Article Highlights
The iNEMI 2019 Roadmap: Flexible Hybrid Electronics
06/04/2020 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Plasma Applications in the PCB Industry
06/03/2020 | Nikolaus Schubkegel
Joe O’Neil: Green Circuits Running Strong Under Current Social Restrictions
06/01/2020 | Nolan Johnson, PCB007
Rogers Corporation Keeps Materials Moving
05/28/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
3D Additive Electronics Manufacturing: Are We Nearing an Inflection Point?
05/28/2020 | Dan Feinberg, I-Connect007
PCB :: Business

Latest Articles

PCB Builder Lets Customers Order Directly From Board Shops

On June 2, components distributor Digi-Key Electronics announced the release of PCB Builder, a tool that lets customers have PCBs shipped directly from the fabricator. PCB Builder also allows customers to perform file layer checks and receive instant quotes from multiple fabricators. Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Josh Mickolio, supplier business development manager for Digi-Key, about the development of PCB Builder and what this tool means to PCB designers and design engineers.

The iNEMI 2019 Roadmap: Flexible Hybrid Electronics

The emerging trend for “electronics on everything, everything with electronics” was the theme of iNEMI’s webinar presentation of the highlights of its recently published Flexible Hybrid Electronics Roadmap Chapter, delivered by Girish Wable, senior engineering services manager with Jabil. Pete Starkey provides an overview.

SpaceX Manned Mission Promises More Success for Milaero and Electronics Manufacturing

On May 30, 2020, SpaceX became the first non-governmental organization to send human cargo into orbit and to a successful docking rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). On June 1, Nolan Johnson spoke with military/aeropace consultant and I-Connect007 columnist Mike Hill about the significance of this mission.

Joe O’Neil: Green Circuits Running Strong Under Current Social Restrictions

On May 28, Joe O’Neil, CEO of Green Circuits, updated Nolan Johnson on how the company continues to operate during the COVID-19 restrictions. O’Neil reflects on the rapid chain of events this past March when lockdowns were instituted in the San Francisco Bay area. After a brief but rapid shutdown, Green Circuits was back up and in production.

Rogers Corporation Keeps Materials Moving

The I-Connect007 editorial team spoke with Roger Tushingham of Rogers Corporation about the company’s current priorities with everything that’s been changing recently, including his perspective on the distributing and manufacturing trends he sees as a global supplier.

3D Additive Electronics Manufacturing: Are We Nearing an Inflection Point?

Recently, Dan Feinberg was invited to attend a detailed and broadly informative webinar by nScrypt titled “The Strength of 3D-Printed Electronics," which covered the status and advances in the use of 3D printing for electronic device design and manufacture. nScrypt is an Orlando-based company founded in 2002 that focuses on 3D printing. Here’s what Dan learned from each of the speakers.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 7

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In this series finale, Dan explains the importance of keeping a sense of humor during times of crisis, and why this might be the perfect time to form a partnership with a company that sells a complementary type of technology.

Happy Holden Book Excerpt: CIM & Automation Strategy

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Happy Holden’s I-Connect007 eBook Automation and Advanced Procedures in PCB Fabrication. In this book, Happy explains fabrication automation with illustrative examples and anecdotes from his decades as a mechanization leader.

IPC’s Shawn Dubravac: COVID-19 Outbreak Accelerates Industry Shifts Already Under Way

On May 19, Barry Matties spoke with Shawn Dubravac, chief economist for IPC. While discussing other topics, Matties asked for Dubravac’s perspective on shifts in the market, who observed that the recessionary trend might be behind us; the markets are already showing recovery. Still, it could take a year or so to fully recover.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 6

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In Part 6, he shares two tips for taking care of your mental health during these uncertain times.


Survey: Lessons Learned in Unparalleled Times

Parents often share nuggets of wisdom with their children in hopes that they won’t repeat past mistakes. But what do our electronics industry leaders want to share about lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis?

