PCB :: Fabrication Process

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Thinking and Designing in Three Dimensions

This article aims to encourage interconnect designers who design for flex or rigid-flex circuits to use the modern CAD tools at their disposal for getting flex done right the first time. While modeling PCBs in 3D is not new, and all the major PCB EDA vendors offer some form of 3D modeling and integration, it is still a rare circumstance that flexible circuit designers use 3D CAD modeling.

Can E-waste and Metals Recovery Efforts Lower Environmental Risks and Liability?

Gold, palladium, silver, and other precious metals (PMs) in manufacturing wastes represent high value, but how PMs are recovered can pose environmental and liability issues. Aerospace and electronics manufacturers and suppliers, in particular, produce volumes of manufacturing wastes that contain varying levels of PMs.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: CBT and Technica’s Relationship, Roadmap, and Equipment

Pete Starkey speaks with David J. Clark, CBT project director, and Najib Khan, photoimaging product manager at Technica, who explain the background of their companies and their current working relationship. Further, they address their technology roadmap, and the unique features of their direct imaging equipment—particularly the registration accuracy that can be achieved.

Tara Dunn Shares Strategies for Today’s PCB Business

At the recent AltiumLive event, Barry Matties met with PCB sales expert Tara Dunn of Omni PCB to discuss selling strategies for selling PCBs in the North American market. The conversation also covers strategies for staying competitive through a generational shift in the ownership of PCB shops, and the importance of supply chain communication and building relationships.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Meyer Burger Highlights Inkjet Solder Mask Printing Equipment

Annegret Lewak, head of sales at Meyer Burger, speaks with Steve Williams about their latest inkjet solder mask printing equipment, which offers advanced accuracy and resolution imaging.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Uyemura Discusses Heavy Gold Deposition

Richard DePoto, business development manager at Uyemura, brings Pete Starkey up to speed with the success of the heavy gold deposition process they discussed last year. It has been seamlessly integrated into standard ENEPIG lines to give a choice of finishes, and how advances in electroless palladium have enabled the elimination of electroless nickel for high-speed signal integrity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: A Conversation with Burkle’s David Howard and Kurt Palmer

Burkle North America's David Howard has chosen to take a well-earned retirement, and introduces Pete Starkey to his worthy successor Kurt Palmer.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Updates on Taiyo’s Inkjet Solder Mask

Donald Monn, regional sales manager at Taiyo America, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about the latest updates in their inkjet solder masks, and the many installations around the world that they are seeing for their product.

Laser Focus on Flex and Rigid-flex

ESI’s Chris Ryder, director of Product Management, and Shane Noel, Flex Systems product manager, discuss laser vias for flex users and the increasing necessity for companies to collaborate early on and become more and more involved, whether that be in the product design, or with the process or base material manufacturers.

AltiumLive Munich: Day 1 Keynotes

The weather forecast was wrong! Despite my apprehension and winter clothes, there was very little snow at the Hilton Munich Airport. It could have been any season of the year inside the splendid convention facility, which was also the venue for the second European AltiumLive design summit. AltiumLive brought together a family of over 220 electronics engineers and designers eager to learn from top industry experts and applications specialists who were equally eager to share their knowledge and experience freely.


Happy Anniversary, Gerber Format: Looking Ahead to Digital Innovation

This year, we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the introduction of the Gerber machine language format. We can thank H. Joseph Gerber, the man who took manual PCB design to the next level with the automated photoplotter, for giving us this format in 1964. Gerber immigrated to the United States in 1940 with his mother following the death of his father during the Holocaust. Gerber started Gerber Scientific Instrument Company in 1948 to commercialize his first patented invention—the variable scale.

Atotech at HKPCA on Announcements and Advancements

Edy Yu, managing editor for PCB007 China, caught up with Daniel Schmidt, Atotech’s director of global marketing, during the 2018 HKPCA and IPC Show in December. Edy and Daniel discussed Atotech’s new announcements at the show including their new solutions for 5G, high-speed, and high-frequency applications, and more.

