Article Highlights
May the G Force Be With You
06/19/2018 | Dan Feinberg, Technology Editor, I-Connect007
The Institute of Circuit Technology Annual Symposium 2018
06/18/2018 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Book Recommendation: Becoming Facebook—The 10 Challenges that Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World
06/18/2018 | Dan Beaulieu
Day-to-Day: ZTE and the Potential Impending Trade War Saga
06/14/2018 | Gene Weiner, Weiner International Inc.
The Augmented World Expo: Go XR or Become Extinct
06/13/2018 | Dan Feinberg, Technology Editor, I-Connect007
PCB :: Fabrication Process

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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.

Experts Discussion with John Talbot, Tramonto Circuits

For this first issue of Flex007 Magazine, we interviewed John Talbot, president and owner of Tramonto Circuits. Headquartered in metro Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tramonto manufactures flexible and rigid PCBs for a variety of industry segments. Editors Andy Shaughnessy, Patty Goldman and Stephen Las Marias asked John to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the world of flexible circuits, and some of the trends he’s seeing in this market.

Process Control for HDI Fabrication

A subject that gets very little discussion but is essential to the HDI process is automation. That is, the control of chemical concentrations in our many PCB processes and, especially, those that have been mechanized and can change very rapidly. HDI is one of those series of processes where control is the key to high yields.

ACE’s AccuWrap Simplifies Multiple Sequential Laminations with Blind Vias

At DesignCon 2018, I spoke with James Hofer, general manager for Accurate Circuit Engineering, a quick-turn fabricator based in Santa Ana, California. James gave me a preview of AccuWrap, a new type of processing technology that lets designers reduce the amount of copper during sequential laminations while still meeting IPC specs, which should be of great interest to RF designers.

Drilling and Routing Machines: Taking Control

Once driven by hardware, the controller industry for PCB drilling is now one being driven primarily by software, so says Holger Dornau, of SIEB & MEYER. Barry Matties sat down with Holger at the CPCA show in Shanghai to discuss CNC drilling and routing machine controllers and why It's becoming more and more important for fabricators to consider.

Future Automotive Requirements for PCBs

In the automotive electronics industry, a huge change in functional and environmental requirements will be visible during the next few years. This is driven by three major trends: connected mobility, automated mobility, and the increasing electrified mobility.

Triangle Labs: Covering the Niche Market of Large Boards

I recently had the opportunity to speak with John-Michael Gray, president of Triangle Labs. We had quite a discussion on their rather unique capability of building large-format PCBs and multilayers—perhaps the largest PCBs in the world.

Automotive, the Electronics Industry’s New Driver

The automobile industry is becoming a combination of most of the traditional electronics segments: It’s a consumer product with a computer, communications center, and a few medical monitoring-type tendencies (measuring your alertness, heart rate, etc.), all rolled (no pun intended) into one incredible machine that is influencing our industry as none other.

The Direction of New Technology

I don’t have to tell you that things are changing fast in our industry. New tech seems to launch daily these days. How can we keep up? How can we even maintain? What’s coming next and how can we best prepare, in order to stay in the game?


Unimicron Germany Rises from the Ashes with New Smart Factory

This is a review of the grand opening of Unimicron’s new smart factory in Geldern, Germany. A fire in a PCB shop is an experience we all dread, but still it happens, and the consequences can be devastating. In the early hours of December 28, 2016, the innerlayer production plant at RUWEL International in Geldern, Germany, caught fire and the whole factory and its contents were destroyed.

Schmid Looks to the Future for Industry 4.0 and More

I met with Rüdiger Lange, CSO at Schmid Group, in their spacious, comfortable booth at productronica. We discussed the current capital equipment market and Schmid’s business direction for the future while watching some of their new technology in action.

Elga Europe Reality and Ultra-High-Resolution Photoresist

While walking around the PCB hall at productronica, I was approached by my good friend Gene Weiner. Gene emphatically directed me to the Elga booth to find out about their new extra-thick dry film that can image extremely fine features with a perfectly perpendicular sidewall. Elga Europe CEO Giorgio Favini filled me in on the details.

Setting the Record Straight: CEO Asher Levy on the Future of Orbotech

With the recent planned acquisition of Orbotech in place by maker KLA-Tencor, much of the industry has speculated about Orbotech’s future. Barry Matties spoke with CEO Asher Levy about what lies in store for the Orbotech group and, more specifically, their PCB division should the deal close.

GreenSource: Good for the Industry, Good for the World

Whelen Engineering has recently spun off their new printed circuit manufacturing facility to service the merchant market as a new business entity, GreenSource Fabrication LLC.

