Article Highlights
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
09/30/2022 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Michael Carano: A Focus on Process Control, Part 2
09/28/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
The New World Order of JIC
09/27/2022 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
A Focus on Process Control, Part 1
09/27/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
09/23/2022 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
PCB :: Associations

Latest Articles

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week, our five must-reads include the IPC report on the EMS industry and a report on ICs for the automotive market. Add to that Lockheed’s highest powered DoD laser yet, IPC’s APEX keynote announcement, and—for you conference and expo junkies—a calendar of upcoming industry events. I can’t help but notice that much of our news is about, well, something new. In this case, my editor’s picks for the week capture new technology, new perspectives, new ways to communicate content, and new developments that we can expect to see in our future daily life. To borrow a phrase from the TV show “Firefly,” everything is “shiny” this week. I will be at PCB West, the IPC Advanced Packaging symposium, SMTA International, and electronica. If you see me, say hello, and share something cool about the part of the industry you’re in.

Michael Carano: A Focus on Process Control, Part 2

In this second half of our conversation, Michael Carano discusses some of the metrics that fabricators need to consider before investing in new processes, especially process control technologies, and some of the challenges board shops face updating brownfield sites.

The New World Order of JIC

The great business thought leader Margaret Heffernan commented that we are changing from just-in-time (JIT) to just-in-case (JIC). As we’ve worked our way through the issues of the past two years, the world is changing from a complicated to a complex system, and we must be prepared to face the challenges it brings. To survive today, we need the JIC mentality. We must be prepared for the unexpected. No longer can we rely on cycles and patterns to predict the future, or what we might be able to handle based on what that future brings. Now we must prepare for the unexpected. We must be flexible and able to adapt to whatever comes our way.

A Focus on Process Control, Part 1

Michael Carano is a noted subject matter expert with respect to process control, electroplating and metallization technology, surface finishing, and reliability. So, it was only natural that we sat down to talk about mechanizing an existing facility given today’s fickle environment. Will any of the CHIPS funding trickle down to bare board fabrication? What process can be adjusted on the factory floor? The focus needs to be more than just on manufacturing and getting work out the door, he says, but also process control.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It’s officially fall now, and in Atlanta the temperature has plummeted to the mid-80s. We’ve all bumped our air conditioners up to 74 degrees. That means it’s trade show season, and I’ve been busy looking for my suitcase. This week, we have an assortment of news about associations, education, and advocacy, as well as another installment of our Printed Electronics Roundtable. And if you’re looking for a job, you are in luck; our jobConnect007 section is chock-full of open positions at all levels in this industry.

Pack Your Bags! We’ve Got Your Trade Show Calendar Here

It’s officially fall, and that means it's time to start planning your trade show attendance. To help you make decisions about when and where to go, we’ve put together a list of industry trade shows. It has been two long years with no or few in-person trade shows, and we’ve felt it. So, now we’re back in business and ready to hit the road. Do you have a show or conference to add to our list? Let us know!

IPC: Companies Are Intentional About Tracking Environmental and Social Risks

Leading companies in the electronics manufacturing industry are highly intentional about their environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities, with climate change and energy use among the most closely scrutinized issues, an IPC analysis shows. As part of IPC’s ESG for Electronics initiative, IPC is interested in developing resources for members on the most common ESG methods and priorities of leading companies across the electronics value chain. In support of this, IPC has preliminarily analyzed the ESG reports of approximately a dozen companies in selected portions of the industry.

The Brave New World of the CTO

In this conversation with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, Alex Stepinski shares his insight on how to automate the PCB fab. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t start with new equipment and panel handlers; it’s much more strategic than that. Alex details the new role of a chief technology officer in the 21st century and cautions that we don’t have nearly enough of them in the industry. The focus, he says, should be on statements of work rather than so much on skilled labor. He also hopes this is just the beginning of more important conversations like these.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

“You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.” This saying is attributed to Jim Rohn, and I couldn’t help thinking of that quote as I put together this week’s listings. Hear me out: 1) There are five items on our list; 2) These items zoomed to the top based on reader interest; 3) Every single one of these news items has an “association” association—IPC, iNEMI, SMTA, and NextFlex are all represented in what you, dear reader, chose to explore this last week.

