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Unimicron Germany Rises from the Ashes with New Smart Factory

This is a review of the grand opening of Unimicron’s new smart factory in Geldern, Germany. A fire in a PCB shop is an experience we all dread, but still it happens, and the consequences can be devastating. In the early hours of December 28, 2016, the innerlayer production plant at RUWEL International in Geldern, Germany, caught fire and the whole factory and its contents were destroyed.

Porsche Engineering…by Design

Thomas Wischnack of Porsche Engineering is currently designing the high-power charging infrastructure that will go inside the next generation of automobiles. Thomas was a keynote speaker at AltiumLive 2017 in Munich, Germany. Barry Matties met with him to learn more about Porsche’s hardware and circuit development and what Porsche does to continually bring new designers into the fold.

Schmid Looks to the Future for Industry 4.0 and More

I met with Rüdiger Lange, CSO at Schmid Group, in their spacious, comfortable booth at productronica. We discussed the current capital equipment market and Schmid’s business direction for the future while watching some of their new technology in action.

SHOW & TELL: Bringing STEM Students to IPC APEX EXPO for a View of the Industry

On the last morning of IPC APEX EXPO 2018, we met with Nancy Jaster, IPC design programs manager and one of the driving forces behind IPC’s STEM Outreach program for high school students. We spoke about the students who were arriving on site at IPC APEX EXPO, and what the industry, and IPC, hoped to achieve with this valuable program.

Elga Europe Reality and Ultra-High-Resolution Photoresist

While walking around the PCB hall at productronica, I was approached by my good friend Gene Weiner. Gene emphatically directed me to the Elga booth to find out about their new extra-thick dry film that can image extremely fine features with a perfectly perpendicular sidewall. Elga Europe CEO Giorgio Favini filled me in on the details.

Setting the Record Straight: CEO Asher Levy on the Future of Orbotech

With the recent planned acquisition of Orbotech in place by maker KLA-Tencor, much of the industry has speculated about Orbotech’s future. Barry Matties spoke with CEO Asher Levy about what lies in store for the Orbotech group and, more specifically, their PCB division should the deal close.

GreenSource: Good for the Industry, Good for the World

Whelen Engineering has recently spun off their new printed circuit manufacturing facility to service the merchant market as a new business entity, GreenSource Fabrication LLC.

Everyone is a Customer; Everyone is a Supplier

We’ve all heard the cliché: What goes around, comes around. I’ve always felt that was especially true in our industry, with the frequent job changes people make—much accelerated in recent years but always a factor, since I can remember.

The March of Disruptive Technologies

There have always been disruptive technologies; thousands of years ago, fire totally disrupted the path of mankind. I have heard it said that truly disruptive technologies are like earthquakes on the seismographs of history.

Book Review: Questions That Sell

This is a great book to help salespeople learn how to win over their customers and an even better book for helping companies, particularly their inside salespeople, to create customers for life. Creating a customer-focused company is all about knowing everything possible about your customers and the best way to find out everything about your customers is to ask them.


Succeeding at the Velocity of Technology: An IPC APEX EXPO 2018 Wrap-Up

After many months of planning, IPC APEX EXPO 2018 proved to be a success. From revolutionary advancements displayed on the show floor to expert insights conveyed in technical conference sessions and professional development courses, IPC APEX EXPO provided the learning and connections that helped 4,574 attendees from 43 countries prepare for the future.

Understanding Your Customers

Understanding your customers may seem like a no-brainer, but conversations with company leaders across various industries the past five years have demonstrated to me just how difficult this can be in practice.

IPC 6012-DA Revisions: The Approach to Cleanliness, Thickness, Inspection, and Wicking

IPC’s Automotive Addendum task group was started in November 2014 and the first edition of IPC 6012-DA was released in April 2016. We are now working on the revised version, and expect a release in Q2 2018. As standards need to evolve, develop and follow the needs of the industry, this work is continuous.

CML’s Mission: Providing Solutions for Customers—Including the Right Supplier

During IPC APEX EXPO, I met with CML USA General Manager Ivan Wong, who was a first-time attendee at the San Diego event. CML is a worldwide PCB sourcing solutions provider with offices around the globe, but the company just recently entered the U.S. market. I spoke with Ivan about CML’s mission and the U.S. office’s plans.

