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Key Considerations When Choosing a Contract Manufacturer

Selecting a contract electronic manufacturer has traditionally involved a search overseas for the right compan--often in China or elsewhere in the Far East. Increasing labor and shipping costs are rendering the use of CEMs in the Far East less attractive, and a "Made in USA" approach is resonating positively in all sectors of the global economy.

Graphite-based Direct Metallization for Fabrication of Complex Interconnect Designs

According to author Michael Carano, colloidal graphite direct metallization processes have proven their usefulness as a replacement for electroless copper. Continuous improvements in the stability of the graphite dispersion has made the process an enabler for flex and HDI interconnect designs.

Cutting-edge Materials & Solutions from Aismalibar

Jeff Brandman, president, North America for Aismalibar, joins Guest Editor Mark Thompson to discuss a new line, Cobritherm HTC Ultra Thin, which features a 35-micron dielectric. He also talks about a new diamond-coated router that allows routing as fast as FR-4 and a 200 to 400% increase in productivity.

Bay Area Circuits: 39 Years and Still Growing

Stephen Garcia, president of Bay Area Circuits, joins Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu to discuss the longevity of his company--started by his grandfather in 1975, a move into a new facility in Freemont, California, and the drive to provide excellent customer service and fast turnarounds--some even the same day.

From Single-sided to HDI: The "Three Phone Call Method" Works

Author Dan Smith writes, "One experiences both extreme joy and anxiety when watching a prototype PCB being powered up for the first time. The test bench surrounding the new board resembles an operating room, with probes attached everywhere to an array of oscilloscopes, multimeters, and other indicators. The silence is broken by this electrical engineer when he erupts with the exclamation, "Wow! The circuit works!"

Modern Marketing Strategies with Omni PCB

Tara Dunn, president of Omni PCB, joins Guest Editor Judy Warner to discuss her company's marketing strategy to increase customer interaction through "Coffee Talks," a quick, fast resource where she sits down with industry experts to talk about materials selection, surface finishes, new materials, rigid-flex design, and much more.

Lead-free Reflow for High-layer-count PCBs

One of the most difficult printed circuit boards to adapt to Pb-free assembly processes is the high-layer count multilayer. Often, these multilayers have through-hole and hand-soldered components, and requirements for two or more rework cycles. One solution to this problem is to redesign the multilayer using current design rules and newer innovative fabrication technologies.

Lead-free Reflow for High-layer-count PCBs

One of the most difficult printed circuit boards to adapt to Pb-free assembly processes is the high-layer count multilayer. Often, these multilayers have through-hole and hand-soldered components, and requirements for two or more rework cycles. One solution to this problem is to redesign the multilayer using current design rules and newer innovative fabrication technologies.

Dave Sommervold on Thermal Substrate Materials Standards

Bergquist Company's Engineering Manager Dave Sommervold discusses the need for standards addressing thermal substrate materials and fabrication. He is part of a task group working on IPC-4105, a metal-based laminate standard, and IPC-6012, a metal-based addendum. The group is also in the process of creating thermal performance testing standards which will also address dielectric performance.

Kosmowski Demos Interdyne's New K6 Flying Wing Machine

Recently, PCB007 had the opportunity to visit Wojciech Kosmowski, CTO and chief designer of Interdyne's impressive new K6 Flying Wing drilling machine. He has been focused on improving machine dynamics to significantly increase productivity. His effort resulted in a unique new machine architecture, which he demonstrates in this video.


Testing Todd: Seven Tips for Choosing the Right Test Service

Do you need to go outside your company for your testing service? Maybe you have capacity issues, maybe your equipment is down, or maybe you just want an established back-up plan? Whatever the reason, it is very important to choose the right outside testing service because, ultimately, you're not just choosing an objective service provider; you're choosing a partner.

UL and Standards: Faster, Less Expensive

Doug Sober, IPC Hall of Fame member and standards engineer at Shengyi Technology, the largest copper-clad laminate maker in the world, joins Guest Editor Dan Feinberg to discuss time-to-market and the concerns over the cost of listing a copper-clad laminate and what the IPC's UL Task Group is doing to address these issues.

