Article Highlights
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
08/19/2022 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Time for a Price Hike?
08/18/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Catching Up With NEXTGEN’S Ravi Kumar
08/17/2022 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
Today’s M&A: Right on Target
08/09/2022 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Challenges of the 2022 PCB Market: The Party’s Over
08/08/2022 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
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productronica 2015: atg Shows Off the Latest in Automated Inspection Equipment

Peter Brandt, sales manager with atg Luther & Maelzer, tells I-Connect007’s Pete Starkey all about their automated inspection equipment that is well-suited for both small and large batch operaions. Watch this video from the floor of productronica to see the equipment in action while Brandt discusses the embedded technology market that is taking off.

Designs on Flex: Underwriters Laboratory and Flexible Printed Circuits

Underwriters Laboratory is a worldwide safety consulting and certification company headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois. UL certifies, validates, tests, inspects, audits, and advises on safety of electrical and electronic products.

Mr. Laminate Tells All: Where in the Holy Halogens did 900, 900, 1500 Come From?

The 900, 900, 1500 is not a combination to an enormous safe that contains the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, nor is it the weight of three elephants at the San Diego Zoo in kilograms. The 900, 900, 1500 is the maximum parts per million (ppm) of bromine and chlorine and the total bromine and chlorine in a material that can be defined as “halogen-free” in the electronics industry today. But where did these requirements come from? Clearly, 900 ppm of bromine or chlorine is obviously not halogen-free. Some would argue that it is not even low-halogen at all.

Catching up with PNC

PNC, in Nutley, New Jersey, is a truly unique company. Started in 1968, and then taken over by Sam Sangani in 1996, it has evolved into one of the premier PCB companies on the East Coast, if not the country. Over the years, the company has grown to the point where it now offers circuit design, layout, fabrication and assembly to its customers, making it one of the few total concept under one roof companies in North America.

Plant Culture: a Direct Contributor to Quality, Output and Predictable Manufacturing

The culture of any organization influences the net output of any product or service it produces. That being said, the manufacturing of products brings complexity with an order of magnitude that can affect the net output at any given point along the build cycle, starting with the sub-component supply chain to final pack.

Catching up with Cosmotronic’s Gary Abel

Cosmotronic’s history spans a number of decades, from the hot-as-hell boom days of the '60s and early '70s when Southern California was leading the world in electronics, from weaponry to avionics to apace exploration. Today, as innovation has become more focused on personal electronics, Cosmotronic has been there, leading the way and serving a customer base that is uniquely similar to the one they had back in the day.

Recruiting for Growth - An Interview with Jack Pattie, President & CEO of Ventec USA

Ventec USA is growing its successful US team, whilst others seem to be suffering from closures, stock downgrades and market challenges. I caught up with Ventec USA President Jack Pattie to find out why they are busy bucking trends.

American Standard Circuits Taking Business to New Heights

PCB007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman sat down with American Standard Circuits President Anaya Vardya at the recent SMTAI show and conference in Rosemont, IL. Anaya wanted to share all the great new things going on at his company. Among the topics they discussed: new equipment, new processes, new people, and what it all means for ASC’s growth.

All About Flex: Plated Through-holes in Flexible Circuits

There is probably no more important feature than the plated through-hole (also called via or via hole) with regard to the reliability and integrity of a flexible circuit. The through-hole provides electrical connection between insulated layers and enables electrical functionality on double-sided and multilayer flexible circuits.

Book Review: A Team of Leaders

Many changes have occurred in the workplace in the past 25 years. Great efforts have been made to increase productivity. Companies have been hit with so many financial challenges that their people have been stretched to the limit when it comes to being able to take a breath, coordinate with their follow workers and come together as a team, with common goals.


Flex Circuit Shielding Design Options

Shielding may not be your company’s number one design concern when thinking about your interconnect designs. But if you have to shield circuits for EMI, then you will need to depend on your supplier to assist you with their favorite shielding technique and experience.

