Article Highlights
The CPCA and China’s Electronic Circuit Industry: Past and Future
12/11/2019 | Wang Longji, CPCA
Pluritec Takes Industry 4.0 to the Next Level
12/11/2019 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Industry Set for Shift to True 3D Printing and Photonics
12/09/2019 | Nolan Johnson, PCB007
Nolan’s Notes: Clarity of Vision
12/05/2019 | Nolan Johnson, PCB007
Calumet Electronics and Averatek Team Up on A-SAP
12/02/2019 | Nolan Johnson, PCB007
PCB :: Suppliers

Latest Articles

Pluritec Takes Industry 4.0 to the Next Level

Pete Starkey and Pluritec’s Nicola Doria, president and CEO, discuss how the structure of Pluritec has developed over the past few years, now including many respected brand names that are long familiar in the PCB fabrication segment. Doria also explains how the company is continuing its implementation of Industry 4.0 processes.

Conductivity Laminate for High-frequency Applications

Editor Pete Starkey and Vitali Judin discuss how Rogers Corporation has responded to demands for high thermal conductivity combined with low loss in high-power RF applications with the newly launched. The PTFE-based TC350 Plus is capable of handling temperatures above 125°C and draws upon Rogers’ long experience with the TC350 material line-up.

InduBond: Magnetic Induction Lamination

In this video interview, part of the productronica 2019 coverage, we spoke with Víctor Lázaro, R&D manager and technical director at Indubond. Víctor describes Indubond’s innovative methods for heating the boards to effect lamination through magnetic induction. Victor discusses the energy and operational efficiency that an induction method brings to the equipment: thermal profiles.

Future Trends in Flying Probe Testing

Peter Brandt, director of sales for Europe and Japan at atg, sits down with Pete Starkey and Barry Matties, gives his views on market requirements and testing technologies, and explains how flying probe testing is becoming the industry standard at all levels of production—and in many cases, the only practicable solution.

Market Drivers and ESI’s Ongoing Developments

During productronica 2019, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team met with some of the industry's top executives, managers, and engineers.

Book Review: The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Executing Complex PCBs

If you are serious about designing complex PCBs (most designs today are far from elementary) and even more serious about doing it right the first time, then this is the book for you. Loaded with guidelines for designing cutting-edge PCBs, this book is filled with real-world examples and tips, tricks, and techniques by some of Freedom CAD’s most experienced designers.

Multilayer Press Technology Using Magnetism to Produce Lamination Heat

A revolutionary concept in multilayer press technology has been developed that uses electromagnetic energy to heat the existing stainless-steel separator plates with a never-before dreamed-of accuracy and precision. The heating and cooling systems—embedded within a robust hydraulic press inside a vacuum chamber design—are controlled using a temperature feedback loop that guarantees perfect fidelity between the press recipe and the press result.

Solder Mask Tack Dry

As a general rule, the tack-dry temperature should be as low as possible; in other words, it should only be as high as necessary. If the temperature is too low, the evaporation rate for the solvent will be to slow, and the solder mask will not dry in a reasonable amount of time. If the temperature is too high, however, the dry time certainly will be excellent, but it could create a solder mask lock-in with repercussions by the developing time.

Why Does the PCB Industry Still Use Gerber?

Every so often, I hear technologists ask why so many PCB designers still use Gerber. That is a fair question. Ucamco has over 35 years of experience in developing and supporting cutting-edge software and hardware solutions for the global PCB industry. Our customers—small, medium, and large PCB fabricators—include the electronics industry’s leading companies, and many of them have been with us for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our industry and excellence in everything we do, which includes our custodianship of the Gerber format.

Communication, Part 5: Internet Impedance Calculators for Modeling

Bob Chandler of CA Design and Mark Thompson of Prototron Circuits address how new engineers use internet impedance calculators for modeling (e.g., formulas versus recipes) in Part 5 of this series. Do you use impedance calculators that you found on the internet? Read on!


Meet George Milad, I-Connect007 Columnist

Meet George Milad, one of our newest I-Connect007 columnists! George’s columns will cover PCB plating, IPC specifications, and more. George is the recipient of the 2009 IPC President’s Award, chairs the IPC Plating Committee, and is a permanent member of the IPC Technical Activities Executive Committee.