Why Procuring Flexible Printed Circuitry is Different

Flexible printed circuit (FPC) specifications and quality controls tend to be too tight; FPC is, by nature, a flexible, easily formed product of thin sheets of plastic film and metal foils bonded together with flexibilized adhesives. It is not carved out of billets of metal in a machine shop and it is not reasonable to assign thousandths-of-an-inch tolerances to every dimension.

Advanced Coatings & Surface Preps from Uyemura USA

Don Walsh, director of operations at Uyemura USA, joins Guest Editor Kelly Dack to discuss his company's finishing technology solutions, including PCB finishes, ENIG, ENEPIG, ENEG, ENAG, and much more. The company has just installed its first Nanofics system in Connecticut for plasma work and is ready to produce sample parts.

Change Your DAM Thinking: Is Your DAM Job Killing You?

"The first step in getting better is to admit to the root reality of the true problem. The reality is our jobs have become so demanding and complex that even if we had superhuman powers we would not be able to satisfy everyone all of the time. We likely fail in some way every single week (a multitude of times) or maybe even every single day (at least once)," writes columnist Gray McQuarrie.

IPC Printed Electronics Standards Update

Josh Goldberg, marketing specialist with Taiyo America, joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss specialty materials in printed electronics and how they are being applied to new technologies. Goldberg is also chair of the IPC Printed Electronics Committee and talks about the association's work to define materials, substrates, design and testing rules, and more.

Rex Rozario: A History of Graphic PLC and the PCB Industry

CEO and founder of UK-based Graphic PLC Rex Rozario joins Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu to discuss his beginnings in the electronics industry in 1953, the creation of Graphic PLC, and the fact that his company is the only surviving original PCB fabricator left in the UK. Rozario also discusses working with Dr. Paul Eisler to develop the plated through-hole and flush bonding.

Design for Excellence and "Creovation"

The goal of the innovation process is to create value and minimize failure by truly understanding the customer and markets and by not creating a solution in search of a problem. So how does this tie into design for excellence (DFX)?

IPC APEX EXPO Panel Discussion: Has Offshoring Lost Its Luster?

Don't miss today's featured panel discussion, "Has Offshoring Lost its Luster?" Moderator Steve Williams is joined by panelists Dan Beaulieu of DB Management and Joe Fjelstad of Verdant Electronics.

Panel Discussion: Has Outsourcing Lost its Luster?

Moderator Steve Williams joins panelists Dan Beaulieu of D.B. Management and Joe Fjelstad, founder and president of Verdant Electronics, for the Prototron Circuits-sponsored IPC APEX EXPO 2014 panel, "Has Outsourcing Lost its Luster?" The group discusses the changes happening in the electronics industry and the reasons companies are making their way back to the United States.


It's Only Common Sense: Things Are Looking Up

Looking around our industry lately, I sense that it's changing right before our very eyes. I've seen evidence in the past several months that things are changing and, for the most part, changing for the better.

Panel Discussion: What's New in Flex?

Moderator Joe Fjelstad, founder of Verdant Electronics, joins panelists Al Wasserzug, senior business development manager at Cirexx, and Michael Jawitz, a member of the Research and Technical Group at Boeing, for The PCB List-sponsored IPC APEX EXPO 2014 panel, "What's New in Flex?" The group discusses flex opportunities in the U.S., new industry applications, and much more.

NCAB Expands U.S. Presence, Acquires M-Wave

One of the world's largest suppliers of PCBs, NCAB Group, has acquired 100% of M-Wave International, LLC's PCB Division. Bob Duke, former president of M-Wave's PCB Division, commented, "Being selected by NCAB to be a part of their U.S. team is a great compliment. As the PCB supply market continues to evolve, I felt this was an excellent time for M-Wave to expand its resources."

