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Book Recommendation: The Excellence Dividend—Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last

If you wait for a Tom Peters book the way some people (myself included) wait for a new Stephen King novel, then you’re in luck because Tom finally has a new book and it’s a winner. This book covers a myriad of topics in pure Tom Peters fashion. Who but Peters could bring good old meat and potatoes common sense logic to this fast-moving new world order of social media and techno faux-communications?

EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 1: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 1

Just like old times—meeting with John Ling, with whom I had previously travelled to industry events for over two decades, and who still carries the role of EIPC marketing manager, to fly together from Birmingham UK to Dusseldorf in Germany for the EIPC 50th Anniversary Summer Conference.

Cerambus Discusses the Next Generation in PCB Plating

Cerambus Technology Inc. President John Nash sat down with I-Connect007 for a discussion on the latest developments in plating technology, challenges and opportunities in the China market, and their strategy for sustaining growth in a highly competitive industry.

Michael Weinhold: Time to Say Goodbye

This year’s EIPC summer conference marked the 50th anniversary for the organization, and with it, the retirement of longtime EIPC member and industry leader Michael Weinhold. I spoke with Michael on his 50+ years in the industry, and on behalf of everyone at I-Connect007, we wish Michael a pleasant retirement and the best going forward.

EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference

As the 2018 EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference came to a close in Dusseldorf, Germany, Barry Matties met with Chairman Alun Morgan to look back at how far the EIPC has come in the past 50 years and say goodbye to Michael Weinhold, longtime director and industry veteran, who announced his retirement at this year’s event.

Flex Time: Why is Rigid-Flex So Expensive?

One question that I hear fairly often, particularly after an initial quotation, is “Why is rigid-flex so expensive?” In this article, I’ll share with designers the cost drivers in rigid-flex relative to standard rigid boards and flex circuits with stiffeners. A typical rigid-flex PWB will cost about seven times the cost of the same design on a hard board, and two to three times an equivalent flex circuit with stiffeners.

Book Recommendation: Listen Up or Lose Out

There can never be enough books about the art and virtue of listening. As a sales trainer, I've learned that there is nothing more challenging than teaching people how to be quiet and listen. So, it was with great anticipation that I read this new book by the Boltons. Never has there been a better time to try to teach people, not just salespeople to turn down the devices, focus, and start intentionally listening to one another.

EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 2: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 2

Alun Morgan wrapped-up the proceedings, thanking delegates for their attention, speakers for sharing their knowledge and sponsors for their generous support. Special thanks and good wishes to Michael Weinhold for his enormous contribution over the years, and to Kirsten Smit-Westenberg and Carol Pelzers for their calm and professional organisation and management of another superb event.

EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 2: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 1

The sun was shining in Dusseldorf as delegates returned to the conference room for the second day of the EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference. There were very few empty chairs—even those who had enjoyed a late networking session in the hotel bar had taken their seats as Paul Waldner opened the proceedings with Session 5, on a theme of future PCB design, material and processes for the PCB supply chain.

Book Recommendation: Customer Service Training 101

No matter what business you are in, whether it be retail or B2B, you’re going to be able to benefit from everything in this book. It is without a doubt the best customer service training book on the market today.


Flying Probe Testing: It’s about Speed and Stability Says MicroCraft

The I-Connect007 team had the pleasure of meeting with Takayuki Hidehira at the MicroCraft booth at productronica, where they had on display their new eight-probe flying tester, fully equipped with autoloader and new ease-of-use software. Takayuki discusses where flying probe testers currently stand in the market and MicroCraft’s observation of the rise of captive PCB shops in Japan.

Catching up with… Artnet Pro

I recently sat down with Artnet Pro Co-owner Meir Polack to discuss his company's move to represent Altix in North American, South America and parts of Asia. Artnet has traditionally sold pre-owned Orbotech and Camtek equipment, especially LDIs, but due to the increasing competitiveness of this high-end market they decided to seek out the best alternative in new DI equipment.

EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 1: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 2

Part 2 of I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey's article on the recent EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference in Dusseldorf, Germany, continues with recap of technical presentations by Emma Hudson, Shannon Juan, Alex Ippich, and Russell Morgan. Read on.

The PCB Norsemen: The Velocity of Technology— What Does It Really Mean?

Driving a car is probably one of the areas where the user comes in direct touch with the technology development. And we understand the speed when we see how fast we get new versions of smartphones and other gadgets. But in what direction are we going?

Book Recommendation: Combo Prospecting

Tony J. Hughes has come up with a series of unique techniques combining social media and traditional methods to get to the right people with the right message using the right techniques.

