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One of the best parts of industry conferences and shows is the opportunity to meet new people and renew acquaintances. Another highly enjoyable part is learning what is going on within companies—especially those with which one has had a close association in the past. Such was the case with Lenora Clark of MacDermid Enthone, whom I first met last year at the SMTA International conference and talked with again at this year’s recent event.
Patty Goldman: Lenora, it’s always nice to meet with you at these conferences. Tell me, what's new at MacDermid Enthone?
Lenora Clark: We're especially excited this year because this is the first time that our new organization, MacDermid Enthone, is at SMTAI. MacDermid Enthone Electronics Solutions is a business within MacDermid Performance Solutions, which was formed from the integration of three companies: MacDermid, Alent, and a portion of the former OM Group.
Goldman: Which was Electrochemicals at one time.
Clark: Right, Electrochemicals was a part of the former OM Group. It's been a learning experience being in an organization that is bringing together these businesses this year. There's a lot of logistics involved in that, but from a technical aspect it's been wonderful. There have been several success stories where, let’s say, MacDermid was on a path of development and wasn't 100% successful, and, perhaps, Enthone was working on the same project and not yet successful, but together we've been able to create new products and new product lines. So from a technical standpoint, it's been exciting.
One of the other things that I’m excited about is that we have such a comprehensive portfolio now. We’re involved in the entire interconnection supply chain from start to finish, starting at the wafer level. We have chemistries for that technology, moving up through IC substrates, of course conventional printed circuit boards, which we've been known for a long time, connector finishing, and then through assembly materials. And the portfolio even extends to newer markets, such as molded interconnect devices. We're excited to be able to offer a full portfolio to our customers. We have such a vast pool of resources now, not only for research but also out on in the field and in the markets, along with sales and service. It's been a very good experience for us.
Goldman: What else is going on with your committee work?
Clark: Last year, right after I spoke at the SMTA conference, I was invited to be the technical director of the substrate committee for SMTA. That gives me the opportunity to help organize the abstracts and the papers that are presented for the substrate track here, and we have a fantastic technical session tomorrow. We will have four substrate sessions, and MacDermid Enthone will be presenting there, so that's also nice for us. A good opportunity to discuss our new copper plating processes, which fills through-holes completely with copper.
Goldman: So it’s a via fill-type chemistry?
Clark: Yes, via fill, but now for a complete through via.
Goldman: Are you chair for one year, is that how it works?
Clark: Yes. I'll be the technical director for the year. It may extend past the year.
Goldman: If you do a good enough job they'll definitely want to keep you on. Are you still in the same position at MacDermid Enthone?
Clark: I am. Previously, I was OEM director. They've changed the name of the group to End User. We will be focusing on end-user markets and the whole supply chain rather than just original equipment manufacturers, but with the integration, my group has become much larger, and we can reach globally much faster because we have people located not only in the United States, but in Europe and in Asia, and it's beneficial that we can have somebody on the ground constantly in all those different regions.
Goldman: You can get somebody where they need to be very quickly.
Clark: Right, and now the business and the end-users in general are located everywhere. Our headquarters for MacDermid Enthone Electronics Solutions is in North America, but there is technical development and high level applications work all over the world, so we can be highly supportive of each other. And like you said, we can be there to support each individual location very quickly.
Goldman: How many people are in the company now?
Clark: I don’t know the exact number, but MacDermid Performance Solutions has thousands of employees. With our global representation, we have manufacturing all over the world and research and development focused in the U.S., and depending on what markets, there's some research focused in Europe. But we have what we call Global Development Applications Centers located throughout the world, which is beneficial to our customers because a lot of times we don't need to change a formulation or a chemical process, but we may need to adjust some parameters based on new technology or new designs that are coming in. This gives them the opportunity to do that locally, to do some development work locally, and again, it shortens the time frame between the customer need and when we deliver the product.
Goldman: You're still based in Waterbury?
Clark: Yes, I’m still based in Waterbury, Connecticut. It's still the headquarters for MacDermid Enthone Electronics Solutions and our R&D, which I believe is the heart of the company.
Goldman: Will you be giving papers in other conferences besides at SMTA and IPC? You must be involved in many others.
Clark: This week in Europe there is the 3D MID conference, which covers three-dimensional plastic molds. We are the top chemical supplier for plating those plastics and we have a couple of presentations there in Germany this week, so that's exciting. That's a neat market because it's enabling us to create electrical circuits out of plastic, so maybe instances where a plastic part already exists, the customer, the end user, could create an electrical circuit out of that.
Goldman: It seems like plating on plastics and electronics are starting to merge, aren't they?
Clark: Yes. They call it mechatronics. Marrying an existing plastic part, something that has a mechanical property, to an electrical circuit which is an electronic property.
Goldman: Perhaps a whole new market or avenue is starting to emerge.
Clark: It's been heavily used in the antenna space for smartphones, but we see a lot of growth now in the automotive space and in many small medical devices, so we're excited for that.
Goldman: Yes, I've seen automotive applications where they create a circuit right on the inside of the plastic bumper.
Clark: Exactly, and that helps to reduce weight. For an automobile, that's a big deal, and a lot of times there are space constraints. You think about all the electronics we're pumping into a car right now—we're going to run out of space. This will enable them to do that.
Goldman: That's very interesting. It raises the price of your bumper, of course. (Laughs)
Clark: For a good cause.
Goldman: All for a good cause, right. Okay, Lenora. Thank you so much. It is always a pleasure to talk with you.
Clark: Thank you.