Article Highlights
I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
10/30/2020 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Gardien on the Right Track With New ERP System
10/29/2020 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Real Time with… AltiumLive Europe: If You Don’t Know How It’s Made, How Can You Possibly Design It?
10/26/2020 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
EIPC Technical Snapshot: Automotive Technology
10/19/2020 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
I-Connect007 Editor's Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
10/16/2020 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007

Latest Articles

Randy Burcham Discusses New Techniques for BOM, Daughterboards

During AltiumLive, I spoke with IOTA Engineering's Randy Burcham, who taught several classes during the event. He explained his methodology for filtering BOM data as well as his new approach to working with daughterboards and how he was up and running on Altium tools after only three days.

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.

Upcoming 2019 Trade Show Season in the USA

A look back at Dan Feinberg's predictions made a year ago, and a preview of what we might see at CES 2019 along with some new projections. CES—the first, largest, and most influential and predictive of global electronics trends of this group of trade shows.

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!

Successful Flex Circuit Design and Processing Guidelines

With the use of sensors and technology in everything from mobile phones to refrigerators, automobiles, and wearable medical devices, circuit boards are a component in many different types of products. In today’s world of electronics, any product with an on-off switch contains a circuit board.

Tarja Rapala-Virtanen Discusses Appointment as EIPC Technical Director

Tarja Rapala-Virtanen discusses her role as the newly appointed technical director of EIPC, Michael Weinhold’s retirement and impact on her career, and the draw and success of EIPC conferences.

Words of Advice: Streamlining Your Design Process

In a recent Design007 Survey, we asked the following question: What would help you streamline your design process? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Schmoll and Burkle: Lasers and Drills for GreenSource

While at GreenSource Fabrication, Burkle Automation Technology’s Dave Howard introduced me to the Schmoll equipment as well as other items that Burkle installed at the facility. One unit of great interest was the Impex inspection machine which can do sophisticated non-destructive cross-sections using a very fine fiber probe.

Mentor Discusses New DFT, DFM, and Design Verification Tools

At electronica 2018, John McMillan, digital marketing program manager-Electronic Board Systems, and Mark Laing, business development manager-Valor Division of Mentor, a Siemens business, discuss new tools for PCB design verification, as well as design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for testing (DFT).

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.

New Designers Council Column: The Digital Layout

The IPC Designers Council is launching a new column in Design007 Magazine: “The Digital Layout.” I recently asked two IPC Designers Council (DC) Executive Board members, Mike Creeden and Stephen Chavez, to discuss the content and objective of their new column, and how this all ties in with the DC.

Meet All Flex’s New President and CEO Matt Keithly

All Flex Flexible Circuits and Heaters recently appointed Matt Keithly as their new president and CEO. In this exclusive interview, Keithly discusses his background, the direction of the company, and topics related to flexible circuits and other areas of All Flex’s business.

Stephen Chavez: Breaking the Design Data Bottleneck

When we started planning this issue on design data, I knew we’d have to speak with PCB designer and EPTAC design instructor Steph Chavez. In this interview, he explains some of the biggest issues related to good design data handoff, and he offers some ways forward.

Design Data: File Naming Conventions

Working for an EMS provider, I am often asked to make sense of customers’ PCB design data packages that must be audited for completeness and manufacturability. Quite often, EMS operations receive data to produce a PCB design and begin the auditing process, only to be called off due to customer changes. Sometimes the data is incomplete, or it is missing one or more of the data files required to fabricate the PCB at the supplier. There are also occasions where a customer has sent files that were supposed to be the updated version but were not changed at all.

Innovative PCB Processes are Lean and Green

Not much has changed in printed circuit multilayer manufacturing in the last 50 years except that the equipment is more mechanized and streamlined, the processes much more stable, and high-volume PCB manufacturing has moved to China.


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.

Life Beyond 10 Gbps: Localize or Fail!