Kolmodin on Testing and New PCB Mag Column

Todd Kolmodin, Gardien Group's vice president of quality, joins Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu to discuss his newest venture: A monthly column for The PCB Magazine called "Testing Todd." Kolmodin encourages readers to challenge his ideas and solutions; to write in and give opinions or suggest column topics for future issues.

EPTE Newsletter from Japan: Anytime, Everywhere

Ten years ago it was difficult to find WiFi service in public areas throughout Japan. Nowadays, we can find WiFi signals in almost any public place, including airports, train stations, hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, and more. WiFi service is now even offered on airplanes!

OEM Press Systems: New CEO, New Technology

CEO Rob Henderson and Sales Manager Mary Quinlan of OEM Press Systems join Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss the company's improved process control capability to give engineers better data collection and database integration--everything an engineer needs to control the PCB lamination process.

AT&S Continues Growth; FY2013/14 Sales Up 9%

The company's sales for the financial year 2013/14 reached EUR 590 million, an increase of approximately 9% on the previous year's total. "I am delighted that we have been able to achieve consistent growth and continuous improvements in our profitability in a challenging economic environment over the past few years," explained CEO Andreas Gerstenmayer.

Drilling Systems Reinvented

Mike Jennings, vice president of Interdyne Systems, joins Guest Editor Kelly Dack to discuss his company's reinvention of the drilling machine. He argues that systems developed 25 years ago just won't cut it with today's technology. Interdyne began the process by adapting a technique of building a wing from the aerospace industry to create the Flying Wing.

Dick Crowe Hands Reins to New Burkle CEO

Chairman Dick Crowe and President Helfried Weinzerl of Burkle join Guest Editor Dan Feinberg to discuss Crowe's "retirement" after 30 years in the industry and Weinzerl's move from the capital equipment industry to PCB electronics. Crowe is confident in the transition and excited for the future of the company.

The Impact of Miniaturization on Fab Processes

Brian Nelson, NPI Manager at Sanmina, joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss the impact of miniaturization on fabrication. He reveals that the small parts are not what's stressing the system--it's ball grid array. Nelson suggests that subtractive processes will eventually have to give way to additive processes to find success.


LinkedIn Changes Everything for B2B Sales

LinkedIn is a database of all--or so close to all that it makes no difference--of the B2B prospects that a company would want to know about. Every customer is there along with clues on how to address them.

IPC India Planing May APEX EXPO

David Bergman, vice president of international relations at IPC, and A. Vijayendra, managing director of IPC India, join Guest Editor Dick Crowe to discuss the creation of the association in 2010 and the upcoming APEX India, May 19-22, 2014, in Bangalore. Vijayendra and his team take global programs and finds ways to tailor them for local demand and education.

Thermally Conductive Substrates & Thermal Management

Ventec's Ian Mayoh reviews the status of thermally conductive printed circuit substrate options in terms of performance, construction and processing, and future developments. With particular reference to insulated metal cored substrates, he explores the mechanical, thermal performance, and cost considerations when selecting an appropriate IMS material for a particular application.

Sustainability: What and Why?

Joe Fjelstad writes, "The resources of our planet are limited and thus are diminishing as we continue to unleash and ramp-up a seemingly never-ending flow of products to both serve and amuse us with output of the global electronics industry likely to be nearing the top of the list of 'offenders.' In that regard, we are becoming victims of our own success, to one degree or another."

Ultra-flat, No-Profile ED Copper Foils for High-speed Digital PCBs

As our planet becomes more interconnected, the infrastructure needed to capture and work with increasing amounts of data must respond and deliver faster results. To cope with an increased demand for improved resin systems with better electrical properties, many new dielectrics have already been introduced to the market, and many others are at their final development stage.

Book Review: Delight Your Customers

Dan Beaulieu writes, "I'm a sucker for books about customer service. I look for and read them every chance I get and this is one of the better ones, especially when you take into consideration how well written and organized it is."

