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Meet our Columnists
RF Power Capabilities of High-Frequency PCBs
Lightning Speed Laminates By: John Coonrod
I often hear this question: “How much RF power can be applied to a high-frequency PCB?” My answer sometimes surprises engineers. I tell them that they can put as much RF power into the PCB as they want, with the assumption that the PCB does not exceed its maximum operating temperature (MOT). MOT refers to the maximum temperature to which a circuit can be exposed without degradation of critical properties.
Karl's Tech Talk By: Karl Dietz
Lucent looked at the development of optical backplanes in the early 2000s, but financial problems interfered. But there remained continued interest and work on optical backplanes. In this column, Karl Dietz talks about the technical issues in integrating optoelectronics in backplanes, and the continued work in the segment.
The Shaughnessy Report: The Whole Package
The Shaughnessy Report By: Andy Shaughnessy
When we started planning this issue, I found an interesting tidbit of information: Electronics packaging predates the printed circuit board. Most electronics history buffs seem to agree that the Braun Tube of 1897, the forerunner of the cathode ray tube, was the first true electronics package. Over the past 60 years, packages have continued to shrink. The transistor outline “metal cans” of the 1950s would look out of place today. Some packages are no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence, complete with their own “inhalation warning.”
Getting Connected with Social Media: Can You 'Game' the LinkedIn Publishing Algorithm?
Getting Connected with Social Media By: Bruce Johnston
Dear readers, this is my last column. After five years, 256 columns and 150,000 words on sales and social media, I am hanging up the keyboard. Why? Well, when I first started this column, I had a lot of relationships in the PCB industry, and this figured to be where work would come from for me. And it did—for a while.
Quiet Power: Causal Power Plane Models
Quiet Power By: Istvan Novak
Causal and frequency-dependent models and simulations are important for today’s high-speed signal integrity simulations. But are causal models also necessary for power integrity simulations? When we do signal integrity eye diagram simulations, we define the source signals, so if we use the correct causal models for the passive channel, we will get the correct waveforms and eye reduction due to distortions on the main path and noise contributions from the coupling paths. Istvan Novak explains.
Software Bytes By: Abby Monaco
Challenges of Electrical Test
Testing Todd By: Todd Kolmodin
In our arena today, we can solve pitch and density with flying probe machines, and volume with our grid testers, but the catalyst that is in the mix is that pesky soldermask! Here's why I bring up that necessary process as a problem for electrical test.
CES 2015: A Retrospective
Fein-Lines By: Dan Feinberg
Columnist Dan Feinberg believes that this was the most interesting CES in many years, perhaps ever. "Yes, there were the expected hundreds of smartphone cases and battery chargers and cables galore. But there were also strong indications of formerly embryonic trends becoming actual mainstream technology."
A Summary of Counterfeit Avoidance: Development & Impact
Kramer on Counterfeits By: Todd Kramer
Although counterfeit components and substandard products get plenty of attention in military, aerospace and medical fields due to their costly impact in human life, it’s important to point out the severe impact substandard parts and assemblies play in everyone’s life. Safeguards are in place to filter counterfeit products, but there remains a great deal of work to fully mitigate this threat.
Indium and Gallium: Playing Important Roles in LED Lighting and the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics
From One Engineer to Another By: Indium Bloggers
An important element of US energy independence is the reduction of energy use for lighting. While, in its day, the incandescent light was one of the greatest inventions of all time, it is extremely energy inefficient.
Like it or Not, You're a Role Model
Tim's Takeaways By: Tim Haag
"During the years that I built my skills as a circuit board designer, many people helped shape my character. Some were impulsively brilliant at laying out a board, while others were steady and consistent in their approach to work, dotting every 'i' and crossing every 't.' But they were all patient with me, answering my questions, showing me the ropes, and setting good examples for me to follow," says Columnist Tim Haag.
Conversations with...Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc.
From the Archives By: Various Authors
I-Connect007 editor Richard Ayes recently interviewed Rafael Nestor Mantaring, vice president for design and development at Philippines-based EMS firm Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc. (IMI), who discusses the benefits and impact of printed electronics for the electronics manufacturing industry and the current challenges the technology faces.
