ALR offer special deals for pcbs this Summer

May 18, 2008
The welcome the arrival of the Summer, pcb broker ALR Services is offering a refreshing treat to its customers in the shape of a £25 voucher for every order placed in May and June, redeemable against orders placed between 1st of June and 31st August.

ALR Services Ltd. is one of the largest and longest-serving printed circuit board suppliers in Europe, providing  a wide range of circuit board technologies sourced from both UK and off-shore pcb manufacturers. Over the last 14 years, the Oxfordshire-based firm has built a loyal customer base through its dedication to customer service, competitive pricing and exhaustive knowledge of all things pcb.

The company recently expanded its flexible stockholding facilities with the addition of another 185m² of environmentally-controlled warehouse space. ALR Services operates several fulfilment schemes to enable customers to take advantage of bulk purchase pricing while spreading the cost across an extended period of up to six months. A customer’s pcbs are held in ALR’s warehouse until required, and are only invoiced on delivery. By shortening the period between income and expenditure, ALR’s customers are able to achieve far better control of their cash flow.

Having grown from modest roots itself, ALR is keenly aware of the importance of helping its customers stay competitive. The high percentage of repeat business enjoyed by the company gives some measure of their success in achieving that aim.

Jo Saltman, ALR’s sales manager, said, “The success of ALR has been built on the loyalty of our customers, and that’s something that is genuinely appreciated. We hope our Summer Special offer will go someway to demonstrating that appreciation.”

More details on ALR’s Summer Special deal, along with the terms and conditions of the offer, can be found at http://www.alrpcbs.co.uk

 

 


Japanese team opens the way for printed flat panel displays

March 27, 2008

Flat-panel computer displays could be manufactured quickly and cheaply using novel inkjet printing equipment demonstrated by Japanese scientists.

The technique has already been used to produce the delicate wiring and tiny components needed for flexible screens. The new inkjet head is able to produce drops 1,000 times smaller than standard printers, according to the researchers. Writing in the journal PNAS, the team say the technique also improves the performance of printed circuits. “The present work demonstrates the feasibility of employing inkjet technology… for electronic device applications,” the University of Tokyo team write in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This technique can be applied for patterning high-purity electrically functional materials without preparing original patterning masks,” the researchers write. They were able to create finer details by applying a high voltage to the print head, causing drops in the inkjet to explode into one micron droplets. Using ink made of silver nanoparticles held in a solvent, the researchers printed continuous lines two microns wide and components just one micron across. Although these are large by current microprocessor standards – which can have features measured in nanometres (billionths of a metre) – the researchers believe it is good enough for use in TFT screens.

From InAVate Magazine


Interactive multi-touch displays point the way to the future

March 11, 2008

We’ve written before on Talkback about new kinds of HMIs which may well change the way we interact with technology in the future. Previously, we’ve blogged about LucidTouch, a system developed jointly by Mitsubishi Electric and Microsoft.  Another very interesting technology being worked on at the moment by Microsoft is called Touchlight. Like LucidTouch, Touchlight acts as a multi-point touch interface allowing sophisticated and intuitive manipulation of on-screen data. However its underlying technology is fundementally different, allowing it to go well beyond what LucidTouch can do. If you’ve ever seen Minority Report, you’ll have a pretty good idea about how this technology can be employed. It’s still early days, but it is – for the want of a better word – a very cool technology.

TouchLight is comprised of an imaging touch screen and holographic projection surface, and uses a stereo pair of video cameras to allow it to interpret gesture-based interaction.[1] Developed by Microsoft Research employee Andrew D. Wilson, Touchlight was first announced in 2005, and since 2006 has been licensed to Eon Reality. [3]

The TouchLight system can both record input from its video cameras and project data simultaneously. Its 3D capabilities allow it to be used as intuitively as a mirror – holding an object like a document close to the screen surface allows a high-resolution image to be captured, which can then be directly manipulated on the same screen. See it in action here  The screen also has a built-in microphone which can detect the user tapping on the surface, thus allowing “click” type interactions through the same interface.

