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Aurora Circuits on Ultra-Heavy Copper PCBs

It’s always fun to talk with a company that can do something different—in this case, ultra-heavy copper PCBs, meaning over 20-ounce copper. Wanting to know more, Dan Beaulieu talked to Aurora Circuits Director of Business Development Thad Bartosz.

Atotech Looks to Expand Product Portfolio

When Barry Matties toured Atotech’s facility in Feucht, Germany, he spoke with Andreas Schatz, Atotech’s global product manager of equipment, and Daniel Schmidt, Atotech’s global director of marketing. In this interview, Andreas and Daniel break down the global plating and chemistry trends they see, most notably around horizontal plating and smart factory automation.

Simulation Technology in Acid Copper Pattern Plating

PCB designers and CAM engineers may feel there is little they can do to achieve uniform finished copper thickness of PCB traces and holes. But in an illuminating discussion with Robrecht Belis, manager of surface finishing and e-coating with Elsyca NV in Belgium, Pete Starkey learned that nothing could be further from the truth, provided they act on time and use the right tools.

A Year in Review: Cultivate New Opportunities in Crisis, Start Fresh

Recently, the China Electronic Circuit Industry Association (CPCA) invited Dr. Shiuh-Kao Chiang from Prismark to present an online video report regarding the current and future impact of the current epidemic on the global electronic circuit industry. The I-Connect007 China Team attended the presentation, and the following report summarizes some of Dr. Chiang’s remarks.

MTV Offers Solder Paste Testing Solution

The miniaturization test vehicle (MTV) is a common benchmark test board that can gauge about 25 different paste properties and analyze how different solder pastes will perform in an assembly line. Chrys Shea details the work she’s done to develop and release the MTV.

The iNEMI 2019 Board Assembly Roadmap

iNEMI continues to publish chapters of its 2019 Roadmap and recently presented an overview of its Board Assembly Roadmap Chapter in a webinar prefaced by Grace O’Malley, vice president of global operations. The new chapter is just the latest addition to this global effort from 23 working groups contributing expert input from all aspects of the electronics industry.

Autodesk’s Fusion 360 Merges ECAD, MCAD

Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Autodesk’s Matt Berggren about the company’s Fusion 360 EDA tool and the new capabilities added to the software. Matt explains how Fusion 360 blends ECAD and MCAD functionality in one environment and at an affordable price, and why he believes it will help round out Autodesk's electronic portfolio with end-to-end capabilities.

Rogers Corporation Keeps Materials Moving

The I-Connect007 editorial team spoke with Roger Tushingham of Rogers Corporation about the company’s current priorities with everything that’s been changing recently, including his perspective on the distributing and manufacturing trends he sees as a global supplier.

iNEMI’s PCB Roadmap Explained

In an informative and enlightening webinar, iNEMI Project Manager Steve Payne was joined by Isola Group CTO Ed Kelley to explain, review, and discuss the details of the recently published “iNEMI 2019 Roadmap for Organic PCBs.” Pete Starkey provides an overview.

Freedom CAD’s Expert PCB Design Tips, Part 1

When you’re designing complex PCBs, knowledge truly is power. The more PCB design tips, tricks, and techniques you know, the better your cutting-edge designs will be. With that in mind, we’re bringing you a series of PCB design tips, courtesy of Freedom CAD Services.


Survey: Complete, Accurate Design Data Tops List of Fab Expectations

In a recent survey, we asked PCB designers about expectations, particularly fabricators’ expectations of their PCB designer customers. The overwhelming majority (84%) of respondents indicated that a fabricator’s primary expectation of a designer is a complete, accurate data package.

Improving Copper Distribution in Pattern Plating Using Simulation Software

Technical Editor Pete Starkey had the opportunity to sit in on a webinar presented by Robrecht Belis, manager of the surface finishing business unit at Elsyca—a Belgian company specialising in the simulation of electrochemical processes.

MFLEX Increases Growth

Happy Holden recently spoke with Jay Desai of MFLEX about the latest flex work the company has been doing and its aim to transition toward more automation and a smart factory approach.