Ideally, all interconnects should look like uniform transmission lines (or wave-guiding structures) with the specified characteristic impedance. In reality, an interconnect link is typically composed of transmission lines of different types (microstrip, strip, coplanar, coaxial, etc.) and transitions between them such as vias, connectors, breakouts and so on. Transmission lines may be coupled to each other that cause crosstalk. The transitions may reflect and radiate energy due to discontinuities in signal and reference conductors. The crosstalk, reflections and radiation cause unwanted and sometime unpredictable signal degradation.

150+ Years of Experience: Reflections with Three Industry Icons

You would be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable and experienced group than that of Gary Ferrari, Gene Weiner, and Happy Holden. In a brief interview with Barry Matties, these three industry icons consider the past, present, and future state of electronics manufacturing while also offering advice to the newest generation of manufacturers.

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.

Strategies to Manage Your China Business Through Turbulence

While the United States may be the world’s most open market, China remains the most competitive, and is still viewed by most U.S. and EU companies as the "last great opportunity for growth.” Many companies want to gain entry to the Chinese market share for their products or services. Thus, the competition for sales of products or services is correspondingly intense. Here's how to succeed in the world's second largest economy.

Increasing Productivity for Flex Fabricators

Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson of I-Connect007 met with Shane Noel and industry veteran Mike Jennings of ESI to discuss the introduction of their CapStone laser tool, a product aimed at doubling their flex circuit fabricators’ throughput. Mike also shares advice for fabricators who are looking to move into the ever-growing flex market.

RTW SMTAI: LiloTree's Shah Discusses Hyper Corrosion, Black Pad in ENIG

Dr. Kunal Shah, chief scientist and president of LiloTree, talks about the major issues in ENIG, such as hyper corrosion—which can be very benign, or very extreme, resulting to black pad—and how LiloTree is helping to improve the performance and efficiency of the ENIG finish processes.

IPC Workforce Pledge Draws White House Praise, Points the Way to Jobs of the Future

President Trump kicked off the workforce challenge to U.S. businesses in July. As a longtime leader in education and training within the electronics industry, IPC took it as an opportunity to review our existing programs and identify ways to grow and innovate. The result? IPC joined the Pledge to America’s Workers by promising to create new career opportunities for at least 1 million Americans in the electronics industry.

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.

Cadence Presents New Software System and Technical Papers at PCB West 2018

During PCB West 2018, I spoke with Dan Fernsebner, product marketing group director, and Hemant Shah, product management group director for enterprise PCB products, both with Cadence Design Systems, about their new software launch—DesignTrue DFM Ecosystem. Fernsebner and Shah also address recent technical papers from Cadence on Industry 4.0, IPC-2581, system-level design, and return-path analysis and management.


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.

Catching up with... HSIO Technologies President James Rathburn

Dan Beaulieu checked in with HSIO Technologies President James Rathburn recently to see what he and his team are up to and learned how they are using liquid crystal polymers and other materials to focus on increasing high-speed and high-density PCBs for uses in all markets.

Powering the Flexible World

From 2019 we will come to a world with flexible electronics and batteries to power these devices have attracted tremendous attention. These devices may require batteries with special mechanical properties or form factors.

IPC Signs White House Pledge to the American Worker

IPC has signed the President’s Pledge to the American Worker and made a commitment to create at least 1 million new training and workforce development opportunities in the electronics industry over the next five years.

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.

Catching up With Scott McCurdy and Freedom CAD

During PCB West, Scott McCurdy of Freedom CAD Services sat down with Technical Editor Tim Haag for an interview. We discussed Freedom CAD’s latest news, some trends in PCB design software tools, and the continuing need to draw more young people into a career in PCB design.

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.

Darwin E. George: Seeking PCB Design Job at Retirement Age

Some of us dream of living a life of leisure at 70. But not Darwin E. George. This septuagenarian wants to find a job designing PCBs. We met up with Darwin at AltiumLive, where he was networking and trying to get his foot in the door with one of the companies that are hiring now. Darwin told us about his career in PCB design, his experience learning a new EDA tool, and why he would rather design high-speed PCBs instead of playing shuffleboard for the rest of his life.

Flex Talk: 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.


