CircuitData: A New Open Standard for PCB Fab Data Exchange

An enormous amount of information is needed to precisely and unambiguously define all of the fabrication details for a PCB and ensure that it is manufactured, tested, qualified and delivered exactly as the customer specified. The principal area of concern is not the image data that constitutes the board design—there are already well-established and well-accepted formats for conveying those instructions across the CAD/CAM interface—but all of the other bits and pieces of essential information needed to fulfill the order requirement that need to be communicated over the same interface. It costs the PCB industry substantial time and money interpreting this information when it is presented in different styles by different customers. A uniform “language” would save these costs and avoid misinterpretations.

Widely reported recently has been the development of a new open standard for exchanging printed circuit fabrication data by an independent international task group with members from the entire supply chain. A glance at the CircuitData website gives a clear indication of what the group has set out to achieve: Fundamentally it recognises that extending existing CAD/CAM formats, or even creating new ones, is not the way to go—those formats have been developed and refined for a specific purpose and it is not logical to try to incorporate several layers of additional information into them. Neither should it be the PCB designer’s responsibility to input this information.

The CircuitData group is concerned with communicating data on details such as the physical description of the board and the way it is to be panelised, the materials for dielectric and conductor layers, the stack-up, drilling and other mechanical processes, plating, solder mask, legend, final finishes, testing, etc., as well as standards and requirements and conflict resolution procedures. Indeed, this pertains to any information relevant to achieving cost-effective and timely delivery exactly in accordance with customer requirements. The terminology will be based on IPC-T-50, and the data will have an XML or JSON output.

The project was initiated by Norway-based Elmatica, the world’s longest-established PCB broker with over 46 years of experience in a business where accurate and efficient communication of PCB manufacturing information is of paramount importance, particularly when servicing customers in the defence, automotive, civil aviation and medical sectors, amongst others.

Elmatica’s Chief Technical Officer Andreas Lydersen and Senior Technical Advisor Jan Pedersen act as CircuitData project moderators, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to talk with them.

Pete Starkey: Andreas, Jan, thank you for joining me. I am very interested to learn more about your data transfer language, and I am sure that our I-Connect007 readers will be too. I speak as a retired quick-turn PCB fabricator who can remember the days when we received circuit designs as 4:1 hand-taped masters, which we would take to the local photographer for camera-reduction and step-and-repeat. Early CAD designs were output onto a vector plotter and we received our information as 1:1 photomasters, generally accompanied by an engineering drawing and a customer specification. Customers were reluctant to give us digital data, even when we had our own CAM system and laser plotter, for fear that we might corrupt their designs, and it took some time to build up their confidence. We subsequently experienced the development of several proprietary CAM and engineering software solutions and their ancillary functions in quoting and reporting. There are some quite sophisticated systems available now.

But having read some of your published articles and taken a look at the CircuitData website, I can appreciate what you are aiming to achieve. And I particularly acknowledge that, at Elmatica, where you are in the business of providing a service connecting multiple suppliers with multiple customers, and with your in-depth understanding of the market, you are in an ideal neutral position to moderate this forum objectively and encourage the industry to recognise the benefits to all concerned of communicating in a standardised language.

Pedersen Circuitdata.JPGJan Pedersen: To give an idea of my background, people joke that I was born in a PCB shop! My father began to produce PCBs near Oslo [Norway] in 1960, and I joined him in the business as a young boy and worked in every department before joining Elmatica in 1992 and progressing through sales and auditing and all of the technical aspects to where I am today as senior technical advisor.

Starkey: I also note that you chair two IPC task groups and were honoured this year with the IPC Rising Star Award. My congratulations!

Andreas Lydersen: For my part, I’ve been with Elmatica for about six years, and I am more of a computer science guy. And from the beginning kind of shocked at the amount of communication that goes back and forth in the form of PDF, and looking to do something about it.