It’s still early days for Touchlight, but some interesting applications have already been mooted, such as in telepresence systems. Virtual meetings which allow delegates to not only see and here each other in psuedo 3D, but swap documents and virtual objects in real time would be just about the coolest technology imaginable. This is one technology that we’ll be following closely.


Hyundai Motor applies in-car dual display monitor to Grandeur

February 26, 2008

Hyundai announce dual-view dashboard LCD monitor

Hyundai Motor announced that it completed the development of its in-dash dual LCD monitor which can display two different pictures simultaneously based on one the viewer angle. This means the driver can see the navigation while at the same time the passenger watches a DVD movie. According to the company, the newly developed monitor will be applied to Grandeur.

By Grace Won 2008-02-20
Via AVING


Southern Electronics sets new visitor record

February 25, 2008

Southern Electronics 2008Southern Electronics 200825 February 2008

Statistics released today show the Southern Electronics show (February 6th-7th 2008, FIVE, Farnborough) proved a resounding hit with those involved in electronics, component sourcing or electronic assembly. Nearly 4,400 industry professionals visited Farnborough over the two-day event – a significant increase over previous years. Visitor interest in areas related to production and quality rose dramatically, with increases of over 120% in some areas.

The relocation to FIVE, Farnborough, with its improved facilities and 25% increase in exhibition space, allowed more companies than ever to take part in the show. Virtually every aspect of electronics manufacture and sub-contracting was well represented, drawing an enthusiastic response from exhibitors and visitors alike.

Robert Crosby-Clarke, UK sales manager of Electrolube, said “After visiting the Southern Electronics show last year and seeing how it had expanded, we thought we would give it a go. The show was very busy and there was considerable interest in our range. We have already taken the decision to exhibit again next year.” 

Detailed statistics from the show reveal significant growth in the electronics-related interests of visitors such as electronic assembly, components and adhesives. Small companies of between 1 and 20 employees remained the largest single group of visitors at around 20%, but there was also an increase in visitors from businesses of between 51 and 200 employees, to around 14%, indicating increasing interest being shown in regional events by medium sized enterprises. But the largest increase was in visitor interest in goods and services related to production and quality. The percentage of visitors interested in Assembly Systems, Automation, Industrial Computing, Inspection Systems and Manufacturing Software more than doubled on 2007 figures. The statistics provide objective evidence reflecting the upbeat mood of the event, and shows that the business sentiment for electronics SMEs is far from pessimistic.

Southern Electronics is just one of a number of regional industrial events run by European Trade & Exhibition Services around the UK and Eire. Managing director, Phil Valentine, believes that, while support for national trade exhibitions is waning, interest in regional events is stronger than ever. “The trend in society as a whole is towards the local sourcing of suppliers and services. What we are doing with our regional shows is essentially just the same: We provide a unique and cost-effective way for companies to market their goods and services right on the doorstep of their prospective customers. The growth in visitor numbers this year indicates that people are increasingly in favour of highly-focussed regional events rather than committing precious time and resources to visiting or exhibiting at national trade shows.” 

The next regional exhibition in the calendar, Midlands Manufacturing Technology, opens its doors at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, on March 18th and 19th. Many of the companies participating in the Southern shows will also be at the Midlands event, making it a great opportunity to catch-up with the very latest components, technologies and services. Entry to the show and its popular seminar programme is free, and there is plentiful parking on site. Ricoh Stadium is just 4 miles north of Coventry City centre and enjoys excellent access by road and rail, and by air via Coventry Executive and Birmingham International Airports. For more information, call 01784 880890 or visit http://www.industry.co.uk/midlands


Mitsubishi uses multiple cameras to enhance HD video

February 24, 2008

Mitsubishi Electric has reportedly developed an innovative technique, which increases the resolution of HD video, by combining shots from multiple cameras into one super HD stream. According to some reports, Mitsubishi is believed to be currently testing the technology at its research facility in Tokyo, using five video cameras capable of shooting high-quality images.These are linked to computers with 3D graphics processors, which process the raw data. The camera images are analysed for differences and the input is mashed together to form a composite video, giving a substantially higher resolution. Using five cameras and five PCs in this way produces video with four times the resolution of normal HD TV and it takes just 0.15 seconds to process and deliver the data.