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 5

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In Part 5, he shares tips on continuing your professional development during this lockdown, while making sure to take much-needed time off to rest your mind.

IPC's Dr. John Mitchell: Leadership in Times of Crisis

On May 13, Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, spoke with Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson in another installment in our series of industry updates. In this interview, Mitchell discussed the challenges of leadership in crisis situations.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 4

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In Part 4, Dan shares some age-old advice about running a business in turbulent times, including the need to dress for work and stay on a schedule, even while working from home.

Flexible Circuit Technologies Adds Johnson Company as a Product Representative

Nolan Johnson spoke with Carey Burkett, VP of business development at Minneapolis-based Flexible Circuit Technologies. FCT recently signed a sales representation agreement authorizing Johnson Company to represent FCT in the Midwest region of the U.S.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 3

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Online Instruction and Distance Learning

Online courses have become increasingly available and popular. For this to be effective, specific requirements must be met for courses taken or produced over the internet in order to provide the user with a positive experience. Read Happy Holden's updated article from his series on 25 essential skills for engineers.

I-Connect007 In-Depth: Averatek and RBP Chemical Ink Distribution Agreement

On April 30, 2020, Michael Carano, RBP Chemical Technology vice president, and John Johnson, Averatek vice president, spoke with I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson about the new distribution agreement inked by the two companies. Carano and Johnson also talk in more detail about the A-SAP additive plating process developed by Averatek. The conversation included why Averatek and RBP have partnered to distribute chemistries related to Averatek's A-SAP process.

I-Connect007 Survey: Lessons Learned During COVID-19 Lockdown

In a recent survey, we asked I-Connect007 readers about lessons that they and their companies have learned since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Survey respondents were asked to pick up to three areas of business operations where the most important lessons have been learned.

A Sustainable Supply Chain for Lowest Total Cost

Kennedy outlines the sustainabilty challenges facing an OEM when choosing a fabricator. The idea of "green" extends into the supply chain as well.


Aurora Circuits’ Chris Kalmus Offers PCBs for Ventilators at No Charge

Electronics manufacturers continue to step up to the plate during these uncertain times. In this interview, Dan Beaulieu speaks with Chris Kalmus, owner of Aurora Circuits in Aurora, Illinois, who announced on April 24 that his company would be offering PCBs for ventilators free of charge.

What It Takes to Be a Milaero Supplier, Part 3

The decision to pursue military and aerospace (milaero) certification impacts every facet of the organization, and not every shop is prepared to make this transformation. In Part 3, Anaya Vardya explores what it takes to be a milaero supplier in the areas of purchasing and quality.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 1

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In Part 1, he shares two tips that highlight ways to keep your name in front of your customers, no matter what.

Supply-chain Recovery: Plan for Now and the Future

We are living in unprecedented times related to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus and its impact on our day-to-day lives. Individuals, families, businesses, and entire communities have been affected in unparalleled ways. As difficult as the situation has become, it’s critical for business leaders to step forward. In a time of crisis, understanding current and future logistics capacity by mode—and their associated trade-offs—will be even more essential than usual.

Accurate Circuit Engineering Staying Ahead of the COVID-19 Curve

On April 16, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Accurate Circuit Engineering’s James Hofer. James provided an update on the company’s responses to the challenges of fabricating PCBs while much of the country is under COVID-19 quarantine. James explained that he is dedicated to keeping his employees safe and healthy while continuing to meet the needs of his customers, many of whom are medical and military OEMs. He also discussed his current workload, which includes one customer developing a ventilator that can serve four patients at the same time.

ACE Wins JPL’s First-ever Customer Appreciation Plaque

I recently spoke with James Hofer, general manager of Accurate Circuit Engineering, about a customer appreciation plaque the company was awarded from JPL for their work on NASA’s Integrated Solar Array and Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA). James talks about some of the challenges of the project and the role ACE played in developing the ISARA that is now orbiting the Earth.