A couple of things it is important to point out: We are not competing with any other format. We did get quite a few reactions to start with, on the basis that there are already formats, so why don’t we use them? We prefer to get things in ODB++ or IPC-2581, but in fact 90% of what we receive is Gerbers. So, our main purpose is to have a language that enables us, even though we are in the middle of the supply chain, to convert all the information we have into something that is machine-readable so we don’t put further strain on the supply chain. This is something to be made very clear. We’re not looking to start a battle!

Starkey: From what I have read, it is evident that you simply want to be a mediator who pulls all the information from whatever source into a uniform system that people can understand and machines can understand. Even with regard to terminology, although you can describe something in so many different ways, just to use one glossary like IPC-T-50 means that, even if we’re not yet talking the same language, at least we are using the same vocabulary.

Lydersen: Even in IPC-T-50, they have multiple terms for the same technical aspects, and people can get confused if it’s in written form rather than in a machine-readable language.

Starkey: So, Andreas, could you give us a quick status update?

Lydersen: Certainly. This has been in the workings for a while now but it’s been formalised for the last 6−8 months. We started out by taking all the information we currently hold. As a broker, we put a great deal of effort into understanding each and every article we receive in order to pick the right supplier. We counted that we asked ourselves 108 questions for each product we receive. We took those and we added the most common questions we get as engineering queries, and also all the documents that go together with the Gerbers. Then we gathered all that information into a spreadsheet and looked through the current technology like IPC-T-50 to see whether we were using any expressions that weren’t listed. And we boiled it down to something that we could hand off to others. We had a talk with IPC, but it was clear that they were focused on 2581, so we decided to open-source it. Since then we have been fine-tuning the language to be able to export everything we have today. The proof is in the pudding—we need to try it out! As of today, everything we send out is also downloadable as CircuitData. Nobody will be able to read it unless they put some effort into it, but at least we are walking the talk and using the language right now.

Starkey: Just to be clear, the language is called CircuitData?

Lydersen: Yes, it is. The language is compatible with two different standards: XML, which is an older standard and has a name that everybody knows about, but we do prefer a more modern standard called JSON—JavaScript Object Notation—and going forward we will be promoting that as a machine-readable format that has fewer variations. All current files that we make available for download are in JSON.

What we are doing now is gathering support and adding people to the forum, and talking to various companies, big and small, encouraging people to join in. From what we can see there is a lot of interest.

By comparison, if we look at IPC-2581 as an example, we receive approximately 10,000 unique articles in a year and only a handful of those are in IPC-2581. And they’ve been going at it since 2004

Starkey: There have already been several initiatives aimed at achieving a more unified understanding in the business: The developments of GenCAM and IPC-2511, and the integration of ODB++ to create Offspring, which effectively became IPC-2581—all the stuff that dear Dieter Bergman was dedicated to promoting. What is the main difference between these initiatives and yours?

Lydersen Circuitdata.JPGLydersen: I think that the main difference between our effort and the existing formats is that those formats are chosen by the designer, and the whole supply chain then needs to be ready to receive those files. In our case, we present information both from that file, and other files that are added after the designer, into a new file. If only we use it and some of our clients use it, both of us are saving time and money. Adding it on top of the format gives a very short path to success and we start getting the benefits very quickly. So, that’s pretty much where we’re at now.

Pedersen: Maybe I can a give practical example. Part of my job is handling engineering queries, and you can imagine the different requests we get from the factory related to basic understanding. Take the case of a designer who is outsourced. He’s creating the design and he’s making the article specification. Then it comes to the product owner who adds his corporate requirements and passes it over to the EMS. The EMS is adding his panel-array requirements. There could also be requirements for materials, tolerances, solderability—whatever it is. Then quite often it comes through someone like us, and we may also add some of our own requirements—packing for example. And then it arrives at the PCB shop, and I would say that a considerable proportion goes through China. There you have a translator, a young girl or guy for example, sitting and translating all this data into Chinese. And then they send it in to the engineer. OK, there are some companies where the engineers can read and understand English, but not that often. This means that the engineer gets information that’s been translated into Chinese and he then tries to understand all these sections and compare the PDFs and all the work documents from maybe three or four companies. Then, for example, he sees that in one requirement it says that you should use immersion gold but in another it says lead-free HASL. And it says that it shall have this tolerance there, and it says another tolerance there—it’s actually a big mess!

