Article Highlights
NIST Resources for CHIPS Act Participants
01/27/2023 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
01/27/2023 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
The Nuts and Bolts of Advanced Packaging
01/24/2023 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Monday Recap: Optimism and Economics at IPC APEX EXPO
01/24/2023 | Nolan Johnson and Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Classes and Meetings Under Way at IPC APEX EXPO
01/23/2023 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
PCB :: Business

Latest Articles

Ladle on Manufacturing: Material Matters

Have you considered whether or not you could improve your multilayer yields by better use of your base materials? Perhaps the following could give you a few ideas of how this could help you.

CES 2017: Disruptive Technologies

Those of you that have read my previous columns covering CES 2017 know that at recent CES shows I have seen many drones, autonomous cars, IoT devices, robots, and many other items ranging from robots who stand in for your doctor to smart trash cans who tell you via Alexa, Google, or soon, Cortana on your own computer, that since you have thrown away two empty milk cartons in the last few days it may be time to order more milk; just say yes and consider it ordered.

Catching up with...Coast to Coast Circuits CEO Walt Stender

Coast to Coast is an independent American circuit board manufacturing company. Yes, the key word here is “independent.” After many mergers and acquisitions that have diminished the mil/aero PCB vendor base, there are only a handful of independent companies for our country’s defense and aerospace contractors to choose from.

Book Review: Simply Brilliant—Powerful Techniques to Unlock your Creativity and Spark New Ideas

This is more than a brainstorming book, much more. In his new book, Schroeder teaches the reader not only how to brainstorm in a group, but also how to come up with ideas as an individual.

Catching up with…LinkedIn Expert Bruce Johnston

My friend and business associate Bruce Johnston was named one of the LinkedIn Thought Leaders—The USA & Canada List (100+) by Andy O’Hearn, an expert LinkedIn coach and social media analyst. When you consider that there are over 467 million LinkedIn members, being in this list of approximately 100 is a pretty big deal.

Emmy Ross Discusses the New I-Connect007 E-Book Series

One thing that is long overdue in our industry is a series of guidebooks focused on helping companies with all their needs, from qualifications like AS9100 and Mil-P-31032 to various technologies, heavy copper, rigid-flex and microvias. I-Connect007 is now providing our industry with an entire series of these guidebooks, starting with the first book, "The Printed Circuits Buyers Guide to… AS9100 Certification." Authored by Imagineering Inc., this book educates readers about the AS9100 quality standard, and explains how to earn this certification.

Five New Books that Will Change Your Perspective on Sales and Marketing

In honor of the December topic of sales and marketing of The PCB Magazine, I’m providing a review of five books that can directly influence the way we think about sales, marketing, customers and customer service.

CES Unveiled: Press Day and the NVIDIA Keynote

CES Unveiled exhibitors range from well-known companies such as: Lenovo, showing their latest high-end (and very impressive) notebooks, tablets and all in one computers; Ampad, with their new series of very capable fast and long range routers; and Thrustmaster, showcasing their virtual reality-ready gaming peripherals. Additionally, there are many previously almost unknown companies exhibiting many IoT items.

On Location at HKPCA: IPC’s Mitchell and Carmichael on Asia, the Global Industry Outlook, and Trump

While in Shenzhen, China recently, with the PCB industry’s biggest trade show as a backdrop, Publisher Barry Matties sat down once again to interview IPC President John Mitchell and IPC Asia President Phil Carmichael. This time they discussed trends they’re seeing in the Asia-Pacific region and what a Trump presidency means to the industry.

Catching up with...M&A Expert Tom Kastner

If you want to know what is going on in our industry when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, there is no better person to turn to than Tom Kastner. Whenever I want to verify a rumor of a company being bought or sold, Tom is the first person I call, and unless he is under an NDA, he will fill me in. In this, our latest discussion, we talked about the PCB industry’s M&A activity in 2016 and what Tom expects to see in 2017.


CES 2017: Preview and a Projection for the Future

Well here we are again; one more year has gone. Think back to one year ago and look at all that has happened, including recent political happenings, technical advances in 3-D printing and manufacturing, and the huge improvement in display technology, what with OLED and HDR putting everyday 4K displays into the background and driving the proverbial nail in 3D TVs.

Supplier Spotlight: American Standard Circuits' AS9100 Journey

I had the privilege of working with American Standard Circuits (ASC) over the past year with their successful pursuit of AS9100 quality management system certification. The company has chosen to share their approach, lessons learned and benefits gained by going through this formidable process.

