// On Novio Tech Campus, the High Tech centre of the Nijmegen region, EPR creates the beating heart of electronics: printed circuit board assemblies.
“We love new lives. New lives create new opportunities. New lives are precious. We believe that every new life deserves the best start, driven by a reliable heart. That’s why we created the beating heart of electronics: PCBAs. Just to make sure that your product starts its life in the best possible way.”
EPR goes the extra mile in achieving a perfect heart. They guide products through their entire lifecycle and demand the utmost of themselves and their technology. For example, in the case of soldering a Ball Grid Array (BGA): a type of surface-mount packaging, a chip carrier, used for integrated circuits. BGAs are difficult to position because of the pieces of solder at the bottom of the BGA. These pieces are often so close together that it’s very difficult to solder the BGA without getting short.
“We wanted to be able to place and rework difficult BGAs. After a lot of research and testing, we can place BGAs mechanically with 0.16 mm space between the solder balls. By way of comparison, a nice, thick hair is 0.18 mm thick.”
An infinite lifecycle
EPR indirectly evolved from the electronics workshop of Philips, as a traditional manufacturing company. “We made PCBs with electronic components in accordance with the customer’s specifications. It was all pretty standard work.” That standard work changed a few years ago with the arrival of directors Patrick Kilkens and Joost van Lammeren. They had a clear vision of how EPR should operate. Together they guided EPR through a transition. EPR’s scope had broadened considerably. “We want to offer more added value and work alongside the customer throughout the entire lifecycle of the product.” It starts with designing the layout of the PCB, during which engineers of EPR and the customer cooperate closely. “By taking extra time with the customer, we avoid design faults that could cause problems in the manufacturing process later on.”
// People and companies here make really great things
Once a design has been perfected, it’s ready to be produced. EPR uses hypermodern equipment to produce prototypes and smaller series. To produce larger series of a product, EPR cooperates with their sister company Technologies Added in Emmen, a shared smart factory. “Thanks to our synergetic partnership with Added, Dutch high quality and full control of the production process are ensured.” Service is also offered at the end of a lifecycle. “For example, if a component is no longer available, our technicians will ensure that an alternative becomes available so that the customer can continue supplying his product. By offering this kind of support, we can guide a product through its full lifecycle.”
Beside PCBAs, EPR produces modules and systems, such as ultra-fast test systems for the semiconductor industry. “These systems contain lots of modules: we make them, integrate them into a single system and build a casing around them. All the customer needs to do is plug in the device.”
The thrill of a challenge
The new path taken by EPR has made their work more satisfying. “The full lifecycle service involves more challenges which our highly skilled people are eager to address. Like in the case of the BGAs. Placing BGAs on new boards is done by machine, but reworking is done by hand. When rework on a PCBA is required, it’s almost always a PCBA that’s completely finished. In order to replace a BGA, the print must be heated. Not all components can withstand the heat of the oven, leading to manual replacement of BGAs.”
// Pure craftsmanship that satisfies us and our customers
Replacement by hand creates challenges. “Complete PCBAs are often used for a while and are exposed to the outside world. As a result, the boards contain moisture. This moisture causes extension, so called lamination of the board when the board is heated in order to replace the BGA.” One of EPR’s employees felt it should be possible to rework BGAs by hand and came up with an innovative solution. “Thanks to this solution, we can now rework BGAs up to 0.21 mm by hand. Pure craftsmanship that satisfies us and our customers.”
// Proud of working on the campus
EPR was the first to build their own premises on Novio Tech Campus, a challenging but successful move. “The people and companies here make great things and are passionate about what they do. They inspire us to go even further.” EPR believes that Novio Tech Campus will continue to expand in the coming years. “Innovation, ambition and passion attract people and companies. Knowledge is everywhere at Novio Tech Campus: substances that can kill cancer cells, anti-malaria agents, a flexible sensor in the lower eyelid that continually measures glucose, 5G and many other intriguing discoveries. It’s a privilege to be in the field with these players. Let’s build a better future together.”