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 2: Design Data Packages

The first part of this six-part series highlighted ways that PCB fabricators and designers can better communicate, starting with how to qualify a board shop. In Part 2, Bob Chandler and Mark Thompson talk about the importance of preparing, sending, and receiving comprehensive (and ideally, perfectly complete) design data packages.

New High-speed 3D Surface Imaging Technology in Electronics Manufacturing Applications

Line confocal sensors—and scanners based on them—are used in the imaging of surfaces, transparent materials, and multi-layered structures in various metrology and inspection applications on discrete parts, assemblies, webs, and other continuous products. Line confocal sensors operate at high speed and can be used to scan fast-moving surfaces in real-time as well as stationary product samples in the laboratory.

SMTAI 2019: Happy Holden’s On-the-Scene Report

Last week concluded the 2019 SMTAI conference in Rosemont, Illinois. Overall, I think the show was successful and covered all aspects of SMT processes.

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.

Real Time with… SMTAI 2019 Slideshow

The SMTA International 2019 Conference and Exhibition closed last week on a high note. For those who were not able to attend the event, held at Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, the slideshow contains a selection of photos from the exhibition show floor as well as the conference.

Is It Time to Shake Up Materials Standards?

COO Mark Goodwin and Technology Ambassador Alun Morgan from Ventec International Group describes how they feel current standards do not sufficiently recognize the needs of end customers today with new processes and materials being shoehorned into old standards based on dated ideas of classifications, and how this makes choosing the right material challenging for designers.

SMTAI 2019: George Milad's SMTAI Paper and the IPC ENIG Specification Revision

George Milad, national accounts manager for technology at Uyemura, discusses his paper on changing processes to eliminate nickel corrosion that he presented at SMTAI. He also tells Nolan Johnson about the IPC ENIG specification revision. George is involved in the Revision B acceptance process and shared information on how to get involved with the specification committee as well.

EIPC Summer Conference 2019, Day 2

In this article, EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan provides the highlights of the second day of the EIPC 2019 Summer Conference, which was held in the beautiful city of Leoben in central Austria. He also talks about key points of the numerous technical presentation at the conference.


EIPC Summer Conference 2019, Day 1

The beautiful city of Leoben in central Austria provided the setting for the EIPC 2019 Summer Conference. In this article, EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan provides the highlights of the first day of the event, including a recap of the technical presentations.

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.

Selecting the Proper Flex Coverlayer Material

Coverlayers are polymer materials used to cover and protect the copper traces of the flex circuit product. There are a number of different options available for protecting the circuits, and they serve different design requirements in terms of cost, performance, and flexural endurance optimization. When specifying the choice, it is critical to call out not just the type of coverlayer material but also the thickness requirement. This can be very important in certain types of constructions, especially when a flex circuit will experience dynamic flexing during use.

Chemcut: Wet Processing Equipment for the Long Haul

Chemcut CEO and General Manager Rick Lies speaks about the growth he has seen in the marketplace over his 18 years in the industry, and how Chemcut has been able to remain competitive in the PCB and photochemical milling spaces. Jerry Reitz, Chemcut’s HES manager, also addresses the current shift towards zero-discharge facilities.

The Advantages of Non-sludge Acid Copper Products

Mike Wood, technical director with Cerambus Asia Pacific, discusses the acid copper product from Cerambus Technology Inc. that doesn't generate sludge during the plating process and operates at higher production output by using higher current density. He talks about why this is important for the state of the vertical continuous plating (VCP) market in Asia, and the trends he’s seeing in that space.

The State of Plating

Increasingly, PCB design technology utilises buried and blind via holes and plated via fill is also becoming more and more common. The buried and blind holes mean that the loading on the plating equipment is multiplied by the number of different inner layer connections. The same technology means that equipment needs to deal with thinner and thinner materials.

Pollution Prevention Techniques: Rinse Water Reduction

There are five general categories of common techniques for pollution prevention in a PCB fabrication facility: new processes to replace sources of pollution; extend the bath’s life; rinse water reduction; dragout reduction; and ventilation reduction. While this list is not all-inclusive, it provides an overview of the types of technologies used around the world that are important to consider. This article, examines rinse water reduction.