TTM President Thomas Edman on the Global PCB Market, Technology, and More

The TTM and Viasystems merger put the PCB industry on notice last year when it created one of the biggest powerhouses in the world. At this year’s HKPCA and IPC show, Barry Matties met with TTM Technologies President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Edman to get his views on the market, technology, the culture of TTM and even the Trump effect.

Book Review: Leading the Unleadable—How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, and Other Difficult People

This is the book you’ve been looking for. I approached this book with a bit of trepidation. I wasn’t sure what this was going to be about. But being inquisitive, I decided to give it a read. It was the subtitle "How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, and other Difficult People" that got to me.

'Can Do' in CAM Outsourcing: CAM Engineering – Automation

As volume production in PCB has shifted significantly to Asia, manufacturers in Europe and North America have been focusing on high technology, quick-turn, prototype, and lower-volume production.

Ladle on Manufacturing: Making Suppliers Work for You

Every company has its own way of doing things. For some, the engineering team develops a detailed specification for the equipment they would like to purchase and this is put out to multiple suppliers for tender, along with full documentation for the commercial terms that will apply to the purchase. At the other end of the scale, a machine inquiry can be a simple phone call: “How much for a new machine?”

Innovative Use of Vias for Density Improvements

In today’s fast-paced global, economic environment—which requires constant innovation, upskilling, and performance improvements— there is a need for increasing density. The classic way to increase density is to reduce the trace and spacing.

New Tools Mean More Designer Control for High-Speed PCBs

In the last hour of the electronica exhibition in Munich, Pete Starkey finally got the opportunity to sit down with Martyn Gaudion, Managing Director of Polar Instruments. They discussed the changing state of PCB design, and how the newest software tools allow PCB designers and engineers to have more control when designing high-speed PCBs.

KCE Group: A Thailand-Based PCB Manufacturer with a Growing Global Footprint

Recently, while at electronica in Munich, Germany I-Connect007's Judy Warner met KCE America President Rick Rhodes, and Joe Yeo of KCE Group. They discuss the unique challenges and opportunities that come with the rigorous automotive market, and explain why they continue to enjoy explosive growth.

The Fine Art of Providing a Single Source for Fab, Assembly

Jay Rupani, president of Precision Technologies, speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about what exactly his company does, what differentiates them and why. He also talks about why having a single source for bare board manufacturing and assembly saves customers time, money and much angst.


Rogers on the Booming Wireless Infrastructure Market

With the advent of 5G and next generation antennas, the already booming wireless infrastructure market is slated for continued growth through 2021, and as the primary material supplier for this sector, Rogers Corp. must continue to meet the technological demands of the Verizons and AT&Ts of world.

Walt Custer’s Global Market Outlook

With 2016 winding down, Walt Custer shared his end-of-the-year market research data with me at the recent electronica trade show in Munich, Germany. In our interview, Walt breaks down his findings and offers insight into the changing trends as we head into 2017.

EIPC's New Tagline and electronica 2016 Reflections

EIPC Technical Director Michael Weinhold and Editor Pete Starkey discuss the significance of EIPC's new tagline, 'The European Electronics Association'.

World Mastery: Automotive Electronics Driving Business Growth

I-Connect007’s Pete Starkey is in the booth of China PCB manufacturer World Mastery to speak with Thomas Ip, Director of Sales and Marketing, about their manufacturing capabilities, and their key industry segments in Europe.

EIPC's Alun Morgan Holds Forth on electronica

EIPC’s Alun Morgan and Editor Pete Starkey discuss electronica's rise to prominence as the best place to meet not just EIPC members but also a broad spectrum of the value chain—designers through OEMs.

IPC’s President on IPC EDGE: Cutting Edge and Education

Chatting with IPC President John Mitchell is always a good time—he never fails to be upbeat and full of ideas, and his eagerness to fill us in on what’s happening with IPC was evident during our recent interview at the IPC Fall Committee Meetings, co-located with SMTAI in late September.

Tech Talk: 225 Tech Talks—1995 to 2016

Checking back on Tech Talk Nos. 100 and 200, which reflected on past and anticipated future changes in electronic packaging, I noted the production shift to Asia, followed by the relocation of the supplier base, and, more recently, the design of electronic devices.

Ventec Sees Growth in Automotive Electronics

Didier Mauve, sales and marketing manager for Ventec Europe, talks with Editor Pete Starkey during electronica 2016 about how the automotive electronics industry is driving growth for the company.

Lessons in Leadership From My Father

When I was asked to contribute an article for this issue on leadership, I thought it was an opportune time since my Dad, Nagji Sutariya, had recently passed away. I had spent nearly every daylight hour with him since I started working with him at Saturn in 2001.