Catching Up with Artnet Pro

I recently caught up with my old friend Meir Polack, co-owner with Rony Hod of Artnet Pro, which is a high-tech equipment sales and service company with offices in the U.S., China, and South America. We discussed a new line of direct imaging equipment called Altix (also the name of the company).

The Quest for Perfect Design Data Packages

There’s an ongoing problem in the PCB industry: fabrication shops are receiving incomplete or inadequate design data packages, leaving manufacturers scrambling to fill in the blanks. For a quick-turn prototype shop like Washington-based Prototron, with over 5,000 customers and up to 60% of orders coming from new customers each month, that can add up to a lot of wasted time and effort just in the quoting stage. Dave Ryder, Prototron president, and Mark Thompson, engineering support, delve into this continuing issue and more.

Mentor and Seica Partner for Data Prep and Testing Big Boards

Mark Laing, business development manager of the Valor division at Mentor, a Siemens company, and Luca Corli, director of sales at Seica, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about the partnership between their two companies, which enables efficient data preparation for testing big boards, and accelerates new product introduction (NPI) cycles.

ESI’s Chris Ryder: There’s More to Choosing a Laser Than You Think

At the recent HKPCA show, I sat down with ESI’s Chris Ryder, director of product management—HDI—to discuss considerations for choosing a new laser system, and how ESI uses its decades of flex and rigid-flex drilling experience to help guide customers in their decision-making process.

Agfa on Revolutionary Inkjet Solder Mask Applications

Does inkjet solder mask have the potential for volume production? Mariana Van Dam, global sales manager for PCB imaging solutions, and Dr. Frank Louwet, business unit manager for advanced coatings and chemicals, discuss Agfa's latest developments, plus some novel applications for inkjet etch and plating resists.

Better to Light a Candle: Chapter One—Prepping the Next Generation

There has been a considerable amount of (electronic) ink and words shared in our industry bemoaning the graying-out of our industry and the growing shortage of skilled people at all levels. (See the May 2017 PCB007 Magazine column “Help Wanted—and How!” for just one example). As is usually the case, though, when all is said and done, more has been said than done.

Robert Art on the Importance of Thermal Management

Robert Art, global account manager for IMS materials at Ventec International Group, discusses future market requirements for thermal management materials, the need for a better understanding of the concept of thermal impedance, and an initiative to propose a consistent industry-standard method for measuring thermal conductivity while at electronica 2018.

Institute of Circuit Technology Harrogate Christmas Seminar 2018

The Institute of Circuit Technology returned to the fading Victorian splendour of the palatial and stately Majestic Hotel in the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate for its 2018 Christmas seminar, an intense programme of five excellent technical presentations, impeccably organised and moderated by Technical Director Bill Wilkie and generously supported by GSPK Circuits.


Dock Brown on Succeeding at Failure Analysis

Dock Brown of DfR Solutions gave a keynote speech at SMTAI, “Requirements for Both Cleaning and Coating to Building Medical Hardware.” Barry Matties and Happy Holden sat down with Dock to discuss the current trends he sees in failure analysis, the concept of “rules versus tools,” and how predictive engineering software used early in the design cycle can help predict failures in components and microvias and drive cost down.

Top 10 Most-Read PCB007 Articles of 2018

Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular PCB news and articles. These are the top 10 most-read PCB articles from the past year. Check them out.

Schmoll and Burkle: Lasers and Drills for GreenSource

While at GreenSource Fabrication, Burkle Automation Technology’s Dave Howard introduced me to the Schmoll equipment as well as other items that Burkle installed at the facility. One unit of great interest was the Impex inspection machine which can do sophisticated non-destructive cross-sections using a very fine fiber probe.

Mentor Discusses New DFT, DFM, and Design Verification Tools

At electronica 2018, John McMillan, digital marketing program manager-Electronic Board Systems, and Mark Laing, business development manager-Valor Division of Mentor, a Siemens business, discuss new tools for PCB design verification, as well as design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for testing (DFT).

