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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.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Ventec Talks Benefits of High-Level OEM Tech Team

Managing Director of Ventec Europe, Thomas Michels comments upon the complementary non-copper-clad-laminate, one-stop-shopping opportunities that have resulted from the merger of the TMT business with the Ventec operation, and discusses the benefits of a strong integrated supply chain and a high-level team of OEM applications specialists in building long-term partnerships between Ventec and its customers.

A New Power Design Methodology for PCB Designs

Advanced PCB design is an iterative process of analysis-fix-analysis. Historically, this process is very time-consuming, requiring analysis experts and PCB designers to work together to find and fix layout problems. This article describes a new PCB design methodology that allows a PCB designer to perform the power design without having to run expert-level analysis tools. This methodology provides the setup automation for advanced analysis without the need to understand every minute parameter, and can be completed in a few steps.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Ventec Discusses CCL Supply Chain Issue

Mark Goodwin, COO of USA and Europe for Ventec International Group, and Jack Pattie, CEO of Ventec USA, discuss the effect of current material issues on the supply chain for copper-clad laminate, comment upon prospects for the future and stress the importance of customer-supplier relationships in forecasting and planning requirements.

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.

Rogers' John Ranieri Discusses 92ML Conductive Epoxy Materials for Power Electronics

John Ranieri, Business Development Manager for Rogers Corporation, sat down for an interview with me at IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego. He discussed Rogers’ 92ML™ series of thermally conductive epoxy materials, and some of the challenges facing technologists in the power electronics market.

Catching up with Polar Instruments' Geoffrey Hazelett

Product specialist Geoffrey Hazelett discusses some of the latest developments at Polar Instruments, including a new tool that will allow fabricators to determine how copper roughness will affect the end-product. He also talks about Polar's upcoming eBook on signal integrity, soon to be published by I-Connect007. Talented young technologists like Geoffrey are the future of our industry.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Changing Drilling With Perfect Point Drill and Jinzhou Precision Tech

Shane Stewart VP of sales for Perfect Point and Michael Kwok for Jinzhou spoke about their newest drills. A change in the stucture of the bit itself results in a cleaner hole and a better positional accuracy.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Impact of Cross-Hatched Ground Planes on HF Electrical Performance of Flex Circuits

The HDPUG High-Frequency Flex project is studying the effect of different design features, specifically cross hatched ground planes, on signal integrity for flexible printed circuit boards operating at frequencies up to 20 GHz. Jonathan Weldon, RF Applications Engineer at DuPont Electronic Materials, discusses some of the results of the program.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Arlon's Partnership With Doosan Brings Benefits All Around

The recent distribution agreement between Arlon EMD and Doosan Electro-Materials enables the supply and technical support of Doosan’s flexible laminates and high-Tg FR-4 and halogen-free materials into North America to complement Arlon’s established range of polyimide and specialty materials for the military, avionics and space market segments. Arlon vice president Brad Foster explains the opportunities and benefits.

CPCA Moves into New Venue for 2017 Show

I-Connect007 China Editor Edy Yu recently interviewed Jin Zhang, CPCA Secretary General, via e-mail. They discussed the upcoming CPCA Show, scheduled for March 7-9, and some recent changes, including the move to a new venue for this year’s annual event.

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.

Real Time with...IPC: Jim Fuller Offers HDPUG Update

Sanmina's Jim Fuller gives his insight on how the High-Density Packaging User Group (HDPUG) shares the experience and resources of member companies to tackle projects and get results. Also, he reviews the study of the effect of copper bonding treatment on signal integrity

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!

Weiner’s World—January 2017

This month’s column is a bit shorter than usual as we prepare for next month’s IPC APEX EXPO and its Executive Forum for PCB fabricators and their supply chain. This month also marks the 65th anniversary of Epec LLC in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The company, founded in 1952, is the oldest printed circuit fabricator in North America. Half of its $50 million in sales is reported to be with printed circuits.

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

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.

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.

CES 2017: Disruptive Technologies

Those of you that have read my previous columns covering CES 2017 know that at recent CES shows I have seen many drones, autonomous cars, IoT devices, robots, and many other items ranging from robots who stand in for your doctor to smart trash cans who tell you via Alexa, Google, or soon, Cortana on your own computer, that since you have thrown away two empty milk cartons in the last few days it may be time to order more milk; just say yes and consider it ordered.

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.

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…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.

TTM President Thomas Edman on the Global PCB Market, Technology, and More

The TTM and Viasystems merger put the PCB industry on notice last year when it created one of the biggest powerhouses in the world. At this year’s HKPCA and IPC show, Barry Matties met with TTM Technologies President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Edman to get his views on the market, technology, the culture of TTM and even the Trump effect.