And then we have engineering queries that come to us or to the EMS, sometimes all the way back to the PCB designer, and we get the answers back. Then we say you have solved everything. The problem is that the original designer did not change his article specification. We have a new product with new requirements—and now we can call it a “product” because we have finished with engineering queries and we start producing. Maybe we shouldn’t call it a “product” until it is received as an acceptable PCB. Only this morning I had a question about the stack-up of a PCB that has been changed all through the supply chain and there was no traceability for it.

Now, this is what we want to do: The designer has this file, and he sends it up to his company. If they have their requirement in the same digital file format, XML or JSON, then if they want to make a change, say from immersion gold to lead-free HASL, and add tolerances and whatever, we have only one file to send over to the EMS. Say that the EMS then adds their panel array requirements, and maybe some additional mechanical tolerances because of the characteristics of certain components that the designer was not aware of. They add all these requirements to one single file. Then the file comes to us and, say we have some packing or labelling requirements, we add these in and then the package goes to the PCB shop.

Now they don’t need the translator because if we do this correctly, the engineer can read it directly in Chinese. For example, IPC-T-50 has an exact description in English and Chinese, so if you translate all these descriptions you get a clear understanding of what the customer needs. Then we will avoid maybe 50% of the engineering queries. This goes fast, and the beauty of it is that, when the engineering queries are finished, the article specification can be uploaded to an on-line system and the designer will have his updated article specification instantly. So, you have one file, one understanding, through all processes. And you avoid a lot of questions, a lot of fuss and misunderstandings because you no longer have maybe three people describing the same thing in three different ways or stating confusing mechanical tolerances. These things will be changed throughout the process and updated before the file reaches the PCB fabricator. Then the only questions you get back are to do with capability. But then another thing we can do is to compare this with the capability of the factory so we can see immediately if this factory is able to produce the board.

Lydersen: Another good thing is that nobody has tampered with the Gerbers, which is something that you really want to avoid.

Starkey: And to be clear, that image information can be there as Gerber, or ODB++, or IPC-2581—it’s just part of a data set and it’s still there in the package in its original plot format?

Lydersen: Yes, that’s true. But let’s consider security. Remember that most of the communication in the supply chain is about quoting. In today’s supply chains, hit rates are often as low as 20% or less, meaning that 80% of requests for quotations never end up in an order. But still the Gerbers are sent out to everybody, even though they may often be classified information. Everybody interprets the files, checks the capability of factories and further distributes the files—including the classified ones. But with this, you could actually send off a request without sending the Gerbers and have the pricing and the lead time information generated immediately, directly from the machine that receives it. That means a lot of time and money saved in the process, and a massive move away from exchanging classified information. It has a lot of potential and I am confident that it has the possibility to reduce the manpower needed and to reduce the errors created by the current way of doing things.

Pedersen: I would add that we can include a lot more information than you would see in a normal article specification. Take for example a design where minimum track is 0.1 mm and minimum gap 0.1 mm, but it doesn’t tell you on which layer—whether it’s a plated layer or unplated layer. With CircuitData we detail it down to that level, so that when the factory receives this article specification they can see that a bigger track and gap is needed on the plated layer than on the unplated layer. You have been in PCB fabrication, Pete, and you know how important it is to match track and gap to copper thickness. Almost every day I get engineering queries related to not being able to achieve the specified track and gap on a plated layer, or not being able to achieve solder mask dams on 2-ounce copper. So if you specify the right details then the factory does not need to read the Gerber to make those capability decisions.

Lydersen: You are saving manpower, you are saving time, you are not asking non-capable suppliers, and you are resolving your engineering queries in minutes instead of days with all the necessary translations and time zone issues. It should be to the benefit of everybody.

