Article Highlights
Crowded Congressional Calendar Affects Industry Priorities
07/24/2019 | Chris Mitchell, IPC VP, Global Government Relations
A Conversation with Karen McConnell—An Emerging Engineer Program Mentor
07/22/2019 | Linda Stepanich, IPC
EPA, Industry Come Together in Visit to TTM Facility
07/18/2019 | Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research
Kelvin Characterization to Accurately Predict Copper Thickness
07/01/2019 | Article by Brandon Sherrieb, Integrated Test Corporation
Emma Hudson: From Tomboy to Tech Lead
06/21/2019 | Gen3
PCB :: Materials

Latest Articles

Focusing on Surface Sensitivity for Reliability

At the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit, Customer Applications Scientist Elizabeth Kidd and Sales Engineer Alex Bien, both of BTG Labs, discuss with Andy Shaughnessy their presentation on the challenges of working with highly sensitive surfaces, such as the risk of contamination. They also talked about the various surface characterization techniques that BTG Labs uses to identify such contaminants.

Words of Advice: Drawbacks to Your PCB Data Format?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What is the biggest drawback to your current PCB data format? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Names to Know: Up and Comers in U.S. Congress

When major news occurs in the U.S. Congress, you usually hear the names of top congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Altium Designer 19.0 Features Printed Electronics Design Functions

The newest version of Altium Designer—revision 19.0—includes functionality for designing printed electronic circuits. We wanted to get the scoop on Altium’s PEC tools, so we asked Nikolay Ponomarenko, Altium’s director of product management, to give us a tour of the new functions.

Mentor Tools: Optimized for Flex and Rigid-flex Design

With the launch of the new Flex007 section in Design007 Magazine, we asked David Wiens, product marketing manager with Mentor, a Siemens Business, to tell us about their tools’ flex and rigid-flex design capabilities. As David explains, today’s higher-end design software tools are optimized for flex design, making workarounds a thing of the past.

IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part I

The IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit covered a broad range of topics related to reliability and provided interactive opportunities to share expert knowledge and experience in determining and understanding the causes of failure and selecting the best design rules, materials, processes, and test methods to maximise product reliability.

Crowded Congressional Calendar Affects Industry Priorities

More than five months remain in 2019, but U.S. congressional leaders are already running out of time as they face a long list of must-pass bills before year’s end. Although some of these bills do not affect the electronics industry, some of them do, and the overall agenda does affect the opportunities and risks we face.

A Guide to High-reliability PCBs from Design to Specification

Creating reliable PCBs is an outcome of considering all aspects that can affect reliability as early as possible in the design process. The further down the design process, the more expensive and risky it can be to fix. As they say, everything starts with the design. Because a good board design improves the reliability of the end product and lessens the risk of failure.

Microvias: Links of Faith are Not Created Equally

Microvias connect adjacent copper layers to complete electrical paths. There are copper-filled microvias, which can be stacked to form connections beyond adjacent copper layers, and staggered microvias, which stitch adjacent copper layers with paths that meander on the layers between the microvias. This article discusses the various laser-drilled microvias and presents SEM photographs to begin the search for the root cause of weak copper interface.

Dissecting the IPC Regional Survey on PCB Technology Trends

Sharon Starr, Denny Fritz, and Mike Carano talk about the global 2018 IPC Technology Trends Report released early this year—the size of the survey, how it was conducted, the general findings, and regional differences. They also shared their takeaways and regional insights, and the industry outlook over the next five to 10 years.


An Examination of Glass-fiber and Epoxy Interface Degradation in Printed Circuit Boards

Multilayer organic laminates, which make up over 90% of the interconnecting substrates in electronics (standard FR-4 represents 85% of the substrates used for laminates), can develop a loss of electrical insulation resistance between two biased conductors due to conductive filament formation.

Design Is a Pivotal Piece of the Puzzle

As a field applications engineer at TTM Technologies, which has fabrication and manufacturing locations around the world, Julie Ellis sees a wide variety of customer design requirements. In this interview with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, Julie explains how PCB designers can influence the development of the PCB. She shares a variety of tips and tricks that designers can implement early in the design process to help optimize fabrication and assembly later on and keep small issues from becoming big problems downstream.

Kelvin Characterization to Accurately Predict Copper Thickness

A few years ago at Integrated Test Corporation, we found that the reaction plan for void fallout at electrical test was ineffective and not standardized. Like many PCB manufacturing facilities (including a Sanmina shop that I used to work at), the reaction plan consisted of cross section analysis to determine the void type.

Pulsonix 10.5 Development Driven by Customer Demand

I recently spoke with Bob Williams, the managing director of Pulsonix, about the release of the EDA tool’s version 10.5. Bob explained how the company had made the tool more intuitive based on user input, and he discussed some of the more cutting-edge functionality not normally found in competitively priced tools.

Emma Hudson: From Tomboy to Tech Lead

In this interview, Emma Hudson, CTO of Gen3, and Gayle Paterson, founder of Female Leaders in Tech, Everywhere (FLITE), discuss careers and the electronics industry.

Insulectro’s OEM Program: Time to ACT!

Ken Parent, Insulectro VP of sales and product management, discusses the current dynamics in the materials marketplace and how Insulectro is developing educational resources to help design teams and fabricators better understand the capabilities and features for the emerging laminate materials.