Rick Almeida Discusses DownStream's Latest News

At the 2018 electronica exhibition in Munich, Rick Almeida, founder of DownStream Technologies, brings Editor Pete Starkey up to speed with the company’s latest news.

John Hendricks on 5G Materials

At the 2018 electronica exhibition in Munich, John Hendricks, product marketing manager for Rogers Corporation, discussed 5G materials including demands and trends.

Martyn Gaudion on Signal Integrity Modelling and Stackup Tools

The accuracy of signal integrity modelling continues to improve, and stackup tools are becoming widely used, which now include material suppliers' datasheet information. During the recent electronica show in Munich, Germany, Martyn Gaudion, managing director at Polar Instruments, explained how Polar often serves as a bridge between PCB design and fabrication, and why educating his customers is so critical.

Atotech Brings World-Class AHDI to the U.S.

During our walk-through of the GreenSource Fabrication facility with VP Alex Stepinski, he started the conversation on surface preparation and plating by saying, “We have Atotech horizontal production technology in place here. We’ve been running Atotech turnkey solutions for a while.

Ventec's Marketing Strategy and Their Newly Appointed Technology Ambassador

At electronica 2018, Mark Goodwin, chief operating officer at Ventec International Group, discusses the company’s marketing strategy along with their newly appointed technology ambassador, Alun Morgan, and how he sees the world.

GreenSource: The Future

This issue is a special one. We devote the entire magazine to a detailed look at Green-Source Fabrication (a division of Whelen Engineering) and its brand new, fully automated HDI facility in New Hampshire. GreenSource is arguably the most advanced and automated fabrication facility in North America today.


150+ Years of Experience: Reflections with Three Industry Icons

You would be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable and experienced group than that of Gary Ferrari, Gene Weiner, and Happy Holden. In a brief interview with Barry Matties, these three industry icons consider the past, present, and future state of electronics manufacturing while also offering advice to the newest generation of manufacturers.

Julie Ellis: Communication and Fabrication Knowledge Critical for Designers

Field Application Engineer Julie Ellis of TTM sees it all: good designs, bad designs, and everything in between. Her classes on proper DFM techniques are always a big draw. She taught at the inaugural AltiumLive in 2017 and was back at this year’s event. I caught up with Julie and asked her to discuss some of the things she covered in class. As she points out, many issues could be eliminated if designers communicated with their fabricators and had a better understanding of how PCBs are manufactured.

Increasing Productivity for Flex Fabricators

Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson of I-Connect007 met with Shane Noel and industry veteran Mike Jennings of ESI to discuss the introduction of their CapStone laser tool, a product aimed at doubling their flex circuit fabricators’ throughput. Mike also shares advice for fabricators who are looking to move into the ever-growing flex market.

Substrates for Advanced PCB Technologies: What Will the Future Hold?

The UK chapter of the global IMAPS community of electronics and microelectronic packaging engineers shared a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about PCB substrate technology trends, developments, and future requirements in a webinar on the first of November.

Copper Pillar Plating Systems: High Speed, Low Heat

The industry is seeing ever-more stringent requirements of interconnect technologies (ICT) from die through final assembly, in particular digital and analog high frequencies, undistorted signal propagation and efficient heat propagation are concerned.

Additive Electronics: PCB Scale to IC Scale

SAP, mSAP, SLP—what kind of crazy acronyms have we adopted now, and how much do you really need to know? In terms of consumer electronics, there is a good chance that the smartphone attached to your hand at all times contains a PCB fabricated with this technology—or at the very least, the next-generation smartphone that you purchase will utilize mSAP technology.

Smartphone Substrate-Like PCBs Will Revolutionize the IC Substrate and PCB Markets

The smartphone is one of the high value-add products that carries a very high demand for miniaturization. Customers expect larger screens, cameras with high resolution, and various other functions, in lighter and thinner phones.

The Changing Shape of the HDI Market

With more mobile device designers looking to utilize the benefits of FOWLP and other direct attach package types, a new generation of HDI PCBs is already in the market. Targeting less than 30 mm features and based on mSAP techniques, these substrate-like PCBs make use of the latest high-end manufacturing processes and materials, to enable the next evolution in advanced HDI boards.

Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar

After an extreme summer heat wave had left trees dehydrated and struggling to morph into their customary display of reds and golds, the leaves were brown and brittle as the great and good of the UK printed circuit board industry crossed the bridge from the mainland of the south coast of England to Hayling Island for the autumn seminar of the Institute of Circuit Technology on September 20, 2018.

Defense Speak Interpreted: Defense Electronic Supply Chain Issues

On October 5, 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) highlighted issues with the release of the 146-page report “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States” from President Donald J. Trump.


Sunshine Global Circuits Discusses its Rapid, Targeted Growth

In an interview with I-Connect007, Jimmy Fang, VP of business development at Sunshine Global PCB Group, speaks about the key demand drivers for the PCB industry, the challenges in the market, and the opportunities they are seeing.

AltiumLive 2018 a Mecca for PCB Designers

AltiumLive 2018 San Diego is now in the history books. This is the second annual AltiumLive (North America), and it was even better than the first. With nearly 300 hundred participants, from all parts of the country and industry, the event was a huge success.

The IPC High-Reliability Forum for Mil-Aero and Automotive Sectors

I-Connec007’s Happy Holden had the pleasure of attending IPC’s High Reliability Forum (HRF) in Baltimore in May. As the IPC scripted it, it was a “Technical Conference with a Focus on Electronics Subjected to Harsh-Use Environments.”

From Trend to Game Changer: Which Technology Will Make the Cut?

At the recent EIPC Summer Conference, Hans Friedrichkeit of the PCB Network gave an engaging presentation on artificial intelligence and future technologies, which was well received by attendees. Who better than Hans to offer insight on which future megatrends might truly become game changers? Publisher Barry Matties sat down with Hans to get his take on trends such as 5G, autonomous cars and 3D printing.

Managing the Challenges of Flex and Rigid-Flex Design

PCB designers working with flex or rigid-flex technology face many potential risks that can derail a project and cause costly design failures. As the name implies, flex and rigid-flex designs comprise a combination of rigid and flexible board technologies made up of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates, attached internally and/or externally to one or more rigid boards. These combinations provide flexibility for the PCB designer working on dense designs that require a specific form factor. Rigid-flex allows the PCB design team to cost-efficiently apply greater functionality to a smaller volume of space, while providing the mechanical stability required by most applications.

Mechanism and Mitigation of Nickel Corrosion in ENEPIG Deposits

Nickel corrosion in ENEPIG was reproduced using exaggerated dwell time in the immersion gold bath. Nickel corrosion will occur at the manufacturing site if there is an attempt to plate thicker (>2.8 µin (0.07 µm) gold with standard immersion gold chemistry.

Ventec Keeps 'Shaking Things Up' with tec-speed 20.0

At the EIPC summer conference, I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties caught up with Ventec Europe & Americas COO Mark Goodwin, who provided an update on Ventec’s new products, the current state of the company, and how Ventec is shaking things up in the materials marketplace.

PCB Design, Fabrication and Use from the Mil-Aero End-User Perspective

The procedures described for Rolls Royce were directly comparable with those described for MBDA, and the presenters were unanimous in re-emphasising the importance of working closely with their chosen PCB fabricators at all levels and all stages of design, qualification and production of their circuit boards.

Thermal Capabilities of Solder Masks: How High Can We Go?

This article focuses on three different coating material groups that were formulated to operate under high thermal stress and are applied at the printed circuit board manufacturing level. While used for principally different applications, these coatings have in common that they can be key to a successful thermal management concept especially in e-mobility and lighting applications.

Circuit Automation on the Ever-Evolving World of Solder Mask

In a recent conference call, I-Connect007 editorial team was joined by Circuit Automation’s Yuki Kojima, VP of engineering; Larry Lindland, sales and applications manager; and Tom Meeker, CEO, for a lively discussion about solder mask. Spoiler: It’s not all about the equipment.


