Article Highlights
University Students Point to the Future in their Research
04/23/2019 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
American Standard Circuits' Ken Moffat on Flex and Rigid-flex Business
04/22/2019 | Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
Book Recommendation: Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell
04/19/2019 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Orbotech West on Supporting Customer Needs
04/19/2019 | Real Time with...IPC
U.S. Tax Law Boosts Growth, But Uncertainties Loom
04/17/2019 | Chris Mitchell, IPC VP, Global Government Relations
PCB :: Materials

Latest Articles

Stacked Microvia Reliability: Ongoing Work and Upcoming IPC Conference

One year ago, Happy Holden's review of the 2018 IPC High-Reliability Forum reported the presentation of J.R. Strickland and Jerry Magera, who described research at MSI Applied Technology into overcoming the risk of stacked microvia failures escaping standard quality assurance procedures. Their report provided a basis for the IPC white paper IPC-WP-023, which addressed reliability issues associated with stacked microvias and included data collected from several other printed circuit manufacturers.

Ventec Focuses on High-mix Manufacturing

The I-Connect007 team recently toured Ventec International Group’s Suzhou factory where a modern, flexible manufacturing concept designed for fast delivery is enhancing their established volume manufacturing of specialty, high-reliability epoxy laminates and prepregs. Read on to know more about Ventec's ongoing investment in the facility to offer flexible world-class high-mix manufacturing capabilities for polyimide, thermal management, low-loss, and signal integrity material solutions.

ITEQ’s Tarun Amla Discusses 5G Inflection Points

ITEQ Corporation Executive VP and CTO Tarun Amla discusses effects of 5G on materials and shares general observations on the 5G rollout at DesignCon. He also talks about the challenges for their customers, and how they help them address their issues.

EIPC Winter Conference, Day 2

After the papers from the first day of the EIPC Winter Conference in Milan on February 14–15, the delegates were hosted at a reception and plant tour of Elga Europe at their nearby production facility. Here's a recap of the events and highlights of the Day 2 of the conference.

Bert Simonovich on Modeling Copper Roughness

I met with one of our contributors, Bert Simonovich of Lamsim Enterprises, at DesignCon 2019. Bert’s paper on interconnect modeling was nominated as a Best Paper finalist, so I asked him to discuss his paper and some of the challenges that engineers and their customers are facing right now.

3DEM Modeling: Influence of Metal Plating on PCB Channel Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces different types of metal plating commonly used in PCB fabrication. Subsequently, the influence of metal plating on PCB channel loss (i.e., insertion loss or S21) and impedance (i.e., time domain reflectometry or TDR) is studied with 3DEM modeling,

Current Megatrends You Pay the Most Attention To

In our recent survey, we asked the following question: "What current megatrends do you pay the most attention to?" Below are some of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

EIPC Winter Conference, Day 1

EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan writes about the highlights of and the technical discussions at the recent EIPC Winter Conference held in Milan last February 14–15.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Arlon Discusses Investments and Important Role of a Niche Supplier

Arlon Electronic Materials President Brad Foster sits down with Nolan Johnson to discuss capital investments the company is making in business expansions and upgrades, and the important role a niche supplier plays in the North American quick-turn electronics market.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Insulectro Sees Growth and Opportunities in Printed Electronics

Judy Warner speaks with Tim Redfern, Insulectro president, and Kevin M. Miller, VP of sales, about growth in the printed electronics market, the direction Insulectro is going, and opportunities for North American PCB suppliers. They note that the company will increase their focus and investment in the printed electronics market.


Flex/MSTC Joint Conference: A Collaborative Week in Monterey

Collaboration filled the air at the Hyatt Regency in Monterey, California, as the 18th annual Flex/Mems&Sensors technical conference brought flex technology and sensor experts and 550+ attendees together to network and share ideas from February 18–21, 2019.

Institute of Circuit Technology Evening Seminar

The Institute of Circuit Technology hosted its first 2019 seminar at the Woodland Grange Hotel in Royal Leamington Spa in the Midlands of England on February 26. The diverse programme of four presentations was introduced by ICT Chairman Andy Cobley, a professor at Coventry University, who stood in for Bill Wilkie, who had been taken ill at short notice.

Words of Advice: Component Shortages in 2019

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What components do you expect to be in short supply in 2019? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Reflections on Supply Chain Issues

There are parallels in the PCB fabrication industry right now. PCB fabrication is a lot like that VW microbus. Everything is running just fine while the supply is there. However, the materials supply pipeline is becoming increasingly unpredictable.

