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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.

PCB Technology Requirements for Millimeter-Wave Interconnect and Antenna

The work done by Optiprint AG in support of MiWaveS substantiates that PCB technology can satisfy the engineering requirements for mmW circuitry providing the manufacturing capabilities can match the positional accuracy, feature tolerance and surface finish requirements.

Crucial Considerations for Building Flexible Heaters

An electronic heater is created by driving electric current through a resistive element. As the current is drawn through the element, some of the energy is expelled as heat. That heat can then be transferred to other surfaces with positive effects.


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.

MACFEST: Benchmarking a New Solderable PCB Finish

New, innovative manufacturing procedures have been developed by the recently completed project, Manufacturing Advanced Coating for Future Electronics SysTems (MACFEST), which has been funded by several partners and the government’s Innovate UK.

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.

Stretching Beyond Flex

Emerging end-use electronic applications are driving dramatic innovations in circuit board and interconnection technology. New form factors, functionality and durability requirements are challenging the status quo for the PCB industry and pushing design, material and process development to the limit.

A Conversation with Gene Weiner

In a discussion following the PCB Executive Forum at IPC APEX EXPO in February, Gene Weiner opened up to Barry Matties and Patty Goldman on the state of the North American electronics industry supply chain and the importance of cooperative efforts up and down that supply chain.

EIPC Workshop on PCB BioMEMS

The Premier Inn conference centre at Heathrow Airport was the venue for the EIPC workshop on PCB BioMEMS. What, I hear you ask, is a PCB BioMEMS? This is an abbreviation for biomedical (or biological) microelectromechanical systems, otherwise known as lab-on-chip.

Inkjet Printing Solder Mask

Known for their film-based products, AgfaGevaert has turned its focus to the difficult task of inkjet printing solder mask by partnering with solder mask expert Electra Polymers. Sitting down with Frank Louwet and Mariana Van Dam of Agfa Specialty Products, Publisher Barry Matties and Technical Editor Pete Starkey learn more about the partnership and where they currently stand in the development of what will be a definite game changer.

The Wide World of Flex

In one sense the flexible circuit industry has remained amazingly stable. Polyimide remains the workhorse dielectric film; imaging is done by exposing a pattern on a photosensitive film; copper is subtractively removed from a patterned substrate; and crylic adhesive is commonly used to laminate polyimide coverlay as an insulation. But there have also been some rather dramatic changes...

The Near and Far Future for Orbotech and Inspection

Orbotech’s PCB Division President Arik Gordon and I spoke in detail about the company’s newest developments in automated optical shaping (AOS), Orbotech’s unique culture and commitment to R&D, and what he expects to see in the near future for the inspection industy.

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.


Stay Flexible!

Now, isn’t that the mantra we all hear today? For me, it’s Tai Chi to maintain physical flexibility. But of course, that is not what we’re here for. We’re talking flexible circuits including all the variations of same, which is why we called this issue “The Wide World of Flex.” Because the world of flex is broad—and it’s rapidly getting wider.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Schmoll and Taiyo America Partner to Speed Up Solder Mask Development

How to accelerate the development of specialist direct-imaging solder resists to suit the requirements of the Asian and North American markets? Jesse Session, technical manager at Taiyo America, describes how close collaboration between ink formulator and equipment supplier enables the optimization to be achieved most effectively.

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.

Industry 4.0–Inkjet Technology is Changing the World of PCB Manufacturing

When the Germans coined the term Industry 4.0 back in 2011, it wasn’t clear to many what it actually stood for. Although the debate about all the nuances of the term’s meaning is still ongoing, one aspect of it is undisputed: The “computerization of manufacturing” is at the heart of it.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Orbotech Tackles Next-Gen Interconnection Density

Orbotech West President Sharon Cohen explains the company structure and philosophy—translating ideas into reality - and how, by understanding the issues driving PCB technology, Orbotech is able to provide the imaging and inspection tools to meet the needs of next-generation interconnection density.

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.

The Power of Three: A Solder Mask Solution for North America

Technology and process developments in mature industries like the printed wiring board industry are not always easy. Many new products are evolutionary enhancements of existing processes. Often, these developments enhance the process and improve overall process control.

Schmoll Talks Technology

Schmoll’s Thomas Kunz and I had a chat recently at the HKPCA show. In our short discussion, we covered several topics, including Schmoll’s approach to the U.S. market, their work in direct imaging, and the nature of their relationship with ink suppliers.

Weiner’s World—February 2017

IPC APEX EXPO 2017 was the best in five or more years. The 60th annual meeting drew a crowd. The meetings were good. The mood was upbeat. There were reports of new orders from Asia as well as the Americas, and news of increasing business from the show floor. IPC membership was up in all its regions to more than 4,000.