Jan Pedersen: CircuitData Enhances Current Data Formats

During the Design Forum at IPC APEX EXPO 2018, Jan Pedersen, senior technical advisor for the PCB broker Elmatica, gave a presentation on CircuitData. The language is designed to help facilitate other design data transfer formats such as Gerber, ODB++, and IPC-2581. Jan spoke with Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy and Contributing Technical Editor Happy Holden about how this open language works with the existing data formats, as well as the need to eliminate paper documents from design process, and how the industry can help shape this open-source language.

Martin Cotton Discusses Ventec’s New Book and Low-Loss Materials

During DesignCon 2018, Andy Shaughnessy sat down for an interview with Martin Cotton, director of OEM projects for Ventec. Martin was a PCB designer for years, so he has experience on both sides of the desk. They discussed Ventec’s reasons for coming to DesignCon, their expansion into low-loss materials, and Ventec’s new I-Connect007 book, The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates.

Catching up with Dan Thau of Millennium Circuits Limited

Millennium Circuits Limited is one of the fastest growing printed circuit board suppliers in our country today. Located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, this company has grown exponentially since it began some 12 years ago.

Conversations on the Floor: IPC APEX EXPO 2018

This year’s show was one of the best in recent history, both in attendance and enthusiasm. The exhibit floor was sold out, and every single person I talked to was extremely optimistic about business in 2018. What follows are a series of observations and excerpts from conversations I had with some of the most interesting people I met.

PCB Manufacturing (R)evolution in the Making

At the recent HKPCA and IPC Show 2017 in Shenzhen, China, I was able to interview Les Sainsbury, CEO, and Andrew Kelley, CTO, of XACT PCB, as well as Alex Stepinski, vice president of Whelen Engineering’s PCB Fab Business Unit, to discuss process evolution and technology developments in the PCB manufacturing industry.

The Vast Offerings in Laminate Technologies from TUC

While at IPC APEX EXPO a few weeks ago, I sat down with George Hsin, chief strategy officer for TUC Worldwide, and Alan Cochrane, president of TUC North America. I was interested in learning more about the company and their laminate products and Alan was happy to fill me in.


The PCB Dinosaurs Get New Life at IPC APEX EXPO 2018

The Order of the PCB Dinosaurs (originally called the PWB Dinosaurs—the sign of a true dino) was born because of a comment almost 20 years ago by my good friend Bernie Kessler. Back in the day, when suppliers like us became IPC members, we could only be associate members; unlike fabricators, we could not serve on the board and we could not lead key committees.

From Math to Marketing: Orbotech CMO’s Worldview of the Industry

Barry Matties met with Orbotech’s corporate VP of Business Development and CMO, Lior Maayan, in Shenzhen and spoke about the next-generation processes currently challenging Orbotech's R&D team. Most notable among them are additive technologies like the automated optical shaping solution, and the growth of MSAP, flex, and HDI.

A Discussion About Everything Under the Sun

From flex circuits to HDI, Industry 4.0, leading market drivers, and materials—this wide-ranging discussion with Sunshine Global Circuits CTO David Aldape highlights the latest and future developments, challenges, and opportunities in the PCB manufacturing industry.

One Great Customer Service Story

Over the years I have been involved with many customers and many rescue missions. A rescue mission occurs when a shop screws up so much and hurts the customer so badly they have to do something extraordinary to get the customer out of hot water and not lose the account.

ESI Targets Growing HDI Space

At the recent HKPCA and IPC Show 2017 in Shenzhen, China, Chris Ryder, director of product management for HDI at Electro Scientific Industries Inc. (ESI), discusses how laser-based processing is addressing the challenges in HDI development, and MSAP technology and its impact on the PCB industry.

Julie Ellis: TTM’s Interface Between Designer and Fabricator

As a field application engineer for TTM, Julie Ellis sees the problems that can occur between circuit board designers and manufacturers. Barry Matties spoke with Julie at the AltiumLive event in Munich about the age-old problem of throwing designs “over the wall,” the trend towards HDI, and what advice she would give new designers.

Show & Tell: IPC APEX EXPO 2018 Opening Keynote Review

The first keynote speech of IPC APEX EXPO 2018 was presented by Jared Cohen, head of Google’s Jigsaw team of engineers, researchers, and geopolitical experts. He explained that Jigsaw builds products not only to tackle global security challenges, but also to support free expression and access to information, especially in repressive societies.

What Happens to Our Industry Without a Skilled Workforce?