Pricing Strategies With Michael Carano

We recently spoke with longtime I-Connect007 columnist Michael Carano, vice president of quality at Averatek, about pricing strategies for PCB fabricators. We’re seeing some movement in this segment as fabricators, already dealing with some of the tightest profit margins around, find themselves having to either raise their prices or trying to massage more revenue out of their already streamlined processes. We asked Michael for some pricing strategies for fabricators, and he shared a range of options for today’s manufacturers who aren’t afraid to rethink their processes and try new ideas. And, as he says, people will still pay good money for a quality, reliable PCB.


I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It feels like the first day of school. It’s September, and we’re all officially back at our desks, workstations, or kitchen tables. Even Les Vacances is over. Oui, c’est vrai! But instead of facing new teachers, we have to deal with diverse market forces, supply chain issues, and technology that never seems to stop evolving. Of course, that’s what makes this industry so interesting, isn’t it?

Will Marsh: CHIPS Act Update

Now that the CHIPS Act has become law, Nolan Johnson reconnects with PCBAA President Will Marsh to ask the question: What now? Will brings Nolan up to speed on the initial stages of implementation and administration, and provides more insight on the Supporting American Printed Circuit Boards Act of 2022.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

The CHIPS Act continues to captivate the attention of industry insiders, as evidenced by the reader interest in our U.S. legislation coverage. When talking with all of you, we hear a wide range of opinion regarding the CHIPS Act funding, ranging from enthusiasm to cynicism—sometimes in the same conversation with the same person. You can expect ongoing coverage as news continues to unfold. Advanced packaging and the CHIPS Act are increasingly being linked together on the printed circuit side of the industry conversation. Perfect timing, then, that IPC is hosting a symposium on advanced packaging October 11-12 in Washington, D.C.

A Deeper Look at the CHIPS Act Investment

In this interview with Chris Peters at U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE), Nolan Johnson seeks for better understanding regarding the implications of funding the CHIPS Act. Frankly, where and how will the $52 billion be spent? Who will decide how the funds are allocated? And surprisingly, who will benefit the most from this boost into the microelectronics industry?

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week we have quite a variety of articles for you. There has been so much electronics industry news coming out of Washington, D.C., that it can be hard to keep track of what’s going on. So, Editor Michelle Te compiled a handy-dandy reference guide to recent legislation news, including our exclusive coverage. We need to keep an eye on these senators and representatives. They’ve been talking about the importance of our industry for the past year, but this is an election year, after all. They’ve been known to say one thing and do another.

Board Pricing Challenges and Opportunities

The cost of everything is on the way up, and fabricators are feeling the squeeze. They may hesitate to raise their prices because they don’t want to scare off business, but what options do they have? We asked James Hofer, general manager of Accurate Circuit Engineering, to weigh in with his thoughts on this conundrum.

What’s Going On in Congress? Your Handy Guide to PCB Legislation Headlines

We know you have so many questions about what the legislation means for you. Will there be funds to expand or upgrade my facilities? What about tax breaks? How will my specific needs be known? What will the current legislation mean for U.S. vs. China relations? Use this handy guide to get caught up, sort out the CHIPS from the USICAs, and be that someone who talks knowledgably at dinner parties.

IPC Advanced Packaging Symposium to Draw Industry, Government Representatives

Nolan Johnson speaks with IPC’s Chris Mitchell, vice president of global government relations, and Matt Kelly, chief technologist, about the inaugural IPC Advanced Packaging Symposium, scheduled for October 11-12, 2022 in Washington, DC. In this conversation, Mitchell and Kelly detail the symposium's objectives, presenters, and the value to both fabricators and assemblers in attending.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Can it be Friday already? Seems like I’ve just barely put away my Tuesday dishes. Some weeks, I wonder where my days went as they fly by so fast I hardly even realize it. As I looked back through the news for the week, it was clear why everything went so fast: There was a lot going on. The news this week had a nice feel to it. It seems like the industry is starting to gain some traction again with shows, mergers and acquisitions, and companies getting to do those “extras” that they wanted to do before the pandemic reared its ugly head. It had a little of that “back to normal” feel, even if we aren’t quite there yet. What do you think? Are we normal yet?