Interim CEO Jeff McCreary Discusses Recent Changes at Isola

Isola’s Interim President and CEO Jeff McCreary explains to Barry Matties the impetus for the personnel reduction taking place at Isola, the closing of their northern California facility, and why there’s no need to panic. He also shares his view of what the industry may expect from Isola going forward and what the company is looking for in a new CEO, the name of which McCreary expects to announce in the next few months.

Book Review: Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins

Stories sell. Stories are what get your point across. They are the very best way to communicate with your customers, with your employees and just about everyone else you want to communicate with.

Catching up with Nujay Technologies: A Conversation with Urvi and Nesh Dholakia

I have been following value added vendor Nujay Technologies for a number of years now because I like their story and their positive and helpful attitude. Their mission, if you will, is to provide their customers with whatever they need. They are also willing to talk to their customers and prospective customers to find out what their biggest challenges are when it comes to finding and purchasing PCBs. Thus, they embody the classic definition of a business, which is to find a need and fill it.

Whelen Engineering Reduces Cycle Time by Building a New Automated PCB Factory

With the Chinese stock market in turmoil and China’s wage scales still rising, one might think this would fuel new hope for U.S. PCB manufacturers trying to gain traction in a marketplace that’s been dominated by their Asian counterparts for the better part of two decades. But despite chatter about reshoring of late, the general consensus in the industry doesn’t seem overly optimistic that substantial change will occur.

Book Review: Make it Matter

Look, it’s pretty straightforward isn’t it? People work harder and are much more passionate when they know that what they are doing has a purpose and a meaning and what they are doing is important.

The Application of Advanced Ultrasonics in Metal Plating Processes

Most surface modification chemical treatments by their very nature contain hazardous and oxidising chemicals; there is a major concern that these chemicals are used maliciously with the intent to manufacture explosives or formulate poisons to harm the public. Cyanide-based plating solutions and high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide used in current techniques are a significant use of these materials in industry.

New Leadership at MuTracx

I-Connect007's Barry Matties speaks with Arnoud De Geus, managing director of the Sioux Group, who discusses the recent integration of MuTracx into the Sioux Group, and how Whelen Engineering, who has installed the MuTracx Lunaris primary imaging equipment and happens to be the United States’ first captive PCB manufacturing facility in many years, will impact U.S. manufacturing.

Book Review: No Sweat

People don’t do things they don’t want to do, especially in our industry, and they sure as shooting don’t do things they hate doing. Instead, they do things they like to do, and that is what this book is all about. This book is about fitness. It’s a book about staying motivated to stay fit.

Semico Impact Conference 2015: The Coming of Age of Hardware Technologies

For most of us who are deeply involved in the electronics hardware market, we are used to talking about new products and technologies, the future of things to come, and probably most importantly, the challenges or issues that we, as an industry, are facing.


Book Review: The Hidden Leader

The true leader is one who is customer purposed, not just customer service but purpose which means a much deeper understanding of the customers. Wanting to learn everything possible about a customers in order to serve them better than they have ever been served before. A true leader makes it her purpose to develop her company’s products and services in such a way that they will make her customers successful and hence unable to live without them.

Testing Flexible Circuits, Part 2: Raw Materials and Components

Even though the raw materials may individually meet certain specifications, it is important to determine if the final product configuration meets those specs. So testing done at the finished circuit level is also needed. Tests specific to the finished circuit will be the topic of our next column on testing.

Book Review: Learning to Succeed

It’s time we took learning seriously. For many years things in business were static enough or at least much more static that they are today so that you could go to college, get your MBA and then be set for life.

The Reindustrialisation of Europe

With an inquisitive mind and a head for challenges, besides the ability to think outside the box and the courage to dare to be different and strive to be first, Spirit Circuits MD Steve Driver can be relied upon to grab the attention of an audience of PCB professionals. As keynote speaker at the Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar, he lived up to his reputation with a motivational presentation, the two themes of which exemplified his latest entrepreneurial venture.