TTM SJ Hosts IPC Designers Council Meeting

The Silicon Valley Chapter of the IPC Designers Council was treated to a delicious barbecue lunch on October 13 at TTM’s San Jose facility. About 20 PCB designers and support professionals gathered for the tri-tip lunch-n-learn conference.


One World, One Industry: Six Leadership Lessons from 20 Years in the Electronics Industry

The orchestra conductor is an apt metaphor for the successful leader. Effective leadership often boils down to the ability to inspire others (the symphony) to their best work, while keeping and driving the overall vision of the organization (the musical score).

Made in Brazil: Leadership Lessons from the Rio Olympics 2016

This month’s column is not about PCB technical stuff; instead, it’s about some valuable lessons I have learned this summer during that most fantastic of events, the Olympics. What I have learned can now be applied to PCBs and how we can transform a glass-reinforced laminate or any other bare material into an incredibly useful product that will make the difference in every single life of this planet.

BizBrain IQ Test: The Suprising Results

Focusing upon the work of W. Edwards Deming, Peter Senge, Buckminster Fuller, Ilya Prigogine, and John S. Bell, David became an expert in workplace systems improvement. Since 1990, he has been training and consulting using his Four New Agreements for Leaders and Managers as a proven model for sustainable organizational transformation, with remarkable results. Today, he is the president of Dibble Leaders.

All About Flex: Specifying a Flexible Circuit

IPC has created a specification document, IPC 6013, which is referenced for many flex circuit applications. This commercial document, in combination with the CAD data and print, is used as the product specification. Most flexible circuitry fabricators’ internal quality standards are based on IPC 6013.

Weiner’s World

This year’s TPCA (Taiwan Printed Circuits Association) show held October 26–28 seemed to have lighter attendance than last year. Robots were on display everywhere, with lot of loaders and unloaders as well as the multi-axis, multipurpose types.

Book Review: Hard-Won Wisdom—True Stories from the Management Trenches

Author Jathan Janove is a workplace litigation lawyer. He has spent the bulk of his career litigating workplace relationships, which gives his book a completely fresh and different perspective to workplace management techniques.

IPC Validation Services Audit Program to Include Laminate, Prepreg Manufacturers

Essex Technologies’ Doug Sober is a long-time IPC chairman who is now also working with IPC’s Validation Services division. I met with Doug while at the recent SMTA International conference, and we discussed the upcoming audit program for laminate manufacturers, which is ready to go.

Schoeller Electronics Presenting a New Organizational Structure in North America

At the recent SMTA International show in Rosemont, Illinois, I met Padraig McCabe at Schoeller Electronics Systems’ booth. It was obvious that they had a lot going on so it was good to be able to sit down and get the full story of their new organizational structure, name change and the recent acquisitions of PCB companies.

All About Flex: Five Characteristics of a Reliable Flexible Circuit Supplier

Due diligence when selecting a source for a custom electronic product can be a critical sourcing procedure. Chains are only as good as the weakest link, and the electronic components assembled to create a marketable product need to combine into a robust solution.

Book Review: What Customers Crave

Customer service is out and customer experience is in. It’s not enough to deliver great customer service anymore— instead you must deliver an entire customer experience and a great experience at that. Customers want to feel good about the very act of working with you. They want to feel that you are on their side; and that you have their best interests at heart.


The Sum of All Parts: Three Keys to Successful Leadership

It is often easy to lose sight, particularly in the manufacturing sector, of your most valuable resource: people. You can’t take purchase orders, operate equipment and develop new strategies all on your own.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Online Instruction and Long-Distance Learning

More and more knowledge is now available over the Internet. For this to be effective, there are specific requirements for a course taken or produced over the Internet (without a live instructor) in order for the instructed (user) to have a positive experience.

Setting the Standard at American Standard Circuits

With an impressive array of investments on display, both in terms of technology and software, as well as its 120 employees, ASC offers a diversified product mix. Publisher Barry Matties and members of the I-Connect007 team recently took a tour of the American Standard Circuits facility in West Chicago, Illinois. In this interview, Anaya Vardya shares their strategies and the challenges the market faces.

Leadership and...You

In our now well-known monthly topic survey, we got some very interesting results on leadership. Most of the questions were designed to be open-ended, specifically to encourage original answers—to keep our respondents from just checking off a few boxes. Many of the answers were rather intriguing—and unexpected.

GP Ventures: Facilitating ‘Multi-layered’ M&A Deals

One of our newer I-Connect007 columnists is Tom Kastner of GP Ventures, an M&A advisory company. I spent a few minutes with Tom at SMTAI recently, and he filled me in on his background in the electronics industry, which includes specializing in buying, selling or merging businesses; his columns deal with many of the requirements and issues on all sides of those changes.