Starkey: I certainly agree that you present a very convincing case, and I can really appreciate it from the point of view of the PCB fabricator, to be able to describe a product exactly and without false interpretations. I understand that you have a beta version of CircuitData ready for public launch. What’s your timescale for this?

Lydersen: Right now, we are at Version 0.6, and from our perspective this is as far as we can get on our own. Now, what we need in order to progress to Version 1 and get it into production is to have others join the project. We are happy to sponsor it—we have already put in a lot of time, plus the cost of setting up the forum. But from here on we need the cooperation of others.

Pedersen: We do have a project timeline: we are looking for the official launch of Version 1 to be October this year, and we plan to have a pre-launch webinar on 26 September. We will tell more about that on our LinkedIn page, which will be distributed to the industry news-lines. Ongoing, we plan to have a live forum to further discussion and to make improvements, almost in real time. We have a steering group that will meet four times a year. We will also have seminars and conferences at least once a year, and a webinar every time we launch an upgrade, which we plan to do twice a year.

Lydersen: If you go to www.circuitdata.org, you will find help articles, graphical elements and logos, and there is also a link to the GitHub project that contains all the current codes and the documentation of the project so far. And we will keep on suggesting stuff and adding new people to the steering group.

Starkey: Andreas, Jan, this has been a most interesting and illuminating half-hour. Thank you for sparing your time to bring me up to date and for sharing your experiences. I will make every effort to keep people aware of what is going on.

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2017

CircuitData: A New Open Standard for PCB Fab Data Exchange

07-19-2017

An enormous amount of information is needed to precisely and unambiguously define all of the fabrication details for a PCB and ensure that it is manufactured, tested, qualified and delivered exactly as the customer specified. Widely reported recently has been the development of a new open standard for exchanging printed circuit fabrication data by an independent international task group with members from the entire supply chain. Initiated by Norway-based Elmatica, the CircuitData standard is designed to enhance your Gerber, ODB++ and IPC-2581 files, and not replace them.

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I Never Realised It Was So Complicated!

05-31-2017

How many designers or assemblers have ever set foot in a PCB fabrication shop? Nowhere near enough! An initiative by SMART Group, the technical trade association dedicated to promoting education and innovation in electronics assembly technologies, and Amphenol-Invotec gave a group of engineers from design, assembly and quality assurance positions the opportunity to learn a little about the realities of high-end PCB manufacture.

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The European Angle: Institute of Circuit Technology 43rd Annual Symposium

05-22-2017

Time marches on and change is inevitable. Here we are anticipating the consequences of a Fourth Industrial Revolution—new technologies are blurring the lines between physical, digital and biological worlds, with the potential to fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. But where and when did the original industrial revolution begin?

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Ventec International Group's Martin Cotton Celebrates 50 Years in PCB Design

05-15-2017

This column by Pete Starkey celebrates Martin Cotton’s 50 years in PCB design. Amongst Cotton’s more significant design achievements was to successfully tackle the challenge of reducing the layer count of the PCB for the IBM PS/2-30 personal computer in 1986. He transformed a four-layer multilayer into a double-sided PTH that fitted two to a panel, resulting in substantial cost savings.

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Reporting on the Institute of Circuit Technology Spring Seminar

03-21-2017

There has long been debate over the exact location of the geographical centre of England, but the village of Meriden has traditionally laid claim to the title, and it offered an appropriate Midlands venue for the Institute of Circuit Technology 2017 Spring Seminar, which followed the Annual General Meeting of the Institute.

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EuroTech: Raw Materials Supply Chain—Critical Challenges Facing the PCB Industry

02-08-2017

In response to growing concern from members about cost increases and potential availability restrictions affecting copper-clad laminate and prepreg supplies, the EIPC 2017 Winter Conference in Salzburg included a special panel discussion on critical issues facing the raw materials supply chain for the PCB industry worldwide, particularly the availability of copper foil as a consequence of rapidly increasing demand from the manufacturers of lithium batteries for electric vehicles.