Innovative Electroplating Processes for IC Substrates

The decreasing chip scales and smaller line/spacing distances have created unique challenges for both the PCB industry and the semiconductor industry. This paper discusses innovative additive packages for direct-current copper electroplating specifically for IC substrates, which offer better trace profile and deliver via fill and through-hole plating. It also describes two electrolytic copper plating processes, the selection of which could be based on the via size and the dimple requirements of the application.

Nano Dimension Details New DragonFly LDM

Dan Feinberg talks with Nano Dimension CEO Amit Dror about the new DragonFly LDM 3D printer technology announced by the Israeli company on July 24, 2019, aimed at increasing machine uptime and moving forward from prototyping to higher production volumes.

Focusing on Surface Sensitivity for Reliability

At the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit, Customer Applications Scientist Elizabeth Kidd and Sales Engineer Alex Bien, both of BTG Labs, discuss with Andy Shaughnessy their presentation on the challenges of working with highly sensitive surfaces, such as the risk of contamination. They also talked about the various surface characterization techniques that BTG Labs uses to identify such contaminants.


Solder Mask Curing: UV Bump Overview

Ultraviolet (UV) bump, also called UV cure, is a processing step in which the solder mask pattern is irradiated with ultraviolet and infrared light. This step is performed with special equipment that is built as a continuous flow system, which consists of a conveyor belt and tubular UV lamps mounted above and below the belt. Read on to find out more about this process.

Interconnect Reliability Correlation With System Design and Transportation Stress

Interconnect reliability is very critical to ensure product performance at predefined shipping conditions and user environments. Plating thickness of the compliant pin and the damping mechanism of electronic system design are key success factors for this purpose. This paper discusses design variables—such as pin hard gold plating thickness, motherboard locking mechanism, and damping structure design—to ensure interconnect reliability.

There’s An Art to Plating

There's definitely an art to plating. Start with a generally planar substrate, then alternately put stuff on and take things off. Continue this in subtle variations until what you have is the stuff you want, where you want.

Development of Flexible Hybrid Electronics

This article will present a hybrid manufacturing process to manufacture FHE systems with a two-layer interconnect structure utilizing screen printing of silver conductive ink, filled microvias to connect ink traces at the different layers, and use of the traditional reflow process to attach the semiconductor chips to the printed substrates.

IPC Reliability Forum Wrap-up With Brook Sandy-Smith

I attended the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland. The speakers and panelists focused on a variety of topics, but one issue that kept popping up was the failure of some microvias on military and aerospace PCBs. Fortunately, some smart technologists are focusing on determining the cause of these via failures. I asked Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC’s technical education program manager, to give us a quick wrap-up of this event.

The Impact of Inductance on Impedance of Decoupling Capacitors

This article discusses the impact of interconnection inductance on the impedance of the decoupling capacitor, which influences the power integrity of the PCB. The investigation is performed with 3DEM simulation by varying the trace length and height of stitching vias that connect the decoupling capacitor across the power rail and ground.

How to Feed Test Data Back to Engineering for Process Improvement

Some people think of the PCB manufacturing process as a black box: design data goes to the manufacturer (fabrication house), and magically, the finished PCB is produced. While it may have been like that in the past, in actuality, fabricating PCBs today is quite a ballet of processes.

How Changing Cleaning Technologies Affect Reliability

At the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Michael Konrad, founder and president of Aqueous Technologies and a speaker and panelist at the event in Baltimore, Maryland. They discussed Konrad’s presentation and the recent proliferation of cleaning, from solely high-reliability products to Class 1 consumer products.

An Examination of Glass-fiber and Epoxy Interface Degradation in Printed Circuit Boards

Multilayer organic laminates, which make up over 90% of the interconnecting substrates in electronics (standard FR-4 represents 85% of the substrates used for laminates), can develop a loss of electrical insulation resistance between two biased conductors due to conductive filament formation.

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.


Technically Appropriate Material Choices Are Key to Success

Materials are no longer a passive part of the design; they play an active role in the manufacturability, reliability, and speed of a PCB. Editor Nolan Johnson and Mike Creeden, founder of San Diego PCB Design, discuss several key characteristics that designers should consider in their material selection process.

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.

Microtek Labs: Providing Trusted Testing in the Chinese Market

On a recent visit to Microtek Laboratories' Changzhou facility, Barry Matties, publisher, and Edy Yu from the I-Connect007 China team spoke with chairman and CTO Bob Neves about the changes he has seen living and doing business in China over the past 15 years, and the increased importance of standards and testing as China moves into manufacturing more high-reliability products.

