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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.

Video from productronica 2017: Electra Polymers Updates on the Latest Developments in DI Soldermask

From the show floor at productronica 2017, Electra Polymers' sales manager Ashley Steers discusses the state of the art in soldermask for direct imaging. Sales and marketing director Shaun Tibbals comments on developments in ink-jet soldermask, and opportunities in wafer-level packaging.

Video from productronica 2017: DIS Improves Registration of Flex and Rigid-Flex PCBs

From the show floor at productronica 2017, we stopped by the DIS booth for a conversation with Tony Faraci. Here, he explains how DIS has tackled the challenges of handling and alignment of flex-rigid multilayer builds (especially cut-out pre-preg layers and packing pieces) and automated what was previously an operator-dependent manual process.

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: Taiyo America Highlights Ink-Jettable Solder Mask

After a long-term program of cooperative development, evaluation and qualification, Taiyo America’s solvent-free ink-jet solder mask formulation is working successfully in a technically demanding production environment. Don Monn recounts his experiences from the show floor at productronica 2017.

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.

Groundbreaking Developments at liloTree

I was introduced to liloTree and Chief Scientist Kunal Shah by Joe Fjelstad. It seems this small company (with Intel as part of its pedigree) has developed a novel ENIG process that just may shake up the regular chemistry suppliers. This new process is described as cost-effective and ecofriendly while completely eliminating black pad and brittle solder joints.

AltiumLive Summit—Munich, Germany, Part 1

Altium held a very successful AltiumLive PCB Design Summit in San Diego, California at the beginning of October for the benefit of their North American design community, and followed it three weeks later with a counterpart European event in Munich. And what an eye-opener it proved to be—literally hundreds of delegates, a superbly organised and managed programme, billed as a completely immersive two-day interactive design experience on a theme of learning, connecting and getting inspired.


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.

Planning a PCB: Signal Integrity and Controlled Impedance Considerations

Knowledge and experience are the two key elements when planning a PCB. Today’s PCB designers must have far more knowledge and understanding of the PCB production process than in the past. This is especially important when they plan and how they plan the stackup, via span, routing and power distribution.

Catching up with…Brigitflex

Today, Brigitflex is building unique custom-made boards for companies all over the world, from large defense and aerospace companies to small incubator companies inventing new products. They have become well-known as the shop to go to when nobody else can solve your problems.

RTW SMTAI: NCAB's Perspectives on HDI and Miniaturization

John Piccirilli of NCAB Group discusses the trends in HDI and miniaturization he's seeing around the world. He also talks about other interesting technologies such as metal-backed PCBs and stretchable materials.

Book Recommendation: Lead Right for Your Company’s Type

Why couldn’t a guy who had been successful at Apple be a dismal failure at Penney’s? Why do certain people who were great at one company be terrible at leading another company? Give up? It’s simple: All companies are different and what works with one company will not necessarily work for another.

Rex Rozario’s Next Big Thing, Part 2

In Part 2 of this two-part series, the conversation continues with Rex Rozario and Michael Caines as they discuss the ups and downs of creating their magnificent Lympstone Manor hotel and restaurant. The conversation ranges from dealing with budget and inclement weather to working with investors and the building itself to the joy of seeing the project come together beautifully.

Rex Rozario’s Next Big Thing, Part 1

Barry Matties joins Rex Rozario at Lympstone Manor, one of Rex’s investments outside of the electronics industry. The property, once an old country house in the Exeter countryside, has been transformed into a splendid hotel and restaurant. Joining them is Michael Caines, a Michelin Star chef from the UK who is heading the project.

A Guide to IPC Survey and Report Season

IPC Director of Market Research Sharon Starr found time to discuss the recently conducted and published surveys and research reports and a few others still in the works. These reports are free to survey participants, which is certainly a great incentive for taking the time to complete them. (Hint: That’s a call to action for those of you sitting on the sidelines.)

HDI’s Beneficial Influence on High-Frequency Signal Integrity

The increasingly widespread use of finepitch ball-grid array (BGA), chip scale packaging (CSP), and other evolving technology form-factors means that new fabrication techniques must be used to create printed circuit boards (PCBs).


PCB Signal Integrity Optimization Using X-ray Metrology

It happens again. A new backbone router/switch build or a line card upgrade is approaching completion when something goes wrong. The system won’t operate at the targeted data rate. Deadlines are looming and the root cause of the problem is buried somewhere in a big rack of electronic components.

