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Putting Photonics on the Line

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A day in the life of a printed circuit board at a surface-mount technology plant shows how optics, lasers, machine vision and related instrumentation make electronics work.

Hank Hogan

The scene inside XeTel Corp. of Austin, Texas, is one that Henry Ford could relate to -- though it's a far cry from yesterday's automobile plants. The manufacturing floor within the 120,000-square-foot facility is brightly lit. It is almost spotless, and the temperature is suitable for high-tech work. Row upon row of hulking beige machines mutter as they mate components to printed circuit boards. Employees work in white smocks, complete with protective eye gear and grounding straps.

But it is an assembly line, a manufacturing concept that Ford pioneered...

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2001

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