RTW SMTAI: MacDermid's Lenora Clark Talks Automotive Electronics Trends

Lenora Clark, director for end-user applications at MacDermid, discusses some of the trends happening in the automotive electronics industry. She talks about how her company is educating their customers in the automotive electronics sector on the available technologies in other markets such as military and aerospace, telecommunications—even the handheld market—and how they can adopt these technologies in their industry.

Mentor and TEXMAC Takaya Team up to Optimize DFT

At SMTAI, Mark Laing of Mentor, a Siemens Business, and Dave Levine of TEXMAC Takaya, sat down with Editor Nolan Johnson to discuss design for test, and their collaboration to improve DFT in PCB design tools and test machinery. They also traced the evolution of DFT over the past decade as it has begun to "left-shift" farther into the realm of the designer, all the way up to schematic entry.

RTW SMTAI: John Mitchell Updates on IPC's Education Efforts

Dr. John Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC, sits down with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson to discuss IPC's recent work in education and workforce engagement, as well as the latest developments in their certification program.

RTW SMTAI: NCAB Discusses Its Sustainability Programs

Doug Drayer, General Manager, Central Region, at NCAB Group, details the company's three-pronged sustainability programs and ISO 26000. He also talks about the company’s recent successful listing in the Stockholm Stock Exchange, and the importance of working with the customers especially during the design process.

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.

The Changing Shape of the HDI Market

With more mobile device designers looking to utilize the benefits of FOWLP and other direct attach package types, a new generation of HDI PCBs is already in the market. Targeting less than 30 mm features and based on mSAP techniques, these substrate-like PCBs make use of the latest high-end manufacturing processes and materials, to enable the next evolution in advanced HDI boards.

Cadence: Bullish on AI

David White has been involved with artificial intelligence research for almost 30 years. Now, David is the senior group director of R&D for Cadence Design Systems, and I knew we’d have to speak with him for this issue on AI. In a recent interview, we discussed his decades of work in AI, Cadence’s research into AI and machine learning, and what he believes AI could mean for the EDA tools of the future.

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.

GP Ventures’ Tom Kastner on PCB Mergers and Acquisitions

Tom Kastner, president of GP Ventures, he has his finger on the pulse of the industry's mergers and acquisitions (M&A) more than anyone. In this interview, Kastner provides insights on the right time to buy, how to evaluate your company's worth, and when it is too late.

Defense Speak Interpreted: Defense Electronic Supply Chain Issues

On October 5, 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) highlighted issues with the release of the 146-page report “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States” from President Donald J. Trump.


Sunshine Global Circuits Discusses its Rapid, Targeted Growth

In an interview with I-Connect007, Jimmy Fang, VP of business development at Sunshine Global PCB Group, speaks about the key demand drivers for the PCB industry, the challenges in the market, and the opportunities they are seeing.

AltiumLive 2018 a Mecca for PCB Designers

AltiumLive 2018 San Diego is now in the history books. This is the second annual AltiumLive (North America), and it was even better than the first. With nearly 300 hundred participants, from all parts of the country and industry, the event was a huge success.

What's FLITE About? An Old Man's Observations

FLITE—Female Leaders in Tech, Everywhere—aims to raise the visibility of females in technology, manufacturing, and engineering by celebrating their achievements and learning from their experiences. I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey sit in on FLITE's networking event at the recent What's New in Electronics (WNIE) Live show to find out more about this enterprise, which turned out to be an inspirational eye-opener.

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?

Artificial Intelligence: More Questions than Answers

I’ve been covering artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies for years, particularly at events such as the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). As I write this, we are in the run-up to CES 2019, and the Artificial Intelligence Conference in San Francisco, so the AI landscape is likely to change—at an ever-accelerating rate. Let’s look at some of the challenges facing AI now, and then after CES 2019 we can take another look.

Moving From 28 Gbps NRZ to 56 Gbps PAM-4: Is it a Free Lunch?

The usual way of signaling through PCB interconnects is a two-level pulse, an encoding of 1s and 0s or bits, named NRZ (non-return-to-zero) or PAM-2 line code type. Increasing the data rate with the NRZ code type presents some obstacles. For a 28 Gbps NRZ signal, the bit time is about 35.7 ps with the main spectral lobe below 28 GHz. For a 56 Gbps NRZ signal, the bit time is about 17. 86 ps, with the main spectral lobe below 56 GHz. One can feel the problem already: Getting PCB interconnect analysis and measurements up to 56 GHz and beyond is very challenging, to say the least.

