Article Highlights
Viking: Covering the Globe with Value-Added Services
12/14/2017 | Barry Matties, I-Connect007
Institute of Circuit Technology Harrogate Seminar 2017
12/13/2017 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Full-Service Plating at Hofstetter
12/12/2017 | Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
RTW…HKPCA & IPC Show 2017 Highlights With Canice Chung
12/08/2017 | Real Time with...HKPCA and IPC
HKPCA & IPC Show 2017: IPC Asia’s Philip Carmichael on the Changes in PCB Value Chain
12/07/2017 | Real Time with...HKPCA and IPC

Latest Articles

PCB Auditing at the Next Level

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

IPC, ITI to Address Environmental Compliance Requirements

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

Laminate Technical Support for OEM Designers from Isola

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

Key Factors Influencing Laminate Material Selection for Today's PCBs

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

Sticking to His Roots Earns Carano IPC Hall of Fame Nod

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

Sunstone on New Initiatives and Lean Focus

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

Smart Data Transfer Formats Automate CAM/CAD Design to Fabrication

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

Mike Carano Inducted Into IPC Hall of Fame

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

Tom Sandman Named IPC's New CFO

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

Rejuvenation of an American PCB Maker

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


How Lean Manufacturing Adds Value to PCB Production

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

Viking Moves On

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

The Internet of Things Drives New PCB Design Approach

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

Sanmina on Hybrid Materials, Testing, and Challenges

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

Change Your Dam Thinking: Are Boringly Predictable Operations Possible?

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

Closing the Gap Between Design and Fab

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

Validate Your Model Data

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

The Pros and Cons of PCB Surface Finishes

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

Standard Operating Procedure at Molex

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

Thompson & Dack on Value-Added Vendor Visits

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


Coonrod & Oliver Partner on Materials Workshop

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

Book Review: Time Management

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

Isola Materials: 100 Gb/s and Beyond

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

Sourcing in China: The Real Deal

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

A New Approach to Vias from Insulectro

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

TTM Reports Strong Q4 and FY 2013 Results

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

Streamline Circuits: Investing in the Future of its Customers

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

Determining Phosphorus Content in EN Plating Using XRF Spectroscopy

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

Characteristics of EPIG Deposits for Fine-Line Applications

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

EIPC Excited About Winter Conference and WECC Events

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


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

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

All Things Automotive at CES 2014

Philip Stoten wraps up what's happening in the automotive world at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. Having talked to many car makers and automotive OEMs, he shares his view on the impact of these technologies on the future driving experience as well as their impact on the very different supply chains of the car and consumer electronics industries.

IPC Redefines Microvias, Again

In 2013, IPC changed its definition of a microvia. Before then, a microvia was defined as any printed board with holes that have a diameter of equal to or less than 0.15 mm [0.006 in]. Over time, that size became common, while more challenging geometries emerged to alter the definition of microvia structures.

Doduco Leads the Way in Bonding Surface Finishes

Ulrich Blendl, business unit manager at Doduco GmbH, joins Guest Editor Bob Neves to talk about his company's different palladium-based finishes and the advantages of palladium use for surface finishes.

Gardien Delivers Integrated Bare Board Test Solutions

Heiko Henrich, managing director of Gardien Europe, explains how bare board testing throughput can be increased by a factor of 7 when the Acceler8 scanner is integrated with the G60 flying probe system. He also describes how the inScan final inspection system delivers a more consistent performance than can be achieved with a human inspector.

A "Drawing" Paints More Than a Thousand Words

Globalization requires paying attention to many details, some of them unexpected. As IPC began increasing the number of standards that are translated and converting documents into more languages, they quickly found that one drawing can be worse than 1,000 words.

2014 Forecast and Surprising New Companies

Hamed El-Abd, president of WKK, joins Guest Editor Bob Neves to reflect on the past year and provide his forecast for 2014. Hamed details the increase in world-class Chinese capital equipment manufacturers exhibiting at this year's HKPCA & IPC show.

Catching up with Canadian Circuits

Columnist Dan Beaulieu says, "We often hear about the large global PCB companies, but seldom about the smaller ones like Canadian Circuits--companies that, for many years, were the very backbone of our industry. With consolidations, mergers, and globalization, not many companies like Canadian Circuits are left."

Field Notes: Is Social Media Marketing Relevant?

Columnist Judy Warner's column, "Does Marketing Matter?" was so well received, she thought it worthwhile to plumb a bit deeper into the adoption of social media marketing and its relevance for the PCB industry. Here, she shares a few tools from her toolbox to help you navigate through the murky waters.

ICT Joins New Project to Battle Effluent with Crab Shells

The Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) has recently joined a new multi-partner research and development project to investigate the use of materials derived from crab shells for capturing and recovering metals from PCB manufacturing effluent. Professor Martin Goosey reports.