Sources at Mitsubishi allegedly claim the new system delivers video of as high a quality as that produced by commercial digital cinema. The technology could be used in surveillance systems and possibly in live TV broadcasts.

Original story – http://www.techradar.com/news/home-cinema/high-definition/cameras-combine-to-create-super-hd-tv-244678


Sony invests in OLEDs, sees Blu-ray prevail

February 22, 2008
Sony is to invest more than $200 million to develop OLED displays, while nitride-based laser production could get a boost from Blu-ray’s success against HD-DVD.
Sony Corporation has unveiled plans to invest approximately 22 billion yen (about $203 million) to strengthen middle and large size OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panel production technology. With this investment, Sony says it intends to accelerate the shift to middle and large size, high-image-quality OLED panels.Sony began researching OLED technology in 1994, and has since positioned OLED as a future next-generation display technology. In December 2007, Sony launched the world’s first OLED TV, “XEL-1” in Japan, incorporating Sony’s proprietary “Organic Panel” to realize extreme thinness and superb image quality through a high contrast ratio, high peak brightness, accurate color reproduction and rapid response time (see Sony begins selling world’s first OLED TV).

In order to advance the shift towards middle and large size, high image quality OLED panels, Sony has decided to invest from the second half of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009 towards the further development of production technologies.

Sony will reinforce its TFT (thin film transistor) and EL (electroluminescent) layer coating processing facilities at Sony Mobile Display Corporation’s Higashiura factory, and plans to implement this production technology during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010.

Sony says that it plans to continue to advance the development of OLED panels, positioning the OLED panel as a new device capable of expanding the future potential of televisions and other AV products.

A recent report from Frost & Sullivan estimated that the OLED display market earned revenues of $475.0 million in 2006, and that this will increase to $1.4 billion in 2013.

Blu-ray prevails in DVD format war

Sony’s Blu-ray Disc high-definition format has finally prevailed as the replacement for DVD after Toshiba announced that it would discontinue production of rival HD-DVD products.

Both formats use violet semiconductor lasers manufactured using the same indium gallium nitride (InGaN) material system that is used to make blue, green and white (phosphor-converted) LEDs.

Violet lasers were developed by Nichia, the world’s largest LED maker. However, most of the lasers used by Sony in its Blu-ray players, including the PlayStation 3 games console, are manufactured by Sony, which has a licensing agreement with Nichia.

From LEDs Magazine


New Mitsubishi product range benefits display integrators

February 20, 2008

Mitsubishi Electric has significantly expanded its offering to Systems Integrators with the launch of the brand-new new 3000 series Display Wall sub-system at ISE 2008. The perfect complement to its market-leading range of DLP projection cubes, the new family of modular display wall processors enables integrators to create very sophisticated display systems quickly and easily, without having to worry about compatibility or interfacing issues. Using the new sub-system, commissioning costs and project timescales can be drastically reduced without compromising performance, reliability or sophistication.

The hardware element of the new system consists of the VC-X3000 Display Wall processor and the VC-MK3000 synchronous graphics insertion processor. Both units can be used as standalone processors or in combination to create a powerful hybrid system capable of handling synchronous live video, DVI-I/VGA and data inputs in real time. The processing sub-system is complemented by the new D-Wall software suite, which brings together processing and hardware control into a single integrated environment, and allows extremely sophisticated display systems to be created virtually straight from the box.

The X3000 Display Wall Processor is a high-performance display wall processor designed for demanding control room or large-scale visualisation applications. A standard chassis is capable of routing 48 video inputs and 12 DVI/VGA inputs across 24 different outputs. The system is expandable up to 128 video inputs, 62 DVI/VGA input capture channel and 64 output channels via optional expansion modules. The X3000 can also accept multiple network inputs and is capable of servicing multiple client control stations and applications simultaneously. The D-Wall software provides separate colour-coded mouse cursors that allow up to ten operators to interact with applications on the display wall. Like all Mitsubishi hardware, build quality and reliability are of paramount importance. Based on a Intel™ Xeon dual core processor, the standard chassis comes with 1GB of RAM and 80GB HDD with hot-swappable backup, both of which are expandable. Redundant PSU, fans and RAID disk controller help ensure 24/7 reliability in critical control room applications.