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.”

From Trend to Game Changer: Which Technology Will Make the Cut?

At the recent EIPC Summer Conference, Hans Friedrichkeit of the PCB Network gave an engaging presentation on artificial intelligence and future technologies, which was well received by attendees. Who better than Hans to offer insight on which future megatrends might truly become game changers? Publisher Barry Matties sat down with Hans to get his take on trends such as 5G, autonomous cars and 3D printing.

Managing the Challenges of Flex and Rigid-Flex Design

PCB designers working with flex or rigid-flex technology face many potential risks that can derail a project and cause costly design failures. As the name implies, flex and rigid-flex designs comprise a combination of rigid and flexible board technologies made up of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates, attached internally and/or externally to one or more rigid boards. These combinations provide flexibility for the PCB designer working on dense designs that require a specific form factor. Rigid-flex allows the PCB design team to cost-efficiently apply greater functionality to a smaller volume of space, while providing the mechanical stability required by most applications.


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.

Reliability Takes on a New Urgency

Consumers wanted a reliable car that wouldn’t break down on the road; a computer that wouldn’t crash; a phone network that wouldn’t drop our calls; the plane we were hurtling across the sky in to stay in the air and land safely, with the wheels down. In retrospect, those seem rather simple wants, and the industry certainly wants to deliver.

Atotech on Challenges and Opportunities in PCB Manufacturing

Abel Ruivo, Atotech Deputy Business Director of Electronics for Greater China, and Daniel Schmidt, head of Global Marketing for Electronics at Atotech Group, spoke with I-Connect007 about the various challenges of PCB manufacturing in China, as well as about the opportunities in the sector.

BGA Fanout Routing Overview

PCB developers are deluged with new challenges caused by increasing density and smaller components. Ball grid arrays (BGAs) create particular challenges during layout, with hundreds of connections in just a few square centimeters. Fortunately, designers now have options for addressing these issues.

The Sum of All Parts: Factors of Reliability

A popular definition of reliability is “The quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well.” Upfront engineering is of utmost importance in developing a design that will endure its intended life cycle. On the other hand, the manufacturing of that design is just as critical.

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.

Thermal Capabilities of Solder Masks: How High Can We Go?

This article focuses on three different coating material groups that were formulated to operate under high thermal stress and are applied at the printed circuit board manufacturing level. While used for principally different applications, these coatings have in common that they can be key to a successful thermal management concept especially in e-mobility and lighting applications.

Circuit Automation on the Ever-Evolving World of Solder Mask

In a recent conference call, I-Connect007 editorial team was joined by Circuit Automation’s Yuki Kojima, VP of engineering; Larry Lindland, sales and applications manager; and Tom Meeker, CEO, for a lively discussion about solder mask. Spoiler: It’s not all about the equipment.


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.

IMPACT on DIVSYS and NWSC Crane

I-Connect007's Patty Goldman has known DIVSYS’ Stan Bentley for many years, having met when the company was called Diversified Systems and they made circuit boards and finished products at their facility in Indianapolis. They saw each other at IMPACT recently, and of course had to have a chat.

Solder Mask: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

For the July 2018 issue of PCB007 magazine, I-Connect007's editing team met with Electra Polymers’ Shaun Tibbals and Antony Earl to discuss what’s new with solder mask, including direct imaging and inkjet printing of solder mask, and what PCB manufacturers and OEMs need to know.

In With the New at Cadence

The next generation of PCB designers is coming—slowly, but surely. What will this new group of designers mean for EDA vendors like Cadence Design Systems? Andy Shaughnessy recently interviewed Dan Fernsebner, product marketing group director and a veteran EDA guy, and Bryan LaPointe, lead product engineer and representative of the younger generation. They discussed the next generation of PCB designers, some of the best ways to draw smart young people into this industry, and why the PCB designers of the future may need to have a college degree just to get an interview.

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.
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