of $93 million in the fourth quarter of 2006 to achieve an operating profit of $95 million in the same period of 2007.
 
Despite the competitive threat posed by NAND-type flash memory in products ranging from MP3 players to notebook computers, the industry's strong performance in 2007 indicates HDD isn't ready to quit any time soon.
 
Still, the threat of NAND is going to haunt the industry in the coming years. Only cost reductions and the continued advancement in HDD technology, driven by profit-funded research and development activities, will keep the industry afloat, says the firm.  
HERNDON, VA – The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative has scheduled a workshop in Leuven, Belgium, to review work on its 2009 roadmap.
 
The all-day workshop will be held June 18 at IMEC. This workshop is one of three regional meetings; other workshops are scheduled in North America (May 14) and Asia (July 28).
 
A review of drafts of select roadmap chapters will give participants the opportunity to discuss key product sectors and technology and infrastructure areas, and to provide input to the roadmap.
 
Chapters to be covered include medical product sector; portable/consumer product sector; environmentally conscious electronics; solid-state illumination and photovoltaics; organic and printed electronics; board assembly; final assembly; interconnect substrates: organic and ceramic, and packaging.
 
The workshop fee of $300 is waived for iNEMI members and workshop speakers. 
 
The registration deadline for the European workshop is June 12. 
 
For more information, visit
http://www.inemi.org/cms/calendar/2009_RM_Euro08.html.
 
NEWARK, NYIEC Electronics Corp. received a $4.7 million order from one of its military and defense customers.
 
The customer, which the EMS company declined to name, may increase the award by an additional $3 million or more based on end-market demand.
 
Deliveries will commence toward the end of IEC’s fourth quarter, ending Sept. 30, and will continue throughout the first half of calendar year 2009.
SANTA CLARA, CA – EMS provider Hunter Technology has opened an additional design center in San Diego.
 
Opening the center will aid the company’s plan to provide PCB design and engineering services nationally through its subsidiary CADParts & Consulting, Hunter says.
 
Hunter plans to add additional service centers around the U.S. during the next few months. 
 
Present locations include Northern and Southern California, New Jersey, Colorado, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
 
Design services are available for CAD platforms of tools that include Altium, Cadence, Mentor and Zuken. Engineering services have been added, including original design, cost reduction engineering and mechanical design services.
SAN JOSE – North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.16 billion in orders in March and a book-to-bill ratio of 0.89, according to SEMI. Bookings are down 4% from February and about 18% year-over-year. Read more ...
SEVENOAKS, UK – GPS unit sales will hit $1 billion in 2012, according to tech analyst Future Horizons. Between 2007 and 2012, GPS unit sales will grow from 286 million to 938 million annually, a CAGR of 26.8%.
 
GPS chipset shipments are expected to rise 47% in 2008, with the handset and PDA segment showing the strongest growth at 55%. In 2009, the low cost, low power segment will show strong annual growth of 38.5%, says Future Horizons.
 
Upcoming applications, according to the research firm, will be mobile phone GPS applications such as local traffic and location information services.
 
The firm forecasts unit sales will continue to rise; however, chipset revenue will peak during this period as ASPs fall. GPS circuits eventually will become part of more complex radio accessory chips, including Bluetooth, NFC and Wi-Fi.
 
 
ST. LOUIS – For the third quarter of fiscal 2008, EMS firm LaBarge Inc. expects net sales of $75.4 million, up 27% year-over-year, beating previous guidance.
 
In March, the company projected net sales of $70 million to $72 million.
 
LaBarge reported first-half net sales of $126.2 million.
 
The company also updated fourth-quarter guidance, stating it expects sales and earnings to be comparable to this year’s preliminary third-quarter results, up substantially from the prior-year fourth quarter.
 
“Third-quarter results were better than we had previously anticipated due to some customers accelerating deliveries and broad-based strength in our end markets. That strength is continuing and we anticipate fourth-quarter results will be comparable to the preliminary third-quarter results announced today,” said Craig LaBarge, CEO and president.
 
Full third-quarter results will be announced May 1.
KOKOMO, IN – With cleaning on the up-tick due to more aggressive fluxes and greater concern over residues, a test method for localized extraction has been proposed to the IPC Ionic Conductivity/Ion Chromatography task group.
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