The VC-MK3000 graphics insertion processor provides real-time, synchronous overlay of video and DVI-I/VGA sources and is designed for high-performance applications such as control rooms and C3i facilities. Sync in/out and gen-lock also make it ideal for TV studio applications. 9.6 GB input bandwidth is shared between 32 video or DVI-I inputs, allocated at 0.3 GB per channel. 16 user-configurable outputs provide a flexible combination of overlays and screens. Auxiliary base layer inputs enable additional software applications to share the VC-MK3000 desktop for maximum flexibility. Up to 10 VC-MK3000s can be cascaded together to provide hundreds of input sources.

Mitsubishi’s new D-Wall software suite unifies X3000 and MK3000 processors in a single, powerful control architecture spanning both applications and display hardware. D-Wall allows direct control of display wall settings such as brightness and lamp modes, as well monitoring parameters such as lamp hours. The software automatically warns operators via email should a hardware alert condition arise. Using D-Wall, complex wall layouts can be created easily by simply dragging and dropping inputs from whichever X3000 and MK3000 processors are attached to the system – either singly or in combination. Layouts can then be saved for instant recall. This intuitive software environment significantly speeds-up the commissioning process by making the physical integration of different sources completely transparent to the operator. The unified software environment also allows total flexibility to upgrade or modify the physical layer to meet future demands on the system. D-Wall can be used with a standard touch panel control to simplify the operation of complex display wall systems and reduce the chances of operator error. D-Wall can also respond to system events by switching to pre-programmed display layouts which automatically give prominence to the window generating the alert message, thereby reducing the risk of an alert going unnoticed.

Mitsubishi Electric’s new display wall sub-system underlines the company’s commitment to System Integrators. With the launch of this significant new range of products, Mitsubishi continues to place the highly-valued relationships it enjoys with its Systems Integrator partners at the heart of its strategy for professional display products.


The true cost of counterfeit

January 26, 2008

The problem of component counterfeiting is an increasingly serious and complex  issue, and one which affects virtually every manufacturer or assembler of electronic equipment.

The commercial pressures of international competition and increasingly tough legislative environments have created a fertile environment for the unscrupulous to profit at the expense of legitimate business. Far from being a “victimless crime”, the cost  – both human and commercial – of counterfeiting can be devastating. With so many companies now sourcing on the international market, counterfeiting is an issue that nobody can ignore. Companies need to be aware of the problem and the steps that can be taken to avoid falling victim.

Worldwide, it is estimated that counterfeit goods account for between 5% and 7% of all world trade, worth a colossal $450-$500 billion a year. While fake clothing, consumer durables and automotive components account for a large part of that, counterfeit electronic components are a significant and growing proportion of the total.  An estimated 10% of all technology products sold worldwide now contain fake components. That equates to a staggering $100 billion annually. The cost to industry in terms of product failures, loss of reputation or litigation is potentially much more.

The origins of the majority of these forged and counterfeit components lie in South Asia and the Far East. The EU imports €10.6 billion of goods every year from China alone – mainly computers, electronic components, mobile phones & cameras. While the vast majority of trade is entirely legitimate, with such volumes even a few percent of counterfeiting represents a significant quantity of substandard components arriving into the EEA every year.

In contrast to fake designer clothing or consumer goods, counterfeit components used in electronic sub-assemblies are often very difficult to spot. Today’s counterfeiters have become very adept at producing convincing forgeries and have developed sophisticated techniques for introducing them into the legitimate supply chain. Given the difficulties of enforcing contracts and international intellectual property rights legislation in China and India, the unscrupulous agent or manufacturer has very little to lose from being caught, and everything to gain. The complex ways in which components and sub-assemblies are traded and sourced can work to the advantage of forgers, enabling them to hide their tracks behind a complex series of transactions. The international outsourcing of procurement means that components can often pass through the hands of several procurement agents before delivery; agents that in some cases actually “own” the components for a matter of minutes before selling them on.