Happy's Essential Skills: Lean Manufacturing

Lean doesn’t have to exist in manufacturing alone. Lean is a fairly recent principle that can apply to all of our goods and services. For those of you not familiar with Lean, I recommend the free E-book "Survival Is Not Mandatory: 10 Things Every CEO Should Know about Lean" by Steve Williams, a regular columnist for I-Connect007.

Let's Talk Testing: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel—Find an Expert!

Back in the day when I was an engineer fresh out of college, I quickly learned that experience is the solution to many problems. Now that being said, experience comes in many forms…it could be knowledge learned from a textbook, it could be an observatory comment jotted down in a notebook, it could be a conversation with a co-worker or colleague, or it could be an Internet search that finds a scholarly technical article, etc.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuit Prototypes

Most electronic projects begin with at least one build of prototype parts before moving into volume manufacturing. But the definition of a flex circuit prototype can vary considerably from one project to another. In many cases, a prototype build is only a few parts used to verify form, fit and function, with engineering trying to determine if something actually works.

Disruptive Technologies– VR, AR and Star Trek

This article and subsequent follow-ups will cover various disruptive technologies. During the planning stage for this month’s issue of The PCB Magazine, I was asked to consider a number of potential topics; two of them are areas that I am very interested in—augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and 3D printing and security.

Geek-A- Palooza: Get Your Geek On in Minnesota!

If you haven’t been to Geek-A-Palooza yet, you may just get a chance, because the social networking event could be coming to your city in the near future. Barry Matties met with founder Tara Dunn following the most recent Boston event, to learn more about Geek-A-Palooza and why the laid-back atmosphere is beneficial for both the sponsors and the attendees.


Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar 2016

In recent years, the Hayling Island Seminar has become established as the most popular date on the Institute of Circuit Technology calendar and, as expected, the 2016 event attracted a large gathering of industry professionals to the south coast of England to share knowledge and experience and to discuss current developments.

Selling Your Electronics Business: A 6-Step Guide, Part 2

For the individuals involved, the sale of an electronics business is a very significant step and one that often requires much thought, preparation and planning, even prior to appointing key advisors. Timing is another key factor in generating a high level of interest and implementing a successful sale.

Flex Talk: Troubleshooting Flex Circuit Applications for Mil/Aero Projects

I imagine that everyone has been in this position at one time or another: Despite everyone’s best attempt at creating the perfect design, PCB fabrication and assembly, something goes wrong and the troubleshooting begins.

A New Facility in India for PCB Fabricator ACI

I-Connect007's Barry Matties met with Raj Dhanani and Bryan Ricke of Advanced Circuitry International to discuss their growing footprint in India, recent investments in their U.S. facility, and the future of the RF and antenna markets.

Happy's Essential Skills: Metrics and Dimensional Analysis

After 20 of my columns, readers probably realize that I am an analytical person. Thus, I dedicate this column to metrics—the method of measuring something. I mentioned the four levels of metrics in my June column "Producibility and Other Figures of Merit." I also introduced the five stages of metrics in the second part of the column "Design for Manufacturing and Assembly, Part 2." This column completes the discussion with a look at dimensionless quantities.

Weiner’s World

This month, I was a guest at the High Density Packaging Users Group (HDPUG) meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The consortium, composed of more than 50 companies (small and large) in the electronics packaging supply chain, conducts projects to solve real world problems or develop data for product parameters, package/component life, and production processing.

All About Flex: Flex Circuit Specifications for Commercial and Military Applications

Applications across the various markets for printed circuit boards can have significantly different specifications and performance requirements. Circuits for toys and games logically have lower performance requirements than those used in medical devices. IPC-6013 is an industry-driven specification that defines the performance requirements and acceptance features for flexible printed circuit boards.

Real Time with... SMTAI: Electronic Interconnect Talks Expansion and Investments

Pratish Patel, president and CEO of Electronic Interconnect, speaks with I-Connect007’s Andy Shaughnessy about the company’s expansion plans as well as their increasing capabilities.

Launch Letters: Take Social Media Seriously

This September will mark the 10th anniversary of “the Zuck” (aka Mark Zuckerberg) and his band of college buddies unleashing Facebook membership from the scholarly confines of Harvard to anyone 13 years and older with a valid email address.

Mil/Aero Markets: F-35 Declared Combat-Ready

Electronic subsystems are an integral part of all modern military fighter jets, with a substantial portion of the electronics supporting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), avionics, munitions and radar related subassemblies. This equates to a very high content of PCBs and SMT assembly requirements.


