The Times They Are A Changing

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

– Robert Zimmerman

And how they are!

I have been spending a lot of time lately looking at our future. The future of the world and most pertinent to this column the future of our industry. And fasten your seat belts because second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, whether we like it or not, the industry is on the threshold of some mind-blowing, earth-shaking changes right now.

And I mean right now, so much so that they have already started!

Zero Footprint Fabrication Centers

Let’s start with the new PCB Fabrication centers. You can kiss your old shop goodbye. Never again will anyone design and build a shop the way they have been built for the past seventy years. The era of the environmentally friendly, zero footprint, zero emissions shop is here, right now. As we speak my friend and associate Alex Stepanski has designed or built one in New Hampshire, two in Massachusetts, one in Idaho and one in Texas and he is just getting started! 

Already companies are lining up at his door to be the next PCB company to take advantage of a Stepanski designed factory. Not to mention the fact that he is already selling environmentally friendly systems to retrofit existing shops. That age is here now and in the end is our legacy to leave for future generations.


Oh, and let’s not forget that these factories are fully automated as well, with custom made automation and AI controlled and maintained equipment. We’re not totally there but we are well on our way to completing “no touch” PCB fabrication.

Solderless PCBs and Assembly

Admittedly, it has taken way too long for the OCCAM process to mature, but we are well on our way now. The interest is growing as the realization of what life without solder will mean to our industry and to the world as well. But the time is now. As I have said before, for many PCB engineers the journey was too far to be acceptable. But now the world has caught up with the need, the DOD has caught up with the need, and the US sees the need as do countries and major corporations around the world. They are seeing the need and their demand for this product is growing exponentially.

Respect For The Workforce

Covid and its aftermath have taught us that we can no longer take our workforce for granted. Already companies are looking for and finding ways to engage their workers by showing them the meaning of the products they are making as well as showing them a solid career path to success in our industry. We have finally figured out that our young people want to do work that matters. They want to work in companies that are doing good work for the industry and for mankind as a whole. They like that we are building devices that save lives, devices that keep the peace and are making our lives in our world better and safer and more sustainable.

Global Citizenship

Look, our industry is global. And as Tom Friedman has pointed out again and again in his writings, countries that do commerce and trade together get to know each other and start working together. Whether we like it or not we have seen this happen with our partners in Europe and already in parts of Asia such as Taiwan, Thailand, India and of course Japan. And I believe that if we stop listening to our politicians and start seeing for ourselves we can do our part to make the world a better place. And the best place to start is with commerce. It is so much more difficult to hate someone you work with and know personally, than a faceless group of people that you have never met, don’t know personally and dislike because someone told you to. I know for some of you this is hard to understand but you’d better get on it because in the end this is the way things are heading.

These are not predictions. They are not representative of wishful thinking, these are happening right now, so we’d better get used to it. It’s only common sense.