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.

DuPont on Materials Challenges and New Opportunities

John Andresakis, senior marketing technologist in the Interconnect Solutions (ICS) Group of DuPont, and Jonathan Weldon, RF applications engineer also in ICS at DuPont, spoke with the I-Connect007 editorial team about trends the company is seeing, what challenges their customers are facing with materials today, and future opportunities with new technologies, including 5G, electric cars, IoT, and more.

Creating Stability in Materials Chaos

Nolan Johnson and Tony Senese—manager, business development group, Panasonic EMBD—discuss the evolution of the materials marketplace over the years from a time when the market aligned for the rise of Panasonic’s MEGTRON 6 to the ever-changing materials industry of today. With the ramp-up to 5G and everyone pushing product development, Tony describes a chaotic materials market flooded with new companies and materials.

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.

Orbotech Celebrates Success of Orbotech Diamond and Discusses Future Trends

At the recent CPCA Show in Shanghai, Orbotech celebrated having over 100 of their Orbotech Diamond™ direct imaging machines in the marketplace. Barry Matties caught up with Meny Gantz—VP of marketing for Orbotech’s PCB division—to talk about the drivers behind the success of Orbotech Diamond systems before turning the conversation toward the future and Industry 4.0.

IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2019 Recap: Leaders Call for Action on USMCA Trade Deal

Top executives from electronics companies across the United States were in Washington, D.C., last week to call on the Trump administration and Congress to support policies that will drive the electronics industry’s future growth in North America and worldwide.

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.

Barbara Bracken Discusses ICAPE's New Facility

During the recent SMTA Atlanta show, Andy Shaughnessy sat down for an interview with Barbara Bracken, sales manager for Texas for the ICAPE Group. Barbara explained why ICAPE is much more than a PCB broker; the company now owns its own assembly facility in the U.S. and can assembly boards in the U.S. or China.

DuPont on New Beginnings and Empowering the Industry

Andy Kannurpatti gives the I-Connect007 team an overview of the latest news from DuPont Electronics and Imaging, including investments toward the new production assets in Ohio, Silicon Valley Technology Center, and other facilities. He also details how the company is engaging OEMs and PCB fabricators and design teams, as well as some exciting business updates coming this spring and summer.

Making Materials Succeed: Past, Present, and Future Trends

Tony Senese, manager for the business development group at Panasonic EMBD, gives Nolan Johnson an overview of materials and components as well as changing business models and methods to make materials succeed and how to stay profitable.

Technically Appropriate Material Choices are Key to Design Success

Materials are no longer a passive part of the design; they play an active role in the manufacturability, reliability, and speed of a PCB. I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson and Mike Creeden, founder of San Diego PCB Design, discuss several key characteristics that designers should consider in their material selection process.

Alun Morgan on the Future of PCB Materials

The I-Connect007 editorial team asked Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group, to discuss materials at a high level. Our conversation delivered a detailed overview of the current state of the electronics industry.

Vertical Conductive Structures, Part 1: Rethinking Sequential Lamination

Sequential lamination, as it is used today in high density interconnect (HDI) and derivative technologies, is constrained by the fact that one cannot plate a blind hole deeper than the diameter of the hole. A larger hole allows processes to plate deeper. In fact, this manufacturing constraint has made it a challenge even to reliably plate and process blind holes up to a 1:1 aspect ratio.

Averatek on the Future of Additive and Semi-additive Processing

Averatek’s President and COO Mike Vinson talks with Barry Matties about the benefits semi-additive and additive processing can bring to the shop floor as well as some of the current challenges and limitations that continue to leave many manufacturers hesitant to implement the technology.

Creating Smart Surfaces with Electronic Functionality

Of all of the technical user presentations I attended at the AltiumLive design summit in Munich, the one I found most fascinating introduced an innovative technology that encouraged a bit of lateral thinking and appealed to my creative side: the IMSE, or injection-moulded structural electronics.


Super PCB's Jessica Zhang on LEDs and Other Trending Business Areas

In an interview with I-Connect007 at the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Super PCB Program Manager Jessica Zhang provides an overview of the company and shares new business trends they're seeing, including LEDs, wearable devices, and more.