Strategies for Developing Copper Plating Systems

I-Connect007's Patty Goldman met with Dr. Albert Angstenberger, global technology manager for metallization with MacDermid Enthone Electronics Solutions, while at SMTA International. He presented a most interesting paper on copper pillar plating systems that we hope to publish in The PCB Magazine sometime in the future.

Book Recommendation: The Camino Way—Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain

When someone sent me this book, I was puzzled. How was reading a book about a religious pilgrimage going to help me with my business? It didn’t take long for me to realize that reading The Camino Way was tremendously helpful to my leadership business education. Author Victor Prince uses the backdrop of his own pilgrimage along the Camino Way to give leadership lessons.

Experts Discussion: Signal Integrity and Impedance Control

When the content gathering for an issue on signal integrity and controlled impedance was officially underway, our I-Connect007 editorial team’s first stop was an “experts discussion” with industry experts: Mike Steinberger of SiSoft, Mark Thompson of Prototron Circuits, and Yogen and Sunny Patel of Candor Industries. This teleconference call was a whirlwind at times, but we captured valuable information that we have distilled here, for our readers.

IPC Status Update: Training, Standards, and More!

At the recent IPC Fall committee meetings that are co-located with the SMTA International conference and show, IPC’s president and CEO, John Mitchell, sat down for a chat with me for an update on what’s happening at IPC.

Update on IPC’s Validation Services and Hints of What’s to Come

SMTA International is the perfect time to get updates on IPC happenings. One that I’m always curious about is the Validation Services programs. At the busy show, I managed to find a quiet spot so Randy Cherry, IPC’s director of Validation Services, could fill me in on the latest.

Patty's Perspective: (Signal) Integrity for All

Our topic this month is signal integrity, certainly a common one in our industry. Signal integrity is achieved by controlling impedance, so my advice is to do that. There, I’m done. Just kidding…of course I’m not done. But if you are in PCB manufacturing and you think this is just a design problem and doesn’t concern you, please think again.

Process Engineering & Defect Prevention

Defects may “manifest” or be detected in or after a specific operation within the printed circuit board manufacturing process, but the underlying root cause may have occurred earlier (perhaps much earlier) in the process.

3D Printed Electronics for Printed Circuit Structures

Printed electronics is a familiar term that is taking on more meaning as the technology matures. Flexible electronics is sometimes referred to as a subset of this and the printing approach is one of the enabling factors for roll-to-roll processes.

Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar 2017

This year’s event had a well-chosen and varied programme featuring presentations on process chemistry and R&D consortia, a discussion of controversial standards proposals and a review of the experiences of commissioning new technology in a start-up factory.


Catching up with FineLine Global

With locations all over the world and technology offerings covering all technologies, I wanted to see for myself what this “broker on steroids” was all about—how they got started and how they grew. So I was delighted to have a conversation with Eli Ikan, Fineline Global’s General Manager.

RTW SMTAI: What's New at MacDermid Enthone

Jim Hartzell of MacDermid Enthone explains the responsibilities of his new position servicing the end-user as part of a group that deals directly with OEMs. He also discusses MacDermid's steady growth and some of the hotter market segments, as well as a variety of new product offerings.

RTW SMTAI: Prototron Continues its Growth

Dave Ryder and Russ Adams of Prototron Circuits discuss the firm's 30th anniversary and their continued growth. Prototron recently hired several new staff members, and the company still has one open position to fill.

The State-of-the-Art in PCB Pre-production Engineering

If there’s one benefit of old age, it’s being able to remember the introduction to our industry of technologies that may be taken for granted by the present generation, but were revolutionary at the time. I can recall the history of Ucamco as far back as the late 1980s when, as one of the very early adopters of the DISC laser plotter and its associated electronic PCB front-end tooling system, our company gained entry to a spectacular new world of pre-production engineering capability.

The Value of Process Engineering in PCB Manufacturing

The PCB manufacturing cycle involves a series of interdependent processes starting from raw material and ending with the finished product. Successful PCB manufacturing shops coordinate, control and constantly upgrade their processes to meet the ever-changing market demands.

Ventec Shares Their Insights on the Laminate Market, Part II

The discussion on laminates and markets with Ventec’s Mark Goodwin continues as he talks about the importance of service, where Ventec is headed, and offers some advice on partnering with your supplier.

