Interview with Ty Fukata, Chief Operating Officer & Director
DAN: While we focus on Taiyo America and the fine work you're doing there we seldom talk about Taiyo the Global company, can you give us an update on how the company is faring in this global economy?
TY: In 2013 we completed the acquisition of one of our competitors and now estimate our world-wide market share at more than 60%. In our new situation, our revenue is very much influenced by the economy and (market) trends. We need to expand new business segments for PCB products as well as non-PCB products to be more stable and to absorb fluctuations in the solder mask business. Many of the Taiyo group companies have established special projects designated for new products within their respective companies as well.
DAN: Can you give us a portrait of how Taiyo covers the world, which location handles what part of the world?
TY: Our basic policy is to manufacture/sell our products locally as follows:
Taiyo America, Inc.èNorth/South America and Europe
Taiyo Ink Mfg. Co., Ltd.èJapan
Taiwan Taiyo Ink Co., Ltd.èTaiwan
Taiyo Ink Mfg Co., (Korea) Ltd.èKorea
Taiyo Ink (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. / Taiyo Ink Int'l, (HK) Ltd. / Taiyo Ink Trading (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.èChina
Taiyo Ink Int'l, (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. / Taiyo Ink (Thailand) Co., Ltd.èSoutheast Asia
DAN: I know that Taiyo is the number one solder mask company in the world, can you tell us why that is? What makes you so outstanding?
TY: Let me talk historically about how we built and focused the solder mask business. Taiyo Ink Mfg. Co., Ltd. was established in 1953 as a manufacturer of printing ink, but it was a very tough industry for a small company to survive in so we started the development of solder mask in 1970. At that time, there was no independent solder mask manufacturer in Japan. Solder mask in those days was based on a combination of melamine resin and alkyd resin which created a terrible formalin odor during the curing process. Therefore, we were challenged to develop an epoxy-based solder mask that was formalin odor free. This epoxy-based solder mask was first commercialized in 1972 by Taiyo Ink in Japan. We have continued development of new solder masks and our products were approved by several major Japanese end users in 1975. This success, as well as the expectation of significant market growth in the PCB industry, assisted us in our decision to halt printing ink manufacturing and to concentrate on the solder mask market.
Then in 1985, we were the first to commercialize aqueous developable photoimageable solder mask (the PSR-4000 series). Solder mask demand was very high due to flat-packaging, and the conventional type of solder mask could not satisfy the industry's requirements and needs. Our PSR-4000 series is high quality solder mask and meets all of the requirements of our customers. Another reason for PSR-4000's popularity is its environmentally friendly characteristics, as compared to solvent developable types of solder mask.
I think the two aforementioned points have significantly affected our current position in the world.
DAN: Besides solder mask, can you please tell us about any non-PCB products you are currently offering today, or are working on for the future?
TY: Taiyo America is focused on new products for solar cells, displays and lighting and printed batteries. For example, our FOC-800 series can be used as a colored dielectric primer layer in solar cells (photo voltaic module) or as a flexible moisture-resistant border adhesive for displays and lighting applications. Another example is our conductive silver and aluminum pastes which can be used in solar cell and panel construction, and conductive traces in displays and lighting applications. We are also working on many other products, but we would like to introduce them when appropriate.
DAN: What is your most popular product globally today?
TY: Our PSR-4000AUS series (liquid type) and our PFR-800AUS series (dry film type) are widely used for IC substrate applications and are within your smart phone (application processor, memory, power management, etc.). Requirements for these solder masks are very different than those of conventional type solder mask requirements. For example, electrical reliability (biased HAST) is based on very narrow lines & spaces (less than 20um/20um) and required resolution for solder resist openings is 50um, therefore, these are very unique products.
DAN: What are your thoughts on the PCB market today and in the near future?
TY: The Global market was recovering in 2013 and should grow in 2014. China is still the largest PCB manufacturing location, although labor costs are on the rise. I see the market in North America as stable and I expect no decline in 2014.
DAN: So you see the market as stable? I love that. Ty thanks for spending time with me and sharing your insights with our readers, it was extremely insightful.