I’d like to discuss a critical issue facing our industry – the skills gap – and IPC’s commitment to supporting its members as we collectively seek to find solutions.

South African Electronics Industry Going Strong

EDA Technologies is a South African company that offers PCB design engineering services, mainly for the domestic electronics market, which makes up a surprising 12.5% of South Africa’s GDP. Barry Matties recently spoke to founder Nechan Naicker about the benefits of outsourcing to South Africa, the market segments they service there, and any advice he had to offer from his 20+ years in the industry.

Show & Tell: Corporate Awards Bestowed by IPC

Every year IPC recognizes two companies that have made significant contributions to IPC and the electronics industry. These awards are named after industry executives who were themselves significant and outstanding contributors: one for a PCB fabricator company and one for an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company. This year’s recipients were Northrop Grumman and Rockwell Collins, respectively.


Weiner’s World—March 2018

SEMICON China 2018 was amazing in its size and attendance. More than 1,000 exhibitors filled an event record of more than 74,000 square meters of exhibition space—the size of nearly 10 professional soccer fields. This year's theme was "collect, collaborate, innovate."

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Arlon Achieves IPC Validation Services Accreditation

John Wright, quality manager at Arlon Electronic Materials, discusses how the company recently achieved IPC validation services accreditation.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: IPC Solutions Program—Transportation and Workforce Development Initiatives

Sanjay Huprikar, IPC's VP of solutions, discusses the IPC solutions program, including transportation and workforce development initiatives.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Matrix Discusses Advanced Automation Equipment

Matrix's Fred Long discusses advanced automation equipment for the PCB industry, including new cleaning technology for panels and dry film laminating equipment.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Ucamco's New Tools for Designers, Fabricators

European Editor Pete Starkey and Ucamco partner Luc Maesen discuss Ucamco's newest solutions for PCB designers and fabricators, YELO (Yield Enhancing Layout Optimizer) and Communic8tor. Both of these products were recently launched for users in the North American market.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Bowman—XRF Equipment, New IPC 4552A Spec, and How They Go to Market

Tom Leone, president, and Zach Dismukes, sales and support engineer from Bowman, discuss their XRF equipment, the new IPC 4552A spec, and how they go to market.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Rogers' High-Frequency/High-Temp Substrates

Tony Mattingly, senior product manager at Rogers Corporation, discusses the company's new substrates for high-frequency/high-temperature applications.

Bridging the Customer-Supplier Gap

For the February issue of Design007 Magazine, we interviewed Nolan Johnson of Sunstone Circuits, and Dan Beaulieu of DB Management—our regular columnist—on the topics of knowing your customers, the challenges in dealing with customers, and providing excellent customer satisfaction.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Perfect Point’s Recently Developed Coating Technology for Small Drills

VP Shane Stewart describes some recently developed coating technology for small drills that helps improve debris removal and aspect ratio drilling capability.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Insulectro Discusses Importance of Helping PCB Shops

Chris Hunrath, VP of technology at Insulectro, discusses their recent expansion of inventory, especially substrate materials, the need for quick access, and the importance of working closely with their customers and OEMs.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Catching Up with Cirexx International

Philipp Menges, president of Cirexx International, discusses yearly company updates and growing markets, including automotive, medical, and military.

Catching up with ACT-USA President Jack Gemmell

ACT-USA is one of the best value-added PCB distributors in the country today. Focused on providing their North American customers with boards as well as heavy copper boards they have steadily broadened their vendor base since their inception in 1994.

Institute of Circuit Technology Meriden Seminar, 2018

The Institute of Circuit Technology returned to Meriden, traditionally regarded as the centre of England, for its Annual General Meeting, which was followed by a technical seminar of five presentations, introduced as ever by Technical Director Bill Wilkie.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: IPC—Industry Trends Moving Forward

Sharon Starr, director of market research for the IPC, discusses industry trends moving forward covering both EMS and PCB. She also mentions the upcoming studies IPC will be conducting in 2018.

Defining Customer-Supplier Relationships and Customer Satisfaction

Steve Williams, president of The Right Approach Consulting LLC, and a veteran executive in the PCB and EMS industries, speaks with the I-Connect007 team about customer-supplier relationships, and how you can ensure customer satisfaction.

