Article Highlights
More Than a Word: Solder Mask
08/15/2018 | Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
Calumet Electronics on IMPACT 2018
08/14/2018 | Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
Study on Application of Four-Wire and Four-Terminal Flying Probe Test Scheme
08/10/2018 | Jin Erbing, Joint Stars Technology Co., Ltd
Advanced Copper Plating Process for Any Layer Via Fill Applications with Thin Surface Copper
08/07/2018 | Saminda Dharmarathna, Christian Rietmann, et al.
Book Recommendation: The Introvert’s Edge
08/03/2018 | Dan Beaulieu
PCB :: Materials

Latest Articles

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.

Calumet Electronics on IMPACT 2018

This year at IMPACT Washington, DC, I-Connect007's Patty Goldman sat down with Steve Vairo and Mike Kadlec of Calumet Electronics, to get their overview on the event.

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.

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.

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.


Flex Time: Why is Rigid-Flex So Expensive?

One question that I hear fairly often, particularly after an initial quotation, is “Why is rigid-flex so expensive?” In this article, I’ll share with designers the cost drivers in rigid-flex relative to standard rigid boards and flex circuits with stiffeners. A typical rigid-flex PWB will cost about seven times the cost of the same design on a hard board, and two to three times an equivalent flex circuit with stiffeners.

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.

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?

PCB Material Toolbox for Today’s 3G and 4G Networks and Future High-Speed Needs in 5G

The material toolbox idea first came up when I saw the IPC appendix list for standard 1-ply stack-ups. The idea is to make a very simple bill of materials, specifications and notes, and possibly use the same prepreg/resin in the laminate and in the core.

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: What Does 5G Mean to Materials and EDA Tools?

Whether we’re ready for it or not, 5G technology is coming. We decided to speak with John Hendricks, market segment manager for wireless infrastructure at Rogers Corporation, and Ben Jordan, director of product and persona marketing for Altium, about the challenges related to 5G and what this means for PCB designers and fabricators.

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.


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.

ITEQ Ready for Autonomous and Electric Vehicles of the Future

During DesignCon 2018, I spoke with Tarun Amla, the executive vice president and CTO of ITEQ. We discussed ITEQ’s future plans, including the development of materials for cutting-edge technology needs, such as autonomous and electric vehicles, as well as 5G technology.

EDADOC: A Driving Force in China's Automotive Electronics Design

EDADOC is one of the biggest providers of PCB design and manufacturing services in China, with a long history in automotive electronics design and manufacturing. China Editor Edy Yu recently conducted an email interview with EDADOC R&D Technical Research Manager William Zhou and Brand Planning Specialist Wen Ling, who collaborated on their answers. We discussed the challenges related to designing and fabricating automotive PCBs, the opportunities in this segment, and the trends they see in the market for autonomous and electric vehicles.

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.

American Standard Circuits Discusses New RF/Microwave eBook

During DesignCon 2018, I met with Anaya Vardya and John Bushie of American Standard Circuits. Anaya and John recently co-wrote an eBook, published by I-Connect007, titled "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs." We discussed their goals and the scope of this handy microbook, which features plenty of information that even high-speed digital designers can benefit from.

Show & Tell: IPC APEX EXPO 2018 is on the Books!

I-Connect007's Happy Holden reviewed the recently concluded IPC APEX EXPO 2018. Among the highlights: Less than 10% of all new orders arrive at the PCB fabricator’s facility with complete, accurate design data. Most have missing or incorrect data.

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.

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.

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.

Jan Pedersen: CircuitData Enhances Current Data Formats

During the Design Forum at IPC APEX EXPO 2018, Jan Pedersen, senior technical advisor for the PCB broker Elmatica, gave a presentation on CircuitData. The language is designed to help facilitate other design data transfer formats such as Gerber, ODB++, and IPC-2581. Jan spoke with Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy and Contributing Technical Editor Happy Holden about how this open language works with the existing data formats, as well as the need to eliminate paper documents from design process, and how the industry can help shape this open-source language.


The Vast Offerings in Laminate Technologies from TUC

While at IPC APEX EXPO a few weeks ago, I sat down with George Hsin, chief strategy officer for TUC Worldwide, and Alan Cochrane, president of TUC North America. I was interested in learning more about the company and their laminate products and Alan was happy to fill me in.

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.

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.

South African Electronics Industry Going Strong

EDA Technologies is a South African company that offers PCB design engineering services, mainly for the domestic electronics market, which makes up a surprising 12.5% of South Africa’s GDP. Barry Matties recently spoke to founder Nechan Naicker about the benefits of outsourcing to South Africa, the market segments they service there, and any advice he had to offer from his 20+ years in the industry.

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: Rogers' High-Frequency/High-Temp Substrates

Tony Mattingly, senior product manager at Rogers Corporation, discusses the company's new substrates for high-frequency/high-temperature applications.

Catching up with ACT-USA President Jack Gemmell

ACT-USA is one of the best value-added PCB distributors in the country today. Focused on providing their North American customers with boards as well as heavy copper boards they have steadily broadened their vendor base since their inception in 1994.