Vertical Conductive Structures–a New Dimension in High-Density Printed Circuit Interconnect

From our previous conversations, I knew that Joan Tourné was working on a novel high-density interconnection concept. Having eagerly awaited the chance to discuss the technology in detail, I was delighted when he contacted me to confirm that his IP had been secured and that he could now talk openly about VeCS, the Vertical Conductive Structure designed to provide a cost-effective alternative for complex fan-out from fine-pitch grid array components.

Patty's Perspective: New Technology Heading our Way— Faster than Ever!

As an excellent introduction to this issue, IPC’s John Mitchell gives us a wonderful overview of what emerging technology is and what we need to do to keep up. One thing he emphasizes is a trained and competitive workforce. Indeed, in our recent hiring survey we learned that an overwhelming percentage of you are concerned about a shortage of skilled and qualified people. John’s column is a great call to action.

Ladle on Manufacturing: Drilling Deep

Whether you stack high or drill thick panels, the dynamics of drilling are similar. When you overlay the outer-layer artworks you may notice that the holes on the exit side of the panel or stack have a much higher level of positional variation than the entry side holes.

Catching up with…Prototron Tucson’s General Manager Kim O’Neil

Prototron’s Tucson Division serves as the company’s military defense division as well. They focus on mil-spec and aerospace work as well as special technology PCBs such as RF, microwave and flex circuits. During the past few months Kim 0’Neil and his team have been working on updating their mil-spec qualification from MIL-PRF-55110 to MIL-PRF-31032. Since Prototron is one of the first companies to make this transition, I wanted to talk to Kim about this accomplishment.

EIPC 2017 Winter Conference Review of Day 2

Almost everyone made it back to the conference room for the start of the second day of the EIPC Winter Conference in Salzburg, even those who had enjoyed the late networking session into the early hours!

Electroplated Copper Filling of Through-holes: Influence on Hole Geometry

The process consists of a two-step acid copper plating cycle. The first step utilizes periodic pulse reverse (PPR) electroplating to form a conductive copper bridge across the middle of a through-hole and is followed by direct current electroplating to fill the resultant vias formed in the bridge cycle.

Trouble in Your Tank: Acid Copper Plating

Electroplating a printed circuit board is by no means a trivial task. Higher layer counts, smaller-diameter vias (through-hole and blind) as well as higher-performance material sets contribute to the greater degree of difficulty with today’s technology.

True DFM: Taking Control of Your EDA Tool

We PCB designers are doing some truly great things with our layout tools. But we must remember that these tools are so powerful that they will sometimes allow us to design things that can’t be manufactured! We must collaborate with our fabricator and assembly brethren and embrace the best DFM practices, or face the consequences downstream.

Study of Immersion Gold Processes Used for Both ENIG & ENEPIG

The use of electroless nickel/electroless palladium/immersion gold (ENEPIG) has been steadily increasing the past several years and benefits of the finish have now become well-known throughout the industry. The finish provides both reliable solder joints and wire bonds

Catching up with…Nessis Inc. President Kathleen Niles

When I checked in on one of my old PCB sales associates recently, he told me that he had a new gig selling the latest and greatest new productivity software tools. He spoke so highly about Nessis Inc. and what their tools could do for companies, especially PCB shops, that I decided to learn more. I arranged to talk with Kathleen Niles, the co-founder and president of Nessis Inc. Here is a portion of that conversation.


Patty’s Perspective: Everything Old is New Again

This month’s issue is all about plating and surface finishes; long ago, that was pretty much my start in the world of printed circuits—wet processing. So this is kind of my home turf—and not, since I haven’t worked in wet processing for some…well, for many years. I’ve always expected that I could hop right back onto the plating room floor and pick right up where I left off all those years ago. Or could I? Have things changed much? Time to read on and see.

WKK and Schmoll Join Forces in China

Tom Burkhardt of Schmoll Maschinen and Hamed El-Abd of WKK spoke with Publisher Barry Matties about the recently formed distribution partnership between the two companies and specifically how each company stands to benefit from this pairing.

Ladle on Manufacturing: Material Matters

Have you considered whether or not you could improve your multilayer yields by better use of your base materials? Perhaps the following could give you a few ideas of how this could help you.

Catching up with...Coast to Coast Circuits CEO Walt Stender

Coast to Coast is an independent American circuit board manufacturing company. Yes, the key word here is “independent.” After many mergers and acquisitions that have diminished the mil/aero PCB vendor base, there are only a handful of independent companies for our country’s defense and aerospace contractors to choose from.

CES 2017: Press Day, Launch.It and Showstoppers

Before the show opens, CES provides two days and evenings not open to the general attendees, to enable companies, large and small, an opportunity to present their new offerings to the press. These opportunities range from small meetings with individual members of the trade press to huge events such as those presented by Samsung, Asus, Sony, Intel, Panasonic and others, with literally several hundred in attendance.