MakeHarvard 2018: The Super Bowl of Makeathons

The inaugural MakeHarvard event was everything one would expect from the title, and more. Sunstone Circuits’ Nolan Johnson and Dustin Jablonski served as both mentors and competition judges. Sunstone sponsored a prize for the best feats of reverse engineering and documentation. Sunstone’s reverse engineering competition was one of the most hotly contested. Judging was based on creativity, depth, technical difficulty, usability, scalability, and value to society.

Three New Mars2020 Rover Technologies: What Powers the “Body Parts” on the Mars2020 Rover?

The Mars2020 Rover Mission, designed by JPL, is the next NASA Mars Exploration Program mission that is planned to launch in 2020. Some goals of the mission include to check for past signs of life, to help prepare for manned Mars missions, and to collect soil samples and cache them on the surface for potential return to Earth by a future mission.

Bridging Knowledge and Understanding of Thermal Management Materials

At IPC APEX EXPO recently, Pete Starkey and Ian Mayoh, Ventec International’s technical support manager, had a chance to sit down and discuss the I-Connect007 micro E-book: The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to Thermal Management with Insulated Metal Substrates, of which Ian is a co-author.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Ventec's Jack Pattie on New Materials, Industry Upswing

Ventec International Group’s Jack Pattie comments on continuing growth in sales, investment in manufacturing and distribution, and new product developments in polyimides, no-flow pre-pregs and thermally conductive materials.

A Plug-in that Connects CAD Software to 3D Printer

Nano Dimension's DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D Printer is a highly accurate and versatile inkjet deposition and curing system for printing professional multilayer circuit boards, structural electronics and antennas. In a sweeping discussion with Nano Dimension USA President Simon Fried, all my questions were answered about this innovative technology.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Uyemura's Chemistry for ENIG, ENEPIG, and EPIG Apps

A unique deposition chemistry that combines immersion and reduction reactions to yield a gold finish with superior properties and controllability in ENIG, ENEPIG, and EPIG applications.

The Sum of All Parts: Defining Your Customer

These are the most typical ways in which someone will ask us who our customers are. Many times, the purpose is to see whether we work in the same spaces as them or as a way of gauging whether we are “worthy” enough of having them as a customer.

Still Using 1980s Formats for Design Data Handoff?

The IPC-2581 format was created in the early 2000s with the merger of two competing formats: ODB++ and GENCAM. The new format, the brainchild of the late Dieter Bergman, languished with no adoption until 2011, when a small group of companies created the IPC-2581 Consortium with the goal of getting this open, neutral and intelligent format adopted. The consortium has been growing steadily in recent years. Its membership now includes more than 100 associate members in addition to its more than 90 corporate members.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Polar Instruments Discusses New Engineer, SpeedStack Upgrades

During IPC APEX EXPO 2018, Polar Instruments' Lupita Maurer and Geoffrey Hazelett sat down with Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss upgrades to their SpeedStack tool and Lupita's new position with the company.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Benefits of Outsourcing CAM Operations to a Specialist Provider of Engineering Services

CEO Mehul Dave of Entelechy Global discusses the benefits of outsourcing CAM operations to a specialist provider of engineering services.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Annual Update for IPC Validation Services

Randy Cherry, director of validation services, provides an annual update for IPC validation services, including QML and QPL supplier listings.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Benefits of Outsourcing Quality Assurance Options

Niraj Patel describes the benefits of outsourcing quality assurance operations, with specific reference to the alternative business models offered by Gardien for electrical testing.

The Selection of Chemical Etching Equipment for PCB Fabrication

Congratulations! Your process development team has completed its DOEs and is convinced they are ready to scale up. The facilities crew has found space for your new operation or, even better, your manufacturing team will have a newly-built building in which to locate the project.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Prototron Moves Offshore

Prototron's Dave Ryder and Russ Adams discuss the company's recent decision to begin manufacturing high-volume jobs overseas. They also discuss some of the partner shops' capabilities, including flex and rigid-flex, which were driven by customer demand.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Candor Industries' History and Advanced Circuit Constructions

Founder and president Yogen Patel shares Candor Industries' history and describes some of the non-standard approaches to PCB production the company uses to make advanced circuit constructions.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Insulectro Showcases New Low-Loss Materials

Norm Berry, director of laminates and OEM marketing for Insulectro, discusses the company's new low-loss products and resin systems that benefit high-speed, high-frequency PCB designs.