Everyone is a Customer; Everyone is a Supplier

We’ve all heard the cliché: What goes around, comes around. I’ve always felt that was especially true in our industry, with the frequent job changes people make—much accelerated in recent years but always a factor, since I can remember.

The March of Disruptive Technologies

There have always been disruptive technologies; thousands of years ago, fire totally disrupted the path of mankind. I have heard it said that truly disruptive technologies are like earthquakes on the seismographs of history.

Understanding Your Customers

Understanding your customers may seem like a no-brainer, but conversations with company leaders across various industries the past five years have demonstrated to me just how difficult this can be in practice.

IPC 6012-DA Revisions: The Approach to Cleanliness, Thickness, Inspection, and Wicking

IPC’s Automotive Addendum task group was started in November 2014 and the first edition of IPC 6012-DA was released in April 2016. We are now working on the revised version, and expect a release in Q2 2018. As standards need to evolve, develop and follow the needs of the industry, this work is continuous.

Conversations on the Floor: IPC APEX EXPO 2018

This year’s show was one of the best in recent history, both in attendance and enthusiasm. The exhibit floor was sold out, and every single person I talked to was extremely optimistic about business in 2018. What follows are a series of observations and excerpts from conversations I had with some of the most interesting people I met.


PCB Manufacturing (R)evolution in the Making

At the recent HKPCA and IPC Show 2017 in Shenzhen, China, I was able to interview Les Sainsbury, CEO, and Andrew Kelley, CTO, of XACT PCB, as well as Alex Stepinski, vice president of Whelen Engineering’s PCB Fab Business Unit, to discuss process evolution and technology developments in the PCB manufacturing industry.

A Discussion About Everything Under the Sun

From flex circuits to HDI, Industry 4.0, leading market drivers, and materials—this wide-ranging discussion with Sunshine Global Circuits CTO David Aldape highlights the latest and future developments, challenges, and opportunities in the PCB manufacturing industry.

ESI Targets Growing HDI Space

At the recent HKPCA and IPC Show 2017 in Shenzhen, China, Chris Ryder, director of product management for HDI at Electro Scientific Industries Inc. (ESI), discusses how laser-based processing is addressing the challenges in HDI development, and MSAP technology and its impact on the PCB industry.

Julie Ellis: TTM’s Interface Between Designer and Fabricator

As a field application engineer for TTM, Julie Ellis sees the problems that can occur between circuit board designers and manufacturers. Barry Matties spoke with Julie at the AltiumLive event in Munich about the age-old problem of throwing designs “over the wall,” the trend towards HDI, and what advice she would give new designers.

Weiner’s World—March 2018

SEMICON China 2018 was amazing in its size and attendance. More than 1,000 exhibitors filled an event record of more than 74,000 square meters of exhibition space—the size of nearly 10 professional soccer fields. This year's theme was "collect, collaborate, innovate."

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Matrix Discusses Advanced Automation Equipment

Matrix's Fred Long discusses advanced automation equipment for the PCB industry, including new cleaning technology for panels and dry film laminating equipment.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Perfect Point’s Recently Developed Coating Technology for Small Drills

VP Shane Stewart describes some recently developed coating technology for small drills that helps improve debris removal and aspect ratio drilling capability.

Institute of Circuit Technology Meriden Seminar, 2018

The Institute of Circuit Technology returned to Meriden, traditionally regarded as the centre of England, for its Annual General Meeting, which was followed by a technical seminar of five presentations, introduced as ever by Technical Director Bill Wilkie.

Defining Customer-Supplier Relationships and Customer Satisfaction

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

A Plug-in that Connects CAD Software to 3D Printer

Nano Dimension's DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D Printer is a highly accurate and versatile inkjet deposition and curing system for printing professional multilayer circuit boards, structural electronics and antennas. In a sweeping discussion with Nano Dimension USA President Simon Fried, all my questions were answered about this innovative technology.


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

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

Part 2: EIPC’s Winter Conference in Lyon, France: Day 2 Review

The final session, on European needs for new technology, product safety and training, was introduced and moderated by EIPC board member Dr. Michele Stampanoni, vice president of strategic sales and business development at Cicor Group.

EIPC’s Winter Conference in Lyon, France: Day 2 Review

The first day of the conference had started and ended in the dark—a long and technically intense day! After a convivial conference dinner and a good night’s sleep we were back on the bus, this time in daylight at the slightly later time of 8:00 a.m., for the journey from downtown Lyon back to Alstom’s conference facility in Villeurbanne, and it wasn’t raining. In fact, there was even some sunshine later in the day!