Countering Solder Mask Residue Production Concerns

The solder mask application is one of the key considerations to ensure a successful application of a selective finish. The selective finish is the final chemical step of the PCB manufacturing process; this is when the panels are at their most valuable and are unfortunately not re-workable.

IMPACT on DIVSYS and NWSC Crane

I-Connect007's Patty Goldman has known DIVSYS’ Stan Bentley for many years, having met when the company was called Diversified Systems and they made circuit boards and finished products at their facility in Indianapolis. They saw each other at IMPACT recently, and of course had to have a chat.

Solder Mask: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

For the July 2018 issue of PCB007 magazine, I-Connect007's editing team met with Electra Polymers’ Shaun Tibbals and Antony Earl to discuss what’s new with solder mask, including direct imaging and inkjet printing of solder mask, and what PCB manufacturers and OEMs need to know.

More Than a Word: Solder Mask

Do you spend time, as I do, musing on the language of PCBs? We have developed our own lexicon to convey as much by picture, as by word, what exactly we mean.

Study on Application of Four-Wire and Four-Terminal Flying Probe Test Scheme

With the four-wire and four-terminal flying probe test method, voids in the holes formed in the PCB due to process differences, thin copper, and poor conduction due to residual adhesive after laser drilling of the HDI board can be detected, and the circuit board guide can be solved. With the development of multilayer, high-density PCB layout, four-wire four-terminal flying probe testing will play an increasingly important role.

Advanced Copper Plating Process for Any Layer Via Fill Applications with Thin Surface Copper

Copper-filled microvias are a key technology in HDI designs that have enabled increasing miniaturization and densification of printed circuit boards for the next generation of electronic products. Compared with standard PTHs, copper-filled vias provide greater design flexibility, improved signal performance, and can potentially help reduce layer count, thus reducing cost.

Advanced Stackup Planning with Impedance, Delay and Loss Validation

A typical PCB design usually starts with the material selection and stackup definition—the stackup planning or design exploration stage. How reliable are the data provided by the material vendors and PCB manufacturers? Can we use these data to predict trace width and spacing for the target trace impedance or to calculate delays or evaluate the loss budget?

Susy Webb: Training the New Generation of Designers

For years, I’ve been running into Susy Webb at PCB West, where one of the classes she teaches is PCB design basics. I always ask Susy about the class, especially the attendees’ backgrounds. Over the years, her class has begun drawing more and more degreed engineers, with fewer “traditional” PCB designers attending. I asked Susy to discuss the next generation of PCB designers, some of the trends she’s seeing among new PCB designers, and the need for designers to take charge of their own design training, whether their management agrees or not.

Agfa: Staying Ahead of the Technology Curve

In the ultracompetitive electronics manufacturing space, companies that don’t continually evolve and invest in new technologies run the risk of being left behind. At the recent EIPC summer conference, many next-generation processes and technologies were discussed and even put on display.

Characteristics of New Electroless Au/Pd/Au Process for Fine-Line Applications

The characteristics of electroless gold/palladium/gold (IGEPIG) deposit, which has been newly developed for fine-line application as electroless nickel-phosphorus (EN) free, has been compared with that of conventional electroless Ni-P/Pd/Au (ENEPIG) deposit and electroless Pd/Au (EPIG) deposit.


Welcome to the Silicon Valley Neighborhood: Nano Dimension Arrives in California

I-Connect007 Technical Editor Dan Feinberg accepted an invitation recently to tour Nano Dimension’s new USA headquarters in Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley, which included a sit-down with President and Co-Founder Simon Fried.

Autocatalytic Gold: How it Fits as a Final Finish

For process sequences or more information regarding semi-autocatalytic gold baths or the latest in the development of a fully autocatalytic gold bath that can eliminate corrosion at thickness of >100 nm please contact the author.