Final Surface Finishes for Automotive: No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Regardless of whether your application is automotive, medical or military, there are many factors to consider when selecting a final surface finish. Cost, lead or lead-free requirements, end environment, shelf life, fine-pitch components, RF applications, probe-ability, thermal resistance and shock and drop resistance, to name a few. There is not a one-size-fits-all finish. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each surface finish allows the designer to select the finish that best fits each particular application.

How to Handle Short Development Cycles

By focusing on developing relationships, delegation and avoidance of mistakes, you can make your next project a success and improve the current one. Be open-minded and analyze your situation without bias. Simple changes that are implemented as culture will ensure your success in the environment we operate in today.

Automotive Technology: The Next Driving Force in Electronic Manufacturing

The devices we have come to expect in luxury and high-end vehicles are now becoming available and even common in lower priced ones. While that significantly increases automotive electronic device manufacture volume, the next wave, will dwarf what we have experienced to date. Soon, we will be considering the self-driving, fully connected and self-learning vehicle that is part of a network that teaches and learns from its peers.

HDI Technology - Flex Circuits

The flex circuit industry in North America is moving rather quickly. The packaging densities are moving to smaller and the electrical requirements much faster. In order to keep pace with the industry requirements of HDI, North American flex vendors need to invest in equipment, resources and R&D.

Detroit vs. Silicon Valley: What’s Driving the Proliferation of Automotive Electronics?

For the past several decades, modern cars have not changed much. They have four wheels, an engine, a radio (possibly even an 8-track) and seatbelts. Over time, however, cars’ electronics parts have evolved faster than any other part of a car with enhancements like power windows, power mirrors, seat heaters and GPS navigation.

Flex Market Evolution

Flex circuits are designed to solve electronic packaging and assembly problems, solve interconnection issues, assist in miniaturization, and provide a dynamic electro-mechanical solution. They are configured with repeatable conductors that foolproof assembly errors. Flex is used in designs where standard printed circuit boards, connectors and cable assemblies just don’t provide the right electrical or mechanical solution.


Why are PCBs Green?

Why are PCBs green? This is one of the questions I get asked when people ask of me what do I do for a living, especially after I explain that my company supplies the little green things that one will find in pretty much anything and everything you purchase today that you cannot eat or drink.

Integrating with Gardien Group's Roland Valentini

Gardien Group is one of those companies that are always looking out for their customers. The company is, without a doubt, the last word when it comes to bare board quality assurance, focused on helping customers deliver the most electrically sound boards in the business. Gardien’s technologists are experts at testing and other quality assurance disciplines. For more than 30 years, Gardien has been in the business, originally as the equipment manufacturer Mania.

Improved Design of Dry Film Resist Laminator for Optimal Transfer of Micron-sized Features

Since the inception of dry film lamination, the process of squeezing two hot rolls at their end axis points has caused roll bending. An innovative process has now been developed whereby the film is attached with a process that minimizes this issue and provides optimal, evenly dispersed heat and pressure across the entire surface of the panel. This simple and elegant design will ensure that the integrity of the resulting image will be ideal, as measured by the continuity of the resulting transferred traces and features.

Plating and Quality are Close Partners

A good plating manager is a seasoned veteran with many years of hands-on experience and probably an engineering degree. Bob Tarzwell sees firsthand how PCB manufacturers, without the proper plating shop set-up operations, knowledge and experience, adapt and accept poor practices as normal while they continue with poor quality processes—even after attempted corrective input from vendors and consultants.

Fighting the War on Failure with Supplier Analytics: An Interview with Fane Friberg

Steve Williams sat down with operations and supply chain expert Fane Friberg to talk about how a company can only be as good as its supply base, and how driving supplier improvement directly impacts product improvement.

The War on Process Failure

Who out there thought of it as a war? Is it? Well, we think it is—and a never-ending one at that. In fact, we thought it significant enough to devote all three of our August issues to the subject, because no matter how good you are or how great things are running, Murphy’s Law is right there, ready to take you down a peg or two—or worse.