Isola Executive Vice Chairman and Acting CEO Travis Kelly on the Upcoming Year

Isola Executive Vice Chairman and Acting CEO Travis Kelly discusses the recent milestones for the company, including the leadership transition. Travis also outlines his agenda for the upcoming year and gives an update on Isola’s new facility in Chandler, Arizona.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Rogers' Anthony Mattingly Discusses the Advanced Laminate Market

Rogers Corporation's Senior Product Manager Anthony Mattingly and Editor Pete Starkey discuss the ever-evolving market for advanced laminates for technologies such as 5G. Mattingly explains how Rogers has invested heavily in infrastructure for adding about 40% more capacity in the next few years.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Uyemura Discusses Heavy Gold Deposition

Richard DePoto, business development manager at Uyemura, brings Pete Starkey up to speed with the success of the heavy gold deposition process they discussed last year. It has been seamlessly integrated into standard ENEPIG lines to give a choice of finishes, and how advances in electroless palladium have enabled the elimination of electroless nickel for high-speed signal integrity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Taiyo Discusses New Solder Masks and Photoimageables

Donald Monn, Midwest regional sales manager for Taiyo America, turns the tables on I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey and quizzes him about his knowledge of Taiyo's new crack-resistant white solder mask for automotive, and the company's standard photoimageables re-formulated for laser direct imaging (LDI) that avoid the need for UL requalification.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Ventec's Goodwin on Global Technology Directions

Mark Goodwin, Ventec International Group CEO EMEA and USA, comments on technology directions globally and in the North American market. He also explains how Ventec's quality accreditations, technical expertise, and flexible manufacturing capacity continue to strengthen their leading position.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Ventec Highlights Core Solutions for Thermal Management

Jack Pattie, president of Ventec International Group, speaks with I-Connect007 Guest Editor Kelly Dack about the many heat issues associated with circuit boards right now—whether in general applications, power applications, PCs—as everyone demands smaller, faster, and more powerful systems.


Laser Focus on Flex and Rigid-flex

ESI’s Chris Ryder, director of Product Management, and Shane Noel, Flex Systems product manager, discuss laser vias for flex users and the increasing necessity for companies to collaborate early on and become more and more involved, whether that be in the product design, or with the process or base material manufacturers.

AltiumLive Munich: Day 1 Keynotes

The weather forecast was wrong! Despite my apprehension and winter clothes, there was very little snow at the Hilton Munich Airport. It could have been any season of the year inside the splendid convention facility, which was also the venue for the second European AltiumLive design summit. AltiumLive brought together a family of over 220 electronics engineers and designers eager to learn from top industry experts and applications specialists who were equally eager to share their knowledge and experience freely.

Atotech at HKPCA on Announcements and Advancements

Edy Yu, managing editor for PCB007 China, caught up with Daniel Schmidt, Atotech’s director of global marketing, during the 2018 HKPCA and IPC Show in December. Edy and Daniel discussed Atotech’s new announcements at the show including their new solutions for 5G, high-speed, and high-frequency applications, and more.

The Quest for Perfect Design Data Packages

There’s an ongoing problem in the PCB industry: fabrication shops are receiving incomplete or inadequate design data packages, leaving manufacturers scrambling to fill in the blanks. For a quick-turn prototype shop like Washington-based Prototron, with over 5,000 customers and up to 60% of orders coming from new customers each month, that can add up to a lot of wasted time and effort just in the quoting stage. Dave Ryder, Prototron president, and Mark Thompson, engineering support, delve into this continuing issue and more.

Altium Prepares for Munich Show as Growth Continues

It’s been just two months since the AltiumLive event drew several hundred designers to San Diego, California, and Altium is already gearing up for the next show in Munich, Germany (January 15–17, 2019). I recently spoke with Chris Donato, VP of global sales for Altium, about the upcoming AltiumLive show as well as the company’s growth over the past few years.

ESI’s Chris Ryder: There’s More to Choosing a Laser Than You Think

At the recent HKPCA show, I sat down with ESI’s Chris Ryder, director of product management—HDI—to discuss considerations for choosing a new laser system, and how ESI uses its decades of flex and rigid-flex drilling experience to help guide customers in their decision-making process.

Alun Morgan Discusses AltiumLive Munich Keynote

EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan will deliver a keynote speech at this week’s AltiumLive event in Munich, Germany. He gave us a quick preview of his keynote, and explained what his new job entails as technology ambassador with Ventec International Group.

A Fractal Conversation with Jim Howard and Greg Lucas

Veteran PCB technologists Jim Howard and Greg Lucas have made an interesting discovery: Certain shapes of copper planes make a PCB run more efficiently than other shapes, a process they dubbed fractal design. It doesn’t appear to cost a penny more, and testing suggests that fractal design techniques could eliminate edge noise. Barry Matties and Andy Shaughnessy asked Jim and Greg to discuss the fractal design process, and the advantages of using this technique.

Agfa on Revolutionary Inkjet Solder Mask Applications

Does inkjet solder mask have the potential for volume production? Mariana Van Dam, global sales manager for PCB imaging solutions, and Dr. Frank Louwet, business unit manager for advanced coatings and chemicals, discuss Agfa's latest developments, plus some novel applications for inkjet etch and plating resists.