Ventec Shares Their Insights on the Laminate Market, Part I

I-Connect007’s Barry Matties sat down with the COO of Ventec USA/Europe, Mark Goodwin, to discuss the laminate market as a whole, the market segments behind that growth, and how Ventec has positioned itself in the thermal management space.

High-Throw DC Acid Copper Formulation for Vertical Continuous Electroplating Processes

The electronics industry has grown immensely over the last few decades owing to the rapid growth of consumer electronics in the modern world. New formulations are essential to fit the needs of manufacturing printed circuit boards and semiconductors.

Weiner’s World—August 2017

IPC is planning to hold a special meeting on automotive electronics for senior executives during IPC APEX EXPO 2019. The meeting will be planned and produced by the IPC Ambassador Council. Its presentations will feature senior members of the entire automotive electronics supply chain.

Hamed El-Abd: A New Beginning, Part 2

In Part 2 of this interview with Hamed El-Abd, Barry Matties continues the conversation as Hamed recalls witnessing the growth of China through the past 30 years. We also learn what Hamed plans to do in his retirement and it doesn't involve being static!


Laser Patterning & Metallization to Reduce Process Steps for PCB Manufacturing

This paper details a new methodology for the plating of conductive features onto glass dielectrics. A laser is used to ablate material from a glass substrate in the desired pattern, and copper is “seeded” into these features using laser-induced forward transfer of a copper foil.

IMPACT Interview: Joe O’Neil, OAA Ventures

At the recent IMPACT Washington D.C. 2017, I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman caught up with Joe O’Neil of OAA Ventures to talk about the event. As a veteran of many IMPACT meetings, his was a good perspective of the event.

Cycle Time Reduction Through W.O.R.C.

Lean, theory of constraints (ToC), quick response manufacturing (QRM), cross-training, and staticstical process control (SPC) are powerful, tried and true methodologies for process improvement. However, these tools are rooted in high-volume manufacturing environments and don’t always play nice in a high-mix, low volume (HMLV) operation. The new W.O.R.C. manufacturing strategy was specifically developed to overcome these shortcomings while capitalizing on their strengths.

Whelen Engineering, Two Years Later

If you know anything about this unusual (and extremely private) company, you probably read it right here at I-Connect007. Whelan Engineering’s truly unique PCB manufacturing operation is the result of a company initiative to bring their PCB needs back into the States—and do so at a cost savings. It has been quite a success, largely due to the efforts of brainchild Alex Stepinski, now VP−PCB at Whelen. The company is still in the thick of manufacture, includingan expansion of the PCB facility.

IMPACT Interview: Tony Revier, Uyemura

One of the best parts of IMPACT for me is meeting and getting to know people in our industry that I haven’t met before. While hors d’oeuvres were coming around before the Tuesday evening awards dinner, I found a quiet corner to talk with Uyemura USA President and CEO Tony Revier.

Patty's Perspective: How do You Define Process Step Elimination and Automation?

This month, we can call our theme PSE&A—a fancy acronym for process step elimination and automation. Sounds straightforward, but what exactly do we mean by “process step elimination?” Does it refer to shortening the numerous steps involved in making a printed circuit board? There sure are a lot of them, but they all must be necessary—or why would we have them?

Catching up with American Standard Circuits’ Joe Nickerson

Dan Beaulieu had the chance recently to sit down with Camtech Technologies founder and President Joe Nickerson, now the newly appointed American Standard Circuits’ VP of sales, to discuss Camtech Technologies and his new role with American Standard Circuits. It was an interesting talk.

IMPACT Interview: Fern Abrams, IPC

At the recent IMPACT Washington D.C. 2017 event, I-Connect007's Patty Goldman speaks with IPC's Fern Abrams to get the inside story on the meeting with EPA.

IMPACT Interview: Anaya Vardya, American Standard Circuits

I-Connect007's Patty Goldman spoke with Anaya Vardya, president and CEO of American Standard Circuits, a few days after the conclusion of IMPACT, especially wanted his views as a first-timer there.

