Better to Light a Candle: Chapter 1—Prepping the Next Generation
There has been a considerable amount of (electronic) ink and words shared in our industry bemoaning the graying-out of our industry and the growing shortage of skilled people at all levels. (See the May 2017 PCB007 Magazine column “Help Wanted—and How!” for just one example). As is usually the case, though, when all is said and done, more has been said than done.
Robert Art on the Importance of Thermal Management
Robert Art, global account manager for IMS materials at Ventec International Group, discusses future market requirements for thermal management materials, the need for a better understanding of the concept of thermal impedance, and an initiative to propose a consistent industry-standard method for measuring thermal conductivity while at electronica 2018.
Top 10 Most-Read PCB Design Articles of 2018
Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular PCB design news, articles, interviews, and columns. Without further ado, here are the top 10 most-read PCB design articles from the past year. Check them out.
Susy Webb: The History and Future of the Designers Council
When we started planning this issue on the IPC Designers Council, I knew I’d have to speak with design instructor Susy Webb, a longtime DC member and currently an executive board officer. I asked Susy to discuss how she first got involved with the DC, why designers should join their local chapter, and what the future holds for this group.
Chris Nuttall Discusses NCAB Group's IPO and Future Plans
Editor Nolan Johnson sat down with Chris Nuttall, COO and VP of technology at NCAB Group, to discuss software tools, predictive reports, and the company's recent IPO.
Dock Brown on Succeeding at Failure Analysis
Dock Brown of DfR Solutions gave a keynote speech at SMTAI, “Requirements for Both Cleaning and Coating to Building Medical Hardware.” Barry Matties and Happy Holden sat down with Dock to discuss the current trends he sees in failure analysis, the concept of “rules versus tools,” and how predictive engineering software used early in the design cycle can help predict failures in components and microvias and drive cost down.
The Shape of Things to Come: Curved, Flexible, Stretchable, and Three-Dimensional Electronics
The seamless integration of electronics into flexible, curved, and even stretchable surfaces is being requested for several markets, such as automotive (dashboards, lighting, sensors), smart buildings (lighting facades, air quality, solar panels), medical (health patches, X-ray, analysis), and smart clothing (position tracking, sports).
Randy Burcham Discusses New Techniques for BOM, Daughterboards
During AltiumLive, I spoke with IOTA Engineering's Randy Burcham, who taught several classes during the event. He explained his methodology for filtering BOM data as well as his new approach to working with daughterboards and how he was up and running on Altium tools after only three days.
Successful Flex Circuit Design and Processing Guidelines
With the use of sensors and technology in everything from mobile phones to refrigerators, automobiles, and wearable medical devices, circuit boards are a component in many different types of products. In today’s world of electronics, any product with an on-off switch contains a circuit board.
Mentor Discusses New DFT, DFM, and Design Verification Tools
At electronica 2018, John McMillan, digital marketing program manager-Electronic Board Systems, and Mark Laing, business development manager-Valor Division of Mentor, a Siemens business, discuss new tools for PCB design verification, as well as design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for testing (DFT).
Martyn Gaudion on Signal Integrity Modelling and Stackup Tools
The accuracy of signal integrity modelling continues to improve, and stackup tools are becoming widely used, which now include material suppliers' datasheet information. During the recent electronica show in Munich, Germany, Martyn Gaudion, managing director at Polar Instruments, explained how Polar often serves as a bridge between PCB design and fabrication, and why educating his customers is so critical.
Ventec's Marketing Strategy and Their Newly Appointed Technology Ambassador
At electronica 2018, Mark Goodwin, chief operating officer at Ventec International Group, discusses the company’s marketing strategy along with their newly appointed technology ambassador, Alun Morgan, and how he sees the world.
New Designers Council Column: The Digital Layout
The IPC Designers Council is launching a new column in Design007 Magazine: “The Digital Layout.” I recently asked two IPC Designers Council (DC) Executive Board members, Mike Creeden and Stephen Chavez, to discuss the content and objective of their new column, and how this all ties in with the DC.