Social Media 101: Eight Website Questions Answered

For now, forget Twitter and Facebook. Forget YouTube and LinkedIn. Forget Google Plus and Pinterest. Forget Slideshare. The absolute first thing you need to succeed in social media is a good website.

The Impact of Miniaturization on Fab Processes

Brian Nelson, new product introduction manager at Sanmina Corporation, joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to talk about how BGAs are "stressing the system." Nelson says miniaturization stresses the dimensional limitations of what can be done in a subtractive process. He says additive process will be the future.

thePCBlist: A Global Directory for PCB Manufacturing

Patty Goldman, project manager for thePCBlist, joins Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu to discuss the benefits of this global directory. Work on building thePCBlist started two years ago and the project went live just nine months later. The directory now features detailed information for 1,900 PCB manufacturers. OEMs, designers, EMS providers, and more use the list to find the perfect manufacturer to fit their needs.

Ventec USA Prepares for Growth

Technical Editor Pete Starkey writes, "IPC APEX EXPO 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada, gave me the opportunity to catch up with Ventec USA President Jack Pattie and to meet the recently-appointed General Manager of the Ventec Fullerton Southern California facility Ray Young. The pair also gave an update on current developments and future company plans."


Using Flex in High-Speed Applications

This article from DuPont's Glenn Oliver, focuses on flexible circuit technology; specifically, the material properties that account for the broader use of flexible circuits in high-frequency and high-speed applications.

Make The Most of High-Frequency Laminates with Resistive Foil

Resistive foils can reduce the discrete component device count, free up real estate, and improve assembly processes. Many high-frequency circuit applications rely on resistive foils as termination resistors for transmission lines or matching resistors for power dividers. Planar resistor technology offers many advantages compared to alternative resistor technologies.

Vern Solberg Gives IPC-7092 Embedded Standard Update

Industry expert and long-time IPC Technical Committee Member Vern Solberg joins Guest Editor Dick Crowe to discuss embedded component technology and IPC-7092, a standard that began life three years ago as a way to give designers and manufacturers better guidance on how to develop a board with embedded technology.

The Application of Spherical Bend Testing to Predict Safe Working Manufacturing Process Strains

The authors describe an extensive "Spherical Bend Test" program to assess lead-free compatible materials and area array packages. This work has confirmed "pad crater/pad lift" as the dominant failure mode in lead-free materials in agreement with observations from multiple streams of field returned product.

PCB Auditing at the Next Level

Rob Scott, president of Next Level PCB, joins Guest Editor Kelly Dack to discuss measuring the capabilities of suppliers to ensure companies are getting what they pay for. Scott says a true in-depth audit involves a personal visit to investigate processes, procedures, certification, and much more.

IPC, ITI to Address Environmental Compliance Requirements

IPC and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) will host a series of seminars on "Critical and Emerging Environmental Product Requirements" this May. The seminars, to be held in the Boston, Silicon Valley, Phoenix, and Chicago areas, will feature well-known United Kingdom regulators, Steve Andrews and Chris Smith.

Laminate Technical Support for OEM Designers from Isola

Richard Pangier, senior director for OEM marketing at Isola, joins Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad to discuss how his company has a dedicated group to help OEMs and designers figure out material options to address thermal reliability and signal integrity test needs. Isola also works with fabricators to make sure its laminate materials are easy to process and ready for next-generation designs.

Key Factors Influencing Laminate Material Selection for Today's PCBs

Recently, a flurry of new and promising laminate materials have entered the market, coming from the four corners of the world. Sanmina's Steve Iketani and Brian Nelson offer their take on materials, from FR-4 to low-Df/Dk laminates, and much more.

Sticking to His Roots Earns Carano IPC Hall of Fame Nod

"The president of my company said I should get involved with IPC, so I went to a TMRC meeting," Mike Carano said. "I thought it was the coolest thing, it was a great place to network and the view of things happening around the world that influenced our business was really something. I got information that would have cost thousands of dollars and taken days of effort if I could have found it at all."