RMAs: Negative Experience or Valuable Opportunity?

Non-conforming material that is sent back by the customer can easily be interpreted as a negative experience. However, if it is perceived as an opportunity to learn and support the customer it becomes a much more pleasant and satisfying endeavor.

Excerpts from Prismark’s Presentation at CPCA 2018

Prismark Partners LLC presented a detailed report at the recent CPCA meeting and show in Shanghai, China, on the challenges and opportunities for the PCB market. Part of the discussion was on 5G and is excerpted here with permission.

PCB Material Toolbox for Today’s 3G and 4G Networks and Future High-Speed Needs in 5G

The material toolbox idea first came up when I saw the IPC appendix list for standard 1-ply stack-ups. The idea is to make a very simple bill of materials, specifications and notes, and possibly use the same prepreg/resin in the laminate and in the core.

Book Recommendation: Do Good—Embracing Brand Citizenship to Fuel Both Purpose and Profit

The best way to get your people engaged to is give them a mission that is bigger than the company. Now more than ever, people want to believe in things and causes that matter. They want to be proud of the company they work for.

5G—Generation after Generation

If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard of 5G, but you may not understand what all the fuss is about. First, 5G simply means fifth-generation mobile networks. The best way to understand what 5G is about is to understand all the other Gs, like 3G and 4G (we rarely hear about the early Gs!).


Catching up with Fineline-Global N. American CEO Eran Navick

After entering the North American marketplace just six months ago, printed circuit board provider Fineline-Global is making its mark. As the largest value-added PCB supplier in the world, Fineline prides itself on being any able to meet any challenge for any company in any part of the world. I recently had the chance to sit down with Eran Navick, the company’s North American CEO to catch up on how things are going.

May the G Force Be With You

We are about to begin the transition from the present cellular standard 4G LTE to the next generation, 5G. As in the past, most people will wonder, “What does 5G mean to me, and what is LTE anyway?” After all, if you can make your connection reliably and you can send and receive data at reasonable speeds, why should you really care?

The Institute of Circuit Technology Annual Symposium 2018

ICT technical director Bill Wilkie is well-known for choosing notable venues for Institute of Circuit Technology events, and his choice for this year’s Annual Symposium was the National Motor Museum, located in the village of Beaulieu in the heart of the New Forest, a national park in the county of Hampshire in Southern England. The region is known for its heathland, forest trails and native ponies.

Book Recommendation: Becoming Facebook—The 10 Challenges that Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World

Besides being an excellent history book into one of the most fascinating companies in the world, it is also a great business book. Full disclosure, I wanted to read this book because I wanted to know the Facebook story. I did not expect any of the lessons in this book to apply to me and my own small business or the small businesses that I work with, but I was wrong. The book is filled with valuable lessons that can be applied to any company, no matter the size.

Day-to-Day: ZTE and the Potential Impending Trade War Saga

Nanya Technology, Taiwan's biggest DRAM chipmaker, will apply for a permit to provide chips to ZTE. The company said it has been notified about restrictions on shipments to ZTE, and that the ban would have limited effect on its operation. The company said on May 9 that it is preparing to apply for a permit to continue shipping chips to ZTE Corp. as export restrictions took a new turn due to a US-China trade spat.

The Augmented World Expo: Go XR or Become Extinct

Now on its ninth year, the Augmented World Expo (AWE USA) is perhaps the largest event for professionals focused on providing science fiction-like abilities through XR (cross reality) and associated wearable technology. This year’s event showcased over 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and featured numerous presentations and discussions covering topics ranging from the latest and greatest uses and devices for XR to the business of marketing and monetizing it.

‘Can Do’ in CAM Outsourcing: CAM Engineering—Reducing Costs

While having on-demand capacity, improved automation, and fast turn-around are critical to any front-end engineering operation, achieving those goals with a cost-effective solution is imperative. Electronics are constantly under cost-reduction pressures. Functionality, capability, and complexity increase while costs decrease.

Golden Anniversary for EIPC at the 2018 Summer Conference

June marks the start of summer, and with that, the EIPC’s annual summer conference. Highlighted by its thought-provoking presentations, social outings and factory tours, the conference continues to be valuable and productive for attendees. This year should prove no different, with EIPC set to celebrate its 50th anniversary. I spoke with EIPC Executive Director Kirsten Smit-Westenberg about what can be expected from the upcoming conference in Düsseldorf, Germany.