Up, Up, and Away - Reasons for Renewed Optimism in the Mil/Aero PCB Market
Mil/Aero Markets By: John Vaughan
As anyone in the military circuit board business in the last few decades will attest, it has been both extremely challenging (due to the many obstacles) and wonderfully rewarding (because our collective work supports our country and our war fighters). But Columnist John Vaughan says the tide has now turned as PCBs designed specifically for defense systems must now be manufactured in the U.S. and are under full ITAR and USML controls.
Electromagnetic Fields, Part 2: How They Impact Propagation Speed
Brooks' Bits By: Douglas Brooks, PhD.
In Part 1, Doug Brooks suggested that thinking in terms of what the electromagnetic field looks like around our traces might offer significant insight into how circuits might be performing. In this column, he makes similar observations about signal propagation speed.
Accelerating the SI Learning Curve - Bogatin's SI Academy
Bert's Practical Design Notes By: Bert Simonovich
Columnist Bert Simonovich writes, "Last year, Dr. Eric Bogatin, the 'Signal Integrity Evangelist,' announced the end of his famous signal integrity classes. At the time I remember thinking to myself, 'What's next for Eric?' If you know Eric, like I do, you realize that the end of one phase of his career usually means the start of the next one. And now we know what that is."
LED the Sunshine In
SMT Trends & Technologies By: Sjef van Gastel
After a relatively slow start, LED lamps are now becoming affordable, and domestic LED lighting is about to take off. It is expected that by 2020, more than 65 to 70% of all lighting will use LED lamps or LED modules. The manufacturing process for LED lamps is based on SMT, and this month's column explains some of manufacturing's special requirements.
What is Your Real Output?
SMT Trends & Technologies By: Eric Klaver
Columnist Eric Klaver asks, "How should you define your output? Highest area productivity, lab speed, actual speed, optimum speed, IPC speed, or maximum speed? And is it speed or throughput we should be looking at? Neither is clearly defined, and we all have our rules of thumb."
The Bare (Board) Truth: Refining Output Data Packages for Fabricators
The Bare (Board) Truth By: Mark Thompson
One of the biggest issues PCB fabricators face is the completeness (or incompleteness) of the data output package we receive from customers on a new PCB. In this column, I am going to present what is needed, from a fabricator’s perspective, for a good output package and why.
Laser Pointers: Stepping Up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 6 — Proper Care and Feeding of Your Equipment
Laser Pointers By: Mike Jennings and Patrick Riechel
Supplementing your production capabilities with flexible circuit laser processing can pay big dividends. It not only enables you to broaden the set of services you can offer your customers, but it also extends your reach into additional markets you might not otherwise be equipped to serve.
Advanced Digitalization Makes Best Practice, Part 2: Adaptive Planning
Accelerating Tech – Insights from the Smarter Factory By: Michael Ford
For Industry 4.0 operations, Adaptive Planning has the capability of replacing both legacy APS tools, simulations, and even Excel solutions. As time goes on, with increases in the scope, quality and reliability of live data coming from the shop-floor, using for example the CFX, it is expected that Adaptive Planning solutions will become progressively smarter, offering greater guidance while managing constraints as well as optimization.
The Economics of Reducing Cycle Time in PCB Fabrication
Putting It All Together By: Jason Marsh
As circuit board fabricators are constantly pressured for cost reductions, speed is definitely one thing worth paying for in 2015. This article highlights examples of industry practices that successful fabricators in the quick-turn market embrace that can help those companies who want to reduce cycle times in their operations.
Cleaning a No-clean Flux: The Worst Decision You’ve Ever Made?
Quest for Reliability By: Eric Camden
There are a few reasons to choose to clean a no-clean flux, such as when the PCB assembly requires conformal coating, or when probes are required for testing. Other than that, there seems to be no need to clean a no-clean flux. This column tells you more.