Emmy Ross Discusses the New I-Connect007 E-Book Series

One thing that is long overdue in our industry is a series of guidebooks focused on helping companies with all their needs, from qualifications like AS9100 and Mil-P-31032 to various technologies, heavy copper, rigid-flex and microvias. I-Connect007 is now providing our industry with an entire series of these guidebooks, starting with the first book, "The Printed Circuits Buyers Guide to… AS9100 Certification." Authored by Imagineering Inc., this book educates readers about the AS9100 quality standard, and explains how to earn this certification.

Catching up with...M&A Expert Tom Kastner

If you want to know what is going on in our industry when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, there is no better person to turn to than Tom Kastner. Whenever I want to verify a rumor of a company being bought or sold, Tom is the first person I call, and unless he is under an NDA, he will fill me in. In this, our latest discussion, we talked about the PCB industry’s M&A activity in 2016 and what Tom expects to see in 2017.

Catching up with…Dr. Anthony Caputo

I met Dr. Anthony Caputo last year while helping one of my clients secure some strong engineering talent. Anthony had been reading my columns and reached out to me since he was looking for a new opportunity in a high-tech printed circuit board facility. Once I read his CV and saw his credentials, I jumped at that chance to help this talented young man.

Weiner’s World

Rather than joining the annual forecast fray by attempting to provide guidance or guesses as to the outlook for the PCB and electronic assembly businesses in 2017, I thought I would provide a different year-end assessment. Here are a few thoughts for the New Year and beyond from a long-term colleague and friend of the past half century, Harvey Miller, electronics market researcher, consultant and founder of Fabfile Online.

Innovative Use of Vias for Density Improvements

In today’s fast-paced global, economic environment—which requires constant innovation, upskilling, and performance improvements— there is a need for increasing density. The classic way to increase density is to reduce the trace and spacing.


Patty’s Perspective: Everything You Want to Know about Vias but Were Afraid to Ask

Regarding our survey on vias, almost 85% of our respondents said they used blind/buried vias. And since 15% of those answering were either suppliers or consultants, it seems that approximately 100% use the B/Bs. OK then, on to a tougher question. We then asked how often, and it turns out that “use” covers everything from rarely to pretty much all the time, with a definite undercurrent of “because we have to.”

Advanced UV Lasers for Fast, High-Precision PCB Manufacturing

For more than 30 years, lasers have played a significant role in the manufacturing of PCBs. It is not a coincidence that electronic devices have, at the same time, become increasingly miniaturized. The ability to tightly focus a laser beam much smaller than a mechanical tool has been an enabler of such dense, compact circuitry; and the elimination of consumables such as drilling and routing bits has reduced manufacturing costs.

Weiner’s World

Here we go again! The winter holiday (and trade show) season is upon us! Electronica's mood was upbeat. Next, the Asia and San Diego shows. We just received word as we were preparing for our trip to next month's HKPCA/IPC event in Shenzhen China that the CPCA (China Printed Circuit Association) show suddenly changed its March 2017 date and venue. Meanwhile, the HKPCA show, now billed as our industry's largest event, will have nearly 550 exhibitors—of which 20% are new.

KCE Group: A Thailand-Based PCB Manufacturer with a Growing Global Footprint

Recently, while at electronica in Munich, Germany I-Connect007's Judy Warner met KCE America President Rick Rhodes, and Joe Yeo of KCE Group. They discuss the unique challenges and opportunities that come with the rigorous automotive market, and explain why they continue to enjoy explosive growth.

Rogers Highlights Thermally Enhanced 92ML Materials at electronica

I met with Rogers Corporation Business Development Manager John Ranieri at Electronica recently. Ranieri’s professional focus is on the 92ML series of laminate, prepregs, and IMS, which was highlighted at the Munich show. The 92ML products are geared for the power electronics marketplace where thermal management is a major concern.

Streamline Circuits: The Importance of Being a Sales-Driven Organization

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Tom Doslak, senior VP of sales and marketing for Streamline Circuits. We discussed how the company got started, technologies that seem to be driving the marketplace, critical equipment for today’s PCB fabricator, and how being a customer-centered, sales-driven organization serves as the key to their success.

Let's Talk Testing: Vias for Dummies

In simple terms, a circuit board is but a composition of things designed to be connected and not. The number of layers and number of connections make no real difference as the geometry shapes the landscape.

Catching Up (Literally) with Uyemura’s George Milad at SMTAI 2016

I managed to catch up with George Milad of Uyemura at the recent SMTA International conference, which wasn’t easy to do. But he did take a few minutes to fill me in on his schedule for the week and it sure was packed—with a tutorial, presentations and IPC committee meetings.

Standard of Excellence: Let’s Get Flexible

Although flex and rigid-flex technology has been around for many years, it is only in recent years that it has come into its own. The reason for the increased requirements for the flex and rigid-flex technology is simple: Devices are getting smaller.