AWE: Introducing the Augmented World Expo

The largest and most diverse event regarding the depth and breadth of technological progress and advancement is CES, which lets us get updates and allows us to focus on anything from drones to 3D additive PCB fabrication, from autonomous transportation and the degree of electronics in the newer and upcoming vehicles to the quantum computers and AI of the near future, from the forecasts found in science fiction of the ‘60s and ‘70s to the reality of 21st century technology.

RTW CPCA Show: AWP Discusses Whelen Engineering Project Success

At the recent CPCA Show 2018 in Shanghai, Jochen Zeller, vice president of AWP Group, speaks about the challenges impacting the wet processing part of the PCB manufacturing industry, such as the continuing miniaturization trend leading to finer widths and line spacings, as well as traceability.


Experts Discussion with John Talbot, Tramonto Circuits

For this first issue of Flex007 Magazine, we interviewed John Talbot, president and owner of Tramonto Circuits. Headquartered in metro Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tramonto manufactures flexible and rigid PCBs for a variety of industry segments. Editors Andy Shaughnessy, Patty Goldman and Stephen Las Marias asked John to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the world of flexible circuits, and some of the trends he’s seeing in this market.

Experts Discussion: The Flex Technologists Speak

For our first issue of the Flex007 Magazine, we invited a group of flexible circuit experts to discuss their work in this rapidly growing segment. Participants included Jonathan Weldon of DuPont, Mark Finstad of Flexible Circuit Technologies, and Scott McCurdy and Scott Miller of Freedom CAD. In a free-wheeling discussion with Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties, these technologists share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities in flexible circuits, as well as what constitutes the cutting edge of flex right now.

Process Control for HDI Fabrication

A subject that gets very little discussion but is essential to the HDI process is automation. That is, the control of chemical concentrations in our many PCB processes and, especially, those that have been mechanized and can change very rapidly. HDI is one of those series of processes where control is the key to high yields.

ACE’s AccuWrap Simplifies Multiple Sequential Laminations with Blind Vias

At DesignCon 2018, I spoke with James Hofer, general manager for Accurate Circuit Engineering, a quick-turn fabricator based in Santa Ana, California. James gave me a preview of AccuWrap, a new type of processing technology that lets designers reduce the amount of copper during sequential laminations while still meeting IPC specs, which should be of great interest to RF designers.

Drilling and Routing Machines: Taking Control

Once driven by hardware, the controller industry for PCB drilling is now one being driven primarily by software, so says Holger Dornau, of SIEB & MEYER. Barry Matties sat down with Holger at the CPCA show in Shanghai to discuss CNC drilling and routing machine controllers and why It's becoming more and more important for fabricators to consider.

Future Automotive Requirements for PCBs

In the automotive electronics industry, a huge change in functional and environmental requirements will be visible during the next few years. This is driven by three major trends: connected mobility, automated mobility, and the increasing electrified mobility.

Triangle Labs: Covering the Niche Market of Large Boards

I recently had the opportunity to speak with John-Michael Gray, president of Triangle Labs. We had quite a discussion on their rather unique capability of building large-format PCBs and multilayers—perhaps the largest PCBs in the world.

Automotive, the Electronics Industry’s New Driver

The automobile industry is becoming a combination of most of the traditional electronics segments: It’s a consumer product with a computer, communications center, and a few medical monitoring-type tendencies (measuring your alertness, heart rate, etc.), all rolled (no pun intended) into one incredible machine that is influencing our industry as none other.

Autonomous Transportation: Using Disruptive Technologies to Create Social Disruption and Change

Those of us who have been driving for the last 50−60+ years have seen great change. At first, it was slow; we went from manual shift to automatic shift transmissions, then we started adding simple things such as FM radio (yes, that was a premium add-on in the early ‘60s), then air conditioning and power windows, fuel injection, cruise control, airbags, and in the last decade everything from GPS to LED lighting to automatic speed and distance control, back-up and surrounding cameras and so much more.

RTW CPCA: Fischer Discusses Automation, Industry 4.0

Dr. Wolfgang Babel, CEO and president of Helmut Fischer Group, speaks with Editor Stephen Las Marias about the latest improvements in their coating thickness test systems to help customers in their automation and Industry 4.0 journey.


Show & Tell: IPC Awards—Rewarding Tireless Efforts for the Good of the Industry

Every year IPC presents dozens of awards to committee members for their work completing standards and specifications and for other activities within the organization. However, a few awards are extra special and presented for extraordinary efforts, for long-time commitment to both IPC and the electronics industry.

The Direction of New Technology

I don’t have to tell you that things are changing fast in our industry. New tech seems to launch daily these days. How can we keep up? How can we even maintain? What’s coming next and how can we best prepare, in order to stay in the game?