Blue Sky for Eagle Electronics

I recently had the opportunity to chat with the new director of sales and marketing at Eagle Electronics, Andy D’Agostino. I’ve visited Eagle before; they are endlessly busy, with good things going on, so I was happy when I learned that Brett McCoy was now COO and another fellow had taken over some of the sales and marketing activities. Andy comes with a wealth of experience and seems to have settled in nicely.

Part 2: EIPC’s 2018 Winter Conference in Lyon, Review of Day 1

We continue with the rest of Pete Starkey’s report on Day 1 of the EIPC Winter Conference in Lyon, France. Included in this segment are presentations by Ventec, Ericsson, TTM and others, plus photos of their evening tour of Alstom.

Orbotech’s Strategic Decision for End-to-End Partnership Benefits Everyone

Barry Matties met with Sharon Cohen, president of Orbotech West, at productronica 2017 to discuss what’s new at Orbotech, specifically their shift to be more customer-centric and to provide regional coverage across the globe. He also discusses the current trends in the marketplace and Industry 4.0.

EIPC’s 2018 Winter Conference in Lyon, Review of Day 1

Venue for the 2018 EIPC Winter Conference was the splendid new Alstom Transport Information Solutions facility in Villeurbanne, in the Lyon metropolitan area of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France. An extremely popular event—117 delegates represented a total of 20 countries, unprecedented in recent years, and only just fitted into Alstom’s conference suite. Indeed, some were even standing at the back!

Aismalibar on Laminates, Following the Market, and More

At productronica, Barry Matties, Andy Shaughnessy, and Patty Goldman of the 007 team sat down with Eduardo Benmayor, director general with Aismalibar, a laminate supplier currently focusing on thermal management for the LED and automotive markets.

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

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

Solder Limits: Updates for the Age of Surface Mount

Solder limits are one of the fundamental parameters used when evaluating the PCB, solder resists, and metal-clad base materials for safety under the UL Recognition programme.


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

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

Nano Dimension’s 3D Printing: Prototypes at the Push of a Button?

SICK AG is a global manufacturer of sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications, with headquarters located in Waldkirch, Germany. After a demo of Nano Dimension’s new 3D printing machine at productronica, Barry Matties met with SICK’s Danny Wernet to discuss its pros and cons and get his overall impression of the technology. Are 3D prototypes really as simple as feeding in a Gerber file and pushing a button?

Staying Ahead of Market Trends Through Education

ESI equipment has been in high demand with the recent rise of flex and HDI. But when Barry Matties met with Patrick Riechel and John Williams at HKPCA, they explained that it is really ESI’s future protection and flexibility in the process that keeps them ahead of the market and allows for ongoing success.

productronica 2017 Means Connecting to Global Customer Base for Circuit Automation

Circuit Automation’s Tom Meeker joined me for a conversation at productronica 2017 in Munich, to update me about what the company has been doing in solder mask coating equipment.

In Terms of Experience, a 10,000-foot View of China

In the past 30+ years of PCB manufacturing in China, you would be hard-pressed to find someone more connected to the pulse of the Asian market than Gene Weiner. Barry Matties met with the industry veteran at HKPCA to get his take on the show, the current and future market conditions of China, and any effect the new U.S. administration might have on trade relations going forward.

The Benefits of Coming Together to Form a Global Reach

At productronica, MacDermid Enthone Electronics Solutions and Alpha Assembly Solutions had one large combined booth to promote the companies’ integration. Over a buttered pretzel (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it), we talked about the newly amalgamated company, something everyone in the company is quite enthusiastic about.

Schmid: Bringing Integrated Solutions to the Market

With China’s recent shift towards quality, the next generation of PCB fabrication equipment must target yields and include the ability to track those yields, says Schmid’s Laurent Nicolet and Demitry Kostouros. Barry Matties recently sat down with these two gentlemen to talk more about the market shift and Schmid’s introduction of their new vertical line aimed at carving a niche in the market.

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

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

Weiner’s World—December 2017

Hold on to your seats! 2018 will be a year full of rapid changes, surprises, and growth. M&A activities will flourish. The supply chain will suffer shortages and changes as demand increases, copycats will rush to market, and new markets and potential suppliers will vanish before they are established.