Victory Giant Technology: The Qualified Forerunner of PCB Smart Factories

The topic of the July issue of PCB007’s China Online Magazine is “Automatic PCB Factories,” focusing on the pressures of cost, delivery time and process, and the irreversible trend toward automated PCB factories. Centering on this theme, we interviewed Andy Zhou, COO of Victory Giant Technology (HuiZhou) Co. Ltd., the first domestic PCB manufacturer who carries out large-scale implementation of intellectualization throughout the factory.


Catching up with Prototron Circuits Tucson GM Kim O’Neil

This has been an exciting year for Prototron, which has achieved Mil-PRF-31032 and gone into the flex business. Most recently, Prototron received word that they had achieved their AS9100 Rev D, which made me want to check in with Kim O'Neil and find out more.

Strategies for Compliance with DoD Regulations Including ITAR and DFARS

ITAR is usually the topic when compliance with DoD regulations is discussed. But what about DFARS? This article will examine strategies one can implement to ensure that one is compliant with all DoD regulations, by analyzing internal and external factors in relation to procurement and compliance, and by asking the vital questions: what, how, where and to whom?

The Speed of Nouya: Interview with Bao Xinyang of Shanghai Nanya

The theme of the June issue of PCB007 China Magazine is "High-Speed Materials." As is becoming more widely understood, domestic material supply is the only way for China’s high-frequency, high-speed circuit board industry to grow.

IPC: Department of Labor Releases RFI to Seek Information on Overtime Regulations

This week, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a Request for Information (RFI) to gather additional feedback from the public on the overtime regulations, which define and delimit exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and other employees.

IMPACT Interview: Shane Whiteside, Summit Interconnect

During Tuesday night’s dinner at IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2017, I-Connect007's Patty Goldman had a chance to talk with Shane Whiteside, Summit Interconnect’s president and CEO.

A Conversation with New Isola Chief Revenue Officer Michael White

In a recent conference call with Isola’s new Chief Revenue Officer Michael White, I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties, and Managing Editor Patty Goldman gained a deeper understanding of the internal reorganization happening right now with Isola and Mike’s plans for Isola’s marketing team.

Punching Out! Mid-2017 Report on the State of the N.A. PCB M&A Market

One of the most popular questions we receive concerns the market for M&A. Here is our take on the current market for PCB shops in North America. In general, the PCB market in North America is not growing, which means that to grow, shops either must take market share from others, or grow through acquisitions.

ECWC 14 Wrap-Up with Tim Lee and Happy Holden

Minsu (Tim) Lee is the secretariat of the ECWC 14 Worldwide Printed Circuit Conference, which recently concluded in Seoul, South Korea. Tim is also the program manager of the Korean Printed Circuit Association. We had a few minutes together after the conference ended to review the week’s events and the Korean PCB industry. Tim also focused on the ongoing situation with North Korea, which resulted in many Chinese paper contributors being denied visas for ECWC 14.

High-Frequency, High-Speed: an Opportunity for China CCLs to Lead

As a leading Chinese CCL manufacturer, Shengyi Technology has invested 250 million RMB in 2016, for the new Jiangsu Shengyi Special PCB Co. Ltd. facility, which will make high-frequency, high-speed CCL product. We invited Lin Xia, senior marketing director of Guangdong Shengyi Technology Co. Ltd., and assistant general manager of Suzhou Shengyi Sci-Tech Co. Ltd. He will be focusing on why high-frequency high-speed CCL is a good opportunity for China manufacturers to become a worldwide leader in this arena.

The Sales Survival Handbook: Cold Calls, Commissions, and Caffeine Addiction—The Real Truth About Life in Sales

Imagine a sales book written by Jerry Seinfeld and you’ll get a good idea of what this book is like. Filled with all kinds of valuable advice, including everything from cold calling to handling rejection, the author uses humor to make us laugh at ourselves while learning how to be better salespeople.


The Skills Gap – Meet People Where They Are!

A perennial concern in the U.S. electronics manufacturing industry is the lack of skilled talent in many parts of the country. According to a recent IPC member survey, most companies have a hard time recruiting qualified production workers, engineers, and other technical professionals.

Patty's Perspective: What Happens in Washington Doesn’t Stay in Washington—It Reaches All of Us

I went to my second IMPACT Washington, D.C. event this year (May 1–3) and, as much as I applauded last year’s event, this one far surpassed it—just ask anyone who was there. In this month’s issue, a special section on IMPACT backs that claim.