IPC Europe Shares Technical Education and Standards Awareness

Against a background of COVID-19 uncertainty and unprecedented challenges, but recognizing the vital importance of continuing to educate engineers and share the knowledge and skills required to manufacture boards and assemblies of the highest yields and reliability, the IPC Europe team hosted a technical webinar for the European electronics industry, featuring the expertise of two of I-Connect007’s regular columnists: Mike Carano and Jan Pedersen. Pete Starkey provides an overview.

Via Reliability and Robustness in Today’s Environment

When Bob Neves dropped by the I-Connect007 booth at IPC APEX EXPO 2020 this year, Happy Holden took the opportunity to record the conversation. Bob had some startling and exciting updates on the testing of microvias and through-hole technology.

Isola’s Travis Kelly: Maintaining Continuity of Supply

On April 9, Barry Matties spoke with Travis Kelly, Isola president and CEO. Travis gave an update on Isola’s responses to the COVID-19 challenges in materials manufacturing. Travis pointed out that Isola’s products fill a critical need in the switch to medical equipment manufacturing for ventilators and related products. He also spoke to the three keys to maintaining continuity of supply.

PCB Surface Preparation Before Solder Mask on Non-copper Finishes

A circuit board is made of copper. Usually, final finishes are applied after the solder mask process. In some cases, for special applications, the final finish may be applied before solder mask. In this case, we have solder mask on ENIG or galvanic nickel-gold. It is also possible to have tin or tin-lead under solder mask; this was an old technology that no longer plays a role today.

Advantages of Using ZIF Connectors as a Termination Method

There are many types of connectors and termination methods available when designing a flexible circuit. One of the most common is the zero insertion force (ZIF) connector. The reason why the ZIF connector is so popular is that they eliminate the requirement for an added connector. They create a direct connection from the circuit to the mating connector reducing overall weight and cost. Here are a few general facts about ZIF connectors.

Are Trade Shows at a Crossroads?

With the cancellation of this year’s E3 show, the biggest gamer conference, the event’s format is shifting to a more fluid, online communication method. This may be the wave of the future. Can you imagine if the COVID-19 outbreak had occurred just three months earlier? Would there have been a Consumer Electronics Show, DesignCon, or IPC APEX EXPO? If the coronavirus is still in play in six months, will these shows take place in 2021?

Institute of Circuit Technology Spring Seminar 2020

Back to Meriden, the nominal centre of England where the daffodils were blooming. A good crowd made it to the spring seminar that followed the Annual General Meeting of the Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT), with five specialist presentations and excellent opportunities to network with their peers in the industry. Pete Starkey shares his overview of the event.


I-Connect007 Researchers Survey Industry on COVID-19 Outbreak Effect

In the last 24 hours, we surveyed our readers regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its effect on our industry. After reviewing the first 100 survey responses primarily from North America and Europe, one-third of the respondents reported that the outbreak was having at least a small effect on their orders. Two-thirds of our readers have yet to see any effect on their orders.

2020 EIPC Winter Conference, Day 2

Rested and refreshed, delegates returned to the conference room for the second day of the 2020 EIPC Winter Conference in Blijdorp, Rotterdam, South Holland. Pete Starkey provides an overview of the presentations and activities from Day 2.

2020 EIPC Winter Conference, Day 1

Pete Starkey recaps how the 2020 EIPC Winter Conference, held in mid-February, attracted around 90 delegates from a dozen European countries—as well as a few from North America—to an outstanding learning and networking experience for members of the PCB community. The theme of this year's event was: “The Needs for Next-Generation Electronic Devices and Changes in Fabrication Solutions for PCBs, PCBAs, Materials, and Technologies.”

Congratulations to Mike Carano! Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award Recipient

Patty Goldman spoke with Mike Carano about being awarded the Dieter Bergman IPC Fellowship Award, what that means to him as someone who was inspired by Dieter, and after 40 years in the industry, what keeps him excited going forward. Talking with Mike, one can feel his enthusiasm for IPC and the industry, which is contagious.