Stitching Capacitor: Crosstalk Mitigation for Return Path Discontinuity

When the return path is broken due to the switching of reference planes with different potential, e.g., from ground to power or vice versa after layer transition on PCB, the return current might detour and propagate on a longer path, which causes a rise in loop inductance. This might lead to the sharing of a common return path by different signals that pose a high risk of interference among the signals due to higher mutual inductance. This interference results in signal crosstalk. To mitigate the crosstalk due to return path discontinuity (RPD), stitching capacitors are mounted on the PCB to serve as a bridge between the two reference planes of interest on different PCB layers.

ICT 45th Annual Symposium Review

The Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) held its 45th annual symposium on June 4, 2019 in Dudley at the Black Country Museum—a symbol of the spirit of innovation in engineering technology and the entrepreneurial and manufacturing skills that had established that region’s supremacy in leading the original Industrial Revolution. Here's a recap of the events and presentations at the symposium.

IPC’s PCB Tech Trends Study Highlights Issues Impacting Fabricators

The 2018 survey results indicated the need for speed and low loss as critical functions of the materials chosen. This is the digital age, and with the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, etc., the need for low-loss and ultra-low-loss materials continues to grow as a percentage of circuit boards fabricated.

DuPont on Materials Challenges and New Opportunities

John Andresakis, senior marketing technologist in the Interconnect Solutions (ICS) Group of DuPont, and Jonathan Weldon, RF applications engineer also in ICS at DuPont, spoke with the I-Connect007 editorial team about trends the company is seeing, what challenges their customers are facing with materials today, and future opportunities with new technologies, including 5G, electric cars, IoT, and more.


Creating Stability in Materials Chaos

Nolan Johnson and Tony Senese—manager, business development group, Panasonic EMBD—discuss the evolution of the materials marketplace over the years from a time when the market aligned for the rise of Panasonic’s MEGTRON 6 to the ever-changing materials industry of today. With the ramp-up to 5G and everyone pushing product development, Tony describes a chaotic materials market flooded with new companies and materials.

Laminate Suppliers Face Increasing Demands From Customers

As a global laminate supplier with a large product offering, TUC is at the forefront of the growing customer demands that stem from a number of market segments pushing next-generation products. In an interview with Nolan Johnson, TUC North American President Alan Cochrane talks about the company’s shift toward trending areas and how strategies like the adoption of thinner glass styles have helped make it all possible.

Isola on Adapting Processes to Meet Customer Needs

In an interview with I-Connect007, Sean Mirshafiei, chief sales and marketing officer for Isola, discusses the company’s perspective on material market trends and how they are adapting product development processes to respond to new customer needs.

Electrolytic Plating: Filling Vias and Through-holes

The continuously evolving electronics industry environment is causing the development of various electrolytic copper processes for different applications over the past several decades. This article describes the reasons for development and a roadmap of dimensions for copper-filled through-holes, microvias, and other copper-plated structures on PCBs.

DuPont on New Beginnings and Empowering the Industry

Andy Kannurpatti gives the I-Connect007 team an overview of the latest news from DuPont Electronics and Imaging, including investments toward the new production assets in Ohio, Silicon Valley Technology Center, and other facilities. He also details how the company is engaging OEMs and PCB fabricators and design teams, as well as some exciting business updates coming this spring and summer.

Making Materials Succeed: Past, Present, and Future Trends

Tony Senese, manager for the business development group at Panasonic EMBD, gives Nolan Johnson an overview of materials and components as well as changing business models and methods to make materials succeed and how to stay profitable.

Technically Appropriate Material Choices are Key to Design Success

Materials are no longer a passive part of the design; they play an active role in the manufacturability, reliability, and speed of a PCB. I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson and Mike Creeden, founder of San Diego PCB Design, discuss several key characteristics that designers should consider in their material selection process.

Alun Morgan on the Future of PCB Materials

The I-Connect007 editorial team asked Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group, to discuss materials at a high level. Our conversation delivered a detailed overview of the current state of the electronics industry.

Averatek on the Future of Additive and Semi-additive Processing

Averatek’s President and COO Mike Vinson talks with Barry Matties about the benefits semi-additive and additive processing can bring to the shop floor as well as some of the current challenges and limitations that continue to leave many manufacturers hesitant to implement the technology.

Words of Advice: Long Component and Laminate Lead Times

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What advice do you have regarding the current supply chain issues? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity. One reply really sticks out: "If the end customer is large, use their power."


Super PCB's Jessica Zhang on LEDs and Other Trending Business Areas

In an interview with I-Connect007 at the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Super PCB Program Manager Jessica Zhang provides an overview of the company and shares new business trends they're seeing, including LEDs, wearable devices, and more.

EM Modeling: The Impact of Copper Ground Pour on Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces the general purposes of copper ground pour on printed circuit boards. Subsequently, the impact of copper ground pour on PCB channel loss in terms of insertion loss and impedance in terms of time domain reflectometry (TDR) is studied with electromagnetic modeling using Mentor HyperLynx.

Alun Morgan on Thermal Management and LEDs in Automotive

Guest Editor Judy Warner met with Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group, to discuss topics addressed at the Automotive Executive Forum that took place at IPC APEX EXPO 2019. Morgan describes his presentation and findings centered around thermal management in automotive, specifically LEDs, as well as the unique set of growing thermal management challenges Tier 1 suppliers are now facing in the automotive sector.

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.
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