As electronics play an increasingly important role in automotive manufacturing, tremendous change and great progress have been made worldwide. We are at the crossroads of incredible technological advancements, and it’s been exhilarating to watch. I am eager to see what happens next.
Did you know that your car is likely the most technologically advanced device you own? It seems weird to refer to a car as a device, but modern automobiles have more chips and circuit boards than your average home internet appliance.
Printed circuit boards play a vital role in the performance and reliability of many critical systems. Most of today’s cars have between 30 and 80 separate electronic controllers.
We are seeing changes in many different areas of technology related to automotive electronics and I’d like to cover three in more detail: artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and additive manufacturing.
Artificial intelligence, computers and computer software capable of intelligent behavior, is moving ahead at a rapid pace. Today, we have driverless cars that can navigate traffic on their own. According to Gartner Reports, autonomous vehicles will comprise 25% of the market by 2030. It is suggested that AI will improve the auto manufacturing sector in several ways, among them: less equipment failure, more productive employees through robot-human collaboration, and fewer quality problems.
Augmented reality (AR) adds texture and information to the world we already live in, providing a deeper learning experience by integrating digital information in a real-time environment. For the automotive industry, AR will likely be instrumental in future advancements. Volvo uses Microsoft’s HoloLens, a type of AR glasses, that enables production line workers to view assembly instructions digitally in real-time while working to put together parts of the vehicle.
For consumers, Volkswagen recently launched an app for its luxury brand Audi that allows car shoppers to experience an AR-based test drive without being close to the automobile.
Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is also something that has come a long way in the past several years. Additive manufacturing enables the production of components more quickly, and it shortens the design process by digitally changing part of the model. It allows changes to be made more quickly than traditionally.
Components that can be produced with additive manufacturing in automotive applications include exhaust and emissions, fluid handling systems, and exterior parts such as bumpers. Additive manufacturing is expected to be used in the very near future on interiors and seating, tires and suspension, electronics, framework and doors and engine components.
With all this rapid change, what can we do to move forward? IPC is involved in creating standards for the automotive industry and has found the advances in electrical systems in car manufacturing a natural growth industry for electronics manufacturing.
Two years ago, IPC developed its first automotive addendum, IPC-6012DA, Automotive Applications Addendum to IPC-6012D Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid Printed Boards. The addendum addresses the reliability of rigid printed boards which must survive the vibration and thermal cycling environments of electronic interconnects within the automotive industry.
Under development are additional automotive addendums for the following IPC standards: IPC-A-610, Acceptability of Electronic Assemblies; IPC J-STD-001, Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies; and IPC/WHMA-A-620, Requirements and Acceptance for Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies.
We encourage you to join us in standards development activities to ensure the needs you face in this ever-changing and rapidly advancing industry are met. We welcome your input and expertise as we all embrace the future of automotive electronics.
John Mitchell is president and CEO of IPC−Association Connecting Electronics Industries. To read past columns or to contact Mitchell, click here.
This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.