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APEX and ATX West

Product Preview VOLUME 29 - NUMBER 12

New Products Fuel Cell Infrastructure Improving This Month's By Walter Salm

Sacramento, CA — Fuel cell powered automobiles are very hungry for hy- drogen and a badly needed infrastruc- ture is being put in place in fits and starts. With nine operational hydro-

gen filling stations, California has more such installations than any oth- er state in the U.S. And it is home to more hydrogen powered fuel cell auto- mobiles than any other state. A drop in the bucket? Sure, but many more

are on the way, and the state man- dates that all of them must be sourc- ing at least 33 percent of their hydro- gen from renewable energy sources. Hydrogen is the most plentiful

Color-coded safety switch cov- ers from APEM appear in this month's New Products Sec- tion, starting on . . .

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Customized EMS at Reliable


Just north of New York City, Reliable Electronics provides highly customized electronic manufacturing services, in- cluding building elec tromech - anical assemblies; mixed- technology PCB assemblies, SMT, cable, wire harness, and box build assemblies.

Page 18

This Month's Focus: Test and


Testing MIL systems calls for measurement instruments that can reconstruct the sig- nal and operating conditions faced in the field; how indus- trial connectors outperform direct hard wir ing; combin- ing 2D and 3D AOI inspec- tion; AOI inspection of fabri- cated LED assemblies.

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Driver fuels a Mercedes-Benz F-Cell, a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, at a public hydrogen pumping station in California.

Streamlining Solar Thin-Film CIGS Plant

By Jim McMahon

decline of price levels in the world- wide solar module market has forced manufacturers to re-engineer pro- duction processes and streamline their operations to stay competitive. The most promising of the thin-


film PV materials in the industry is CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Se- lenide), which has demonstrated lab efficiencies on par with traditional crystalline silicon technologies while having the potential to substantially

espite photovoltaics (PV) be- ing one the fastest-growing energy technologies, the sharp

reduce costs. CIGS has also shown potential for higher energy yield re- sponse to cloudy and diffuse light cir- cumstances. In the lab, CIGS has achieved performance levels of 20.1 percent efficiency, as reported by ZSW of Stuttgart and verified by Fraunhofer ISE.

Highly Automated Thin-film PV manufacturers to-

day require highly-automated sys- tems to arrive at the cost efficiencies needed to compete on the world mar- ket. Thin-film PV manufacturing processes must provide continuous high-speed throughput while main- taining zero defect rates, and be ca- pable of shifting production volumes quickly with minimal set-up times. One manufacturer of CIGS

modules that has streamlined its manufacturing process and success- fully weathered the market shift is HelioVolt Corporation, based in Austin, Texas. HelioVolt has devel- oped a proprietary advanced manu-

Continued on page 6

element on Planet Earth, but it usual- ly exists in compounds and must be extracted to be used. While some fuel cells are designed to run on hydrocar- bons such as methane gas, such fuel cells result in “dirty” exhaust, consist- ing of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, thereby producing a notice- ble carbon footprint. Pure hydrogen- powered fuel cells on the other hand, combine hydrogen with oxygen to cre- ate free electrons, as well as a very be- nign byproduct called water vapor. Getting that hydrogen using Lavoisi- er’s classic electrolysis process, re- quires electricity, which in most cases, means a carbon footprint at the elec- tric power plant. But a fully self-con- tained hydrogen filling station will in- stead have a roof covered with solar cells to provide the needed electricity, pumping the separated hydrogen into a pressurized storage tank. The raw material: ordinary tap water. If all of a filling station’s hydro-

gen comes from solar and/or wind power, it is deemed 100 percent re- newable sourcing, and two California

Continued on page 8

IPC Study Forecasts Moderate PCB Growth Through 2017

Bannockburn, IL — The North Amer- ican printed circuit board (PCB) mar- ket saw a moderate decline in 2013, but moderate growth is forecast through 2017, according to IPC’s 2013-2014 Analysis and Forecast for the PCB Industry in North America. Other key findings include data

showing that on-shore PCB produc- tion increased slightly in 2013, de- spite the slight decline in the market. Among PCB product types, HDI/mi- crovia boards experienced the high- est growth rate in 2013. Data on ver- tical markets for PCBs show that communications and military/aero- space are the two largest PCB mar- kets in North America, and taken to- gether accounted for approximately 57 percent of the North American


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