Real Time With...HKPCA & IPC Show 2016: Rogers Discusses 5G, Power Electronics Trends

At the recent HKPCA and IPC Show 2016 in Shenzhen, China, John Ranieri of Rogers Corp. speaks with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias about the 5G trend and thermal management issues in power electronics and how they will impact PCB materials requirements.


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.

Aismalibar on Markets, Materials, and the Increase in Copper Prices

As a European laminate provider specializing in insulated metal substrates and thermal management, Aismalibar is often put in the demanding position of catering to some of Europe’s toughest customers, including the automotive industry. Pete Starkey and Barry Matties caught up with Director General Eduardo Benmayor at the most recent Electronica trade show to learn more about the company and get his take on the current state of the IMS marketplace.

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.

A Scientific Response to Mr. Laminate Tells All

We read with interest Doug Sober’s recent Mr. Laminate Tells All column, "The Certification of IPC-4101D Polyimide Base Materials: Buyer Beware." The article raises interesting questions about the IPC 4101 classification system, primarily, how is a pure resin defined?

Walt Custer’s Global Market Outlook

With 2016 winding down, Walt Custer shared his end-of-the-year market research data with me at the recent electronica trade show in Munich, Germany. In our interview, Walt breaks down his findings and offers insight into the changing trends as we head into 2017.

Mr. Laminate Tells All: The Certification of IPC-4101D Polyimide Base Materials: Buyer Beware

At the most recent IPC meeting held in Rosemont, Illinois, one of the hot topics of discussion at the Laminate and Prepreg Subcommittee was the three polyimide specification sheets. The header portion for the three polyimide-based copper-clad laminates and prepregs are shown in Figure 1, for easy comparison of polyimide grades.

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.


electronica 2016 Impressions

Germany’s third-largest city, and capital of the southeastern state of Bavaria, Munich was once more host to electronica, which can justifiably claim to be the world’s leading trade fair for electronic components, systems and applications.

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.

To Bake or Not to Bake: Examining the Impact of Waiving PCB Pre-Baking Prior to Assembly

Moisture plays a critical role in lead-free PCB assembly—and one process that aims to drive moisture out of the PCB is baking. In this article, Yash Sutariya explains the results of his study on the impact of waiving PCB pre-baking prior to assembly. His study includes via integrity, via life impact, via failure, and overall reliability failures.

What’s New with IPC’s Validation Services

During this year’s IPC Fall Committee Meetings, held in conjunction with SMTAI in Chicago, I met with my friend Randy Cherry, director of IPC Validation Services. Since the inception of Validation Services three years ago, I’ve conducted video interviews with Randy at IPC APEX EXPO, and I've been tracking the growth and progress of this program. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to do a mid-year check-up on IPC’s Validation Service programs.

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.

Ventec International Group Celebrates the 10-year Anniversary of Ventec Europe

Ventec International Group celebrates the 10-year anniversary of Ventec Europe today at electronica 2016, in Munich, Germany... See video slideshow!

Ventec Talks Strategies to Gain Market Share

At electronica 2016 in Munich, Germany, Tamara den Daas, OEM global account manager at Ventec International Group, speaks with I-Connect007’s Pete Starkey about Ventec Europe’s 10th anniversary, as well as the relevance of electronica for the company. She also discusses Ventec's strategies for gaining market share through PCB designers on the OEM side.

Ventec Sees Growth in Automotive Electronics

Didier Mauve, sales and marketing manager for Ventec Europe, talks with Editor Pete Starkey during electronica 2016 about how the automotive electronics industry is driving growth for the company.

Made in Brazil: Leadership Lessons from the Rio Olympics 2016

This month’s column is not about PCB technical stuff; instead, it’s about some valuable lessons I have learned this summer during that most fantastic of events, the Olympics. What I have learned can now be applied to PCBs and how we can transform a glass-reinforced laminate or any other bare material into an incredibly useful product that will make the difference in every single life of this planet.

New Developments at MacDermid Enthone

One of the best parts of industry conferences and shows is the opportunity to meet new people and renew acquaintances. Another highly enjoyable part is learning what is going on within companies—especially those with which one has had a close association in the past.


IPC Validation Services Audit Program to Include Laminate, Prepreg Manufacturers

Essex Technologies’ Doug Sober is a long-time IPC chairman who is now also working with IPC’s Validation Services division. I met with Doug while at the recent SMTA International conference, and we discussed the upcoming audit program for laminate manufacturers, which is ready to go.