Latent Short Circuit Failure in High-Rel PCBs due to Cleanliness of PCB Processes and Base Materials

Latent short circuit failure of power PCBs has been associated with fiber contamination of the dielectric material. Tests and inspections have shown various sources of contamination in laminate, prepreg and on etched innerlayers. It has been demonstrated by IR tests that contamination can cause breach of insulation due to electromigration.

The War on Process Failure Continues in August Issue of The PCB Magazine

The August issue of The PCB Magazine is focused on the war on process failure. This subject of process failure turns out to be quite broad and affects essentially everyone in our industry, from the raw material suppliers to the circuit designer to the PCB processor to the assembly folks and on to the OEM. We all have a hand in it, both causing and solving problems and benefiting from solutions. You will find several appropos and useful articles in this issue.

Supply Chain in the 21st Century

The shift away from vertical integration has pushed the topic of supply chain management to the forefront of strategic planning for many manufacturers. This wide-ranging article talks about supply chain management, a brief history of supply chain innovation, managing supply chain risk, as well as presents the "7 Rights" of supply chain management.

A Well-Designed Laminate Supply Chain has to Own It!

Suppliers must use industry knowledge, robust systems, clever software and total visibility to build a supply chain agile enough for any PCB fabricator. Consigned stock, local customization, regional hubs, short manufacturing cycles, controlled processes and highly evolved systems are just a few of the tools needed to develop custom fit solutions that flex and move with the needs of the fabricator and their customers. You can only design the supply chain when you own the supply chain.


An Update on the Rogers Material Supply Line

As part of a recent I-Connect007 supply chain survey, we found that RF laminate material can be very difficult to obtain. Rogers Corporation was named specifically in our survey as one supplier with a limited amount of material available. In fact, their delivery time was reported as being as high as 55 days for some materials at one point. In an industry where quick turnaround time is critical, this is one supply line that killed any hope of being quick.

Innovative Technologies Drive PCB Industry Growth

PCB growth has slowed in recent years, though last year the growth rate was slightly higher than the 2% of the last three years. Estimates by IEK of Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan show that the PCB industry will continue to grow in 2015 at a rate of 3-5% with an annual output of RMB 576 billion (USD 93.8 billion).

EIPC Summer Conference: Day 2

Refreshed after an excellent conference dinner, and for most, a good night’s sleep, delegates returned for the second day of the EIPC Summer Conference in Berlin, continuing the theme of improving profitability through technical leadership and innovation to meet future market requirements, with sessions on materials and processes for high performance PCBs and advanced material testing strategies to meet OEM and ODM needs.

EIPC Summer Conference, Berlin: Day 1

Berlin, capital of Germany and a world city of culture, politics, media and science, was the venue for the 2015 EIPC Summer Conference, which attracted delegates from sixteen countries, including Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, Israel, USA and Canada, as well as the European Union, to experience a programme of 21 technical presentations over two days. Also included was a visit to the Berlin laboratories of Fraunhofer Institute, Europe’s largest application-oriented research organisation.

Revolutionizing Equipment Repair & Service

Guest Editor Steve Williams sits down with Randy Cook of CalTeks and Yash Sutariya of Alpha Circuits to talk about servicing equipment, especially foreign equipment not previously available in North America. With quality service now readily available, one can take advantage of considerably less expensive equipment being manufactured in China.

Wearable Technology and Flexible Circuits

Flexible circuits are an ideal fit for wearable technology. Wearable electronics need to be light, dense and bendable. While what is currently considered standard flexible circuit technology is more than adequate for many the wearable products, there are requirements that may be pushing the boundaries a bit.

Flexible Circuit Materials for High-Temperature Applications

To meet the increasing needs for flexible circuit materials for high-temperature applications, new test methods will need to be developed. These new methods will assign new ratings that are consistent with actual performance.

eSurface Breaking Down Barriers for Murrietta

Murrietta Circuits is the first facility in North America successfully processing PCBs made with the eSurface technology. Andy Murrietta talks with Guest Editor Judy Warner about the key benefits, including greatly improved line geometry, trace tolerance, and peel strength.