DIS: It’s All About Alignment

Jesse Ziomek, VP of sales for DIS, updates Pete Starkey on the capability of the company to achieve ultimate accuracy in layer-to-layer registration, not just in rigid multilayers, but also in flex and rigid-flex builds. Jesse also comments on keeping technology exciting enough to attract young engineers into the industry.

Isola’s Travis Kelly: Maintaining Continuity of Supply

On April 9, Barry Matties spoke with Travis Kelly, Isola president and CEO. Travis gave an update on Isola’s responses to the COVID-19 challenges in materials manufacturing. Travis pointed out that Isola’s products fill a critical need in the switch to medical equipment manufacturing for ventilators and related products. He also spoke to the three keys to maintaining continuity of supply.

IPC Education Foundation: STEM and Online Learning Resources

Nolan Johnson recently caught up with Charlene Gunter du Plessis, senior director of the IPC Education Foundation, about how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting the IPCEF, including how they are continuing to connect with IPC Student Chapter members and seek industry support. Charlene also discussed the increased usage of IPCEF’s online educational modules and shares STEM resources.

Todd Kolmodin: Gardien an Essential Business for U.S. DoD Work

Todd Kolmodin, VP of quality for Gardien Services USA, updates Nolan Johnson on Gardien’s operations. Specifics include Gardien’s certification as an essential business for U.S. Department of Defense work and an overview of the work and staffing policies in place at all of the company's facilities across the United States and the various work restrictions—all with the goal of “keeping the wheels turning” in the industry.


Dan Beaulieu: Adapting to New Methods at D.B. Management

In this audio interview, Nolan Johnson gets an update from Dan Beaulieu, a 40+ year veteran of the electronics manufacturing industry and an industry consultant for 25+ years. Dan shares an update on current business operations for D.B. Management, including how—like his clients—he may be at home, but it's still business as usual. Dan also offers his perspective on how our industry will weather and emerge from this challenging time.

The Smart Factory: All the Bits and Bobs

“Smart factory” is another phrase that describes Industry 4.0 programs. These programs seem to have replaced CIM and CAM, but it did not make them obsolete. While these topics are getting a lot of press, there is nothing new about them. We have been on a journey to automate manufacturing since the mid-‘70s. What has evolved are faster and cheaper computers, and more complex and integrated networking.

Matt Stevenson on Sunstone Circuits' Current Operations

Nolan Johnson speaks with Matt Stevenson, VP of marketing at Sunstone Circuits, who shares an update on the company's current level of business operations under COVID-19 restrictions. Stevenson confirms that Sunstone Circuits is fully operational and classified as an essential business.

Book Review: The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell

Everyone is talking about stories, and rightfully so. Anyone who knows anything about marketing in the 21st century knows that the way to get into peoples’ heads is to tell them a story. Dan Beaulieu reviews Paul Smith's 'The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell.'

Show & Tell Feature: Happy’s Highlights

Happy Holden traveled to San Diego for IPC APEX EXPO 2020. He was happy to get out of Grand Rapids, where the temperature had dropped to 28 degrees. In this article, he describes some of the highlights of the show, from beginning to end.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Tom Salmon

"I’m impressed by what I’ve seen and the variety of solutions. Industry 4.0 is still a big thing here," said Tom Salmon of SEMI. "I’m guessing just by the number of attendees that we took a little bit of a hit from the coronavirus. But most of the people I’ve talked to are happy with the meetings that they’re having with folks. Overall, it seems to be positive for everybody."

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Scott Pohlmann

"As a salesman, my job is to make sure I stay on the cutting edge of technology," said Scott Pohlmann of Milwaukee Electronics. "When our customers ask for certain features that they need on their equipment or performance, I need to know what the state-of-the-art equipment, profiles, and procedures are out there.