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EuroTech: ENIPIG—Next Generation of PCB Surface Finish

01-30-2017

MACFEST is a multi-partner project co-funded by Innovate UK to develop an electroless nickel/immersion palladium/immersion gold (ENIPIG) “universal surface finish” for printed circuit boards. Project partners are University of Leicester, MTG Research, C-Tech Innovation, A-Gas Electronic Materials, Merlin Circuit Technology and the Institute of Circuit Technology.

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2016

EuroTech: Institute of Circuit Technology Northern Seminar 2016, Harrogate

12-08-2016

A new location for the Institute of Circuit Technology Northern Seminar: Harrogate, the elegant and historic spa town in North Yorkshire, England. And an impressive venue: the chandeliered drawing room of the palatial and stately Majestic Hotel, dating from the Victorian era.

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2014

Top 10 SMT Tech Tuesday Articles of 2014

12-30-2014

Technical Editor Pete Starkey presents his list of the top 10 SMT Tech Tuesday articles for 2014. The year's topics cover a wide range and include printed electronics, lead-free processes, preventing tin whiskers, stencil printing challenges, and thermal management issues.

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Top 10 PCB Tech Tuesday Articles of 2014

12-30-2014

Another year has come and gone. To mark a year of innovations, Technical Editor Pete Starkey presents his list of the top 10 Tech Tuesday articles for 2014. Each item on the list provided innovative information to the industry.

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An Inside Look: 3D AOI of Electronic Assemblies Seminar

12-16-2014

This UK event brought together experts from leading AOI suppliers, to discuss and explain different approaches to three-dimensional inspection and to present the latest in technology to those with a collective interest in yield improvement, process control, and quality assurance. All were welcomed by SMART Group Chairman Keith Bryant, who introduced the speakers and moderated the panel discussions. Pete Starkey reports.

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J-STD-001 & IPC-A-610 Updates for Conformal Coating: An Insider's Guide

12-09-2014

SMART Group recently offered a "direct from the committee" technical guide to the changes being made to J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610, presented by Doug Pauls, Principal Materials and Process engineer at Rockwell Collins and chair of IPC Cleaning and Cleanliness Committees, in a webinar organized and moderated by Bob Willis. Technical Editor Pete Starkey reports.

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Institute of Circuit Technology's 2014 Darlington Seminar

11-25-2014

Editor Pete Starkey recently made a trip to the Northeast of England for the Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) annual Darlington Seminar. Highlights included a presentation from Ventec's Martin Cotton on practical design considerations for high-speed PCBs--"Design once, make many times" was his main message--and a talk from Dr. Andrew Cobley addressing the rise of wearable technology.

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HASLEN: An Obituary to Black Pad

10-28-2014

A webinar recently presented by ITRI Innovation introduced a new solderable finish known as HASLEN, which combines features of two established technologies to deposit solder directly on to electroless nickel by hot air solder leveling, and made possible by novel fluxes based on deep eutectic solvents. The HASLEN finish claims to reduce cost and offer overall improvements in the longevity and reliability of PCB assemblies when compared with ENIG. Pete Starkey reports.

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SMART Group Webinar: Advances in AOI technology

10-22-2014

SMART Group recently presented a webinar to clarify the fundamentals of AOI technology and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the equipment options currently available. Chairman Keith Bryant drew upon many years' experience as a specialist in X-ray and AOI techniques to give a clear and comprehensive overview, with detailed explanations of attributes and applications.

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Update An Inside Look: UK Collaborative Research Project Dissemination Conference

10-14-2014

The headquarters of the Surface Engineering Association in Birmingham, UK, was the venue for a one-day conference to disseminate the results of a number of UK and European collaborative research and development projects with direct relevance to the electronics manufacturing, surface engineering, and metal finishing industries. Pete Starkey reports

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Up Close: ICT's Hayling Island, UK Seminar

09-30-2014

"Manufactured in the UK" was the theme of this year's Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island seminar in Goodwood, UK. Topics ranged from details of the European PCB market and an educational programme aimed at teaching PCB technology in schools to innovations in ink-jet printing, thermal management strategies, and the evolution of solder resist materials. Pete Starkey reports.