Time for a Price Hike?

If you manage a fabrication facility, we don’t envy you. You’re being hit on all sides with price increases, you’re traditionally leery of raising your own prices, but you must do something. Do you raise prices, trying to squeeze out more efficiency, or is it some combination of both? We asked Prototron President Dave Ryder and I-Connect007 columnist Dan Beaulieu to share their thoughts on the current fab pricing environment, the need for greater cooperation, and some pricing strategies for fabricators who are nervously eyeing their bottom line.


Catching Up With NEXTGEN’S Ravi Kumar

Companies from India are becoming more sophisticated by providing complete engineering services as well as design, production, and assembly of printed circuits. In this conversation with Ravi Kumar, director of operations at NEXTGEN PCB, I learned that even though the company is only a few years old, it’s already making its mark in the industry. Ravi has a plan to not only expand in India, but to enter the U.S. and UK markets with his company’s services.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

There was some good news this week, as Republicans and Democrats managed to cooperate long enough to pass the CHIPS Act. Members of the House and Senate don’t usually act until they get worried about being voted out of office, so pardon me if I’m not ready to sing “Happy Days Are Here Again” just yet. But this is still really good news; the politicians are on the record now, and we can hold them accountable.

Today’s M&A: Right on Target

In this enlightening conversation with M&A specialist Tom Kastner, Nolan Johnson learns that it’s a buyer’s market—and a seller’s market too. This sets up an interesting dynamic no matter which side you might be on. What trends are in play that have led to this situation and how can you make the most of it? Tom shares valuable insights that will get you thinking and planning your own strategies.

Printed Circuit Boards: Past the Lobby and Onto the Floor

There has not been a time in recent memory when the U.S. legislative body is putting as much focus on the microelectronics industries. One bill, the CHIPS Act, was signed into law last year. A new bill introduced this year seeks to allocate funding for printed circuit board fabrication. In this exclusive interview, our team spoke with Travis Kelly, CEO of Isola Group and president of the Printed Circuit Board Association, and U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah), who has co-sponsored the bill now before the House. Travis and Blake both express optimism about onshoring domestic production, but the realities of the legislative calendar may pose some risks.

Challenges of the 2022 PCB Market: The Party’s Over

With his knowledgeable insight into the business and technology of the printed circuit industry, Dr. Shiuh-Kao Chiang, managing partner at Prismark Partners, has put a global perspective on the challenges of the 2022 PCB market. His presentation at the EIPC Summer Conference in Orebro, Sweden, on June 14 was eagerly awaited by an attentive audience, keen to share his vision. From his comments, it was clear that 2022 will be an interesting year and does not appear particularly friendly for the PCB business.

IPC's I-Connect007 Acquisition Update With John Mitchell

Editor Nolan Johnson speaks with I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties and IPC President and CEO John Mitchell about IPC's acquisition of the publishing company, and what this means to I-Connect007's readers.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

The Top 5 list this week contains industry analysis from IPC’s Shawn DuBravac, news on the passage of the U.S. “CHIPS Plus” bill, new materials from Ventec, news about a fab for sale, and a chemistry company completing their acquisition, plus a brand new book in the I-Connect007 eBooks series.

Q4 Concerns: Hold on to Your Hats

IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac has plenty to share about the state of the U.S. economy and how the electronics manufacturing industry might weather the storms of high inflation, rising interest rates, and low unemployment. It’s an interesting situation to find ourselves in as the flurry of opinion on a 2023 recession starts to take shape. Does it make sense to invest in PCB fab now? And how does the rest of the world feel about it? Shawn gets to the bottom line.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Our biggest news this week: I-Connect007 has been acquired by IPC. Every member of the team, including founder and Publisher Barry Matties, is included in this deal. We’ve enjoyed working closely with IPC for decades, especially at events like IPC APEX EXPO, and we have four IPC columnists writing in our magazines and newsletters. This move makes sense for both parties. It enables us to take our magazine, newsletters, and book publishing to the next level, and IPC won’t have to spend years building a media company from the ground up. It really is a win-win.