Joe Fjelstad Breaks Down His Occam Process

Joe Fjelstad recently met with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team to discuss the potential benefits of his Occam process for solderless assembly. This technique allows assembly of the PCB without the risks associated with traditional surface-mount processes, such as solder joint failure. Has the time come for the industry to embrace Occam?

XRF: An Essential Tool to Help PCB Manufacturers Meet IPC Specifications

One of the main challenges in PCB manufacturing is to create a stable, long-term coating of the copper surface to perform critical functions throughout the expected lifetime of the part. The surface coating is there to do two things: prevent the copper from oxidizing by coming in contact with the air and form a reliable contact for a soldered joint or wire-bonded connector.

Catching up With Midstate Electronics

Dan Beaulieu recently sat down with Susan Matteo, Joan Allen, and Gerri Wooten from Midstate Electronics’ sales team to discuss their company, how long they have been in business, the key ingredients to their longevity and success, and how they see the market today in general. Midstate offers everything from multilayer PCBs to flex and rigid-flex circuits and PCB assembly.

Rogers Continues to Grow and Adapt

In this video interview from the show, Guest Editor Judy Warner and Tony Mattingly, senior product manager at Rogers Corporation, discuss the state of materials at the company, as well as the Rogers innovation centers the company has opened recently.

Randy Cherry: IPC Validation Services Continues to Expand

In this video interview from the show, Randy Cherry, IPC's director of validation services, gives Guest Editor Judy Warner his annual update on IPC's Validation Services, which is growing along with ever-increasing IoT and connectivity.

Stencils: Not As Simple As They Seem

Stephanie Hardin of Integrated Ideas and Technologies Inc. discusses her role in the supply chain as a stencil manufacturer, improvements she sees from micromachined step stencils, and why she believes trying to have standardized stencil layouts is wishful thinking due to the many fluctuating variables.


Ventec’s Materials are Enablers for 5G, Industry 4.0

In this video interview from the show, Technical Editor Pete Starkey and Ventec COO for Europe and the Americas Mark Goodwin discuss Ventec’s latest high-speed, low-loss, high-frequency materials as enablers for 5G and Industry 4.0.

CB Tech and Technica Tout Titan’s Traits

During the show, Technical Editor Pete Starkey met with Frank Medina, president and CEO of Technica USA, and Harry Kok, international sales director at CB Tech. They discuss the features of the CB Tech Titan direct imaging system, which has very high throughput capability with best-in-class registration consistently maintained from the beginning to the end of the batch. Kok also explains how the Titan fits in with CB Tech’s ongoing plans for Industry 4.0.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Brian Wojtkiewicz

"It seems they are all pursuing digital imaging; whether it’s direct imaging exposure or inkjet solder mask, they’re all going that direction, and it’s not just the big customers; small customers are doing the same," said Taiyo's Brian Wojtkiewicz. "They’re investing money, which is good. New investment is what has been lacking for a couple of years."

Will Moisture Management Expand to the U.S. Market?

Rich Heimsch, Super Dry director, chats with Nolan Johnson about the growing demand for moisture management in North America versus its earlier adoption in Europe, and how moisture management fits into Industry 4.0 and the smart factory.

IPC Government Relations: Focus on Supply Chain Resiliency

During IPC APEX EXPO, Editor Nolan Johnson sat down with Chris Mitchell, VP of global government affairs, to discuss IPC’s latest initiative with industry intelligence programs. As Chris explains, some of these efforts are focused on improving the DoD’s supply chain. This includes moving the DoD from leaded to lead-free components to help avoid millions of dollars in rework. He also discusses the team’s drive to unite with partners around the world and create a truly global organization.

Solder in PCBA: Can’t Live Without It... or Can We?

For most of its historical use in electronics, the solder alloy of choice was tin-lead, either an Sn60/Pb40 alloy or the Sn63/ Pb37 eutectic version of the tin-lead alloy. These two alloys were the workhorses of the industry. They were both well understood in terms of their processing and reliability—that is, until the advent of lead-free, a well-meaning but ill-conceived and poorly executed conversion, forced on the industry by the European Union in 2006.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Sheryl Long

"It’s a great place to see our customers and other friendly faces," said Sheryl Long, global marketing communications manager for Rogers Corporation. "The traffic has been a little slow this year, but it’s a great place to meet everybody at one spot and to get together and talk about what’s going on in the industry.