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ECWC13:

09-01-2014

First held in London, UK, in 1978, and triennially since then, the 13th Electronic Circuits World Convention came to Nuremberg, Germany, running in parallel with the SMT Hybrid Packaging Exhibition. Technical Editor Pete Starkey reports on the keynote presentations delivered during the event.

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2013

Cleanness Assessment Using Solvent Extract Conductivity to Improve Circuit Reliability

12-11-2013

Technical Editor Pete Starkey reports on an informative webinar presented by Ling Zhou, National Physical Laboratory specialist in electronic circuit reliability and metal-corrosion-induced failure mechanisms, on cleanness assessment using solvent extract conductivity.

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An Inside Look: High-Temperature Electronics Manufacturing

12-04-2013

Moderator Bob Willis explains, "High-temperature electronics is not just about solder, it's about all of the parts that make up an electronics product. Substrates, components, connectors, cables, solders, and assembly processes all need to be considered." Technical Editor Pete Starkey provides an in-depth looks at Willis' latest seminar.

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PCB Technology the Focus of ICT Darlington Seminar

11-12-2013

The Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) Darlington Seminar, held November 5, 2013, was split between advances in PCB technology and the mechanisms available to help promote the transfer of technology and the development of export business. Technical Editor Pete Starkey gives an inside look.

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An Inside Look: SMART Group European Conference 2013, Day 2

10-15-2013

The second--and intensely technical--day of the SMART Group 2013 European Conference highlighted lead-free solders, the return of cleaning, alloy development, failure analysis, and bath process monitoring and control. Technical Editor Pete Starkey concludes his report.

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An Inside Look: SMART Group European Conference 2013, Day 1

10-15-2013

This year's conference hosted eminent guests from the electronics manufacturing community travelling from far and near to network with peers and increase their understanding of material and process selection and yield improvement techniques. Technical Editor Pete Starkey reports on day one.

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IeMRC 8th Annual Conference: Innovation and Sustainability

10-08-2013

The 8th annual conference of the Innovative Electronics Manufacturing Research Centre (IeMRC) at the UK's Loughborough University featured 11 informative and highly-technical presentations grouped into four sessions: Accelerating Innovation, Flexible Electronics, Sustainability, and Nanoelectronics. Pete Starkey reports.

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ICT Hayling Island Seminar: Young People Don't Lick Stamps

10-01-2013

The ICT Hayling Island Seminar has become a must-attend UK PCB community event. Breaking with tradition this year: The programme offered an alternative to conventional "grey suit brigade" contributions with a focus on the importance of bringing new, younger minds to the industry. Pete Starkey reports.

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Behind the News: Tripod Selects Semblant's Plasma Finish

09-04-2013

Technical Editor Pete Starkey knows what an arduous task it can be to get a new finish recognized, qualified, and specified: "I was favourably impressed to read Semblant's announcement and delighted to then have the opportunity to seek the comments of VP of Worldwide Sales and Marketing Steve McClure." Read on to learn more about the company's plasma-based surface treatment process.

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EIPC Summer Conference, Day 2

07-09-2013

A well-rested and bright-eyed audience reassembled for an early start to the second day of the EIPC Summer Conference in Luxembourg and enjoyed an intense programme of 12 technical papers in three sessions: Advanced PCB Research Projects, PCB Design, and Novel Technologies. Pete Starkey continues his in-depth report.

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EIPC Summer Conference, Day 1

07-03-2013

A small landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany, Luxembourg covers an area of less than a thousand square miles and has a population of little more than half a million. The world's only remaining grand duchy, with the world's highest gross domestic product per capita, Luxembourg was the location for the 2013 Summer Conference of the European Institute of Printed Circuits. European Editor Pete Starkey reports.