Speeding up the PCB Manufacturing Process

Lino Sousa of Pluritec discusses the next generation of equipment that's speeding up drill room processes. He also explains how technologists can now coat soldermask, tack cure, and be ready for imaging in 25 minutes or less. Sousa says a three-year ROI can be found in reduced electricity consumption alone.


All About Flex: Five Characteristics of a Reliable Flexible Circuit Supplier

Due diligence when selecting a source for a custom electronic product can be a critical sourcing procedure. Chains are only as good as the weakest link, and the electronic components assembled to create a marketable product need to combine into a robust solution.

Ventec Europe Celebrates 10 Years as 'Not Just Another Laminate Merchant'

Incorporated in November 2006 as a joint venture known as Global Ventec Laminates, Ventec Europe imported its first container-full of material in May 2007. Now, here we are 10 years on, a bit older and not a lot wiser, in Ventec Europe’s immaculate headquarters facility, still in Leamington Spa, but in smart new premises.

Patty’s Perspective: Take Me to Your Leader

We must have touched a real hot button when we decided to do this issue on leadership. When we sent out our survey on the topic, we received a lot of responses, which we’ll review in a separate article, plus many of our regular columnists were inspired to write on the subject.

Setting the Standard at American Standard Circuits

With an impressive array of investments on display, both in terms of technology and software, as well as its 120 employees, ASC offers a diversified product mix. Publisher Barry Matties and members of the I-Connect007 team recently took a tour of the American Standard Circuits facility in West Chicago, Illinois. In this interview, Anaya Vardya shares their strategies and the challenges the market faces.

Altium ActiveRoute Debuts at PCB West: Routes Under One Second Per Connection

While at PCB West, Judy Warner had the chance to sit down with Charles Pfeil of Altium and learn more about their exciting new tool, ActiveRoute, that was introduced and demonstrated during PCB West 2016. She also learned a bit of background about Pfeil, who is a living history lesson in PCB design.

The Right Approach: My Leadership Journey

I have been in leadership positions for the majority of my 40-year career, but it has not always been a smooth and natural relationship. With the following three stories, I will attempt to share the lessons learned on my journey as a lifelong student in pursuit of the art of leadership.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuit Prototypes

Most electronic projects begin with at least one build of prototype parts before moving into volume manufacturing. But the definition of a flex circuit prototype can vary considerably from one project to another. In many cases, a prototype build is only a few parts used to verify form, fit and function, with engineering trying to determine if something actually works.

Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar 2016

In recent years, the Hayling Island Seminar has become established as the most popular date on the Institute of Circuit Technology calendar and, as expected, the 2016 event attracted a large gathering of industry professionals to the south coast of England to share knowledge and experience and to discuss current developments.

A New Facility in India for PCB Fabricator ACI

I-Connect007's Barry Matties met with Raj Dhanani and Bryan Ricke of Advanced Circuitry International to discuss their growing footprint in India, recent investments in their U.S. facility, and the future of the RF and antenna markets.

The Right Approach: FOD and the Aerospace Industry

Unless you are currently building aerospace product to AS9100[1] you are probably saying, “What the heck is FOD?” What started out as a requirement to prevent damage to aircraft parts such as engines has been flowed down to any component or assembly including PCBs.


Weiner’s World

This month, I was a guest at the High Density Packaging Users Group (HDPUG) meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The consortium, composed of more than 50 companies (small and large) in the electronics packaging supply chain, conducts projects to solve real world problems or develop data for product parameters, package/component life, and production processing.

EIPC Reliability Workshop, Tamworth, UK, September 22, 2016

EIPC’s reliability workshop, presented in cooperation with Amphenol Invotec, attracted a capacity audience from eight countries—some delegates having travelled from as far away as Russia—to take the opportunity to learn first-hand how to meet OEM, ODM and EMS product quality and safety requirements, and to understand how interconnection stress testing techniques could be applied to determine the reliability of multilayer PCBs.

Karl’s Tech Talk: EPOXY—Supply Chain and Use in Electronics

From a PCB fabricator’s perspective, epoxy resin supply chain issues are of indirect concern as they become a subset of laminate quality, supply, and cost considerations.

All About Flex: Lead-Free Soldering Flexible Circuits

Ever since the European community adopted the RoHS directive in 2006, the U.S. electronics industry has been steadily increasing its use of lead-free solder. Medical was the first U.S. industry to go totally lead-free. Today, a significant percentage of electronics soldering is done with lead-free solder.

Sensible Design: Conformal Coatings - Beware the Boards that ‘Bare’ All!

This month, Phil Kinner departs from his usual format of providing five essential facts about conformal coatings. Instead, he provides an account of a customer’s problem—no company names mentioned, of course—that brought into question the adhesion performance of a coating that they had been using successfully for some time.
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