Taiyo America Brings New Ideas to Solder Mask Development

During the show, Technical Editor Pete Starkey and Don Monn, Midwest regional sales director at Taiyo America, discuss the company’s progress with the establishment of inkjet solder mask as a production reality, now with OEM approvals. Monn also addresses the development of crack-resistant white solder mask and new screen-printable formulations with very high thermal conductivity.

CML Poised to Be ‘More Than a Manufacturer’

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team recently spoke with Chris Minard, director of business development at CML, about how CML’s business model has evolved and some of his insights about manufacturing trends around the globe right now.

Kurt Palmer Takes on New Role as Burkle America President

During productronica 2019, Barry Matties chatted with Kurt Palmer about his new role as president of Burkle America, the work they do with Schmoll Maschinen, and why customers in North America must continue to invest to keep up with the technology and be profitable.


IPC Validation Services: What to Expect at IPC APEX EXPO 2020

IPC’s Randy Cherry previews what to expect from IPC APEX EXPO 2020, including a full line on display demonstrating CFX/Hermes, further development of the Validation Services program, as well as testimonials from member companies that have been participating in IPC’s new trusted supplier program to the Department of Defense (DoD).

Alex Stepinski: GreenSource Fabrication Update

Alex Stepinski gives an update on GreenSource, their acquisition of AWP, and their move to full production after some delays. Barry Matties and Alex also discuss automation and the difficulties in hiring in the U.S. and announces the decision to go to market with their recycling equipment in 2020.

Logistics Are Frank Lorentz’s Passion

Recently, Barry Matties had the chance to visit Ventec International Group’s German facility in Kirchheimbolanden (KIBO), where he met Frank Lorentz, Ventec’s general manager for the location. Logistics are clearly Frank’s passion. He lives and breathes it. If you spend any amount of time with him, that is abundantly clear. This interview with Frank was conducted after a tour of the KIBO site.

Ivanka Trump CES Keynote: The Path to the Future of Work

The Palazzo Ballroom at the Venetian Hotel and Casino was the site for one of the most anticipated keynotes at CES on Tuesday afternoon. CTA CEO Gary Shapiro moderated a conversation with Ivanka Trump, advisor to the President of the United States. The two discussed the current state of the workforce, higher education, skills retraining, alternatives to university education, and immigration. These are all topics that have been under discussion within the electronics manufacturing industry for some time now.

CES 2020: Here We Are Again

Dan Feinberg shares highlights from probably the largest and most fascinating technology event globally—CES—which he has been attending and writing about CES for over 20 years. The progress that has taken place is immense, and the rate of change has also accelerated.

Heading Into 2020 With Isola

Barry Matties recently spoke with Isola’s Travis Kelly, who has moved from acting CEO into the position of president and CEO. Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Sean Mirshafiei also joins the conversation as they share an update on the progress on the company’s new Arizona factory, as well as their views on the markets and technology trends.

A Walking Tour of Viking Test With Jake Kelly

In this video walking tour of the Viking Test booth at productronica 2019, Managing Director Jake Kelly walks us down the line of Viking's universal film stripper.

The CPCA and China’s Electronic Circuit Industry: Past and Future

Wang Longji is the honorary secretary-general of the China Printed Circuit Association. He is a senior engineer and an industry leader and used to be the production manager of the first imported PCB manufacturing line in China. Mr. Wang is also a well-known child actor and a “national treasure;” one of his most famous characters was San Mao in “The Winter of Three Hairs.”

Atotech’s Graphite-based Process and Chemistries Portfolio

Dr. Brüning, global product director, desmear and metallization, and electronics consultant Johan Lundqvist, update Nolan Johnson on the ViaKing graphite-based direct metallization process and explain how it fits in with customer applications. They also discuss Atotech’s portfolio of various chemistries. Johan came to Atotech in August 2019 through the acquisition of J-KEM where he held the position of CEO. Johan stated, “We are pleased J-KEM has joined the Atotech family, as it makes sense for both sides.”

