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The Survey Said: Industry Optimistic After Strong 2017

During recent trade shows and conferences, we spoke with a variety of fabricators and assembly providers. They had one thing in common: Every company achieved strong growth in 2017, and shared a positive outlook about the future. This year, the industry is optimistic, driven by positive economic outlook, growing customer demand, and new technologies and vertical markets, among others.

Geeking Out at Geek-A-Palooza MSP 2018

Kiersten Rohde, I-Connect007 editor, covers Geek-A-Palooza MSP 2018. Geek-A-Palooza "is a different kind of gathering that combines networking with a fun, relaxing atmosphere." This event provided an opportunity for local electronics geeks from every industry segment to gather for a professional social event that included great music, food, drinks, games, raffle prizes, and booths.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Succeeding at the Velocity of Technology: An IPC APEX EXPO 2018 Wrap-Up

After many months of planning, IPC APEX EXPO 2018 proved to be a success. From revolutionary advancements displayed on the show floor to expert insights conveyed in technical conference sessions and professional development courses, IPC APEX EXPO provided the learning and connections that helped 4,574 attendees from 43 countries prepare for the future.

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.

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 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.

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: 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: 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.

Catching up with ACT-USA President Jack Gemmell

ACT-USA is one of the best value-added PCB distributors in the country today. Focused on providing their North American customers with boards as well as heavy copper boards they have steadily broadened their vendor base since their inception in 1994.

Defining Customer-Supplier Relationships and Customer Satisfaction

Steve Williams, president of The Right Approach Consulting LLC, and a veteran executive in the PCB and EMS industries, speaks with the I-Connect007 team about customer-supplier relationships, and how you can ensure customer satisfaction.

Bridging Knowledge and Understanding of Thermal Management Materials

At IPC APEX EXPO recently, Pete Starkey and Ian Mayoh, Ventec International’s technical support manager, had a chance to sit down and discuss the I-Connect007 micro E-book: The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, of which Ian is a co-author.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Uyemura's Chemistry for ENIG, ENEPIG, and EPIG Apps

A unique deposition chemistry that combines immersion and reduction reactions to yield a gold finish with superior properties and controllability in ENIG, ENEPIG, and EPIG applications.

The Sum of All Parts: Defining Your Customer

These are the most typical ways in which someone will ask us who our customers are. Many times, the purpose is to see whether we work in the same spaces as them or as a way of gauging whether we are “worthy” enough of having them as a customer.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Benefits of Outsourcing CAM Operations to a Specialist Provider of Engineering Services

CEO Mehul Dave of Entelechy Global discusses the benefits of outsourcing CAM operations to a specialist provider of engineering services.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Benefits of Outsourcing Quality Assurance Options

Niraj Patel describes the benefits of outsourcing quality assurance operations, with specific reference to the alternative business models offered by Gardien for electrical testing.

The Selection of Chemical Etching Equipment for PCB Fabrication

Congratulations! Your process development team has completed its DOEs and is convinced they are ready to scale up. The facilities crew has found space for your new operation or, even better, your manufacturing team will have a newly-built building in which to locate the project.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Prototron Moves Offshore

Prototron's Dave Ryder and Russ Adams discuss the company's recent decision to begin manufacturing high-volume jobs overseas. They also discuss some of the partner shops' capabilities, including flex and rigid-flex, which were driven by customer demand.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Candor Industries' History and Advanced Circuit Constructions

Founder and president Yogen Patel shares Candor Industries' history and describes some of the non-standard approaches to PCB production the company uses to make advanced circuit constructions.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Insulectro Showcases New Low-Loss Materials

Norm Berry, director of laminates and OEM marketing for Insulectro, discusses the company's new low-loss products and resin systems that benefit high-speed, high-frequency PCB designs.

Book Recommendation: The One Percent Edge—Small Changes That Guarantee Relevance and Build Sustainable Success

Occasionally you read a book that truly makes a difference. I can tell I am reading a book like this one by how much longer it takes me to read it, but not because it’s boring or slow reading, certainly not! It’s because I stop constantly to jot down ideas in my notebook that stimulate me to come up with ideas that pertain to my own business.

New Year, New Equipment—Right?

This month, we will discuss the equipment purchasing decision-making process. How many of you can recall the earliest “dippy dunk” PCB shops, so-called because that’s exactly how it was done? There were no conveyorized lines, no automatic hoists, no load/unload stations, maybe not even a lab for analyzing the plating baths.

Entering—and Enjoying—the Industry

I was recently given the opportunity to write an article for our publication. Being somewhat new to this industry, I figured it would be a good idea to write an introduction on how I got into electronics—specifically the part most people my age don’t give thought to.