Meet All Flex’s New President and CEO Matt Keithly
All Flex Flexible Circuits and Heaters recently appointed Matt Keithly as their new president and CEO. In this exclusive interview, Keithly discusses his background, the direction of the company, and topics related to flexible circuits and other areas of All Flex’s business.
Stephen Chavez: Breaking the Design Data Bottleneck
When we started planning this issue on design data, I knew we’d have to speak with PCB designer and EPTAC design instructor Steph Chavez. In this interview, he explains some of the biggest issues related to good design data handoff, and he offers some ways forward.
Design Data: File Naming Conventions
Working for an EMS provider, I am often asked to make sense of customers’ PCB design data packages that must be audited for completeness and manufacturability. Quite often, EMS operations receive data to produce a PCB design and begin the auditing process, only to be called off due to customer changes. Sometimes the data is incomplete, or it is missing one or more of the data files required to fabricate the PCB at the supplier. There are also occasions where a customer has sent files that were supposed to be the updated version but were not changed at all.
Life Beyond 10 Gbps: Localize or Fail!
Ideally, all interconnects should look like uniform transmission lines (or wave-guiding structures) with the specified characteristic impedance. In reality, an interconnect link is typically composed of transmission lines of different types (microstrip, strip, coplanar, coaxial, etc.) and transitions between them such as vias, connectors, breakouts and so on. Transmission lines may be coupled to each other that cause crosstalk. The transitions may reflect and radiate energy due to discontinuities in signal and reference conductors. The crosstalk, reflections and radiation cause unwanted and sometime unpredictable signal degradation.
150+ Years of Experience: Reflections with Three Industry Icons
You would be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable and experienced group than that of Gary Ferrari, Gene Weiner, and Happy Holden. In a brief interview with Barry Matties, these three industry icons consider the past, present, and future state of electronics manufacturing while also offering advice to the newest generation of manufacturers.
Julie Ellis: Communication and Fabrication Knowledge Critical for Designers
Field Application Engineer Julie Ellis of TTM sees it all: good designs, bad designs, and everything in between. Her classes on proper DFM techniques are always a big draw. She taught at the inaugural AltiumLive in 2017 and was back at this year’s event. I caught up with Julie and asked her to discuss some of the things she covered in class. As she points out, many issues could be eliminated if designers communicated with their fabricators and had a better understanding of how PCBs are manufactured.
Strategies to Manage Your China Business Through Turbulence
While the United States may be the world’s most open market, China remains the most competitive, and is still viewed by most U.S. and EU companies as the "last great opportunity for growth.” Many companies want to gain entry to the Chinese market share for their products or services. Thus, the competition for sales of products or services is correspondingly intense. Here's how to succeed in the world's second largest economy.
RTW SMTAI: LiloTree's Shah Discusses Hyper Corrosion, Black Pad in ENIG
Dr. Kunal Shah, chief scientist and president of LiloTree, talks about the major issues in ENIG, such as hyper corrosion—which can be very benign, or very extreme, resulting to black pad—and how LiloTree is helping to improve the performance and efficiency of the ENIG finish processes.
Jeff Waters: Isola Updates
During PCB West 2018, Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties sat down with Jeff Waters, Isola CEO, to catch up on company activities, including the recent sale of the factory in Chandler, Arizona, the plan to build a new facility, product developments, current market dynamics, a new CFO, and much more.
Cadence Presents New Software System and Technical Papers at PCB West 2018
During PCB West 2018, I spoke with Dan Fernsebner, product marketing group director, and Hemant Shah, product management group director for enterprise PCB products, both with Cadence Design Systems, about their new software launch—DesignTrue DFM Ecosystem. Fernsebner and Shah also address recent technical papers from Cadence on Industry 4.0, IPC-2581, system-level design, and return-path analysis and management.
Altium Designer Increasingly Used for High-Speed Design
I recently met with Mark Forbes, the director of technical marketing at Altium, during the AltiumLive event in San Diego. We discussed Mark’s class on MCAD/ECAD collaboration and the success of AltiumLive, as well as the growth of Altium users who design high-speed PCBs with Altium Designer.