Catching up With Greg Papandrew

It’s always great to catch up with old friends, and last week, I met with Greg Papandrew, a well-known industry entrepreneur, who I worked with on his first company (Bare Board Group). Greg discusses his new business, Better Board Buying (B3).


Chinese Review: The 2018 NTI-100 Top Global PCB Fabricators

Yonglin Gong, senior engineer, deputy secretary-general of the China Printed Circuit Association (CPCA), and editor-in-chief of CPCA Printed Circuit Information Magazine, takes a look at the NTI-100 data and provides his analysis from the Chinese perspective.

Meet Imran Valiani, I-Connect007 Columnist

Imran Valiani has been in the industry and with Rush PCB for over five years as an account manager. During that time, he has developed a keen and unique understanding of the importance of time to market. Imran has worked with a number of key customers, helping them develop systems and programs to ensure that most productive and fastest time to market possible.

Prototron Receives MIL-31032 and AS9100 Certifications

Kim O’Neil, general manager of Prototron Circuits in Tucson, Arizona, discusses the company’s recent MIL-31032 certification and how this experience prepared them for the AS9100 certification. He also explained why auditing is a good thing for any company’s processes and highlighted some of the areas that the auditors inspected.

Communication, Part 3: Why Do Board Shops Ask So Many Questions?

In Part 3, Bob Chandler from CA Design and Mark Thompson from Prototron Circuits speak with Steve Williams about the importance of preparing, sending, and receiving comprehensive (and ideally, perfectly complete) design data packages. If you’ve ever wondered why the CAM department asks you so many questions, read on.

Communication, Part 1: How to Qualify a Board Shop

In Part 1 of this six-part series for "Fab Fridays," Mark Thompson, CID+, engineering support at Prototron, and CA Design CTO Bob Chandler discuss ways that PCB fabricators and designers can better communicate, starting with how to qualify a board shop.

The Institute of Circuit Technology Autumn Seminar

Meriden has been established as a popular Midlands venue for Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) meetings. On September 19, a multitude of Fellows, Members, and Associates gathered for the Institute’s autumn seminar, which was organised and hosted by ICT Technical Director Bill Wilkie. The agenda included five informative technical presentations, describing current research and development on significant topics relevant to the industry.

Carrying the Flag

The September 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine concludes our month-long look at industry standards. We wrap up by "waving the standard" in celebration. Of course, that phrase immediately piques the interest of us wordsmiths. Why, after all, do English speakers use "standard" as a synonym for a flag?

Meet Dana Korf, I-Connect007 Columnist

Meet Dana Korf, one of our newest I-Connect007 columnists! Dana’s columns will focus on IPC-2581 as well as PCB front-end tooling, data quality, DFM processes, etc.

Additive Electronics Conference Set for October 2019

Tara Dunn, president of Omni PCB and I-Connect007 columnist, and Lenora Clark, director of autonomous driving and safety technology at MacDermid Alpha Automotive, discuss what can be expected from the upcoming Additive Electronics Conference in San Jose, California, the impetus and motivation behind the conference, and who can benefit the most from attending.

The Use of Insoluble Anodes in Acid Copper Plating

Soluble anodes have been the staple of the industry for decades, but they require extensive maintenance and generate waste in both copper metal and electrolyte. As plated copper thickness uniformity requirements become more stringent, more and more time will be needed for anode maintenance to ensure the uniformity of the anodic setup.


Robert Feranec: A Lifetime of PCB Design

Robert Feranec, a popular YouTuber and founder of the FEDEVEL Academy, discusses with Andy Shaughnessy the upcoming keynote he’ll be giving at AltiumLive in San Diego, California, and how he's helping people around the world understand and optimize their PCB design processes.

NCAB 2019 Market Report: Competition Is Heating Up

Chris Nuttall, chief operations officer and VP of technology of NCAB Group, talks about the company's most recently released market report. Nolan Johnson and Nuttall discuss some of the market drivers and conditions the industry can expect to close out in 2019 as well as what to prepare for in 2020.