Robert Art on the Importance of Thermal Management

Robert Art, global account manager for IMS materials at Ventec International Group, discusses future market requirements for thermal management materials, the need for a better understanding of the concept of thermal impedance, and an initiative to propose a consistent industry-standard method for measuring thermal conductivity while at electronica 2018.


Top 10 Most-Viewed FLEX007 Articles in 2018

Here’s a list of the top 10 most viewed FLEX007 articles in the past year.

Institute of Circuit Technology Harrogate Christmas Seminar 2018

The Institute of Circuit Technology returned to the fading Victorian splendour of the palatial and stately Majestic Hotel in the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate for its 2018 Christmas seminar, an intense programme of five excellent technical presentations, impeccably organised and moderated by Technical Director Bill Wilkie and generously supported by GSPK Circuits.

Top 10 Most-Read PCB007 Interviews of 2018

Here’s a list of the top 10 most-read PCB interviews in the past year. Topping the list is an interview by Publisher Barry Matties with industry veteran Gene Weiner, who talked about the market conditions in China, and any effect the new U.S. administration might have on trade relations going forward.

Automation Attracts: The New Guard to PCB Fabrication

It only took a few seconds inside the GreenSource Fabrication plant for the I-Connect007 staff to realize just how different the facility is. The look and feel of the place, however, is just one difference; staffing the facility is unique as well.

Martin Cotton’s Parting Shot

Martin Cotton is a unique personality in the PCB industry. As Cotton says, “I’m a designer—look at my haircut!” Cotton gave the keynote at the Institute of Circuit Technology’s 2018 Harrogate Seminar, challenging his audience to consider laminate dielectric properties in the context of power and cost in a presentation entitled 'The Effect of the Dk of a PCB Laminate on the Cost-effectiveness of Office Rental Space. Intrigued?' Read on!

Rick Almeida Discusses DownStream's Latest News

At the 2018 electronica exhibition in Munich, Rick Almeida, founder of DownStream Technologies, brings Editor Pete Starkey up to speed with the company’s latest news.

John Hendricks on 5G Materials

At the 2018 electronica exhibition in Munich, John Hendricks, product marketing manager for Rogers Corporation, discussed 5G materials including demands and trends.

Martyn Gaudion on Signal Integrity Modelling and Stackup Tools

The accuracy of signal integrity modelling continues to improve, and stackup tools are becoming widely used, which now include material suppliers' datasheet information. During the recent electronica show in Munich, Germany, Martyn Gaudion, managing director at Polar Instruments, explained how Polar often serves as a bridge between PCB design and fabrication, and why educating his customers is so critical.

Technology Ambassador Alun Morgan

Barry Matties speaks with Alun Morgan about his new position as technology ambassador for Ventec International Group. In this position, Alun will use his wealth of knowledge and experience to inform the supply chain better when it comes to topics like thermal management and the sometimes shaky connection between designers and material suppliers.

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.

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.

Jeff Waters: Isola Updates

During PCB West 2018, Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties sat down with Jeff Waters, Isola CEO, to catch up on company activities, including the recent sale of the factory in Chandler, Arizona, the plan to build a new facility, product developments, current market dynamics, a new CFO, and much more.

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.

Altium Designer Increasingly Used for High-Speed Design

I recently met with Mark Forbes, the director of technical marketing at Altium, during the AltiumLive event in San Diego. We discussed Mark’s class on MCAD/ECAD collaboration and the success of AltiumLive, as well as the growth of Altium users who design high-speed PCBs with Altium Designer.

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.

Rick Hartley is Bullish on PCB Design, 3D Printing

At the recent PCB West in Silicon Valley, Consulting Technical Editor Tim Haag met with long-time design industry veteran Rick Hartley to discuss the changing landscape of circuit board design, the layout designers of the future, and how designers can benefit from 3D printing of circuit boards.

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.


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.

SLP: The Next Level of Technology

As our electronic devices and machines become more powerful and as Moore’s Law chugs along, things in the world of PCBs keep getting smaller. You know the drill—finer lines and spaces, thinner laminates, more layers— cram more circuitry into the same or shrinking area. Where will it all end? Or will it?

Building a Better Board: It Always Comes Back to Communication

For our experts meeting on the August’s theme of reliability, we reached out to Colonial Circuits and asked them to participate in a conference call with our I-Connect007 editorial team consisting of Dan Feinberg, Andy Shaughnessy, Patty Goldman, and Happy Holden. Joining the call from Colonial Circuits was Mark Osborn, president and CEO, Kevin Knapp, quality manager, and Rodney Krick, manufacturing manager.

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.”

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.

PCBs Are Moisture-Sensitive Devices

Research by SMT & Hybrid GmbH (now SMT Elektronik) was conducted just prior to the original publication of IPC-1601, which now provides detailed guidelines for the packaging and storage of PCBs, both from the PCB manufacturer and at the assembler’s manufacturing floor.

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.

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.

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!).
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