CBT and Maskless Strike Alliance

President and CEO Dr. Bill Elder explains that 400 direct imaging (DI) systems have now been installed worldwide. Maskless' DI system is well-known in the industry and their new distributor, Chime Ball Technology (CBT), is committed to supporting customers in China.

German Market for PCBs: Automotive and Industrial

Ventec's Thomas Michels gives an overview of the market for PCBs in Germany, dominated by automotive and industrial sectors. He describes how Ventec has recognized the substrate requirements for LED vehicle lighting, with a range of high-thermal-conductivity IMS materials.

Delivering the Right Imaging Solution

Wim Perdu, chief technology officer at ACB in Belgium, joins Ucamco Managing Director Karel Tavernier to explain how LED-based direct imaging of solder mask benefits the manufacturing of specialized, high-reliability PCBs.

India's Industry Ready to Serve Globally

IPCA President Viral Bhulani came with Indian government representives to the HKPCA & IPC Show. The group discussed infrastructure improvement and the great progress achieved in the last couple of years--they think India's PCB industry is ready to serve the global market's needs.

HKPCA & IPC Show Now Largest in Asia

This year, the HKPCA & IPC Show has merged with APEX, leading to a big improvement for the SMT industry side at this year's event. HKPCA Chairman Canice Chung and Vice Chairman Thomas Li explain how the show space has grown to 14,000 square meters, making it the largest industry show in Asia.

Industry Supports IPC-2581 Implementation

Now that the standard has been released, the focus shifts to moving it into production. As with many standards, there's always concern about adoption. Since previous attempts to standardize this application have been disappointing, there's already a significant effort to make sure IPC-2581B sees adoption.

Burkle Sees European Market Stabilization & Steady Growth

Vice President Dave Howard joins Technical Editor Pete Starkey on the productronica 2013 show floor to provide an honest view of the state of the market for capital equipment in Europe and North America.

Domestic vs. Offshore PCB Manufacturing

If you are sending your PCB manufacturing offshore, what factors weighed heaviest in your decision-making? How do you know if offshore manufacturing still makes sense for you? This article considers both simple and complex ideas for cost-benefit analysis to help guide your decision process.

Simpler Sharing of Design Files on the Horizon

Myriad acronyms segment the world of design tools: CAD, CAM, CAE, and PLM to name a few. Whether the tools are computer-aided design/manufacturing/engineering or product life cycle management, there's a push to ensure that diverse design tools from multiple suppliers can communicate freely.

Steve Williams Writes a New Chapter

Having spent his entire career learning the best ways to manufacture high-quality products, Steve Williams now wants to pass on that knowledge and experience to his clients through his new venture--Steve Williams Consulting. He recently spoke with Editor Ray Rasmussen about the newest chapter in his life.


Second Report: IPC Standards Committee

These standards committee reports from IPC's Fall Standards Development Committee Meetings have been compiled to help keep readers up to date on IPC standards committee activities. This is the second report in the series.

EIPC Chairman on WECC 2014 World Conference

Alun Morgan, EIPC chairman, joins Technical Editor Pete Starkey to describe the build-up to the 2014 WECC World Conference, to be held in Nuremberg, Germany, May 7-9, 2014. Morgan explains how the various industry associations are cooperating to ensure its success.

EPTE Newsletter from Japan: Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines leaving a trail of damage and destruction. The typhoon was the strongest to make landfall in recorded history. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people are dead or missing and millions more remain homeless.

First Report: IPC Standards Committee

These standards committee reports from IPC's Fall Standards Development Committee Meetings (co-located with SMTAI) have been compiled to help keep the industry up to date on IPC standards committee activities. This is the first in a series of reports.

Tomorrow's PCB Will Carry an ID

Beta LAYOUT Operations Manager Gernot Seeger joins Technical Editor Pete Starkey to explain a simple but elegant means of embedding RFID in PCBs, even single-sided, and describes applications in traceability, logistics, anti-counterfeiting, and recycling.

ENIG Leader Uyemura Expands Into New Markets

Uyemura Director of Operations Donald Walsh discusses his company's unique copper and finishing processes, as well as the recent expansion from a dedicated focus on bare boards to providing conformal coatings to the assembly sector as well.

Technical Demands Govern Ventec's UK Service Operations

Ventec's Chief Operating Officer Mark Goodwin discusses the technical service demands of the UK high-reliability PCB manufacturing sector, and explains how he's structured the Ventec operation to deliver the high level of support these fabricators expect of their supply chain.

The Design Challenges of Complex Automotive Electronics

Increasing electronic content of automotive vehicles is creating a wide range of design challenges for electrical engineers in the automotive industry. The large number of electronic components in today's vehicles and the huge number of possible combinations of optional equipment make it more difficult than ever to meet physical constraints. Zuken's Nikola Kontic and Humair Mandavia investigate.