CircuitData: Creating an Open Source Language for PCB Data Exchange

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Elmatica CTO Andreas Lydersen on a subject of great interest to him and his supply chain, namely CircuitData. This open source language promises to greatly improve communication of details that can often be misinterpreted due to the differences in terminology used throughout the supply chain.

Whelen Engineering and AWP Explain their Unique Collaboration

If there was a buzz word in the PCB hall at productronica this year, it was probably Whelen, as in Whelen Engineering and Alex Stepinski, VP of Whelen’s circuit board division.

Equipment/Process Selection: Case Study of a DMADV Approach to PCB FAB Process Design

This article outlines the approach we took to designing this new phase of our commercial existence, which has now been spun off as a separate business unit known as Greensource Fabrication. This new business unit is expected to go live in 2018.

All the Details on IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program

Teresa Rowe and Nancy Jaster, in charge of IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program, explain to I-Connect007’s Patty Goldman and Jonathan Zinski how this novel approach to attracting and supporting young people works.

IPC APEX EXPO: App is Where It’s At

In an interview with I-Connect007, IPC Exhibits Manager Kim DiCianni discusses the IPC APEX EXPO 2018 app and how this powerful tool will keep attendees on track. She also highlights its usefulness for exhibitors.


The Best It’s Ever Been, Every Year: The Goal for IPC, Part 2

In the continuation of this interview, John Mitchell and Phil Carmichael discuss the areas of focus for IPC in the upcoming year, first and foremost being education and welcoming a new generation into the industry.

The Best It’s Ever Been, Every Year: The Goal for IPC, Part 1

The end of 2017 caps an exciting time for IPC and IPC China as membership has grown substantially, in part because of new offerings from the organization to its Asian members. Meeting with Barry Matties at HKPCA, John Mitchell and Phil Carmichael discuss the areas of focus for IPC in the upcoming year, first and foremost being education and welcoming a new generation into the industry.

A Sneak-Peek at IPC APEX EXPO 2018

IPC President and CEO John Mitchell gave I-Connect007 a sneak-peek at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO, happening in February in San Diego. Mitchell provides a description of this year’s keynote, as well as a few new additions and areas of emphasis. It looks like it will be another packed house, with plenty to see, do, and learn about.

CES 2018: Disruptive Technologies and Fun PC Stuff

Two disruptive technologies that we have been covering for the last few years are 3D printing—especially as it pertains to PCB fab—and autonomous driving. 3D printing has been around for a few years, but it seems like 3D printers were introduced to CES very recently. This year there were almost 50 exhibitors showing their latest offerings. Most of them were in the LVCC in the north hall at the 3D Printing Marketplace.

CES 2018, Augmented Reality and Much More

The actual CES show is spread across many locations in Las Vegas. The main exhibit halls are at or near to the Las Vegas Convention Center with three buildings, two floors each, all filled with hundreds of booths. Then there is The Sands Convention Center with multiple halls filled to the brim and hotels with their own convention centers and floors of exhibitor suites. With almost 200,000 in attendance, all locations are very busy.

It’s a Long, Winding and Exciting Road for Automotive Electronics

It was truly a delight to talk with Alun Morgan at productronica this year. He may be the most enthusiastic person in the field of electronics that I have ever met, as you will certainly understand as you read this interview.

Getting the Heat Out

Increasing consumer demands for high performance and the need for high reliability in sectors such as automotive, LED lighting, and renewable energy mean that thermal management is now front and center on the priority list for PCB manufacturing.

CES 2018 Showstoppers: LaunchIt and Press Event

“ShowStoppers LaunchIt is about giving innovative entrepreneurs a shot at getting the attention of angel investors on the lookout for innovation and new ventures. It’s also about gaining additional visibility with other industry influencers and dealmakers, as well as with the press who are always looking for the ‘what’s new’ story at CES.”

Preview: CES 2018 Unveiled

The official CES events started only about 15 hours ago. I have already been to CES Unveiled, an amazing (but somewhat long) NVIDIA press event, and now the Panasonic press conference is soon to begin, launching the Press Day activities. So far, it’s been amazing!

Lamination to Drilling in Minutes: It's New and it's Not

Barry Matties met with Lino Sousa at productronica to check out Pluritec’s new Pluricut HPL machine, which offers an all-in-one solution for flash routing, beveling, measuring, and corner routing. See this machine in action by viewing the attached video content.


