The PCB Norsemen: Industry 4.0, AI and CircuitData
As automation works its way onto the shop floors, it still struggles to replace humans in the supporting roles, such as designers, purchasers, brokers, and back-office staff. Where automation on the shop floor replaces humans in doing repetitive manual tasks, the supporting roles (at least some of them) require intelligence to understand and utilise information.
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.
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.
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.
'Can Do' in CAM Outsourcing
Time-to-market has been the mantra for every successful technology company. The best among them have strong and integrated supply chains that march to the drum of the OEMs and EMS providers that bring that technology to market. A big part of that success, especially in North America and Europe, is the ability for PCB manufacturers to turn around complex PCBs very quickly. The hallmark of PCB production in these higher-tech, higher-cost regions is flexibility and responsiveness.
Hamed El-Abd: A New Beginning, Part 1
While in China recently, Barry Matties joined longtime I-Connect007 friend and contributor Hamed El-Abd of WKK to congratulate him on his upcoming retirement. They reflected on his time spent in the industry, specifically in China, how far it’s come, and where it might be headed next.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I-Connect Survey on Process Step Elimination: What is More Important for Productivity?
Is utilizing the best technology out there the most important factor in improving productivity? Or is it automating certain, if not all, processes in your production? What about employee morale, what is its impact on the overall productivity of your line?
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.
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.
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.
Romania’s PCB Design Students Compete at TIE 2017
During the last week in April, the 26th Interconnection Techniques in Electronics (TIE) show was held at the Gheorghe Asachi Technical University in Iasi, Romaina, a wonderful hill town not unlike Rome. The event, a convention for the Romanian electronic packaging community, included a series of actions designed to draw smart young students to the electronics industry, which is clearly growing. Participants had only four hours to create this PCB design, which was generated by a team of professionals from Continental Automotive Romania Timisoara.
Mitch Altman Discusses Bringing Youth into the PCB industry
Publisher Barry Matties is joined by Mitch Altman, creator of TV-B-Gone, a device that can turn off TVs in public, and co-founder of Noisebridge, an educational hackerspace based in San Francisco. In this interview, they discuss the importance of bringing youth into the PCB industry and how Noisebridge has inspired people of all ages to get started creating their own electronics.
Global Impact on European PCB Fabrication: EIPC Summer Conference 2017, Day 2
The second day saw the conference room full once more, the late networking session in the bar having resulted in no significant casualties, and I was pleased to accept the invitation to moderate the first session, on processes and materials for flexible PCBs.
Global Impact on European PCB Fabrication: EIPC Summer Conference 2017, Day 1
Electronics industry professionals from 13 countries, mainly from Europe and Scandinavia, others from the USA, but some from as far away as India and Japan, gathered in Meriden, the centre of England, for the EIPC Summer Conference.
A Conversation with an Industry Twenty-Something
At a recent SMTA Expo, I met with Matt Hammesfahr, a salesperson with Amitron. Matt is young, by our industry standards—in his midtwenties. Just a few years out of college, Matt holds a business degree and is already a top salesman with the company. Here’s one of those twenty-somethings we keep saying we want to attract to our industry. How did this happen? I had to get the story.
HDP User Group 2017 European Meeting Highlights Technology Progress
The conference facility at the offices of Oracle, in the royal burgh of Linlithgow in West Lothian, Scotland, was the venue for the 2017 European meeting of the High Density Packaging User Group. I was delighted and privileged to be invited once again to sit in on the open session, an intense programme of technical presentations and discussions, project reviews, status updates and new project proposals.
Innovator Bob Tarzwell Retires From PCB Industry to Focus on New Career in Art
I have known Bob Tarzwell for more than 18 years, since he first called me looking for some help with his company. His first words to me were, “Hi, my name is Bob Tarzwell and I own a shop in Carleton Place, Ontario. I need your help."
Help Wanted With IMI’s Peter Bigelow
In preparation for this month’s topic, especially what companies in our industry are currently experiencing when it comes to finding and hiring the right people, I sought out Peter Bigelow, president and CEO of circuit board fabricator IMI Inc. We spoke in February at IPC APEX EXPO.
Deep Into Technology at Compunetics
There aren’t many printed circuit companies in my neck of the woods. There is one, however, that has always fascinated me, and that is Compunetics, in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Having worked with them on the electrophoretic photoresist, a PPG product, many years ago, it was great to stop by and catch up with CTO Tim Schmitt and Technical Applications Manager Jesse Ward, along with General Manager Burhan Capar, a relative newbie to the company.
