Article Highlights
Atotech Brings World-Class AHDI to the U.S.
12/06/2018 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Ventec's Marketing Strategy and Their Newly Appointed Technology Ambassador
12/05/2018 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Meet All Flex’s New President and CEO Matt Keithly
12/04/2018 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Innovative PCB Processes are Lean and Green
11/29/2018 | Happy Holden, I-Connect007
GreenSource: The Future
11/26/2018 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
PCB :: Fabrication Process

Latest Articles

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.

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.
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