Sunstone on New Initiatives and Lean Focus

Matt Stevenson, marketing manager at Sunstone Circuits, joins Editor Ray Rasmussen to discuss the company's new initiatives: A new, upgraded website; easier quoting and an on-time guarantee; and new equipment at its facility. He reports that six employees have graduated a college-based Lean leadership academy allowing for a reduction in waste and a savings of nearly $100K a year.


Smart Data Transfer Formats Automate CAM/CAD Design to Fabrication

With ever-increasing functionality, density, and complexity, fabricators and assembly houses must look for new ways to meet demands for high quality and on-time delivery. Because the data transfer process has a lot of manual input, human errors often creep into the process. Fabricators estimate that about one-quarter of all Gerber file sets received have errors of one form or another.

Mike Carano Inducted Into IPC Hall of Fame

A long-standing IPC volunteer, Carano has served on 16 IPC committees, including the 8-40 Roadmap Executive Committee, the 7-20 Process Control Management Committee and the 4-14 Plating Process Subcommittee. In addition to serving on IPC's Board of Directors, Carano has taken on a recent role as chairman of the IPC Technology Education Outreach Initiative.

Tom Sandman Named IPC's New CFO

IPC announces that Tom Sandman has joined the association's staff as chief financial officer (CFO). He is responsible for leading IPC's global financial operations and staff. With more than 25 years of experience in finance and financial management, he most recently served as interim controller and consultant to CFO at EverMark LLC, a multinational manufacturer.

Rejuvenation of an American PCB Maker

North American PCB production once dominated the world with more than $12 billion of output. Today, it has shrunk to one quarter of that peak. However, several world-class North American PCB makers have not only maintained volume capability, but also produce very high levels of technology.

How Lean Manufacturing Adds Value to PCB Production

While DFM represents a powerful tool for PCB manufacturers, it is one component of a broader Lean manufacturing philosophy focused on eliminating any production component not delivering value to the customer. Here, the authors explore the impact of Lean, including how it may provide competitive advantage to those organizations making it a key part of their culture.

Viking Moves On

Technical Editor Pete Starkey says the warmth of the welcome at Viking more than compensated for a three-hour trek through the traffic and southern England's miserable weather: "There was a buzz of excitement about the place and the development workshop was a hive of activity, with a crowd gathered around the CircaPrint digital ink-jet printer, the print-head scanning smoothly in a glow of purple light."

The Internet of Things Drives New PCB Design Approach

The most common question asked of electronic product developers today is how to do more with less. How do you incorporate newer, faster technologies in smaller packages to take advantage of new products and architectures that provide more functionality and power efficiency, all on time and under budget?

Sanmina on Hybrid Materials, Testing, and Challenges

Brian Nelson, new product introduction manager at Sanmina, describes to Guest Editor Kelly Dack the evolution and testing of hybrid high-speed materials for a dynamic electonics industry.

Change Your Dam Thinking: Are Boringly Predictable Operations Possible?

We've excelled at developing new technologies, new materials, and new processes, and appreciate the statement, "variety is the spice of life." But, what we have grown to accept in our operations are the unpleasant surprises that too many of us describe as "burning platforms." Is there anything we can do with our operations to make them significantly more predictable?

Closing the Gap Between Design and Fab

Author Ben Jordan writes, "I think that CAD tool vendors have done a fantastic job of making design easier and faster, but there is still a huge gap between what a PCB designer intends, thinks, and lays out in CAD and what a PCB fabricator needs to build and assemble the boards with reasonable yields. It's one (good) thing to support universal data transfer formats, but that's not an automatic fix-all, either."


Validate Your Model Data

Do you test and correlate simulation models, or do you just take someone else's word for it? Let's be honest--we all want fast, accurate simulation models. Testing is difficult, time-consuming, and a general pain in the neck. If we take a close look at most the models we use, we'll likely raise questions that take time to resolve--time that most of us don't have in our project schedules.