The problem is compounded by the number of ways that components can be faked and the sophisticated ways in which unscrupulous suppliers introduce them into the market. Deliberate forgeries are perhaps the most obvious way in which companies can fall victim to the counterfeiters. Bearing a recognised makers name and trademark, an encapsulated component may look – superficially – very convincing. Often, the forged component may even perform to specification, at least initially. Internally, of course, it is a very different matter: Sub-standard materials and production techniques, and lax quality control mean components that can fail suddenly with potentially disastrous consequences.

The remarking of components is more difficult to spot. In this case, genuine components will have their markings modified to denote a component of a higher specification from the same manufacturer. For example, a faster processor or greater memory capacity. In the post RoHS world, remarking can also be one way that non-compliant components can be passed off as legitimate. The unexpected discovery of non-compliant components could easily spell disaster for an equipment manufacturer or sub-contractor, even if no actual failures occur in service. Even without re-marking, non-compliance at component level is very difficult to spot without costly and thorough analysis by specialist companies.

The passing-off of recycled components as new is also a growing trend. Low labour costs coupled with the legislative requirements for the disposal of hazardous waste means that the shipping of obsolete equipment to China and India for disposal and recycling is an increasingly profitable enterprise. In a few cases, parts salvaged in this way can sometimes find their way back into the market as new parts. Although genuine, components are stressed during the salvage process and are often at the end of their useful lives anyway resulting in short-lived and unpredictable performance.

Sourcing only from reputable suppliers is an obvious way in which companies can protect themselves from forged components. But in an increasingly competitive world, the temptation to look to the so-called grey-market for components may well prove an overwhelming one for hard-pressed businesses. But in doing so, companies expose themselves to risk.

Some manufacturers operate a scrap allowance scheme, by which they pay distributors to scrap overstocked inventory. However as this scrapping process is itself often outsourced, these components may well find their way back onto the grey market rather than being destroyed. Although genuine, as far as the manufacturer is concerned they do not exist and so will not be covered by any guarantee.

Even by dealing only with authorised suppliers does not necessarily ensure fake-free components. If an authorised supplier operates a returns policy, this may provide the means for fake components to enter the legitimate supply chain. For example, if a company sources components through both authorised and grey market sources, it is entirely possible that “fakes” from the grey market sources can end up getting mixed in, either deliberately or unwittingly, with genuine returned components. Once a batch of genuine components is contaminated in this way, the fakes become almost impossible to spot.

In combating the menace of component counterfeiting, the best defence that businesses have is to arm themselves with knowledge. For the first time, the subject of component counterfeiting will be addressed at Southern Electronics 2008 (February 6th-7th, Farnborough) as part of the free seminar programme. Hosted by Bob Willis of the SMART group, the presentation on February 6th will take a detailed look at the problem of forged and counterfeit components together with the practical measures businesses can take to ensure they do not fall victim to this pernicious trade.  

 


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CES NEWS: Mitsubishi goes for lasers in the big-screen race

January 26, 2008

Jan 08, 2008

mitsu laser 2006 scaled 

Having already shown concept models of its laser TVs (left) at an earlier CES, Mitsubishi came to this year’s show with working versions, designed to show the superiority of the technology for large screens.

The company is claiming the system gives ‘as much as twice as much colour’ as conventional HD TVs, along with ‘ the most clarity and depth of field.’

Mitsubishi claims that current HD TVs display less than 40% of the colour spectrum the eye can see, but the precise focus and purity of laser illumination doubles that figure. What’s more, the TVs do this while reducing power consumption, as they are more efficient than similarly-sized conventional flatscreen TVs.

Also on display by Mitsubishi was 3D TV, which the company sees as the next big step for home entertainment. Using a 73in 1080P DLP Diamond Series rear projection model, the company partnered with 3D content provider REAL D to make its case.

The claim is that only DLP sets such as this are capable of displaying this 3D material, thanks to their superior response times, unmatched by plasma or LCD rivals.

All the Diamond Series 1080P DLP models are 3D-Ready, and the company expects there to be over a million 3D-Ready HD TVs in use in the States before the end of this year.

From What Hifi Sound & Vision