IPC Acquires Media Company I-Connect007, Strengthening Relationship to Drive Growth and Innovation in the Electronics Industry

IPC, a global electronics manufacturing industry association, has acquired media company I-Connect007, a global source for news and original content serving the printed circuit design, fabrication and assembly/EMS markets.


PCB Finance Class With Jeff De Serrano

Class is in session! PCB Technologies President Jeff De Serrano takes us through some of the struggles of the PCB industry over the past 30 years, how U.S. legislation seeks to level the playing field, and whether a “monopoly” of fabricators is healthy for our industry. In his chat with Nolan Johnson, Jeff gets out his investment playbook and talks strategy. Don’t miss this one.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It’s always interesting how certain groups of news emerge in our most-read content. This week, reader interest seemed focused on two distinct themes: Mexico and awards. In this week’s list, we find the inaugural award recipients from iNEMI’s Project Leadership Awards. We also bring you the award recipients from the SEMI FlexTech conference held last week in San Francisco. News from Mexico includes a new Atotech facility, and an interview with IPC’s David Hernandez and Lorena Villanueva about IPC’s expanding presence in Mexico. Metcal’s new hot air rework system also got a lot of attention, with an abundance of reader interest.

A Primer on M&A With Tom Kastner

Tom Kastner of GP Ventures is a busy man these days. He’s been involved in several M&A deals, including a recent acquisition by Summit Interconnect. Tom spent some time with Dan Beaulieu, who often consults with PCB and PCBA companies, about what it looks like when a company is thinking of buying or selling—and how a consultant like Tom helps negotiate the best deal.

IPC Mexico Continues to Grow

IPC Mexico has been growing for the past few years, and it’s no wonder: Mexico has become a major hub in the world of PCB manufacturing, spurred in part by reshoring as companies pulled work back from China during the pandemic. As the country’s maquiladoras thrived, IPC began expanding the Mexican educational and training operations, and the group recently named Lorena Villanueva as director of IPC Mexico. Andy Shaughnessy and Barry Matties recently spoke with Lorena and IPC Vice President of Education David Hernandez about IPC Mexico’s growth, as well as the office’s plans to provide PCB manufacturers the training resources they need to succeed.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

I’m getting a lot of out-of-office replies. Are you all on the beach now? It’s 91 degrees every day here in Atlanta lately, but each afternoon it rains like we’re in a horror movie, and that drops the temperature down to the subtropical arena. Still, I’ll take heat over freezing any day. Things are heating up in our industry too, as we see from my top five choices this week. First-quarter electronic design revenue is up year-on-year, but PCB revenue barely moved the needle YOY. Editor Nolan Johnson spent the week at SEMICON West and the FLEX Conference, and he brings us a review of these conferences, co-located at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. As he notes, printed electronic circuits are beginning to gain a foothold in the market.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

In more than one conversation while discussing the industry this week, the themes have included industry turmoil, lots of business opportunities, and the urgent need to build out to meet changing demands. In fact, our July issue of PCB007 Magazine, which publishes later this month, will focus on these very topics. It’s definitely one not to be missed! These themes also emerged in this week’s top five news items as well. Top stories include an acquisition in the soldering machinery space, sales and service expansion in Mexico, industry data from SIA on semiconductor global sales data, and strong financial numbers from two China-based manufacturers. Now, with the U.S. Congress putting its focus on the PCB industry, things could really heat up. It’s going to be an interesting year.