Copper Pillar Plating Systems: High Speed, Low Heat
The industry is seeing ever-more stringent requirements of interconnect technologies (ICT) from die through final assembly, in particular digital and analog high frequencies, undistorted signal propagation and efficient heat propagation are concerned.
Catching up With Scott McCurdy and Freedom CAD
During PCB West, Scott McCurdy of Freedom CAD Services sat down with Technical Editor Tim Haag for an interview. We discussed Freedom CAD’s latest news, some trends in PCB design software tools, and the continuing need to draw more young people into a career in PCB design.
Rick Hartley is Bullish on PCB Design, 3D Printing
At the recent PCB West in Silicon Valley, Consulting Technical Editor Tim Haag met with long-time design industry veteran Rick Hartley to discuss the changing landscape of circuit board design, the layout designers of the future, and how designers can benefit from 3D printing of circuit boards.
Darwin E. George: Seeking PCB Design Job at Retirement Age
Some of us dream of living a life of leisure at 70. But not Darwin E. George. This septuagenarian wants to find a job designing PCBs. We met up with Darwin at AltiumLive, where he was networking and trying to get his foot in the door with one of the companies that are hiring now. Darwin told us about his career in PCB design, his experience learning a new EDA tool, and why he would rather design high-speed PCBs instead of playing shuffleboard for the rest of his life.
Flex Talk: Additive Electronics—PCB Scale to IC Scale
SAP, mSAP, SLP—what kind of crazy acronyms have we adopted now, and how much do you really need to know? In terms of consumer electronics, there is a good chance that the smartphone attached to your hand at all times contains a PCB fabricated with this technology—or at the very least, the next-generation smartphone that you purchase will utilize mSAP technology.
RTW SMTAI: MacDermid's Lenora Clark Talks Automotive Electronics Trends
Lenora Clark, director for end-user applications at MacDermid, discusses some of the trends happening in the automotive electronics industry. She talks about how her company is educating their customers in the automotive electronics sector on the available technologies in other markets such as military and aerospace, telecommunications—even the handheld market—and how they can adopt these technologies in their industry.
Mentor and TEXMAC Takaya Team up to Optimize DFT
At SMTAI, Mark Laing of Mentor, a Siemens Business, and Dave Levine of TEXMAC Takaya, sat down with Editor Nolan Johnson to discuss design for test, and their collaboration to improve DFT in PCB design tools and test machinery. They also traced the evolution of DFT over the past decade as it has begun to "left-shift" farther into the realm of the designer, all the way up to schematic entry.
RTW SMTAI: NCAB Discusses Its Sustainability Programs
Doug Drayer, General Manager, Central Region, at NCAB Group, details the company's three-pronged sustainability programs and ISO 26000. He also talks about the company’s recent successful listing in the Stockholm Stock Exchange, and the importance of working with the customers especially during the design process.
Smartphone Substrate-Like PCBs Will Revolutionize the IC Substrate and PCB Markets
The smartphone is one of the high value-add products that carries a very high demand for miniaturization. Customers expect larger screens, cameras with high resolution, and various other functions, in lighter and thinner phones.
The Changing Shape of the HDI Market
With more mobile device designers looking to utilize the benefits of FOWLP and other direct attach package types, a new generation of HDI PCBs is already in the market. Targeting less than 30 mm features and based on mSAP techniques, these substrate-like PCBs make use of the latest high-end manufacturing processes and materials, to enable the next evolution in advanced HDI boards.
Cadence: Bullish on AI
David White has been involved with artificial intelligence research for almost 30 years. Now, David is the senior group director of R&D for Cadence Design Systems, and I knew we’d have to speak with him for this issue on AI. In a recent interview, we discussed his decades of work in AI, Cadence’s research into AI and machine learning, and what he believes AI could mean for the EDA tools of the future.
GP Ventures’ Tom Kastner on PCB Mergers and Acquisitions
Tom Kastner, president of GP Ventures, he has his finger on the pulse of the industry's mergers and acquisitions (M&A) more than anyone. In this interview, Kastner provides insights on the right time to buy, how to evaluate your company's worth, and when it is too late.