Mr. Laminate Tells All: PTFE is About to be Banned by IEC TC111

There, I said it. Technical Committee 111 of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is preparing to effectively ban PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) materials from electronics. As history goes, the electronics industry has focused on only two of the four halogens (bromine and chlorine) to be limited in order to be called “halogen-free” or more accurately “low-halogen.” But now, fluorine is being dragged down too, just because of its location in the periodic table.

A Deep Look Into Embedded Technology

In preparation for this month’s magazine, we set up a conference call with the goal of uncovering the challenges and opportunities related to embedded technology. Invited were a handful of the industry’s heavy hitters in the embedded world: Retired technologist and I-Connect007 Contributing Editor Happy Holden, and Ohmega’s Technical Director Daniel Brandler and Design & Test Engineer Manuel Herrera.

Megasonic Acoustic Surface Treatment Process for Enhanced Copper Electrodeposition in Via Interconnects

A printed circuit board is populated with a multitude of electro-mechanical components plus various active and passive devices such as transistors, capacitors, inductors and resistors, which enable the functionality and assembly of the PCB. Increasing the density of the components on the surface of a board enables greater functionality and use.

I-Connect Survey on Process Step Elimination: Cycle Time Spent on Final Inspection

In our recent survey on process step elimination for the upcoming issue of The PCB Magazine, one of the questions asked was the percentage of total cycle time spent on final inspection. Around half of the respondents answered they only spend generally between 1% and 5% of their total cycle time doing final inspection of their products.

Designing with Ultra-Thin Flexible Printed Circuit Boards

Designing with flexible PCBs is not much different from doing the same with rigid boards, except that the designer must account for the mechanical complexity associated with flex circuits. For instance, a flexible PCB can tear if flexed beyond its capability during installation. Therefore, it is very important to create a mechanical model of the PCB and test it for a proper fit, before taking up the electrical design.

Weiner’s World – June 2017

On the way back from Hong Kong last week I had the good fortune of meeting an officer of Allegro Microsystems and enjoyed a wide ranging discussion with him. One of the "take home" items was concern about an expanding shortage of rare earth metals used to make ICs for the burgeoning automotive sensor market. The second was how important the roles of partnering and consortia are in the rapidly advancing autonomous automotive electronic field.

Embedding Components, Part 1

The printed circuit has traditionally served as the platform for mounting and interconnecting active and passive components on the outer surfaces. Companies attempting to improve functionality and minimize space are now considering embedding a broad range of these components within the circuit structure.

Book Recommendation: Upside—Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead

If you want to know what is going to happen in the future, you can forget the crystal ball and the Tarot cards because all you need is this new book by generational researcher Kenneth Gronbach. This book is readable and interesting, despite the sound of the subject matter, which sounded as dry as the Arizona desert.


Rex Rozario, OBE, Wins Two Awards in Two Weeks

During their recent summer conference, the European Institute of Printed Circuits (EIPC) presented Rex Rozario with its distinguished Honourary Fellowship of the Institute Creditation for his contributions to the world electronics interconnection industry. Then at the Devon County Show, Rozario received the Pride of Devon Award for his contributions to Devon businesses and local radio.

Thin Film NiP Embedded Resistors in Heater Applications

There has been a growing adoption of NiP thin film resistors as heater elements from a diverse group of users including those in the aerospace, defense, high-end computing and the volume consumer electronics market. A novel application has now grown from the validation and reliability testing perspective. Using embedded resistors as heaters to do high-temperature or burn-in testing eliminates the need for thermal chambers.

The Significance of the PCB in the Value Chain of the European EMS Industry

At SMT Nuremberg, Pete Starkey meets with Dieter Weiss, who comments upon the significance of the PCB in the value chain of the European EMS industry, and looks to a future where we embrace an open-minded attitude and a willingness to work together.

A Brief Tutorial on Embedded Capacitors

Compunetics has been operating in the embedded components market for more than 20 years. Initially driven by their parent company’s need for high layer-count, high-density embedded capacitance cards for their OEM product offerings, technology and processes were developed which are mature and reliable.

A Twist on Printed Electronics: Printing on 3D Shapes

Barry Matties speaks with Optomec’s Pascal Pierra about their LENS printer systems and Aerosol Jet technology, which allows manufacturers to print applications like sensors and antennas on 3D objects. The process is significantly faster and greener than competing technologies.
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