Plating on Silver: What’s Old is New Again

About three decades ago, immersion silver, a nitrate-based process, gained a lot of market share in the world of PCB final finishes. More economical than ENIG, flat, solderable, and conductive, it had everything going for it—everything but corrosion resistance in a harsh environment, that is. Champagne voids were also an issue, along with line reduction. But the worst drawback, the characteristic that made the part short over time, was creep corrosion. A build-up of copper sulfide salt that grows in contact with a sulfur-rich environment, heat, and moisture resulted in failures in the field. This was enough to scar the process for good.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

The summer is heating up, and our news this week is on fire, literally. Eltek has resumed making deliveries after a fire at their facility in Petach-Tikva, Israel. There’s never a dull moment in this industry. And we have some good news: EIPC’s conferences are now live events again, and Editor Pete Starkey is back in the saddle, bringing us a review of the two-day conference. I know Pete was getting tired of sitting around his house and watching these events on video.

EIPC Summer Conference 2022: Day 2 Review

Örebro, Sweden on June 15 brought a bright and early start to Day 2 of the EIPC Summer Conference for those who had enjoyed the previous evening’s networking dinner, but had resisted the temptation to over-indulge or to carry on their long-awaited catch-up conversations with old friends into the small hours. All but a few were in their seats for 9 a.m., awake and attentive for Session 4 of the conference, on the theme of new process technologies, moderated by Martyn Gaudion, CEO of Polar Instruments.

The U.S. Economy Needs the Bipartisan Innovation Act and the PCB Act

In this IPC-created interview between Dale Curtis, IPC Advocacy Communications and Chris Mitchell, IPC VP Global Government Relations, the importance of the semiconductor and PCB manufacturing legislation moving through US Congress is highlighted.


EIPC Summer Conference 2022: Day 1 Review

At last, a live EIPC conference and this time in the Swedish city of Örebro, “where history and contemporary culture converge,” a pleasant and convenient location for an event that included a privileged visit to the Ericsson facility in Kumla. Around 100 delegates made the journey and the Örebro Scandic Grand Hotel was an excellent conference venue for the June 14-15 conference.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Market news was certainly big this week. While the U.S. stock market continues make some large swings, the PCB and PCBA are doing their own dance with the numbers. We’re still feeling the effects of the pandemic, but it seems to be more about playing catch up. Still, the industry is showing some instability, both in positive and negative ways.

The Survey Said: Why Don’t You Know Your Fabricator?

When we want to find out what challenges our readers are facing, we just ask. And they don’t mind sharing—the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a recent survey, we asked our PCB designer readers, “Why don’t you know who is going to manufacture your boards?” Here are some of more interesting replies we received, edited slightly for clarity. Do you see yourself in these replies?

Catching up With Author Ed Chambliss: Fixing a ‘Broken’ Business Model

I love books, especially good business books. In fact, I read three or four a week which I believe makes me a very discerning critic when it comes to ones with the right message. "A One-Legged Stool: How Shareholder Primacy Has Broken Business (And What We Can Do About It)" by Ed Chambliss is one that can help us in both business and life. It has the right message. This book is so timely and extremely important now because Chambliss brings to light one of the great wrongs in the thinking of the last century, an error that has broken business for the past 50 years—the idea that we are all in business to make money for our shareholders and (and all others, employees, customers, and vendors be damned). We all know where this has gotten us.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

We’re still not officially into summer yet, but Atlanta is bringing the heat, baby! It’s hit 97 degrees a few times this week, and I now have a fan aimed right at my face. At least it’s nice and humid too. I’m glad I don’t wear make-up. And it’s been a hot week in the circuit board community. This week, Eltek reported a fire at a board shop in Israel, and Flex committed to building a 145,000-square-foor facility in Jalisco, Mexico to serve the electric and autonomous vehicle segment.

Siber Circuits Owner Responds to ‘Rep’ Column: Encourage Communication

Simon Etherington, president and owner of Siber Circuits, felt so strongly about Dan Beaulieu’s weekly column titled “Reps Need a Better Deal, Part 2” that he put fingers to the keyboard and expressed his thoughts as a response. Beaulieu frequently writes about sales and marketing topics, particularly the relationship between the sales rep and the principal. Dan has argued that there needs to be improved communication, better language in the contracts, and a sales rep that’s eager to earn. See what Simon had to say.