A Fresh Look at Outsourcing Solutions in Electrical Testing

In this interview conducted at productronica 2017, Gardien Group COO Roland Valentini describes to Pete Starkey the limitations of the traditional outsourcing model for electrical testing and explains the need for customised solutions directly catered to customers’ individual requirements.

RTW…HKPCA & IPC Show 2017 Highlights With Canice Chung

Canice Chung, chairman of the HKPCA, speaks with Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias about the record-breaking show, held this week in Shenzhen, China.

A Conversation with EIPC Executive Director Kirsten Smit-Westenberg

The EIPC booth was a busy place during productronica, with several members and other organizations headquartered there, resulting in a constant stream of people stopping by to visit, get information and study the upcoming conference agendas. Overseeing the big, and even the little things, was Executive Director Kirsten Smit-Westenberg, who made sure important questions got answered, people stayed hydrated, and EIPC’s magnetic pins found homes on shirt collars.

Papandrew Leads Advanced Circuits’ New Offshore Division

Advanced Circuits is one of the largest PCB manufacturers in the United States. Now, the company is expanding the range of its services with the launch of its new Offshore Division. Recently, the company hired PCB veteran Greg Papandrew to lead the new division and help the company meet buyers’ demand for offshore PCB sourcing.

Walt Custer’s Annual Update from productronica 2017

Industry consultant Walt Custer of Custer Consulting sat down with me at productronica 2017 to once again inform our readers with his yearly update and perspective on what’s happening in the industry. And guess what? It’s good news! Pertinent charts referenced in our conversation are included, but if you want more, Walt invites you to click the link at the end of this conversation and email him directly.

Book Recommendation: Find the Fire

This is a fabulous book for whenever you get the blahs! You know what I’m talking about. There are times when you just cannot get out of your own way, and everything you try to do gets stuck in park and you just can’t understand how you ever got anything done in the first place.

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

Make no mistake about it: This is not just the story of one company, but rather one that describes the many challenges that all companies face and must overcome to be successful.

Video from productronica 2017: Rogers Discusses Trends Driving Growth

Dirk Lefelon, European sales manager for Rogers Corporation, discusses his group’s final 2017 results. He also explains what the new year will bring, including increased investment in capacity for the European market, especially for the automotive segment.

Book Recommendation: Profitable Podcasting—Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build a Nation of True Fans

There is no doubt that we are living in a world of content marketing. If we want to get our company’s message out there we must not only know how to develop great content, but come up with the best ways to get it out into the stratosphere. Many of more experienced marketing people have missed this meeting.

Signal Integrity: The Experts Weigh In

When we began planning the October issue on signal integrity, we arranged a conference call with a variety of industry experts. Mike Steinberger of SiSoft, Mark Thompson of Prototron Circuits, and Yogen and Sunny Patel of Candor Industries joined editors Andy Shaughnessy, Patty Goldman, Happy Holden and Publisher Barry Matties on the call for a spirited discussion about the challenges related to signal integrity and some of the tricks of the trade for helping ensure SI.


Steve’s Particular Set of Skills (to become a World-Class Quality Manager)

Being a quality professional today is nothing like it was 20 or 25 years ago; on a personal level, I can attest to this fact. It is no longer adequate to appoint a quality manager simply based on a person’s command of acceptance criteria and industry specifications; in the 21st century, a truly hybrid executive is needed.

PCB/PCBA M&A Top 10 FAQs

We talk with owners a lot about the possible sale of their businesses. Here are the top 10 questions asked by PCB/PCBA shop owners about the process.

AltiumLive Summit—Munich, Germany, Part 2

Pete Starkey continues with his review of the AltiumLive PCB Design Summit held recently in Munich, Germany. The second day commenced with a new product launch. “Working together is hard” it read on the screen. Statistics indicated that 33% of new products were late getting to market, of which 28% were late due to insufficient collaboration, and up to 50% of potential revenue could be lost through being late to market. Then the screen read “NEXUS makes it easy!”

Leveraging Industry Shows to Create a Presence

At the recent SMTA International show in Rosemont, Illinois, I had an opportunity to meet with Mark Osborn, president and owner of Colonial Circuits, based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Colonial Circuits is a supplier of PCBs, mainly for the defense industry.

New I-Connect007 Team Members Tour American Standard Circuits

Recently, Anaya Vardya, CEO of American Standard Circuits, invited two of I-Connect007’s newest team members, IT coordinator Jonathan Zinski and Editor Kiersten Rohde, to tour his facility in West Chicago, Illinois. Happy Holden, resident PCB expert, also joined the newbies on their field trip to ASC. In the following articles, Jonathan and Kiersten describe their experience touring ASC. Special thanks to Anaya for hosting the I-Connect007 team.
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