Selective MiB Thermal and Power Pathways for Automotive Applications

A top-of-the-line vehicle may contain up to 150 electronic control units. Many of these are sensors or processors in cockpit applications; however, approximately 65% of the electronics value is in powertrain/body/chassis, according to PCB Network/ZVEI. And most of this involves digital power.

PCB Technology and Automotive Power Distribution System Design

PCB-based bussed electrical centers technology are just one of the many steps in the evolution of automotive electrical architecture, enabling vehicle safety improvement, the reduction of product over-design and waste, and more.


EPTE Newsletter: Panasonic to Exit Plasma TV Business

Recent reports say that Panasonic, the consumer electronics giant in Japan, may exit the plasma TV business in the near future. In poker terms, this is a "good fold." The company has lost billions in the TV business over the last few years.

UK Laminate Market: Use It or Lose It! Let the Buyer Beware

The temptation for the materials buyer to play one supplier against another is understandable. Professional commercial negotiation is reasonable and acceptable, but the provocation of a price war benefits no one: Inevitably, the OEM laminate supplier has the strength and resources to drive the merchant out of the market and take the opportunity to recover his costs--at the customer's expense.

Dragon Circuits: Old Company; New Name & Ideas

Raj and Gunny Babaria acquired North Texas Circuit Boards and began rebuilding the failing company. After shedding a few longtime employees and investing in new equipment, the two say they are ready to make Dragon Circuits into a twenty-first century technology company. The pair also discuss their drive to make PCBs attractive to the next generation.

Tips on Qualifying a Flex Fabricator

Dave Becker, vice president of sales for All Flex, joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss the current state of the flex industry and offers tips on qualifying a flex manufacturer, based on his article recently published in "The PCB Magazine."

Sunshine Circuits Embraces Advanced Technology

Jimmy Fang, vice president of business development, and Steve Beaudin, senior field engineer, discuss Sunshine Circuits' focus on using advanced technology. Sunshine is the first Chinese company licensed to use Integral Technology's Zeta laminates.

Amitron Leverages Facility in India

Tom Massman, accounts manager at PCB supplier Amitron Corporation, discusses his company's long history. He also explains to Editor Andy Shaughnessy how the company uses its 100,000 square foot manufacturing facility in India to its best advantage.

Selecting a Flexible Circuit Supplier

Most flex circuit suppliers offer some level of value-added assembly as their customer base continues to express a desire for a shorter supply chain. As products move into higher volumes and/or require more sophisticated assembly, contract manufacturers with these specialized capabilities look increasingly tempting.

What Onshoring Means for North America

The 2013 update to the study, "On-Shoring in the Electronics Industry: Trends and Outlook for North America," published by IPC, confirms that companies have continued to locate new operations in North America and are returning some existing operations to the region.

Alchemy in the Electronics Era

The adage that the only constant is change always holds true in electronics. In some areas, like wire bonding inside chip packages, change doesn’t occur too quickly, but it inevitably comes.

Catching up with Bob Tarzwell

Industry guru and inventor Bob Tarzwell has been largely off the radar since his move to the Bahamas several years ago. But he has been anything but idle. Columnist Dan Beaulieu spoke with Bob recently about his work with high-tech circuits, his resort, and his art work.


Note to the U.S. Government: Don't You Work for Us?

With recent events highlighting the intrusions on freedom of the press and freedom of speech, how soon before we regain control of our government? What happened to the government needing subpoenas before infringing on freedoms? How soon before we teach our politicians and bureaucrats to respect and fear us, and to realize that they work for us?

The Impact of Soldermask Processing on ENIG/ENEPIG Deposit Quality

Process control of the different steps involved in soldermask applications is paramount to the success of the ENIG/ENEPIG deposit. Out-of-control processing could lead to skip plating, and/or nickel corrosion; the former results in failure to deliver the desired nickel thickness and the later leads to problems with soldering and solder joint reliability.

IPC Guiding Monetization of Printed Electronics

IPC has been able to establish a robust standards development initiative by implementing a strategy based on 1) partnering with leading organizations within the PE industry and 2) reaching out to subject matter experts from the different technical fields that have nurtured printed electronics innovations.

PCB Industry Standards: Threat or Advantage?

I-Connect007 Tech Editor Pete Starkey seeks the advice and opinions of EIPC Technical Director Michael Weinhold on the controversial and sometimes complicated issue of standards for the PCB manufacturing industry.

Valor: Complete Product Management in a Single Package

Mentor Graphics' Valor products have long been high-end leaders for front-end engineering processes and they just keep getting better as the company broadens its reach with process preparations and total materials management tools for complete product management.
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