Review: Institute of Circuit Technology 2022 Annual Symposium

The British Motor Museum in Warwickshire, housing the world's largest collection of historic British cars, was venue for the 2022 Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology on June 8, which attracted a substantial gathering of manufacturers and suppliers from the UK printed circuit industry. ICT chair Emma Hudson reflected upon lessons learned during the pandemic lock-down and how the industry has successfully adapted to circumstances. She commented that the UK’s PCB fabricators are extremely busy, as she introduced an outstanding conference programme including a keynote from the incomparable Happy Holden.

PCB Technologies' Subsidiary iNPACK to Exhibit at IMS Show

Jeff De Serrano, president of PCB Technologies USA, discusses the launch of their new company, iNPACK, which focuses on high-tech substrate technologies, microelectronics assembly, and electronics packaging. He details his plans to continue expanding InPack over the next year and to meet with customers and exhibit at the International Microwave Symposium Show in Denver June 19-24.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Picks: Five Must-Reads for the Week

PCB fabrication is back in the news this week and posting high readership numbers as well. Among the most-read news, we see industry leaders changing roles, capital equipment shipment milestones, operational cost efficiencies, and, last but not least, cybersecurity.

Breaking Down the Current Materials Market

Nolan Johnson meets with Isola’s Ed Kelley at DesignCon and takes a tour of the dynamics in play in the materials market. As Isola prepares to roll out an extremely low-loss, halogen-free product, Kelley says the company continues to work on how to make the product reproducible and available to customers around the world.


I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Things are heating up in the world of PCB design and manufacturing as well. In the past week, we published quite a bit of news—some good, some not so good. Some of the news is mixed, as we see with the EMS industry shipments rising YOY in April, but falling from the previous month. It’s nice to see NASA investing in American small businesses, but they didn’t really have a choice, did they?

Surveying the Fab Landscape: Where to Find ROI

Torsten Reckert and the team at all4-PCB have a uniquely broad view of what’s happening in the industry. When we asked Reckert about the hottest areas for return on investment, his answers were insightful and sometimes surprising. Readers will note that this conversation includes multiple references to Alex Stepinski and his approach to developing paradigm-shifting processes at GreenSource Fabrication LLC. Reckert worked closely with Stepinski during his time at GreenSource, and just as Reckert is an expert on the current market, Stepiniski is a thought leader on how to optimize processes, making his mention in a return-on-investment conversation particularly valuable.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

I know I’m not alone in this behavior: Car advertisements during television commercial breaks are as good as invisible to me, until I’m thinking about getting a new car. Only then do I notice them. Rather, I see each one with all my attention and being. If that extends into our industry, then everybody must be itching to pick up some new equipment. This week’s must-reads includes a smattering of new product announcements, along with the news of the IPC European subsidiary.

Chemcut’s Robotic Solution

The I-Connect007 Editorial Staff spoke with Chemcut’s Jerry Reitz, and Atlantic Microtool’s Bruce Siemering and Neil Robinson about recent robotic automation advances, a specific robotic solution from Automata, and the changing factors tipping toward robotic automation in the current market.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week, we bring you an article about manufacturing training for veterans, and a review of a great signal integrity webinar. IPC honors its A-Teams with the coveted Golden Gnome Awards, and Technica discusses various ways for fabricators to increase ROI. Dan Beaulieu has a review of a really cool book: Back to Human—How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. In spite of all the meetings on Teams and Zoom, it’s easy to feel disconnected. But great leaders find a way to foster that connectivity.

Technica Heats Up ROI Discussion

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team speaks with Technica’s Frank Medina, Ed Carrigan, and Jason Perry about trending hotspots that provide the PCB fabricator a high return on investment (ROI). A theme that carries throughout the conversation is that traditional methods for calculating ROI are being replaced by models that include more qualitative factors.