Ding Cheng of BYD Electronic: Embracing the FPC Factory Model of the Future
The topic of the third issue of PCB007 China Magazine is "The Wide World of Flex." Around this theme, we asked one of the leaders of China's FPC industry, Ding Cheng, general manager of the FPC Division of Shenzhen BYD Electronic Parts Company, to share his perspective about trends in flex, and where he thinks that market is headed in the future.
Executive Agent for PCB and Electronic Interconnect Technology PrCB Trust Accreditation
The DoD mandate for trust in the PrCB supply chain is mirrored in DoDI 5200.44, which states: “Employ protections that manage risk in the supply chain for components or subcomponent products and services (e.g., integrated circuits, FPGAs, PrCBs) when they are identifiable (to the supplier) as having a DoD end-use.” In response to congressional and DoD directives, the PrCB EA proposed pursuing a trust accreditation program for PrCB suppliers.
Weiner’s World—April 2017
China’s economy accelerated for a second straight quarter as investment picked up, retail sales rebounded, and factory output accelerated in March. Gross domestic product increased 6.9% in the first quarter from a year earlier, compared with a 6.8% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
Innovating in the Technology of Stretchable PCBs
Express Circuits is a long-established PCB fabricator located in Coleshill, near Birmingham in the Midlands of England, specialising in quick-turn complex prototype and small- to medium-volume microvia multilayer and rigid-flex. With the benefit of associate companies focused on design and assembly, Express is recognised for its exemplary customer service and technical support, as well as for its innovative manufacturing solutions.
Material Choices for High-Speed Flexible Circuits
Materials to make high-speed flexible circuits are now available from many material suppliers. In deciding which materials to test or use, remember the tradeoffs the suppliers made in categories we discussed: electrical properties, mechanical/flex properties, and ease of processing. A choice should only be made after considering these options. Remember with any new materials it is very important to find fabricators that are knowledgeable about processing these new materials.
Patty’s Perspective: Faster, Faster, Faster…or the Need for Speed, More Speed!
I wonder: Do we really need more speed in our connections? When will we hit that proverbial wall everyone worries about? Of course, if we want things like autonomous cars, intelligent robotics, and extended IoT, then we will continue to press forward—or rather you, the PCB manufacturer, designer, and supplier of high-speed materials will keep at it.
Mutracx Makes Green Operations Economically Viable
During IPC APEX EXPO, I sat down for an interview with with Jeroen de Groot, CEO of Mutracx. He detailed the company’s plans to install new equipment at a facility in Romania, and he explains why having a green manufacturing operation is not enough—it must also be economically feasible.
Weiner’s World – March 2017
The CPCA show held at the China International PCB And Assembly Show was moderately busy even though the new venue was not quite ready (no escalators, the "water closets" not fully finished, the heat was only on for a few hours one day). It showcased products for PCB Manufacturing, Electronic Assembly Materials and Manufacturing Services.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: HDPUG Discusses the Impact of Copper Bonding Treatment on Signal Integrity
Jim Fuller, vice president of engineering and technology development at Sanmina, gives an insight on how HDPUG, the High Density Packaging User Group, shares the experience and resources of member companies to tackle projects and get results, and reviews the study of the effect of copper bonding treatment on signal integrity.
RTW CPCA Show 2017: ESI Discusses Latest Innovations in Laser Drilling
At the recent CPCA Show 2017 in Shanghai, China, Mike Jennings, director of marketing for flex and interconnect products at Electro Scientific Industries Inc. (ESI), highlights their expertise in laser drilling, as well as being the first roll-to-roll capable UV laser drill provider.
He also talks about their recently released RedStone PCB laser processing system, a low cost-of-entry solution for FPC manufacturers considering the adoption of laser processing for flex PCB.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Taiyo Discusses Option for PCB Heat Dissipation—Thermally Conductive Solder Resist
Conventional solder resists are relatively poor conductors of heat, but dense PCB assemblies generate heat that needs to be dissipated by all means possible. Don Monn, business development and European sales manager for Taiyo America, introduces a ceramic-filled formulation that increases thermal conductivity by a factor of 10 or more.
Eagle Electronics: Success through 'Building Everything'
During a recent visit to Chicago, Editors Andy Shaughnessy and Patty Goldman stopped by Eagle Electronics just outside of Chicago. Chief Operating Officer Brett McCoy gave them a tour of the facility, and spoke about the company’s plans for the future, and why Eagle is bucking the niche market trend and manufacturing a wide variety of PCBs.