Book Review: The One Percent Edge—Small Changes That Guarantee Relevance and Build Sustainable Success

Occasionally you read a book that truly makes a difference. I can tell I am reading a book like this one by how much longer it takes me to read it, but not because it’s boring or slow reading, certainly not! It’s because I stop constantly to jot down ideas in my notebook that stimulate me to come up with ideas that pertain to my own business.

The Time is Right in India

In an interview with Akshinthala Vijayendra of IPC India, he discusses India’s infrastructure under the direction of the new prime minister, where India currently stands versus China, and the pros and cons for any speculative companies deciding whether to expand into this country.

New Year, New Equipment—Right?

This month, we will discuss the equipment purchasing decision-making process. How many of you can recall the earliest “dippy dunk” PCB shops, so-called because that’s exactly how it was done? There were no conveyorized lines, no automatic hoists, no load/unload stations, maybe not even a lab for analyzing the plating baths.

Barry Katz Discusses SiSoft's DesignCon Papers and Plans for 2018

SiSoft President and CTO Barry Katz sat down with Editor Andy Shaughnessy to share his thoughts on the company's papers presented during DesignCon 2018, as well as SiSoft's latest products and plans for 2018.

Part 2: EIPC’s Winter Conference in Lyon, France: Day 2 Review

The final session, on European needs for new technology, product safety and training, was introduced and moderated by EIPC board member Dr. Michele Stampanoni, vice president of strategic sales and business development at Cicor Group.

EIPC’s Winter Conference in Lyon, France: Day 2 Review

The first day of the conference had started and ended in the dark—a long and technically intense day! After a convivial conference dinner and a good night’s sleep we were back on the bus, this time in daylight at the slightly later time of 8:00 a.m., for the journey from downtown Lyon back to Alstom’s conference facility in Villeurbanne, and it wasn’t raining. In fact, there was even some sunshine later in the day!

Blue Sky for Eagle Electronics

I recently had the opportunity to chat with the new director of sales and marketing at Eagle Electronics, Andy D’Agostino. I’ve visited Eagle before; they are endlessly busy, with good things going on, so I was happy when I learned that Brett McCoy was now COO and another fellow had taken over some of the sales and marketing activities. Andy comes with a wealth of experience and seems to have settled in nicely.

Part 2: EIPC’s 2018 Winter Conference in Lyon, Review of Day 1

We continue with the rest of Pete Starkey’s report on Day 1 of the EIPC Winter Conference in Lyon, France. Included in this segment are presentations by Ventec, Ericsson, TTM and others, plus photos of their evening tour of Alstom.

Start Your IPC APEX EXPO Show Experience Here

As many prepare to travel to California from February 24 to March 1, IPC APEX EXPO 2018 will offer a collection of exciting events for both newcomers and industry veterans, including educational opportunities and showcase exhibitions. Want a sneak peek into the upcoming events at IPC APEX EXPO 2018? This exclusive pre-show coverage publication from I-Connect007 is all about San Diego or bust!


Orbotech’s Strategic Decision for End-to-End Partnership Benefits Everyone

Barry Matties met with Sharon Cohen, president of Orbotech West, at productronica 2017 to discuss what’s new at Orbotech, specifically their shift to be more customer-centric and to provide regional coverage across the globe. He also discusses the current trends in the marketplace and Industry 4.0.

Entering—and Enjoying—the Industry

I was recently given the opportunity to write an article for our publication. Being somewhat new to this industry, I figured it would be a good idea to write an introduction on how I got into electronics—specifically the part most people my age don’t give thought to.

EIPC’s 2018 Winter Conference in Lyon, Review of Day 1

Venue for the 2018 EIPC Winter Conference was the splendid new Alstom Transport Information Solutions facility in Villeurbanne, in the Lyon metropolitan area of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France. An extremely popular event—117 delegates represented a total of 20 countries, unprecedented in recent years, and only just fitted into Alstom’s conference suite. Indeed, some were even standing at the back!

CircuitData: Creating an Open Source Language for PCB Data Exchange

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Elmatica CTO Andreas Lydersen on a subject of great interest to him and his supply chain, namely CircuitData. This open source language promises to greatly improve communication of details that can often be misinterpreted due to the differences in terminology used throughout the supply chain.

Who Really Owns the PCB Layout? Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, Paul Taubman made the bold statement that the PCB layout is just as much a mechanical effort as it is an electrical one. In Part 2, he threads the needle, explaining why he believes that a PCB truly a mechatronic design, and why mechanical engineers may be more prepared to take on the PCB layout.
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