IPC: Automotive Electronics Segment Exploding

Electronics are increasingly being used in the design of new vehicles, driving IPC activities in standards development to help the industry adapt to building electronics better for the automotive industry. At IPC APEX EXPO 2020 we saw an increase in automotive content throughout the show which also provided opportunities for automotive OEMs and Tier1 suppliers to network.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020: The I-Connect007 Photo Gallery

If you couldn’t make it to IPC APEX EXPO 2020 in San Diego, don’t worry. I-Connect007 was there to cover it all. From “A Night of Happy-ness” through tear-down, our reporters were on hand to document the entire week.

Not All Plating Lines Are Created Equal

Barry Matties and Happy Holden met with CEO Michael Ludy and CMO Sarah Großmann from Ludy, a company specializing in galvanic plating equipment for PCBs. This interview gives an overview of Ludy and their latest advancements in PCB plating equipment.


iNEMI: Emerging Technologies Driving Rapid Industry Development

During IPC APEX EXPO, Editor Joe Fjelstad spoke with Grace O'Malley, iNEMI's VP of technical and project operations, about the well-attended roadmap sessions and other iNEMI meetings taking place at the show. Topics covered included emerging applications and how these technologies are driving industry development across the board, and at a fast pace.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Show Week Time-lapse Video

It was a busy week at IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, and I-Connect007 was there to cover it all. From set-up to tear down, I-Connect007 captured a four-day time-lapse video of the show floor. We’d like to thank our good friends at MacDermid Alpha for letting us set up our camera in their booth.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020: Day 2 Review

Wednesday at IPC APEX EXPO drew a fairly steady stream of attendees to the show floor. Exhibitors we spoke with said the visitors were ready to spend some money. Almost everyone said their company was having a good quarter and experiencing slow but consistent growth year over year.

AT&S: Working With Designers on a Global Level

Barry Matties recently took a tour of AT&S’s Austrian factory, which is developing new circuit design strategies surrounding embedded and active components. Gerald Weis discusses the company’s focus on serving and educating PCB designers around the world, as well as their plans to embrace the latest technology and Industry 4.0 processes going forward.

Upcoming IPC APEX EXPO Offers Sessions on 5G

Dave Hoover of TTM discusses the Sessions @ the Intersection set for IPC APEX EXPO 2020—specifically, the two-part session he will host around the topic of 5G and materials.

IPC Solder Stencil Task Group—Inviting OEM Input to IPC APEX EXPO Meeting

Jeff Schake of ASM Assembly Systems is chairman of IPC’s Solder Stencil Task Group. In this conversation with Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties, Jeff discusses what they will be meeting about at the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO.

Residual/Free TBBPA in FR-4

Sergei Levchik describes how testing has shown that FR-4 printed circuit boards do not contain free or residual tetrabromobisohenol-A (TBBPA).

Nolan’s Notes: IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Preview

IPC APEX EXPO is here again. If you have followed our coverage in SMT007 and Design007, then you’re probably laser-focused on the upcoming show. We have been previewing IPC APEX EXPO all month, and we’re excited to pass that information along to you within these pages. Here’s what we learned.

EIPC Winter Conference: Business, Technology, and Community

Managing Editor Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Kristen Smit-Westerberg about the upcoming EIPC Winter Conference, February 13−14, 2020, in Rotterdam.

Four Reasons to Choose Polycapillary Optics for XRF Coatings Analysis

As electronic components continue to shrink and increase in complexity, metal finishes on these components need to be plated onto smaller features. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a widely used technique for measuring coating thickness and material composition. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a widely used technique for measuring coating thickness and material composition because it’s non-destructive, fast and straightforward to use.


CES: The Main Halls

CES 2020 is now over, and the next round of shows is underway (NAMM is also over now, IPC APEX EXPO is next week, followed by AWE and others). CES displayed electronics related to gaming, monitors, computers, smartwatches, TVs, vehicles, cellphones, etc. However, the effect on the industry and the way we live will be felt until the next CES. The largest and most influential participants are usually found at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Fresh Thinking on the Logistics of Laminate Distribution

Mark Goodwin, COO of Europe and the Americas for Ventec International Group, sits down with Barry Matties to explain his approach to supply chain management, efficient distribution, and maintaining definitive product identity at every stage.

