ICT Chairman’s Report 2019

This AGM will be my last as ICT Chairman. I took over from Martin Goosey back in 2015 and as I read my report for that year, I notice that the ICT membership was around 350. It’s very pleasing therefore to report that 5 years later the numbers are just over 400. When the challenges that have faced our industry over the last 5 years are considered (not least of all the uncertainty over Brexit) it is remarkable that we have been able to not only maintain a strong membership base but also show reasonable growth. I think this demonstrates that the ICT is esteemed and remains relevant to the UK PCB industry.

The ICT’s Annual Foundation Course was again held at Chester University with 27 students and included a tour of Merlin Circuits manufacturing facility. The fact that the foundation course continues to attract good numbers of delegates each year suggests that the foundation course is valued by the PCB industry and shows that new starters continue to be attracted to the industry. On behalf of the ICT I would like to thank all the course lecturers who give up their time completely free of charge and Merlin Circuits for giving such an excellent tour. I would also like to thank Bill Wilkie for the organisation of the course, ensuirng its smooth running and entertaining the delegates. Bill was not in the best of health at the start of 2019 and so his efforts in ensuring the Foundation Course was up to its usual standard was exceptional.

This year marked the passing of Bruce Routledge who had instigated the ICT Journal and been the driving force behind it for many years. Even in the last few years when Bruce had struggled with poor health, he made an enormous effort to ensure the Journal still came out. Without Bruce’s drive there was a chance that we might lose the Journal but I’m pleased to report that Lynn Houghton has stepped up to the plate and has taken on the role of Editor. This has enabled the ICT to publish Volume 12 of the Journal in November 2019. Thanks also go to Pete Starkey and Richard Wood-Roe, who have continued to provide additional editorial and proof reading support. As always, in this report, I would also appeal to our members to send us your papers, articles, news and other relevant material to ensure the Journal has plenty of interesting content.

The number of research projects that the ICT has collaborated with has dropped in recent times and so I’m very pleased that we have become a partner in the ReCOLLECT project. Funded by Innovate UK this project aims to develop and demonstrate commercially viable approaches to the manufacturing of PCBs from Soluboard. The aim is to produce fully-recyclable substrates that meet the requirements of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association’s (NEMA’s) “FR-4” specification relating to the physical, mechanical, electrical, thermal and fire properties of PCBs and that can be manufactured using a production process that is scalable to market demands (>100,000 m² per year when fully industrialised post-project). JIVA (the project lead company) has already developed and demonstrated proof-of-concept laminates and now requires suitable manufacturing technologies to commercialise the material. The other project partner, Coventive has a range of novel manufacturing solutions for natural fibre-reinforced thermoplastics and is seeking market applications for these. The partners have an opportunity to be the first to market with this proprietary and disruptive technology that has the potential to significantly improve the recycling of waste electrical goods. The ICT’s role in this project will be to disseminate the project results and raise awareness of the project within the PCB industry.

The ICT website (www.instct.org) provides a number of valuable resources to our members including access to all the ICT journals as well as presentations given at our seminars and annual symposiums. The public section includes reports on seminars and symposia dating back to 2002 and acts as a valuable repository of information on trends and innovation in PCB technology since this date. The website is supported by a number of sponsors whose logo is linked to an article about their company with a further link to their own company web site and we are very grateful to these sponsors. I must thank Richard Woodroe who does a magnificent job in maintaining the site and Pete Starkey for his seminar reports.

The evening seminar series were again very successful this year with good numbers attending the 3 evening seminars at the Woodland Grange, Leamington Spa (38), Meriden (34) and Harrogate (39). The Annual Symposium was at the Black Country Museum and attracted 41 delegates. I would like to thank all those who gave talks at these events and to the companies who sponsored them. Once again, I’d also like to thank Bill Wilkie for his tireless efforts in booking venues, advertising the events and organisation without which these events simply would not take place.

As my time as ICT Chairman draws to a close I would again like to offer my thanks to all who served on the ICT Council during 2019 and indeed over the 5 years I’ve been in this position. A particular mention must go to Chris Wall whose role as Treasurer is perhaps not recognised about as much as it should be. Chris does an excellent job, year on year, in managing the ICT’s accounts and I would like to thank him personally and on behalf of the whole ICT for his great work. The fact that the Institute continues be successful is, in no small part, due to the hard work of each of the Council members, who donate their services and time to the Institute, often working unseen to bring our members the range of benefits and activities that we now provide. It has been a privilege and an honour to serve as the ICT’s Chairman and I look forward to supporting whoever becomes our new Chairperson. I will now return to the ICT council and continue to support the organisation as best I can.

Andrew Cobley

ICT Chairman

January 2020

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