Alun Morgan on Thermal Management and LEDs in Automotive

Guest Editor Judy Warner met with Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group, to discuss topics addressed at the Automotive Executive Forum that took place at IPC APEX EXPO 2019. Morgan describes his presentation and findings centered around thermal management in automotive, specifically LEDs, as well as the unique set of growing thermal management challenges Tier 1 suppliers are now facing in the automotive sector.

American Standard Circuits' Ken Moffat on Flex and Rigid-flex Business

Ken Moffat is the director of business development at American Standard Circuits, where covers a fairly broad territory from his base in Toronto throughout Canada and parts of the U.S. from east to west. In an interview with I-Connect007 at the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Ken talks about the state of the flex and rigid-flex industry.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Orbotech West on Supporting Customer Needs

Orbotech West President Sharon Cohen speaks with Kelly Dack about Orbotech West’s restructuring to better support customer needs, their customer monitoring center, and hints at the capabilities of new products coming soon.

SEMI’s Cristina Sandoval on Mentoring and Retaining Young Talent

Cristina Sandoval, manager of workforce development and university initiatives for the SEMI Foundation, discusses how two new programs, as well as a long-running high school STEM outreach program, are aiming to address the skills gap within the industry. Sandoval also explains SEMI’s efforts to prepare students to enter the workforce and continuing to develop talent as young professionals join the industry.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MivaTek Discusses Flatbed LED Direct Imaging Systems

Brendan F. Hogan, managing director for MivaTek Global, and Chris Hrusovsky, VP of business development, give Pete Starkey their outlook on the market for flatbed LED direct imaging systems, report spectacular sales success, and describe their new introductions for large-format, dual-tray and microelectronics systems.

Ventec Focuses on High-mix Manufacturing

The I-Connect007 team recently toured Ventec International Group’s Suzhou factory where a modern, flexible manufacturing concept designed for fast delivery is enhancing their established volume manufacturing of specialty, high-reliability epoxy laminates and prepregs. Read on to know more about Ventec's ongoing investment in the facility to offer flexible world-class high-mix manufacturing capabilities for polyimide, thermal management, low-loss, and signal integrity material solutions.

ITEQ’s Tarun Amla Discusses 5G Inflection Points

ITEQ Corporation Executive VP and CTO Tarun Amla discusses effects of 5G on materials and shares general observations on the 5G rollout at DesignCon. He also talks about the challenges for their customers, and how they help them address their issues.

EIPC Winter Conference, Day 2

After the papers from the first day of the EIPC Winter Conference in Milan on February 14–15, the delegates were hosted at a reception and plant tour of Elga Europe at their nearby production facility. Here's a recap of the events and highlights of the Day 2 of the conference.

Automation on Full Display at Recent China Exhibitions

With the rising cost of labor in China, the growing demand for automation has never been stronger. At the recent productronica China 2019, and accompanying shows, one hall was packed full of automation technology. This video gives you a glimpse into what was on display… and the new workforce.


Hardware and Software in Smart Factories

As smart factories become a part of the present rather than a thing of the future, we will all need to become familiar with related concepts and components. This article is dedicated to various automation protocols, including some new ones just coming on the market, and covers hardware, such as PLCs and machine interfaces, as well as software and network protocols, such as MAPS, SECS/GEM, OML, CFX, IPC-2541, and custom software.

CPCA Show and productronica China 2019 Review

It was a busy week in China for the electronics industry. With multiple trade shows and conferences going on simultaneously in Shanghai, including the CPCA Show 2019, productronica China, SEMICON China, electronica China, and FPD China, it appears from the crowds that the market is strong in the region.

Meyer Burger on Inkjet Technology and Digital Printing Benefits

Don Veri, sales and business development manager for Meyer Berger, discusses some of the challenges fabricators face in adopting inkjet technology, the benefits they can expect once it’s deployed in their facility, and the advantages of digital printing in solving problems on the shop floor.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MacDermid Alpha Discusses Recent Company Rebranding

Senior VP Joseph D’Ambrisi of MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions speaks with Steve Williams about the recent rebranding of the business, and the benefits to their customers.

Current Megatrends You Pay the Most Attention To

In our recent survey, we asked the following question: "What current megatrends do you pay the most attention to?" Below are some of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.
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