IPC APEX EXPO Technical Session Preview

Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC technical conference program manager, previews the technical side of IPC APEX EXPO 2020, which includes the customary technical sessions, but also some new wrinkles like the fundamentals program and “sessions @ the intersection” to encourage more interaction.

IPC APEX EXPO Technical Conference, Featuring Fundamentals and the Intersection

IPC's Brook Sandy-Smith brings us a preview of the Technical Conference at IPC APEX EXPO 2020. In addition to the Sessions @ the Intersection and the Technical Conference, the Fundamentals Program is new at IPC APEX EXPO 2020. The program provides curated content for industry newcomers and anyone interested in a broader view through the many facets of electronics manufacturing. Attendees will learn important concepts, terminology, and background as preparation for the detailed content on new studies and technologies presented at the technical conference.

IPC APEX EXPO: Sessions @ the Intersection

In this short video, Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC’s technical conference program manager, explains how “the lntersection” will be a new meeting place In between this year's IPC APEX EXPO show floor and the technical conference available to attendees and the free sessions that are open to any registration type.

Logistics Are Frank Lorentz’s Passion

Recently, Barry Matties had the chance to visit Ventec International Group’s German facility in Kirchheimbolanden (KIBO), where he met Frank Lorentz, Ventec’s general manager for the location. Logistics are clearly Frank’s passion. He lives and breathes it. If you spend any amount of time with him, that is abundantly clear. This interview with Frank was conducted after a tour of the KIBO site.

CES Slideshow: The Future Is Now

During the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the I-Connect007 Editorial Team met with some of the industry's top executives, managers, and engineers. Enjoy this slideshow from CES week.

CES 2020 Automotive: The Future Looks Like a Box

CES week has been true to the themes set forth by Steve Koenig on Sunday, and having spent most of Wednesday in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center—the automotive pavilion—I can say that Koenig was right: the electric vehicle has reached an inflection point. And along with electric propulsion came autonomous operation.

Heading Into 2020 With Isola

Barry Matties recently spoke with Isola’s Travis Kelly, who has moved from acting CEO into the position of president and CEO. Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Sean Mirshafiei also joins the conversation as they share an update on the progress on the company’s new Arizona factory, as well as their views on the markets and technology trends.

UV-curable Materials and Conformal Coatings

Pete Starkey and Phil Kinner, global business and technical director, coatings division, Electrolube, discuss the characteristics and benefits of the company’s new UV-cured conformal coatings. Phil also describes the development of coatings for critical avionics applications and Electrolube’s collaboration with the U.K. National Physical Laboratory to establish a new condensation test.


Insulectro Works to Bridge the Fabricator/Designer Gap

Barry Matties sat down with Insulectro’s Megan Teta and Mike Creeden to discuss trends they see in the materials market and how they’re working to bridge the gap between fabrication and design, including helping designers understand what they can do to make a board more manufacturable.

The Viability of a Cyanide-free Immersion Gold Bath

The Tianjin chemical blast in August 2015 sensitized the Chinese authorities to the use of cyanide in production. As a consequence, the authorities have introduced licensing with regard to the use of cyanide. In turn, this has motivated Chinese PCB manufacturers to ask suppliers for a competent cyanide-free immersion gold solution (CNF Au).

The ICT 2019 Christmas Seminar

Since 2016, the Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) has held its northern area Christmas seminar at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate—the elegant and historic English spa town in North Yorkshire. Pete Starkey provides an overview of this popular ICT event.

Designing for Complex PCBs

The I-Connect007 editorial team sat down with Freedom CAD’s Scott Miller to talk about the industry’s demand for more increasingly complex PCBs, and the challenges this presents. They also discuss Freedom CAD’s in-house training programs, the company’s recent book authored by Scott, and why communication is such an important tool in a PCB designer’s toolbox.