Schoeller Electronics Presenting a New Organizational Structure in North America

At the recent SMTA International show in Rosemont, Illinois, I met Padraig McCabe at Schoeller Electronics Systems’ booth. It was obvious that they had a lot going on so it was good to be able to sit down and get the full story of their new organizational structure, name change and the recent acquisitions of PCB companies.

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.

Freedom CAD: Navigating the Unpredictable Design Marketplace

As COO of the design service bureau Freedom CAD, Scott Miller has a front-row seat to the challenges currently plaguing designers and the design community as a whole. He shared his views with me recently, offering insights on the importance of picking the right partners and customer relationships in an unforgiving and sometimes unpredictable design marketplace.

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.

Isola CEO Jeff Waters Shares Insights and Reflections

It’s been eight months since Isola’s Jeff Waters was appointed CEO, marking his transition from the semiconductor space to the PCB industry. At PCB West, Jeff reflected on his first impressions of the PCB industry and how Isola continues to adopt changes in its manufacturing strategy and product development with a plan to become the industry leader with a global, competitive presence.

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.

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.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Computer-Aided Manufacturing, Part 2 - Automation Examples

Semiconductor fabs like to avoid writing custom software to fit all of the idiosyncrasies of individual processing systems. So HP developed PC-10 to handle IC process equipment by separating it into general classes. SECS II was a mandatory prerequisite of the equipment before an interface to PC-10 could be developed.

Mil/Aero Markets: F-35 Declared Combat-Ready

Electronic subsystems are an integral part of all modern military fighter jets, with a substantial portion of the electronics supporting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), avionics, munitions and radar related subassemblies. This equates to a very high content of PCBs and SMT assembly requirements.

The Story Behind the News: Ventec’s IMS Manufacturing Capabilities in China Doubled

In this interview conducted at Ventec Europe’s headquarters in Leamington Spa, UK, Ventec Europe & USA COO Mark Goodwin sat down with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey to share the details of Ventec International Group’s $2 million equipment investment. With this injection of new equipment, Ventec doubles its IMS material manufacturing capacity in China.

Peter Lymn of Cemco: Adapting to the Market

Recently, I went on a tour of Cemco’s facility in Waterlooville, UK, where I met with longtime industry leader Peter Lymn to discuss Cemco’s roots in hot air solder leveling and the transitions Cemco has made in order to stay competitive.

Factors Affecting the Adhesion of Thin Film Copper on Polyimide

The use of copper foils laminated to polyimide (PI) as flexible printed circuit board precursor is a standard practice in the PCB industry. We have previously described an approach to very thin copper laminates of coating uniform layers of nano copper inks and converting them into conductive foils via photonic sintering with a multi-bulb conveyor system, which is consistent with roll-to-roll manufacturing.

All About Flex: FAQs on RoHS for Flex Circuits

In 2003, the European Union (EU) adopted a standard called the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), which restricts the use of certain materials in electronic products and electronic equipment. The intent is to reduce the environmental impact of known hazardous materials and has driven changes in manufacturing processes and materials used to manufacture a wide array of electronic products.


The European Space Agency on Reliability

Stan Heltzel is a materials engineer working for the European Space Agency, and he is tasked with the job of procuring and qualifying PCBs that end up in satellites. I met with Stan at EIPC’s Summer Conference to discuss his presentation on qualifying a fabricator, his role at the ESA, and updating of space standards.

All About Flex: Soldering Flexible Circuits

The most common methods for component attachment on flexible circuits and rigid printed circuit boards involve soldering. The basic principles for soldering are the same for both flex and hard board, but soldering components to flexible circuits involves certain specific considerations vs. our rigid cousins.

Brooks' Bits: Your Traces Have Hot Spots!

The reasons for the temperature variation at high temperatures are not too hard to understand. There may be minor contamination under the trace or in the copper that accounts for it. Certainly, at higher temperatures (say above about 300°C) the board may begin to delaminate, severely disrupting its cooling characteristics. There may be small variations in trace width or thickness that help account for the delam, and these effects would be randomly distributed along the length of the trace.

Multiple Markets Merge for PCBs at H&T Global

While at the SMTA-Ohio expo I met Rob DiGiovanni, VP of sales and marketing with H&T Global, a printed circuit manufacturer based in Florida. I was attracted to the H&T booth by a large photo of an Army jeep. I wanted to learn what this particular photo had to do with PCBs, and Rob had a ready answer.

Trouble in Your Tank: Building Reliability into the PCB, Part 2

In Part 1 of this column on reliability, I presented the common PTH failures encountered when reliability is less than robust. PTH reliability is influenced by several factors including the quality of the PTH after drilling, plating thickness and plating distribution in the PTH. In this column, I will present additional factors, including the Coffin-Manson model in the context of understanding reliability failures.
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