Punching Out! War Stories from the Front Lines of Deal-Making

Here are some war stories from my experience in working on M&A deals in the PCB, EMS, and electronics fields. The names and details have been changed to protect the innocent.

Field Notes: Summit Interconnect—Who Says PCB Manufacturing Can’t be a Picnic?

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to a company-wide celebration of the “marriage” of Summit Interconnect’s two subsidiaries, KCA Electronics and Marcel Electronics Inc. The festivities kicked off at noon, when all of the MEI employees arrived in charter buses.

Testing Todd: Testing Military/Aerospace— Houston, We Have a Solution

This month we will dive into the testing of aerospace and military product. These designs require special processing in many cases above and beyond the IPC standards. The main specifications used when testing military product are MIL-PRF-55110, MIL-PRF-50884 and MILPRF-31032.

Let's Talk Testing: Does your Product have a Military Application?

Just like any other industry segment within the circuit board world, the military sector has its own share of documents…and likely many more than most! These documents have been developed over the years to guide, shape, and test anything and everything that might go into a jet fighter, a radar system, a warship, a weapons system, etc.

Patty's Perspective: Are We Flying Yet?

Walt Custer is on a photo safari in Africa and suggested I take a look at some of his slides regarding the military/aerospace market and then give a little report on it. Well, I am no Walt Custer, so while I can tell you a bit about where things are, far be it from me to make predictions.

Laser Pointers: Laser Processing and Telecentricity

Since Mike and I often receive questions on topics that are relevant to a broader audience, we’ve decided to start using this column to share those questions and answers with our readers. We’ll periodically devote the space in this column to address questions that we receive that are especially timely or topical, or address a topic that affects a wider range of readers.

All About Flex: FAQs on RoHS for Flex Circuits

In 2003, the European Union (EU) adopted a standard called the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), which restricts the use of certain materials in electronic products and electronic equipment. The intent is to reduce the environmental impact of known hazardous materials and has driven changes in manufacturing processes and materials used to manufacture a wide array of electronic products.

Weiner’s World

People in the printed circuit and electronic packaging industries often ask me about re-shoring. My response generally is that re-shoring is a myth. It seems that whenever I try to contact someone by email I get an automated response stating, "I am currently in China and will return to my office on…" Many of the facilities and much of the equipment that would be needed to re-shore have been auctioned off or sent to the scrap heap.

Happy’s Essential Skills: CIM and Automation Planning, Part 1

There is a lot of talk and information about automation, but I find that there is very little available on automation planning. This is one of my specialties. I started by getting a master's in EE in control theory. This went well with my B.S. in chemical engineering as I specialized in process control and IC manufacturing.

The European Space Agency on Reliability

Stan Heltzel is a materials engineer working for the European Space Agency, and he is tasked with the job of procuring and qualifying PCBs that end up in satellites. I met with Stan at EIPC’s Summer Conference to discuss his presentation on qualifying a fabricator, his role at the ESA, and updating of space standards.


Standard of Excellence: Communication Breeds Success

We all need to talk to one another. You need to work closely with your customers. And we all need to work with the new generation of PCB designers and design engineers, many of whom have never set foot in a board shop. Fortunately, they make up for their lack of DFM knowledge with their hunger for information.

ELTEK Looking for Strong Growth in the USA

At the recent Nadcap meeting in London, I spoke with Eltek USA President Jim Barry about the state of the company, further investment from their new owner, and their focus on the U.S. market.

Spirit Circuits: Building a New Factory in Romania...

Recently I sat down with Managing Director Steve Driver of Spirit Circuits. We discussed the company’s future, and the interesting decision to build a new facility in Craiova, Romania, and how Whelen’s Alex Stepinski influenced the design.

FTG: Focus to Expand

Firan Technology Group (FTG) is a Canadian circuit board and cockpit product manufacturer. With a newly established global footprint, they look now to grow within that footprint, particularly by way of acquisition. I-Connect007’s Judy Warner and Barry Matties met CEO Brad Bourne at FTG’s Chatsworth, California facility to learn more about the acquisitions, their success in China, and the overall challenge of working in the aerospace and defense market.

Multiple Markets Merge for PCBs at H&T Global

While at the SMTA-Ohio expo I met Rob DiGiovanni, VP of sales and marketing with H&T Global, a printed circuit manufacturer based in Florida. I was attracted to the H&T booth by a large photo of an Army jeep. I wanted to learn what this particular photo had to do with PCBs, and Rob had a ready answer.
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