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2012

An Inside Look: ICT's Annual Northern Seminar

11-13-2012

Hartlepool's Historic Quay was the new venue for this year's Institute of Circuit Technology Northern Seminar. Technical Editor Pete Starkey attended this evening seminar and provides a detailed account of the excellent and informative featured presentations. The section on designers' tendency to be "stubbornly resistant to change" alone is worth a read.

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Meeting Soldering Challenges of Miniaturization

11-05-2012

Although minimum solder joint sizes have stabilised in the 0.3 to 0.4 mm range and soldering technology is currently under control, it is projected that joint sizes could reduce to the 0.1 to 0.2 mm range by 2020. What would be the consequences on manufacturability and reliability?

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NPL Webinar: Practical Applications for Nanoelectronics

10-15-2012

The Nanocarbon Electronic Interconnects project is a collaboration between NPL and University of Surrey, aimed at developing characterisation tools for nanointerconnects based on nanocarbon. Researcher Vimal Gopee presented a webinar October 10, 2012 and Technical Editor Pete Starkey fills you in on the many topics covered.

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Invotec and Printed Electronics: The Story Behind the News

10-08-2012

Technical Editor Pete Starkey recently met with Invotec Managing Director Tim Tatton and PEL Technical Director Dr. Neil Chilton at their offices in Tamworth, UK, to discuss the significance of their strengthened partnership and the new opportunities it would create.

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A Walk on the Technical Side: SMART Group's 2012 European Conference, Day 2

10-05-2012

The second day of SMART Group's 2012 European Conference got underway in Thame, Oxfordshire, UK with a second grouping of industry experts ready to present and attendees eager to learn. Technical Editor Pete Starkey made the trip for I-Connect007 and continues his detailed report.

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A Walk on the Technical Side: SMART Group's 2012 European Conference

09-25-2012

Thame, a charming old market town close to the Chiltern Hills in the county of Oxfordshire, was the venue for SMART Group's 2012 European Conference. As always, Technical Editor Pete Starkey made the trip for I-Connect007 and reports, in his usual amazing detail, on the presentations given, new information revealed, and areas of study.

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EIPC's Summer Conference in Milan: Day 2

09-19-2012

The Ramada Plaza in Milan, Italy was venue for the 2012 Summer Conference of the EIPC which drew delegates from 10 European countries, as well as from the U.S. and Israel, to meet, network, and learn from an intense two-day programme of 21 presentations and a factory tour. In his typical fashion, Technical Editor Pete Starkey provides an excellent review of Day Two.

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EIPC's Summer Conference in Milan: Day 1

09-17-2012

The Ramada Plaza in Milan, Italy was venue for the 2012 Summer Conference of the EIPC which drew delegates from 10 European countries, as well as from the U.S. and Israel, to meet, network, and learn from an intense two-day programme of 21 presentations and a factory tour. In his typical fashion, Technical Editor Pete Starkey provides an excellent review of Day One.

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IeMRC Conference: One Day of Education to Last a Lifetime

09-12-2012

Henry Ford College at Loughborough University was quite an appropriate venue for the 7th Annual IeMRC Conference which immersed attendees in a sea of information. Technical Editor Pete Starkey provides in-depth coverage of all presentations given, covering an amazing range of PCB fabrication, design, assembly and packaging, and military/aerospace topics.

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An Inside Look: UK's Hayling Island ICT Seminar

09-07-2012

Thankful for a respite from three months of miserable English summer weather, over 100 printed circuit enthusiasts made the journey to attend the Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) Seminar in Hayling Island, now firmly established as the venue for a not-to-be-missed annual event on the PCB industry's technical calendar. Pete Starkey details the presentations made.