Improving Stencil Printing Results
The Short Scoop By: Rachel Miller-Short
A myriad of causes can result in poor print performance. The problem may stem from an inferior or worn-out stencil, but the issue may also be caused by an improper aperture design or stencil thickness. Poor print performance might not be caused by the stencil itself, but rather an improper printer set-up, a non-optimal squeegee blade, or the rheology of the solder paste being used.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Tip of the Month—The NIST/SEMATECH e-Handbook of Statistical Methods
Happy’s Essential Skills By: Happy Holden
In the 1990s, the National Bureau of Standards was distributing a popular statistical document, the Handbook 91, written by Mary Natrella of the NBS Statistical Engineering Laboratory. A request by Patrick Spagon of the Statistical Methods Group of SEMATECH to update the NBS Handbook 91, Experimental Statistics, led to the creation of a project team from NIST and SEMATECH to create a new web-based statistical handbook including statistical software.
‘Can Do’ in CAM Outsourcing: Improving Quality in CAM Engineering
'Can Do' in CAM Outsourcing By: Mehul Dave'
In this series, Mehul J. Davé, CEO of Entelechy Global Inc., will address six ways in which a company can significantly benefit from outsourcing their front-end CAM work.
Flexible Thinking Redux
Flexible Thinking By: Joe Fjelstad
Flexible circuits are known by a few different names depending on one’s global location and language: flexible printed circuits, FPCs, flex circuits, flexi circuits, flexibles, bendables and a few others that are application-specific such as flexible heater circuits and controlled impedance cable constructions. While flex circuits are an original and foundational interconnection technology for electrical and electronic products (one of the first patents for electrical interconnections, issued at the turn of the last century, was arguably a flexible circuit), over the years there have been several forays into technological extensions of the basic idea.
Designers Notebook: Strategies for High-Density PCBs
Designers Notebook By: Vern Solberg
As hand-held and portable electronic products and their circuit boards continue to shrink in size, the designer is faced with solving the physical differences between traditional printed board fabrication and what’s commonly referred to as HDI processing. The primary driver for HDI is the increased complexity of the more advanced semiconductor package technology. These differences can be greater than one order of magnitude in interconnection density.
PCB Norsemen: The Solution to the UL Challenge—Industrial Awareness
The PCB Norsemen By: Team Elmatica
Writes Jan Pedersen: The solder-limit subject has been a "hot potato" for a quite some time, with many discussions around the new requirement from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that UL’s Emma Hudson brought to attention in early 2018.
True MCAD-ECAD Architecture: A Common-Sense Approach
The Town Crier By: Dan Smith
Despite a lot progress, a true MCAD-ECAD collaborative integrated design process tool environment has never materialized. In the simplest Dr. Phil terminology, EDA vendors still don’t get it. The goal of the following roadmap is to create a complete bi-directional, fully integrated tool within the next five years. By 2020, a true cost-affordable MCAD-ECAD tool needs to be available to every project engineering team.
Launch Letters: Myths about Millennials—Workplace Safety Matters
Launch Letters By: Barry Lee Cohen
Today, more than one in three American workers are millennials, and they represent the largest share of the American workforce. As baby boomers increasingly enter the ranks of retirement, companies are embracing the differences of this younger generation to foster a safe workplace, while increasing employee productivity and engagement.
Acrylic vs. Epoxy Adhesives for Flexible Circuits
Consider This By: John Talbot
One of the most misunderstood materials in flexible circuit fabrication is the adhesive system used to laminate the layers together. Since flexible circuits go through several lamination processes, it’s important to know the options and where best to use them in your electronic products.
If It's My Data, I Can Do What I Want, Right?
The Essential Pioneer's Survival Guide By: Michael Ford
In the light of the new IoT philosophies that are rapidly becoming the expectation, the problem of flexibility versus risk is resolved on the lower level, as IoT establishes the transfer and availability of data everywhere without the need for "hacking" into internal system database structures.
Standard of Excellence: Preparing for the Future with the Right Supplier
Standard of Excellence By: Team ASC
Is your PCB supplier ready to take you into the future? Sure, they are doing a good job today, but what about tomorrow? What will happen when new designs require boards to be made with thermal or RF materials, or have lines widths down to two mils?
