Supporting Japanese manufacturing by pursuing the world's highest level of board mounting technologyArena Co.,Ltd
Arena Co., Ltd. is a company that boasts ultra-high-density mounting technology for mounting electronic components on printed circuit boards at the narrowest adjacent spacing in the world. In 2019, the company succeeded in manufacturing a component-embedded board with components mounted inside of the board. Arena continues to pursue new technology even today. How is the company developing technology? What is the company's vision for the future? We interviewed Shinya Takayama (left), President and CEO of Arena Co., Ltd. and Katsunori Handa (right), General Manager of Manufacturing Department No. 1.
Enabling processing of the world's smallest printed circuit board
PCBs are essential for any electronic device. In particular, boards with high-density mounting are indispensable for recent electronic devices that require high performance despite being small and thin. Examples include mobile phones, smartphones, and wearable devices. Arena has established the world's highest level of ultra-high-density mounting technology. The company is capable of mounting components at intervals of 0.05 mm on "0201" chips, which is the world's smallest part (0.25 mm x 0.125 mm).
"Arena provides contracting for mounting on boards. We cooperate with board manufacturers and processing machine manufacturers to meet the needs of electronic equipment manufacturers, etc. As we responded to customer needs for "even smaller and lighter" products, miniaturization and reduction of weight became our goal. In the early 1990s, when society had been aiming for mounting at intervals of 0.3 to 0.4 mm, we had already achieved mounting at 0.1 mm."
This ultra-high-density mounting technology has evolved even further, leading to the technology of a component-embedded board (patented) made by processing boards with an internal thickness of about 0.06 mm.
"Actually, the demand for miniaturization from society had calmed down to some extent. At that time, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) approached us about component-embedded boards. Our rule is 'never say that we can't.' Component-embedded boards required a completely different approach than the conventional mounting technology. It was a very difficult challenge, but we managed to complete the development in just one year."
Handa explains equipment supporting the world's highest level of ultra-high-density mounting
Exploring the possibility of entering the 5G era and space business
The components created by Arena are used in various products such as vehicle-mounted products, Bluetooth, and wireless LAN, as well as communication devices such as smartphones. However, the company's "world-leading technology" has yet to demonstrate the true value in many areas.
"In the 5G era, our technology will be required by even more products. When supporting 5G, the 5G capability will be added to conventional functions. Our technology is essential for manufacturers who want to add functions without changing the size of their devices."
Arena is also focusing on expansion into the space business.
"Launching a single rocket once costs hundreds of millions of yen. If you want to launch a large number of items into space at one time, it goes without saying that those items must be as small and light as possible. Arena is looking for ways to leverage our technology in this respect."'
Preserving monozukuri (Japanese manufacturing)
Even today, the era has not yet caught up with Arena's technology. So, why does the company continue to pursue even more innovative technology?
"Pursuing new technology will create various networks with outside parties. These networks are assets which will be useful in future technological development. In fact, no matter how difficult the mission, we have been able to solve most of our problems through the power of our networks."
Arena has clear reasons to pursue technology while valuing networks. Takayama and Handa discussed these reasons, and also gave an impassioned message towards for future partners.
"In Japan, a huge amount of world-class technology is hidden in small neighborhood factories. However, in today's world, speed and cost are prioritized over such technical capability. Even so, if we were to stop pursuing technology, how will Japan compete with overseas corporations? Japan must not lose the position of being world-renowned for technology and key devices. In order to preserve "monozukuri" (Japanese manufacturing) in our country, Arena seeks partners who will work hard together.
Arena Co., Ltd.
Shinya Takayama (left), President and CEO of Arena Co., Ltd. and Katsunori Handa (right), General Manager of Manufacturing Department No. 1
The company was established in 1970. In 1983, Arena started its component-mounting business for printed circuit boards. The company then manufactured a numerous ultra-precision electronic components used in communication devices such as mobile phones and smartphones, while focusing on high-density SMT (surface mounting) technology.
Coverage date January 24, 2020
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