HDPUG and High-Frequency Test Methodologies

CEO Brian Butler talks with Guest Editor Bob Neves about the HDP User Group, an industry consortium that is developing test methodologies and programs. Brian decribes three of the current subcommittees: Material Characterization; Back Drill, having to do with defect detection and reliability; and Copper Surface Roughness.

The Flex-to-Fit Approach

The flex-to-fit concept reminds us that creativity and engineering go hand-in-hand. When there is not ample space for a conventional approach, this process, which is the convergence of the mechanical world and the electronics world, results in the ability to design a flexible circuit along the contour of an existing, irregularly shaped structure.


Precision Back-drilling High-Speed PCBs? No Problem!

Grant Christiansen of Schmoll Maschinen discusses the latest developments for high-speed back-drilling, particularly for the North American market. He stresses the importance of both software and machine capability, along with working closely with the customer.

NEPCON China 2015 a Resounding Success in Shanghai

The three-day event was a complete success, bringing together nearly 22,000 trade visitors and high-quality buyers, as well as 450 leading brand names from 22 countries and regions worldwide. NEPCON China keeps up with market trends and gathers resources from all stakeholders to present a comprehensive event that covers SMT, new electronics materials, soldering, dispensing, electronics automation, measurement and other innovative technologies and products across the world.

Flexible Circuits and UAV Applications

The utility offered by flexible circuits in UAVs mimics the advantages that make it popular in other portable electronic applications: lightweight, thin, highly reliable, flexible during use, and an ability to electrically connect across multiple layers as part of a complete packaging interconnect solution.

The Importance of Harmonized Standards that Benefit All

I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey caught up with Amphenol applications engineer Sean Keating at IPC APEX EXPO. Keating explains his company’s commitment to proactive participation in the establishment of standards, his personal experience working on standards committees, and his view on the importance of harmonised global standards.

The Growing Role of the Added-Value PCB Distributor

Dan Beaulieu talks with Nesh Dholakia, president of Nujay. Value-add is not just for low-technology sourcing, but increasingly for high-technology multilayer as well as difficult-to-source technologies in low-cost areas domestically.

IPC Validation Services 2014

Guest Editor Judy Warner talks with IPC's Director of Validation Services, Randy Cherry. Randy has been busy since launching IPC's Validation Services a year ago, with 16 QML audits completed and rapidly growing interest shown at this year's show. Randy also discusses future plans for auditing to IPC intellectual property standards 1071A and 1072, as well as to PCB standard 6012.

Design Considerations: Flexible Circuit vs. Traditional PCB

The tactics for flexible circuit design don’t differ much from that of traditional PCBs. All of the typical specifications still apply and we add a few more things that require special attention. Cover layers require bigger openings than traditional solder mask, trace directions matter in the flex areas and miters should be round instead of angular.

Benefits of Buying Certified Rebuilt Equipment Over New

ETI's Eric Winkler tells Guest Editor Steve Williams about ETI's expansion to four locations worldwide. ETI not only rebuilds PCB equipment but also tests, guarantees, and installs it for their customers, some of whom provide wish lists.

Building a Better Solder Mask & Legend - Layer by Layer

Camtek's VP of Functional Inkjet Technologies Dr. Boaz Nitzan talks with Guest Editor Kelly Dack about inkjet printing solder mask and legend. The technology uses the actual image of the board being processed, which means misregistration is eliminated.

Nine New Exciting Products Introduced

Insulectro's VP of Sales, Ken Parent, discusses new products including high-speed laminate, high-temp flex materials, LDI dry film, conformal back-up material for flex-rigid,and printed electronics materials that will enable new technology in the PCB world. He also talks about their "Accomplish Change Together" program.