Unimicron Germany Rises from the Ashes with New Smart Factory

This is a review of the grand opening of Unimicron’s new smart factory in Geldern, Germany. A fire in a PCB shop is an experience we all dread, but still it happens, and the consequences can be devastating. In the early hours of December 28, 2016, the innerlayer production plant at RUWEL International in Geldern, Germany, caught fire and the whole factory and its contents were destroyed.

Schmid Looks to the Future for Industry 4.0 and More

I met with Rüdiger Lange, CSO at Schmid Group, in their spacious, comfortable booth at productronica. We discussed the current capital equipment market and Schmid’s business direction for the future while watching some of their new technology in action.

SHOW & TELL: Bringing STEM Students to IPC APEX EXPO for a View of the Industry

On the last morning of IPC APEX EXPO 2018, we met with Nancy Jaster, IPC design programs manager and one of the driving forces behind IPC’s STEM Outreach program for high school students. We spoke about the students who were arriving on site at IPC APEX EXPO, and what the industry, and IPC, hoped to achieve with this valuable program.

Elga Europe Reality and Ultra-High-Resolution Photoresist

While walking around the PCB hall at productronica, I was approached by my good friend Gene Weiner. Gene emphatically directed me to the Elga booth to find out about their new extra-thick dry film that can image extremely fine features with a perfectly perpendicular sidewall. Elga Europe CEO Giorgio Favini filled me in on the details.

Setting the Record Straight: CEO Asher Levy on the Future of Orbotech

With the recent planned acquisition of Orbotech in place by maker KLA-Tencor, much of the industry has speculated about Orbotech’s future. Barry Matties spoke with CEO Asher Levy about what lies in store for the Orbotech group and, more specifically, their PCB division should the deal close.

GreenSource: Good for the Industry, Good for the World

Whelen Engineering has recently spun off their new printed circuit manufacturing facility to service the merchant market as a new business entity, GreenSource Fabrication LLC.

Everyone is a Customer; Everyone is a Supplier

We’ve all heard the cliché: What goes around, comes around. I’ve always felt that was especially true in our industry, with the frequent job changes people make—much accelerated in recent years but always a factor, since I can remember.

The March of Disruptive Technologies

There have always been disruptive technologies; thousands of years ago, fire totally disrupted the path of mankind. I have heard it said that truly disruptive technologies are like earthquakes on the seismographs of history.


Book Review: Questions That Sell

This is a great book to help salespeople learn how to win over their customers and an even better book for helping companies, particularly their inside salespeople, to create customers for life. Creating a customer-focused company is all about knowing everything possible about your customers and the best way to find out everything about your customers is to ask them.

Understanding Your Customers

Understanding your customers may seem like a no-brainer, but conversations with company leaders across various industries the past five years have demonstrated to me just how difficult this can be in practice.

IPC 6012-DA Revisions: The Approach to Cleanliness, Thickness, Inspection, and Wicking

IPC’s Automotive Addendum task group was started in November 2014 and the first edition of IPC 6012-DA was released in April 2016. We are now working on the revised version, and expect a release in Q2 2018. As standards need to evolve, develop and follow the needs of the industry, this work is continuous.

CML’s Mission: Providing Solutions for Customers—Including the Right Supplier

During IPC APEX EXPO, I met with CML USA General Manager Ivan Wong, who was a first-time attendee at the San Diego event. CML is a worldwide PCB sourcing solutions provider with offices around the globe, but the company just recently entered the U.S. market. I spoke with Ivan about CML’s mission and the U.S. office’s plans.

Catching up with Dan Thau of Millennium Circuits Limited

Millennium Circuits Limited is one of the fastest growing printed circuit board suppliers in our country today. Located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, this company has grown exponentially since it began some 12 years ago.

Conversations on the Floor: IPC APEX EXPO 2018

This year’s show was one of the best in recent history, both in attendance and enthusiasm. The exhibit floor was sold out, and every single person I talked to was extremely optimistic about business in 2018. What follows are a series of observations and excerpts from conversations I had with some of the most interesting people I met.

PCB Manufacturing (R)evolution in the Making

At the recent HKPCA and IPC Show 2017 in Shenzhen, China, I was able to interview Les Sainsbury, CEO, and Andrew Kelley, CTO, of XACT PCB, as well as Alex Stepinski, vice president of Whelen Engineering’s PCB Fab Business Unit, to discuss process evolution and technology developments in the PCB manufacturing industry.