The Impact of HDI on PCB Power Distribution

A key aspect of HDI technology is the use of microvias. For reference, the IPC HDI Design Committee has identified microvias as any hole equal to or less than 150 microns. Multiple types of HDI stack-ups associated with blind and buried microvias can be used to meet the density and cost requirements for today’s products. Design teams should develop stack-ups in conjunction with the fabricator to minimize cost and meet signal integrity requirements.


Isola: Evolving with the Market

In this interview from productronica 2017, Isola’s Karl Stollenwerk discusses the decline of the laminate market in Europe over the past 17 years, current demands on raw materials, and Isola’s new strategy to remain competitive.

A Unique Norwegian Approach to Serving Customers

I met a lot of interesting people at productronica, with an assortment of different products on display. Such was my visit with Oyvind Tafjord, CEO of Visitech. His purpose at the show was to meet with his customers, so nothing unusual about that. But his customers also had booths (or stands, as they call them), which is an advantage for him, as he explains here.

AGFA: From Film to Inkjet Solder Mask

The productronica show was indeed filled with new technology, and it was great to meet with people and learn about it. This is precisely how I met AGFA’s Frank Louwet, who filled me in on the Dipamat inkjet solder mask they have been developing. It seemed an odd choice to go from film to solder mask, but as Frank explained, it makes perfect sense.

Ventec: Eye on the Future, with Automotive and Lighting Front and Center

Ventec’s Thomas Michels and Didier Mauve sat down with I-Connect007 Editors Patty Goldman and Pete Starkey and enjoyed an upbeat and enlightening conversation. Among the topics covered were the importance of working partnerships in maintaining supply chain continuity, market drivers for thermally conductive materials, and development of enabling technologies to support the automotive electronics revolution.

A Fresh Look at Outsourcing Solutions in Electrical Testing

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

Viking: Covering the Globe with Value-Added Services

In the final hours of productronica 2017, Barry Matties met with Jake Kelly of Viking to discuss the company’s value-added services, their growth in the India and America markets, and the UCE manufactured line they displayed at productronica.

Institute of Circuit Technology Harrogate Seminar 2017

A return to the historic spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire, England for the Institute of Circuit Technology Northern Seminar, to enjoy a diverse programme of presentations on safety standards, research in selective metal deposition, and developments in imaging and inspection techniques.

Full-Service Plating at Hofstetter

While strolling the aisles at productronica, I happened upon the booth of Hofstetter Plating. I was not familiar with this PCB company so I stopped to chat. It turns out they aren’t exactly a PCB fabricator, but provide a comprehensive plating service in Europe and occasionally beyond that, offering several exotic and unique plating processes.

Pluritec Wants to Remove Human Factor from Solder Mask

Solder mask remains a relatively hands-on task, which can result in human error. But equipment manufacturer Pluritec wants to change that. At PCB West, I spoke with Pluritec Vice President of Sales Lino Sousa about the company’s new spray technology that can turn solder mask application into what is essentially a push-button operation.

35 Years of HDI Fabrication Processes and Obstacles for Implementation

The electronics industry is the world’s largest and most robust market. It is also a bulwark of American creativity, with Silicon Valley as its origin and fortress.


Bay Area Circuits Updates InstantDFM Tool

Bay Area Circuits is on a quest to help PCB designers and design engineers. For the past few years, the company has been holding facility tours and open house events to help designers understand more about the fabrication process. Now, Bay Area Circuits has upgraded its free design tool, InstantDFM.com, which allows customers and non-customers alike to check manufacturability and request pricing of their jobs. At PCB West, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with President Stephen Garcia and COO Brian Paper about the new tool update, and some of the other services they offer for PCB designers.

A Conversation with EIPC Executive Director Kirsten Smit-Westenberg

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

Zuken Teams With Nano Dimension for 3D Printing Design Flow

At PCB West, Zuken shared a booth with Nano Dimension. Zuken has been working with Nano Dimension for some time, and adding support for 3D printing and nanotechnology to its design tool platforms. I sat down with Zuken’s Humair Mandavia and Nano Dimension’s Simon Fried to learn more about this alliance, and to find out more about this odd-looking box being demonstrated in Zuken’s booth.

HDI: Born in the USA and Making a Comeback

There is no denying that high-density interconnect (HDI) has been around a long time—over 25 years, believe it or not. From almost the moment of its conception in the U.S., the technology was adopted by and used almost exclusively in Asia.

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: 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.

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.

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.

Final Finishes: Taking Gold Thickness into Account

Martin Bunce was one of several people from MacDermid Enthone who presented at SMTA International this year. He sat down with me for a chat about his paper on final finishes, particularly with regard to controlling gold thickness.

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.
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