PCB Technologies’ InPack to Focus on Miniaturization, Packaging

I recently spoke with PCB Technologies’ Jeff De Serrano, Yaniv Maydar, and Alon Menache about their new venture, InPack. They explain their plans to focus on advanced packaging, miniaturization, and other high-end technology, with much faster time to market, and they offer a view of the global market as well.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

The big news in the industry this week was the new bill introduced to the U.S. Congress in support of the PCB manufacturing industry. The Supporting American Printed Circuit Boards Act of 2022, which was introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Blake Moore (R-UT), incentivizes “purchases of domestically produced PCBs as well as industry investments in factories, equipment, workforce training, and research and development.” The bill is a PCB-oriented complement to the semiconductor-oriented CHIPS Act of 2021.

FIRST: Endorsed by Teachers and Students Alike

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a robotics program at Oregon’s West Linn High School led by computer science and engineering teacher Tim Manes. Barry Matties caught up with Tim and his student team, 2BDetermined, at the FIRST Pacific Northwest District robotics event in Salem, Oregon. The team has excelled at the local and regional levels and was invited to participate in the world competition in April.

A Game Plan for Upskilling Your Fab Workforce

There’s been a lot of talk among PCB manufacturers about the need to upskill their workforce. But where do you start—do you set up your own program or send staff to third-party training centers? We asked David Hernandez, IPC vice president of education, to weigh in on this topic, and the criteria that goes into creating IPC training programs. In addition to upskilling strategies, David also delves into the need for our industry to develop a labor pipeline, as well as the challenges we face in hiring, training, and retaining employees in this industry during a tight labor market.


I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

This week, we have some M&A news from Summit Interconnect, and a variety of columns. Chris Bonsell discusses the lack of preventive maintenance planning in PCB manufacturing, and Kelly Dack lays out some solder mask guidelines for PCB designers. Duane Benson helps make sense of the quoting process in a time of 50-week lead times, and Dan Beaulieu has a great review of a book about how shareholder policies have caused many of the problems we see in corporations today.

I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It certainly seems that our times continue to be interesting, don’t they? Just how many different flavors of supply chain disruption can we come up with? Investment on the supply side needs to increase, but the size of the labor force needs to increase even more, if we want to accomplish the task of the buildout itself, let alone running the facilities properly.

Book Review: 'Advocacy' by John Daly

I’ve always wondered why some great ideas succeed while others fail. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to be both a student of Dr. John Daly and to read his book on advocacy. I highly recommend checking out his YouTube videos as well. He’s an energetic and entertaining speaker.

Addressing the Gap in Process Performance

The first steps in process improvement are to determine what the gap is and why it happens. Having a process is not sufficient; the process needs to be effective as well. For those responsible for creating and maintaining processes, the ultimate goal is to create a procedure that becomes self-perpetuating, that seeps into the fabric of the company’s culture. For better or worse, plenty of procedures do indeed become ingrained in company culture. How does one go about ensuring that company culture is loaded with effective processes that deliver a positive outcome? That is the question, to be sure.

PCBAA Member Profile: Davy Nakada, Rogers Corporation

Our industry has suffered from a lack of visibility with policymakers. PCBAA brings many voices together so those in Washington realize what's at stake. Semiconductors have received the most attention in recent years while the domestic production of PCBs and related PCB materials continues to decline. We are now seeing legislative language supporting domestic production because of how PCBAA has educated lawmakers and policymakers on the PCB’s place in the microelectronics ecosystem.

FIRST Program Inspires Next Generation of Innovators

Today’s students grow up immersed in a world of technology, yet how many of them actually see themselves taking on careers that advance this science? Since many of the jobs for our future workforce haven’t even been created yet, what can be done to encourage students toward STEM careers? In this interview, Barry Matties speaks with Adrienne Collins, director of programs at FIRST Washington, about the success of a student robotics program that fosters innovation, builds problem solving skills, and cultivates a concept that most of us have never heard of—gracious professionalism. When you see the interplay of these skills in action, you are blown away. There’s a bright future ahead.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

It’s been a busy week in this industry, and we have news and articles from the PCB design, fabrication, and assembly communities. The roller coaster ride continues, with whiplash-inducing news from IPC about March North American shipment—they’re up from February but down from the same period a year ago.