Nano Dimension CEO Gives Company Update

Dan Feinberg and Nolan Johnson speak with Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension, about recent company events and the company’s focus on high-mix/low-volume and agile local manufacturing.

Reliability... It All Comes Down to the Landing

Our industry is embarking on a new age of technical development to achieve much higher levels of overall reliability that will be required of the devices we fabricate. Whether in medical devices, autonomous vehicles, or in IoT, reliability will be crucial to both our success and safety.

Virtual Verification Station From CIMS Enhances AOI Capabilities

At this year’s CPCA Show, CIMS Marketing and Technical Director Vladi Kaplan spoke to Barry Matties about a number of add-ons CIMS designed to further enhance their AOI capabilities and systems. He described their Virtual Verification Station (VVS), CIMS Quality Center (CQC), and Software Development Kit (SDK) as well as trends he sees with laser via inspection.

Emma Hudson: From Tomboy to Tech Lead

In this interview, Emma Hudson, CTO of Gen3, and Gayle Paterson, founder of Female Leaders in Tech, Everywhere (FLITE), discuss careers and the electronics industry.

Insulectro’s OEM Program: Time to ACT!

Ken Parent, Insulectro VP of sales and product management, discusses the current dynamics in the materials marketplace and how Insulectro is developing educational resources to help design teams and fabricators better understand the capabilities and features for the emerging laminate materials.

AWE 2019: Go XR, Be Awesome

Dan Feinberg attended and covered the recent 2019 Augmented World Expo (AWE) and conference in Santa Clara, California. The event featured the latest developments and technologies in augmented (AR), mixed (MR), virtual (VR), and extended virtual reality (many just call it all XR to make it simple). Here's a wrap-up of the event.

Libraries: A Must-have for Design

I-Connect007 was invited to attend a session of the Orange County Chapter of the IPC Designers Council (DC). Even though I have been an IPC member for over half a century (yes, almost since vacuum tubes dominated design), this was my first DC event.

ICT 45th Annual Symposium Review

The Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) held its 45th annual symposium on June 4, 2019 in Dudley at the Black Country Museum—a symbol of the spirit of innovation in engineering technology and the entrepreneurial and manufacturing skills that had established that region’s supremacy in leading the original Industrial Revolution. Here's a recap of the events and presentations at the symposium.


Laminate Suppliers Face Increasing Demands From Customers

As a global laminate supplier with a large product offering, TUC is at the forefront of the growing customer demands that stem from a number of market segments pushing next-generation products. In an interview with Nolan Johnson, TUC North American President Alan Cochrane talks about the company’s shift toward trending areas and how strategies like the adoption of thinner glass styles have helped make it all possible.

Isola on Adapting Processes to Meet Customer Needs

In an interview with I-Connect007, Sean Mirshafiei, chief sales and marketing officer for Isola, discusses the company’s perspective on material market trends and how they are adapting product development processes to respond to new customer needs.

Collaboratively Creating Wearable Medical Products

Patty Goldman, Barry Matties, and Happy Holden recently spoke with David Moody and Rich Clemente of Lenthor Engineering along with Anthony Flattery and Amit Rushi—their customers at GraftWorx. They discussed a recent project and how they worked together to solve a difficult problem by designing a rigidized flex circuit for their product.

Electrolytic Plating: Filling Vias and Through-holes

The continuously evolving electronics industry environment is causing the development of various electrolytic copper processes for different applications over the past several decades. This article describes the reasons for development and a roadmap of dimensions for copper-filled through-holes, microvias, and other copper-plated structures on PCBs.

FlexFactor Program Informs, Inspires, Attracts, and Recruits Talent

Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson speak with Brynt Parmeter, Emily McGrath, Clarence Chi, and Mikayla Ridi about the NextFlex program FlexFactor. This initiative aims to help high school and college students see potential futures in the advanced manufacturing sector and combat common misperceptions young people might have about modern-day manufacturing.
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