Patty’s Perspective: Staying Current on Wet Processes

This month, Mike Carano’s “Trouble in Your Tank” column on troubleshooting PTH failure mechanisms fit well with our wet processing topic. We hope you benefit from his practical knowledge and are storing his columns for future reference! Our final column this month comes from Elmatica’s Didrick Beck. The subject is Lean manufacturing and the differences between standard and non-standard product lines. Good information to know.

MIVA Technologies’ Explosive Growth Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

MIVA Technologies is a leading equipment builder for direct imaging technologies in the circuit board and microelectronics space. The company’s head of its business development group, Brendan Hogan, sat down for an interview to provide some background and where the company’s specialties lie.

EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 1: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 1

Just like old times—meeting with John Ling, with whom I had previously travelled to industry events for over two decades, and who still carries the role of EIPC marketing manager, to fly together from Birmingham UK to Dusseldorf in Germany for the EIPC 50th Anniversary Summer Conference.

Cerambus Discusses the Next Generation in PCB Plating

Cerambus Technology Inc. President John Nash sat down with I-Connect007 for a discussion on the latest developments in plating technology, challenges and opportunities in the China market, and their strategy for sustaining growth in a highly competitive industry.

EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 2: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 2

Alun Morgan wrapped-up the proceedings, thanking delegates for their attention, speakers for sharing their knowledge and sponsors for their generous support. Special thanks and good wishes to Michael Weinhold for his enormous contribution over the years, and to Kirsten Smit-Westenberg and Carol Pelzers for their calm and professional organisation and management of another superb event.

EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 2: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 1

The sun was shining in Dusseldorf as delegates returned to the conference room for the second day of the EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference. There were very few empty chairs—even those who had enjoyed a late networking session in the hotel bar had taken their seats as Paul Waldner opened the proceedings with Session 5, on a theme of future PCB design, material and processes for the PCB supply chain.

EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Day 1: The Past, the Present and the Future, Pt. 2

Part 2 of I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey's article on the recent EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference in Dusseldorf, Germany, continues with recap of technical presentations by Emma Hudson, Shannon Juan, Alex Ippich, and Russell Morgan. Read on.

The PCB Norsemen: The Velocity of Technology— What Does It Really Mean?

Driving a car is probably one of the areas where the user comes in direct touch with the technology development. And we understand the speed when we see how fast we get new versions of smartphones and other gadgets. But in what direction are we going?


Excerpts from Prismark’s Presentation at CPCA 2018

Prismark Partners LLC presented a detailed report at the recent CPCA meeting and show in Shanghai, China, on the challenges and opportunities for the PCB market. Part of the discussion was on 5G and is excerpted here with permission.

Excerpt: The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Flex and Rigid-Flex Fundamentals

The design process is arguably the most important part of the flex circuit procurement process. The decisions made in the design process will have a lasting impact, for better or worse, throughout the manufacturing cycle. In advance of providing important details about the actual construction of the flex circuit, it is of value to provide some sort of understanding of the expected use environment for the finished product.

5G—Generation after Generation

If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard of 5G, but you may not understand what all the fuss is about. First, 5G simply means fifth-generation mobile networks. The best way to understand what 5G is about is to understand all the other Gs, like 3G and 4G (we rarely hear about the early Gs!).

The Institute of Circuit Technology Annual Symposium 2018

ICT technical director Bill Wilkie is well-known for choosing notable venues for Institute of Circuit Technology events, and his choice for this year’s Annual Symposium was the National Motor Museum, located in the village of Beaulieu in the heart of the New Forest, a national park in the county of Hampshire in Southern England. The region is known for its heathland, forest trails and native ponies.

Mark Thompson: What Designers Need to Know about Fab

Mark Thompson wants to help PCB designers. He’s seen it all in CAM support at Prototron Circuits: the incomplete or inaccurate data packages, boards that are unnecessarily complex or over-constrained, and so much more. Mark just returned to writing his popular Design007 Magazine column, The Bare (Board) Truth, which addresses questions such as, “What happens to your design at CAM?” I asked Mark to explain why it’s so important for designers to communicate with their fabricators, and why they need to get out of the office and visit a board shop every now and then.
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