Training the Future Manufacturing Labor Force

To better understand what’s needed for upskilling your labor force in today’s job climate, we reached out to Sunstone Circuits, a PCB fabricator in the Pacific Northwest. We posed our set of questions to individuals in three departments to hear their perspectives depending on what area they work in. The following are the questions and answers from Michael Connella, operations manager; Matt Stevenson, vice president of sales and marketing; and Debra Coburn, human resources manager.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Welcome to April 15, everyone! There are reasons we tend to cover topics in a continuous conversation. First, there are always developments and news in the industry. Second, you dear readers respond to that content by reading it. This week the news items that drew the most reader interest verify that our industry has ongoing interest in government involvement in industry infrastructure, supply chain issues, cybersecurity, and new technologies like additive in fabrication.

The Carbon Footprint of HDI: Direct Metallization vs. Electroless Copper

As the electronics supply chain contends with the struggles of moving out of the pandemic and into a new normal, it is increasingly obvious that a new normal will be one with sustainability and resource conservation as the top priority. Over the past year, we have seen printed circuit board manufacturers encounter challenges associated with environmental regulations, water and power outages, and pressures from the supply chain to reduce environmental footprints. From the perspective of a board fabricator, especially one that specializes in HDI, a highly resource-intensive step in the process of making a printed circuit board is the primary metallization step. All circuit boards that have multiple layers go through such a primary metallization, which is either electroless copper or direct metallization (DM).


Material Application for Mini Backlight Unit

In 1980, about 90% of the materials used to make PCBs was FR-4. As time went by, technology developed, and electronic devices relentlessly integrated into every area of our lives. The constant acceleration of upgrading meant endless challenges and opportunities for CCL suppliers. Wazam New Material Co. Ltd. is a CCL supplier that strives to be attentive to the needs of its end customers and provide comprehensive solutions. One example is the mini backlight unity (MBLU) application material.

Engineering RF Dielectric Material to Enable 5G/6G Antenna Devices

Accurate characterization of frequency-dependent inhomogeneous dielectric material properties is key to the optimal design of high performance and cost-effective PCB antennas. These antennas will be required to enable the plethora of devices forecasted for 5G/6G communication. Therefore IT-88GMW, an advanced resin system reinforced with tightly woven thin glass fibers has been formulated to improve the Q-factor of interconnects and passive components fabricated on PCB laminates.

Uncovering the Electronics Ecosystem

Nolan Johnson speaks with Will Marsh, vice president of TTM Technologies and president of the Printed Circuit Board Association of America, about the work the PCBAA has been doing in Washington, D.C., to get the industry better recognized by the country’s decision-makers. Marsh is optimistic, not only about the companies and individuals joining the effort, but in the recognition by Capitol Hill to secure the nation’s defense systems.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Spring has definitely sprung, and the trade show season continues to roll right along. Managing Editor Nolan Johnson just returned from DesignCon 2022, and as he says in his review, the attendance was up from last year’s event, which had been at the McEnery Convention Center in the waning days of the pandemic. I hope we’re getting back to normal, whatever that means. This week, we have a few articles about Industry 4.0, as well as a column on setting your priorities. We have a cool article about methods for measuring the breakdown of resins during multiple thermal laminations, and a conversation with an EMS company president who realized that he was actually running a data collection firm that happened to make circuit boards. Can you say the same about your own company?

Measuring Multiple Lamination Reliability for Low-loss Materials

Taiwan Union Technology Corporation (TUC) provides copper-clad laminates and dielectric resin composites used to manufacture printed circuit boards. The enthalpy of these resin composites meets and exceeds customers’ objectives and shows the deterioration of the resin’s physical properties as a result of multiple lamination cycles (up to 10X). This article describes how TUC evaluates the possible change in resin structure due to multi-thermal laminations.
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