Tighter Scrutiny Needed for PCB Cleaning Agents
Zulki's PCB Nuggets By: Zulki Khan
PCB cleanliness on the assembly floor is now getting more attention, due to tiny residues and contaminants being left on assemblies after new, advanced assembly processes. Cleaning methodologies, testing, analysis, and special chemistries are being taken to a new level to assure customers of ultraclean boards to avoid costly latent issues.
Millennials in Manufacturing: Hiring, Training and Retaining Millennials
Millennials in Manufacturing By: Davina McDonnell
Shelly Phelps is the human resource manager at Saline Lectronics, where she manages recruitment strategies, disciplinary actions, and employee relations. In this interview, she discusses the greatest challenges when dealing with millennials, and how she thinks management and training should evolve for a more effective onboarding of this new generation of manufacturing workforce.
Trouble in Your Tank: A Tale of Zinc Tails
Trouble in Your Tank By: Michael Carano
It is a given that the zinc tail can have a negative impact on PTH thermal reliability. Therefore, it is best to understand how to minimize its formation, or at least provide a means to mitigate the negative effects of the zinc tail.
Punching Out! How to Avoid Key-Person Risk
Punching Out! By: Tom Kastner
PCB West 2018 is next week in Santa Clara, California (September 11–13). Can you go to the show and visit a winery or two without your shop falling apart? Have you taken a vacation in the past few years? Can you afford to not do board rework on a holiday weekend, like this past Labor Day? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may have key-person risk.
Controlled Impedance: A Real-World Look at the PCB Side
Bob and Me By: Dan Beaulieu and Bob Tarzwell
Bob Tarzwell writes, "As a designer, your project may require a specific impedance of, say, 52 ohms, plus or minus 7%. The big question is: Does the fabricator give you what you ask for? Well, maybe, and maybe not. Here is why."
Let’s Talk Testing: Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick…Right?
Let's Talk Testing By: Keith Sellers
Who knew that a phrase from a decades-old popular board game could have some relevance in today’s ever-changing world? In the game of Clue, simply put, evidence is collected and then used to solve a mystery. In my world, testing is performed to gather data/results (evidence) and then this information is used to determine the root cause of some issue that is under investigation (solving the mystery).
One World, One Industry: Automotive Electronics—Past / Present / Future
One World, One Industry By: John Mitchell
As electronics play an increasingly important role in automotive manufacturing, tremendous change and great progress have been made worldwide. We are at the crossroads of incredible technological advancements, and it’s been exhilarating to watch. I am eager to see what happens next.
The Right Approach: The Value of Coopetition
The Right Approach By: Steve Williams
As our industry continues to evolve and shape-shift, printed circuit board manufacturing continues to shrink through consolidations and attrition. Unfortunately, this trend will most likely continue, albeit at a slower pace than over the last decade. In what has truly become a global economy, partnering with worldclass suppliers is mandatory, and excluding a sub-set of this dwindling supply base because they also happen to be in a crossover business will severely hinder this effort.
The Proper Position to Take on Voids in Solder Joints
Jumping Off the Bandwagon By: Tom Borkes
The number of variables involved in void creation is daunting and not as well understood as you might think, notwithstanding the hundreds of technical papers written on the subject. The void acceptance criterion is ill defined and strongly tied to void locations, volume and size.
The Sales Cycle: Social Media - It's Nothing New...or Is It?
The Sales Cycle By: Barry Matties
It's not whether or not social media is good, bad, or here to stay; it's about focusing on your community and delivering your message. Social media is nothing new; it's been around for thousands of years. The difference now is that new outlets allow any person to have an immediate voice and be relevant.
PCBs are MSDs
More Than Just Dry Air By: Richard Heimsch
There were no published standards for storage and moisture protection for printed boards until 2010, and their proper handling is still often overlooked. But with the correct storage control and the use of suitable drying methods, considerable manufacturing advantages can be gained; PCBs will remain solderable for a much longer time and damage during reflow due to moisture can be eliminated.
It’s Only Common Sense: Listen Up, Kids! Advice for Millennials
It's Only Common Sense By: Dan Beaulieu
Don’t you love getting advice from greybeards like me? I bet you can’t wait to hear our war stories about the good old days, right? I’m sure you sit and listen politely until we turn our backs—then your eyes nearly roll out of your head. I’ve been there too.