AltiumLive Frankfurt 2019: Happy Holden Keynote

Nobody left early! Altium had wisely kept Happy Holden’s keynote presentation on “PCB Trends that Will Impact Your Future” until the end of the final day of the AltiumLive 2019 European PCB Design Summit in Frankfurt, Germany. Pete Starkey presents the highlights of Happy's presentation.

Electra Polymers: Inkjet Soldermask is Ready, Reliable and Green

Editor Pete Starkey and Tibbals discuss Electra Polymers’ move into the inkjet soldermask market, and some of the challenges and benefits of this technology. Tibbals explains how inkjet soldermask can enable end-users to improve reliability of the final product, for instance, because this additive process allows manufacturers to control the thickness of soldermask around vias and BGAs and eliminating trapped chemistry in undercut areas.

Indium Discusses New Materials and Plans for 2020

Editor Nolan Johnson sits down with Nash and Mackie to discuss Indium’s focus on creating innovative products for the 5G, automotive, semiconductor, and high-reliability segments. Mackie offers a preview of Indium’s plans for 2020 and beyond, including lead-free drop-in sintering materials that can be dispensed and printed more quickly than ever before.

Conductivity Laminate for High-frequency Applications

Editor Pete Starkey and Vitali Judin discuss how Rogers Corporation has responded to demands for high thermal conductivity combined with low loss in high-power RF applications with the newly launched. The PTFE-based TC350 Plus is capable of handling temperatures above 125°C and draws upon Rogers’ long experience with the TC350 material line-up.

Calumet Electronics and Averatek Team Up on A-SAP

Nolan Johnson talks with Brian Hess of Calumet Electronics and Mike Vinson of Averatek about the new, insertable additive processes that the companies are working on together to help factories running primarily subtractive processes to quickly convert to very high-density interconnect (HDI) features, including trace and space from 2.5-mil line and space to 1-mil line and space and below.

Decreasing Bend Radius and Improving Reliability- Part II

Many of the issues that arise when using a flex circuit come from a lack of knowledge about how to properly design one, especially when the circuit is required to bend. Many novices will design a circuit that calls for bending the flex in too tight of a bend radius, which can cause damage to the circuit and lower the reliability of the end product. This series of articles will focus on the seven key aspects to consider when designing for maximum durability and maximum “flexibility.”


Flex Standards Update With Nick Koop

This month, I interviewed Nick Koop—director of flex technology at TTM Technologies, a veteran “flex guy” and instructor, and a leader of several IPC flex standards committees. Nick provides an update for the committees he’s involved with and discusses some of the challenges that he sees as more designers enter the world of flex.

Multilayer Press Technology Using Magnetism to Produce Lamination Heat

A revolutionary concept in multilayer press technology has been developed that uses electromagnetic energy to heat the existing stainless-steel separator plates with a never-before dreamed-of accuracy and precision. The heating and cooling systems—embedded within a robust hydraulic press inside a vacuum chamber design—are controlled using a temperature feedback loop that guarantees perfect fidelity between the press recipe and the press result.

Communication, Part 6: The Importance of Technology Fit

In the final installment of this series on how PCB fabricators and designers can better communicate, Bob Chandler from CA Design and Mark Thompson from Prototron Circuits discuss the importance of “technology fit” and how this concept impacts the synergy of the two parties involved.

Solder Mask Tack Dry

As a general rule, the tack-dry temperature should be as low as possible; in other words, it should only be as high as necessary. If the temperature is too low, the evaporation rate for the solvent will be to slow, and the solder mask will not dry in a reasonable amount of time. If the temperature is too high, however, the dry time certainly will be excellent, but it could create a solder mask lock-in with repercussions by the developing time.

Why Does the PCB Industry Still Use Gerber?

Every so often, I hear technologists ask why so many PCB designers still use Gerber. That is a fair question. Ucamco has over 35 years of experience in developing and supporting cutting-edge software and hardware solutions for the global PCB industry. Our customers—small, medium, and large PCB fabricators—include the electronics industry’s leading companies, and many of them have been with us for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our industry and excellence in everything we do, which includes our custodianship of the Gerber format.
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