Sunshine Global Circuits Discusses its Rapid, Targeted Growth
In an interview with I-Connect007, Jimmy Fang, VP of business development at Sunshine Global PCB Group, speaks about the key demand drivers for the PCB industry, the challenges in the market, and the opportunities they are seeing.
AltiumLive 2018 a Mecca for PCB Designers
AltiumLive 2018 San Diego is now in the history books. This is the second annual AltiumLive (North America), and it was even better than the first. With nearly 300 hundred participants, from all parts of the country and industry, the event was a huge success.
What's FLITE About? An Old Man's Observations
FLITE—Female Leaders in Tech, Everywhere—aims to raise the visibility of females in technology, manufacturing, and engineering by celebrating their achievements and learning from their experiences. I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey sit in on FLITE's networking event at the recent What's New in Electronics (WNIE) Live show to find out more about this enterprise, which turned out to be an inspirational eye-opener.
SLP: The Next Level of Technology
As our electronic devices and machines become more powerful and as Moore’s Law chugs along, things in the world of PCBs keep getting smaller. You know the drill—finer lines and spaces, thinner laminates, more layers— cram more circuitry into the same or shrinking area. Where will it all end? Or will it?
Artificial Intelligence: More Questions than Answers
I’ve been covering artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies for years, particularly at events such as the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). As I write this, we are in the run-up to CES 2019, and the Artificial Intelligence Conference in San Francisco, so the AI landscape is likely to change—at an ever-accelerating rate. Let’s look at some of the challenges facing AI now, and then after CES 2019 we can take another look.
Moving From 28 Gbps NRZ to 56 Gbps PAM-4: Is it a Free Lunch?
The usual way of signaling through PCB interconnects is a two-level pulse, an encoding of 1s and 0s or bits, named NRZ (non-return-to-zero) or PAM-2 line code type. Increasing the data rate with the NRZ code type presents some obstacles. For a 28 Gbps NRZ signal, the bit time is about 35.7 ps with the main spectral lobe below 28 GHz. For a 56 Gbps NRZ signal, the bit time is about 17. 86 ps, with the main spectral lobe below 56 GHz. One can feel the problem already: Getting PCB interconnect analysis and measurements up to 56 GHz and beyond is very challenging, to say the least.
Building a Better Board: It Always Comes Back to Communication
For our experts meeting on the August’s theme of reliability, we reached out to Colonial Circuits and asked them to participate in a conference call with our I-Connect007 editorial team consisting of Dan Feinberg, Andy Shaughnessy, Patty Goldman, and Happy Holden. Joining the call from Colonial Circuits was Mark Osborn, president and CEO, Kevin Knapp, quality manager, and Rodney Krick, manufacturing manager.
From Trend to Game Changer: Which Technology Will Make the Cut?
At the recent EIPC Summer Conference, Hans Friedrichkeit of the PCB Network gave an engaging presentation on artificial intelligence and future technologies, which was well received by attendees. Who better than Hans to offer insight on which future megatrends might truly become game changers? Publisher Barry Matties sat down with Hans to get his take on trends such as 5G, autonomous cars and 3D printing.
Managing the Challenges of Flex and Rigid-Flex Design
PCB designers working with flex or rigid-flex technology face many potential risks that can derail a project and cause costly design failures. As the name implies, flex and rigid-flex designs comprise a combination of rigid and flexible board technologies made up of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates, attached internally and/or externally to one or more rigid boards. These combinations provide flexibility for the PCB designer working on dense designs that require a specific form factor. Rigid-flex allows the PCB design team to cost-efficiently apply greater functionality to a smaller volume of space, while providing the mechanical stability required by most applications.
Ventec Keeps 'Shaking Things Up' with tec-speed 20.0
At the EIPC summer conference, I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties caught up with Ventec Europe & Americas COO Mark Goodwin, who provided an update on Ventec’s new products, the current state of the company, and how Ventec is shaking things up in the materials marketplace.