The Vast Offerings in Laminate Technologies from TUC

While at IPC APEX EXPO a few weeks ago, I sat down with George Hsin, chief strategy officer for TUC Worldwide, and Alan Cochrane, president of TUC North America. I was interested in learning more about the company and their laminate products and Alan was happy to fill me in.

The PCB Dinosaurs Get New Life at IPC APEX EXPO 2018

The Order of the PCB Dinosaurs (originally called the PWB Dinosaurs—the sign of a true dino) was born because of a comment almost 20 years ago by my good friend Bernie Kessler. Back in the day, when suppliers like us became IPC members, we could only be associate members; unlike fabricators, we could not serve on the board and we could not lead key committees.

From Math to Marketing: Orbotech CMO’s Worldview of the Industry

Barry Matties met with Orbotech’s corporate VP of Business Development and CMO, Lior Maayan, in Shenzhen and spoke about the next-generation processes currently challenging Orbotech's R&D team. Most notable among them are additive technologies like the automated optical shaping solution, and the growth of MSAP, flex, and HDI.


A Discussion About Everything Under the Sun

From flex circuits to HDI, Industry 4.0, leading market drivers, and materials—this wide-ranging discussion with Sunshine Global Circuits CTO David Aldape highlights the latest and future developments, challenges, and opportunities in the PCB manufacturing industry.

One Great Customer Service Story

Over the years I have been involved with many customers and many rescue missions. A rescue mission occurs when a shop screws up so much and hurts the customer so badly they have to do something extraordinary to get the customer out of hot water and not lose the account.

ESI Targets Growing HDI Space

At the recent HKPCA and IPC Show 2017 in Shenzhen, China, Chris Ryder, director of product management for HDI at Electro Scientific Industries Inc. (ESI), discusses how laser-based processing is addressing the challenges in HDI development, and MSAP technology and its impact on the PCB industry.

Show & Tell: IPC APEX EXPO 2018 Opening Keynote Review

The first keynote speech of IPC APEX EXPO 2018 was presented by Jared Cohen, head of Google’s Jigsaw team of engineers, researchers, and geopolitical experts. He explained that Jigsaw builds products not only to tackle global security challenges, but also to support free expression and access to information, especially in repressive societies.

What Happens to Our Industry Without a Skilled Workforce?

I’d like to discuss a critical issue facing our industry – the skills gap – and IPC’s commitment to supporting its members as we collectively seek to find solutions.

Show & Tell: Corporate Awards Bestowed by IPC

Every year IPC recognizes two companies that have made significant contributions to IPC and the electronics industry. These awards are named after industry executives who were themselves significant and outstanding contributors: one for a PCB fabricator company and one for an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company. This year’s recipients were Northrop Grumman and Rockwell Collins, respectively.

Weiner’s World—March 2018

SEMICON China 2018 was amazing in its size and attendance. More than 1,000 exhibitors filled an event record of more than 74,000 square meters of exhibition space—the size of nearly 10 professional soccer fields. This year's theme was "collect, collaborate, innovate."

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Arlon Achieves IPC Validation Services Accreditation

John Wright, quality manager at Arlon Electronic Materials, discusses how the company recently achieved IPC validation services accreditation.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: IPC Solutions Program—Transportation and Workforce Development Initiatives

Sanjay Huprikar, IPC's VP of solutions, discusses the IPC solutions program, including transportation and workforce development initiatives.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Matrix Discusses Advanced Automation Equipment

Matrix's Fred Long discusses advanced automation equipment for the PCB industry, including new cleaning technology for panels and dry film laminating equipment.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Bowman—XRF Equipment, New IPC 4552A Spec, and How They Go to Market

Tom Leone, president, and Zach Dismukes, sales and support engineer from Bowman, discuss their XRF equipment, the new IPC 4552A spec, and how they go to market.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Rogers' High-Frequency/High-Temp Substrates

Tony Mattingly, senior product manager at Rogers Corporation, discusses the company's new substrates for high-frequency/high-temperature applications.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Perfect Point’s Recently Developed Coating Technology for Small Drills

VP Shane Stewart describes some recently developed coating technology for small drills that helps improve debris removal and aspect ratio drilling capability.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Insulectro Discusses Importance of Helping PCB Shops

Chris Hunrath, VP of technology at Insulectro, discusses their recent expansion of inventory, especially substrate materials, the need for quick access, and the importance of working closely with their customers and OEMs.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Catching Up with Cirexx International

Philipp Menges, president of Cirexx International, discusses yearly company updates and growing markets, including automotive, medical, and military.
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