Call to Action: Participation in Industry Specifications Development

Jim Monarchio,TTM's director of quality, encourages participation in IPC standards development, especially from those manufacturing PCBs. With technology changing so rapidly, involvement at all levels of the supply chain can help ensure specifications remain realistic.

Checking in with Fast Growing Bay Area Circuits

Stephen talks with Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu about what's new at BAC, including their new 3-D soldermask machine that cures as it prints. With over 60% of their business in quick turn prototypes, process speed is top priority.

Interesting Nanomaterial-based Electronic Inks from Intrinsiq

Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad talks with Intrinsiq Material's CEO Sujatha Ramanujan about the various applications for their unique nano copper material. One application is as a paste for conductive via fill; another is to simply sinter the nano copper particles in an oven to create an ultra-thin copper foil.

eSurface Technology Partners with Laminate Suppliers

Innovative surface treatment is an enabler for fully additive circuit fabrication, and opens up new opportunities for ultra-thin copper technology.

Inkjet Solder Mask Becomes a Practical Reality

Inkjet solder mask has for many years been a distant, near-impossible, goal for the PCB industry. Hopes have been raised on several occasions, only to fade when the ink either won’t jet or won’t pass end-user qualification. It is now evident that Taiyo’s many years of development in cooperation with equipment manufacturers have resulted in a successful formulation.

21 Years of Growth: A-Gas Electronic Materials Has 2020 Vision

Technical Editor Pete Starkey recently sat down for an interview with Jonathan Sellars, managing director of A-Gas Electronic Materials, at the company’s new facility in Rugby, UK. The company is a distributor of specialist chemicals and processes for semiconductor, PCB, electronic and industrial metal finishing, photovoltaic and advanced packaging technology industries. Sellars outlined the history of the company, its business philosophy and its future plans.

The Continuing Success Story of Lino's Mission

Lino's mission is following the plan. It's all about serving the customer and doing the best we can, Still having fun after 30 years in the industry.

Matrix Product Lines: Laminates and Drills

Fred reviews the Panasonic line of laminates, including high speed and flex materials. Hans discusses Jinzhou's new drill design for high aspect ratio drilling, as well as the opening of several high-tech re-pointing centers in North America.

Automation in Probe Testing Provides Throughput Benefits

The general migration from grid to prober for bare board testing continues, and even high-volume users now see the benefits of automation. Klaus Koziol explains how package testing is driving prober development.

HASLEN: A New High-Reliability Surface Finish for PCBs

The new surface finish HASLEN is a process that combines electroless nickel coating of PCBs with hot air solder levelling, very common processes used by most PCB manufacturers in the world. Solder levelling of electroless nickel is very difficult as very few solder fluxes are capable of removing the oxide layer from electroless nickel. This has been enabled by solder fluxes based on the novel liquids’ deep eutectic solvents.


Realignment of N.A. Operations Meets Special Industry Needs

Warren Kenzie first joined MacDermid Technical Operations in 1994, and he now has overall responsibility for technology in North America.

Upping the U.S. Service Level of Chinese Manufacturing

Eddie Tang of Glory Faith and Yash Sutariya, president of Alpha Circuit discuss the unique business relationship between their companies. Alpha provides consulting and technical service in North America for GF, including rework and emergency manufacturing capability in its North American plants.

Report: Big Changes at Eltek

Deputy CEO Roberto Tulman talks about the recent purchase of Eltek by Nistec, a large electronic manufacturing services provider in Israel. Nistec can now offer complete turnkey capability, from design through finished product.

Catching Up with Standard Printed Circuits’ Bob Bormann

Standard Printed Circuits is located in the tiny town of Sherburne in Upstate New York which is equidistant from the cities of Syracuse, Utica and Binghamton where they do a lot of business.

Quality Assurance Through Testing

The PCB Magazine columnist Todd Kolmodin of Gardien Services discusses the challenges related to the electrical testing of high-density PCBs, and what is required to meet IPC and military specifications.
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