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.

Bridging Knowledge and Understanding of Thermal Management Materials

At IPC APEX EXPO recently, Pete Starkey and Ian Mayoh, Ventec International’s technical support manager, had a chance to sit down and discuss the I-Connect007 micro E-book: The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, of which Ian is a co-author.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Ventec's Jack Pattie on New Materials, Industry Upswing

Ventec International Group’s Jack Pattie comments on continuing growth in sales, investment in manufacturing and distribution, and new product developments in polyimides, no-flow pre-pregs and thermally conductive materials.


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.

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!

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!

Who Really Owns the PCB Layout? Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, Paul Taubman made the bold statement that the PCB layout is just as much a mechanical effort as it is an electrical one. In Part 2, he threads the needle, explaining why he believes that a PCB truly a mechatronic design, and why mechanical engineers may be more prepared to take on the PCB layout.

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.

Rogers Continues Expansion into High-Speed Digital Materials

Mahyar Vahabzadeh discusses a paper presented by his colleague Dr. Allen Horn at DesignCon. He also explains some of the different characteristics Rogers has discovered as they move from RF into high-speed digital materials.

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.

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.


Riding the Tsunami of Success in Asia

Since Phil Carmichael has overseen IPC Asia, the program and its membership have grown substantially, and with good reason. Phil met with Barry Matties at HKPCA to discuss how IPC offerings such as the QML program and helping suppliers become CSR compliant has allowed IPC to become a vital resource for suppliers in Asia.

Cicor’s Approach to Miniaturization: Cost of Function, and More

Barry Matties spoke with Karl Heinz-Fritz, VP of technology, about Cicor’s newest product line, which can shrink the size of a circuit by up to 40%, and the importance of measuring the cost of functionality.

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.

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.

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.

Consulting in the Electronics Industry: Meet Francesca Stern

One of the best things about productronica was meeting people who I have corresponded with and those whose articles or presentations I have read or seen but have never actually had a chance to chat with. Francesca Stern is one such person, and it was a true pleasure to sit down and chat with her in the EIPC booth.

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.

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.

HDI: Today, Tomorrow and the Future

For the November issue of The PCB Magazine, our editorial team interviewed some of the top HDI experts in the PCB supply chain. Joining us on the conference call were Steve Bird, PCB/flex technology manager at Finisar, and Tony Torres of APCT.

Cannonballs, eBooks, and Signal Integrity

I-Connect007 editors Andy Shaughnessy and Pete Starkey recently met with Polar Instruments Managing Director Martyn Gaudion at productronica. They discussed the success of "The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to…Secrets of High-Speed PCBs," the ongoing challenge of facilitating communication between designers and fabricators, and the influence of chemical bond-enhancement processes on insertion loss.

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.

Walt Custer’s Annual Update from productronica 2017

Industry consultant Walt Custer of Custer Consulting sat down with me at productronica 2017 to once again inform our readers with his yearly update and perspective on what’s happening in the industry. And guess what? It’s good news! Pertinent charts referenced in our conversation are included, but if you want more, Walt invites you to click the link at the end of this conversation and email him directly.

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: Rogers Discusses Trends Driving Growth

Dirk Lefelon, European sales manager for Rogers Corporation, discusses his group’s final 2017 results. He also explains what the new year will bring, including increased investment in capacity for the European market, especially for the automotive segment.

AltiumLive Summit—Munich, Germany, Part 2

Pete Starkey continues with his review of the AltiumLive PCB Design Summit held recently in Munich, Germany. The second day commenced with a new product launch. “Working together is hard” it read on the screen. Statistics indicated that 33% of new products were late getting to market, of which 28% were late due to insufficient collaboration, and up to 50% of potential revenue could be lost through being late to market. Then the screen read “NEXUS makes it easy!”

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.


Catching up with…Brigitflex

Today, Brigitflex is building unique custom-made boards for companies all over the world, from large defense and aerospace companies to small incubator companies inventing new products. They have become well-known as the shop to go to when nobody else can solve your problems.

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.

Polar Instruments’ Martyn Gaudion Discusses Tools and Books

Polar Instruments has pretty been busy lately. In the last year, Managing Director Martyn Gaudion has written two books for I-Connect007, and the company has been working to upgrade its tools, especially library functionality. I met with Martyn at PCB West. We discussed Polar’s newest tool updates, Martyn’s new side job as an author of technical books, and the continuing growth of the EDA segment, including among young people.

Strategies for Developing Copper Plating Systems

I-Connect007's Patty Goldman met with Dr. Albert Angstenberger, global technology manager for metallization with MacDermid Enthone Electronics Solutions, while at SMTA International. He presented a most interesting paper on copper pillar plating systems that we hope to publish in The PCB Magazine sometime in the future.

Update on IPC’s Validation Services and Hints of What’s to Come

SMTA International is the perfect time to get updates on IPC happenings. One that I’m always curious about is the Validation Services programs. At the busy show, I managed to find a quiet spot so Randy Cherry, IPC’s director of Validation Services, could fill me in on the latest.
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