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2011

An Inside View: The Wurth Elektronik Design Conference

10-19-2011

I spent many years as a PCB fabricator actively encouraging designers to try to understand what we could and could not achieve, what was cost-effective and what not, and to involve us in discussion at the earliest possible stage of the design project. The recent Wurth Elektronik Design Conference in Manchester, UK, seemed to share this objective!

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2010

IeMRC Conference in UK: Five Years of Innovation

09-27-2010

Our European Technical Editor Pete Starkey recently made the journey to Loughborough, UK to attend IeMRC's fifth-annual conference. He reports on a myriad of topics and new technologies addressed, including: Flip-chip bonding; packaging materials for high-temperature electronics; maskless electrochemical pattern transfer in micro-fabrication; and the electrical and morphological characteristics of PEDOT:PSS.

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Adventures in Non-Conformance at SMART Group Seminar

01-26-2010

With Rockwell Collins' high-reliability, flight-critical equipment, non-conformance is a non-starter. Doug Pauls and Dave Hillman of Rockwell Collins shared case studies in non-conformance during their recent SMART Group Seminar keynote address.

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2009

Institute of Circuit Technology's Darlington Seminar a Success

11-05-2009

An enthusiastic audience, and speakers from as far afield as Japan, Germany, Scotland and Cumbria, gathered to share the latest knowledge on high-speed laminates and advanced conductor finishes at ICT's Circuit Technology Seminar on Tuesday.

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Bulk High-Temperature Superconductors for High Field Apps

09-15-2009

At the fourth annual IeMRC conference, David Cardwell, Professor of Superconductor Engineering at the University of Cambridge, gave a presentation illustrated with live demonstrations of magnetic levitation accompanied by dramatic smoke effects from the liquid nitrogen he used to cool his superconductor samples.

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Glass as an HDI Substrate?

09-02-2009

Have you ever considered glass as an HDI substrate? At a recent symposium, Dr. David Hutt of Loughborough University described work being carried out by his team to investigate the practicability of using glass as an alternative to organic substrates in the fabrication of multilayer HDI devices.

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SMART Group Seminar on Materials and Finishes

05-01-2009

"I never realised it was this complicated!" That was just one of the comments overheard during Tuesday's SMART Group seminar on printed circuit materials and finishes, held in Arundel on the south coast of England.

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EIPC Winter Conference Review

02-23-2009

It's rough out there right now. But, as attendees discovered at the EIPC Winter Conference in Amsterdam, many European PCB makers are continuing to innovate through the down cycle.

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The A-Z of Lead-Free Reliability: SMART Group workshop at NPL

01-23-2009

The NPL recently hosted a workshop entitled "A-Z of Lead-Free Reliability," organised under the auspices of SMART Group, which provided the opportunity for members of Hunt's team to update a full-house audience of electronics industry professionals on a series of current NPL investigations and studies, many of which were Joint Industry Projects with external partners.

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2008

Inside the Orbotech European PCB Executive Forum

07-21-2008

Orbotech has evolved in two dimensions--deeper into technologies related to PCB engineering, imaging, inspection, repair and process control and broader into applications in flat panel displays, PCB assembly, recognition solutions and medical imaging.

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Flying Start for National Electronics Week

06-20-2008

With the underlying theme of "Learning & Discovery," NEW brought together over 350 exhibitors to present the latest innovations in electronic design, silicon, hardware systems, software design, components, test tools, assembly equipment, production systems, contract manufacturing services and distribution.

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Europe Update: The 2008 EIPC Summer Conference in Dresden, Germany

06-06-2008

An international audience--83 delegates from 13 countries--of decision makers and leaders of the packaging and interconnection industry, met to exchange information on market trends and technical innovations and enjoyed an intensive program of 23 expert presentations over two days.

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Review: The 34th Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology, June 2008

06-05-2008

The 34th Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology had a distinctly Scottish flavor. The venue for the symposium was Tweed Horizons on the Scottish borders and the keynote speaker was Dr. Peter Hughes OBE, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering, who spoke with infectious enthusiasm about the opportunities that exist in Scotland's electronics industry.

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