Beyond Design: It’s a Material World
Beyond Design By: Barry Olney
Years ago, when clock frequencies were low and signal rise times were slow, selecting a dielectric material for your PCB was not difficult; we all just used FR-4. And we didn’t really care about the properties of the materials. However, with today’s multi-gigabit designs and their extremely fast rise times and tight margins, precise material selection is crucial to the performance of the product. Materials used for the fabrication of the multilayer PCB absorb high frequencies and reduce edge rates, and that loss in the transmission lines is a major cause of signal integrity issues. But we are not all designing cutting-edge boards and sometimes we tend to over-specify requirements that can lead to inflated production costs.
The Pulse: The Rough Road to Revelation
The Pulse By: Martyn Gaudion
Several years ago, an unsuspecting French yachtsman moored his yacht to the railings of the local harbour. For a very nervous full tide cycle, he awaited to see if the cleats would pull out of the glass fiber hull. Fortunately, the glass held. A yachtsman at high tide isn’t too worried about whether the seabed is rough or smooth, but at low tide, the concern about a sandy or rocky seabed is altogether different. With PCBs, the move to low-loss laminates exposes a similar situation.
Developments in Wet Processing: Beyond Spraying and Dipping
Ladle on Manufacturing By: Marc Ladle
Spraying and dipping! Wet processing is based on two simple principles: Spray the work piece or immerse it in a bath. Most of the things you do in a complex machine you could also do with a series of buckets, but the results are likely to be much less reliable or efficient.
EPTE Newsletter: New Materials for Wearable Electronics
EPTE Newsletter By: Dominique Numakura
Technology continues to evolve, and wearable electronics are the focal point for many new concepts. The next generation of wearable products for the consumer electronics industry will create a new market with nothing but upside for manufacturers and suppliers.
Solving a True DAM Problem
Solving DAM Problems By: Gray McQuarrie
It's one thing to be a consultant where you don't have to really do anything, but quite another to be accountable to solve a truly difficult problem. Anybody who has been on the firing line of a tough problem knows the feeling of vulnerability that results. Will I fail? And if I do fail, will I survive or be crushed?
Mr. Laminate Tells All: IPC-4101 Validation Services—The QPL Lives Again
Mr. Laminate Tells All By: Doug Sober
When the electronics industry transitioned from the military standard MIL-S-13949 to the industry standard IPC-4101 in 1997, the electronics supply chain lost something fundamental: the Qualified Products List (QPL) for all the laminate and prepreg materials.
Artificial Intelligence: Super-Exciting, Ultra-Competitive
SMT Perspectives and Prospects By: Dr. Jennie Hwang
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become common everyday words, however, the present reality and future potential are yet to evolve. This article looks into the key considerations and strategies to better leverage these trends that are expected to transform the manufacturing world.
All About Flex: Terms and Conditions
All About Flex By: Dave Becker
An issue that is frequently addressed by many of us in the printed circuit industry, and by others in the world of contract fabrication and assembly, is dealing with the “Terms and Conditions” in a purchase agreement or contract.
Sensible Design: My Top Coating Queries
Sensible Design By: Phil Kinner
This is my first of many columns for 2018, and I have decided to share some top trending queries that concern many different applications and areas. LEDs are always a hot topic, as are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and harsh environment concerns.
CircuitData: A New Open Standard for PCB Fab Data Exchange
The European Angle By: Pete Starkey
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.
Flex Talk: Mina—RFID, LED and What Else?
Flex Talk By: Tara Dunn
“The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.” This Edward Teller quote is an apt description of the Mina product. This advanced surface treatment, recently developed to enable low-temperature soldering to aluminum in the RFID market, is not only finding success in that market, but quickly finding a home in other markets, including the LED market, where the incentive is both cost and improved LED performance.
Filling the Gap: Underfill Rework
Knocking Down the Bone Pile By: Bob Wettermann
Rework technicians must take into account a variety of factors when considering whether or not to rework underfilled components, such as BGAs, CSPs, flip chips, and other component packages on handheld devices. But without a full understanding of the underfill characteristics, expect the outcome to be low yields unless the board was designed with reworkability in mind.
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