The Pros and Cons of PCB Surface Finishes

Hot air solder leveling (HASL) was once the tried and true method of deliver consistent assembly results. However, ever-increasing circuit complexity and component density has stretched the capabilities of even horizontal solder levelling systems to their limits. Author Al Wright examines the more common surface finishes used in PCB manufacturing, along with key advantages and disadvantages for each.

Standard Operating Procedure at Molex

Joe Dambach, global new product manager for the company, joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy on the show floor at DesignCon 2014 to detail his work in developing new high-speed IO PCB standards.

Thompson & Dack on Value-Added Vendor Visits

While at DesignCon 2014 Guest Editors Kelly Dack and Mark Thompson had a lively discussion about the often underestimated value of keeping in touch with your suppliers through on-site visits.

Coonrod & Oliver Partner on Materials Workshop

John Coonrod, market development engineer at Rogers, and Guest Editor Glenn Oliver detail the materials workshop they presented at DesignCon 2014, including various test methods for different scenarios and materials.

Book Review: Time Management

This is the latest in Brian Tracy's series aimed at helping us to be better managers, salespeople, and overall better business people. In this small but powerful volume, Tracy focuses on time management which is something on which we can all improve.

Isola Materials: 100 Gb/s and Beyond

Fred Hickman, Isola's high-speed digital product director, discusses a few new products, including Tachyon, an ultra-low-loss material that can help developers reach 100 Gb/s. He also details GigaSync, a material that addresses skew in differential pairs.

Sourcing in China: The Real Deal

Alan Zhou, director of overseas sales at Sun & Lynn Circuits, joins Guest Editor Kelly Dack to discuss the the realities of sourcing printed circuits in China.

A New Approach to Vias from Insulectro

Jim Ryan, Insulectro product manager, joins Guest Editor Glenn Oliver to discuss his company's completely different way to build vias. A big help in that process is Ormet, a conductive paste use for z-axis connections that can replace copper in the plating process.

TTM Reports Strong Q4 and FY 2013 Results

"We delivered strong results for the fourth quarter as seasonal revenue growth combined with solid execution resulted in increases in gross margins and operating profit," said Tom Edman, CEO. "Strong demand for our advanced HDI and rigid-flex PCBs drove our product mix shift toward advanced technology PCBs and brought our Asia Pacific factory utilization rates above 90%."


Streamline Circuits: Investing in the Future of its Customers

The company is like no other board shop in the United States. Just over 10 years ago, three seasoned PCB professionals, each with a proven track record for success, purchased a tiny board shop and, in just a few short years, transformed it into one of the industry's leading PCB companies when it comes to both advanced technology and quality.

Determining Phosphorus Content in EN Plating Using XRF Spectroscopy

The most commonly used electroless plating process is electroless nickel (EN) plating using nickel phosphorus baths. Previously, it was only possible to measure plated phosphorus content on steel substrates, but new developments have extended the measurement application of electroless plating processes to nearly any substrate.

Characteristics of EPIG Deposits for Fine-Line Applications

In this paper, the ability to plate fine patterns, the solder joint reliability (SJR), and the wire bonding reliability (WBR) of the electroless Pd/Au (EPIG) deposit are compared with the electroless Ni-P/Pd/Au (ENEPIG) deposit. The coupons used consisted of a copper-clad laminated substrate which were copper plated to a thickness of 20 µm using an acid copper electroplating process.

EIPC Excited About Winter Conference and WECC Events

The World Electronic Circuits Council (WECC) is held every four years and EIPC will host the event in 2014. EIPC Executive Director Kirsten Smit-Westenberg is excited about the opportunity and tells Guest Editor Bob Neves the organization now promoting the conference all over the world.

High-speed, High-reliabiity, and Halogen-free

Isola Director of OEM Marketing Alun Morgan explains how his company has addressed the market for special-purpose laminates. He describes how high-speed performance can be achieved with high-reliability, halogen-free materials and discusses the latest developments in ultra-thin glass-reinforced laminates.
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