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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.

Report Recommendation: IPC's Forecast for N.A. PCB Industry

How many times have taken part in a discussion about our business and started guessing about the size of the market, how much business is left in North America, or what the size of the flex market is? I know that it happens to me all the time. I have to ask, "Why are we guessing?"

Stacked Packages Moving Into Spotlight

IPC's Terry Costlow relates: "Heinz Oyrer, the senior marketing manager for automotive at ams, casually mentioned a couple of changes occurring in the high-reliability components sold to automakers. The company makes magnetic sensors, power devices, and wireless components for autos as well as consumer and industrial markets."

3D Packaging Realities the Focus of New IPC Conference

TSV is emerging rapidly as more silicon makers and packaging providers learn how to work with the fine lines needed to connect bare die stacked atop each other. Getting substrates that provide both fine-line geometries and low costs are among the main challenges facing the developers of these high-density packages.

Printed Circuit Structures: The Evolution of Printed Circuit Boards

DPAM is able to combine 3D printing's structures with printed electronics' functionality at the resolution of DP. But it is still early--requiring labor intensive procedures that take time to produce the desired products and the desired automation that current 3D printers have achieved.

An Innovation in Horizontal Processing, Part 2

Part 1 addressed the theory behind a novel non-contact laminar flow process chamber that results in a faster and more uniform chemical reaction than obtainable with conventional flood chambers. Part 2 describes a practical implementation of the design and how the design has been developed to produce equipment capable of processing material in a variety of chemical applications.

Printed Electronics: Chemical Industry Wins

The chemical industry will end up with most of the added value from printed electronics, one of the fastest growing technologies in the world. Worth over $50 billion to the materials and chemicals industry in 2024, the resultant devices and processes are of vital interest to industries as diverse as consumer goods, healthcare, aerospace, electronics, media, and transit.


What's New in Solderable Finishes?

With the need for increased reliability and compatibility for lead-free assembly, the supply chain continues to improve the performance of solderable finishes. Latest developments include post-treatment additives for improved corrosion resistance, fourth-generation OSP, improved performance for ENIG. Finally, the future of ENEPIG is discussed.

TTM Technologies Q2 Net Sales Up 4%

"Overall results for the second quarter were in line with our guidance," said Kent Alder, CEO. "During the quarter, we experienced broad-based strength in our networking and communications end market in both Asia Pacific and North America. We saw some softness in our computing end market while our other end markets remained steady."

Woven Glass Standard Updated

Changes in the standard which forms the basis for many printed boards focus on three technical areas: The dielectric constant, a spread glass definition, and a hollow glass definition. IPC-4412B also adds a position clarification on borate/diboron trioxide that was created in response to proposed regulatory changes.

Design for Profitability: Avoiding Fabrication Issues and Minimizing Costly Revisions

At last, PCB designers are finally realizing the power they wield: They have the power to design profit into the board, or, conversely, increase costs and remove profit from the PCB. Mark Thompson reviews the challenges fabricators routinely face and presents typical DFP solutions affecting the bottom line.

An Innovation in Horizontal Processing

Horizontal processing with a non-contact laminar or streamline flow process chamber results in a faster and more uniform chemical reaction than obtainable with conventional flood chambers. Author Peter Lymn describes a transport and guiding method suitable for both thick and thin materials and expands on the mechanics and fluid dynamics that further reduce equipment length and operating cost.

Looking Outside the Hole: The Evolution of Via Drilling

New developments in laser-based fabrication that are an extension of laser microvia drilling technology are helping to reduce feature sizes and facilitating the miniaturization of electronic devices.

Trouble in Your Tank: Optimizing the Soldermask Process, Part 2

Soldermask ink wet weight and rheology will influence not only how much ink is deposited onto the board, but will also help determine mask coverage over conductors, says columnist Michael Carano. Good practice includes ink thixotropic properties, and transverse--laminar air flow over the boards--during flash off and tack dry.

New Developments in ENIG and ENEPIG

Surface finish is about connectivity. It is the surface which forms the connection between the board and a device. Today, there is an impressive lineup of surface finish products. Among those finishes are ENIG and ENEPIG. George Milad and Don Walsh explain the newest technology developments.

PCB Materials: Imaging and Moving

Fred Long, new business development manager at Matrix, talks to Guest Editor Kelly Dack about the importance of the relationship between direct imaging and laminate management under the umbrella of his company's value-added PC materials distribution philosophy.

I-Connect007 PCB Asia Week: Market Drivers

Although some PCB companies, such as Ichia, are seeing revenues drops in June, most companies are bullish for the rest of the year. TPT and Tripod are expected to benefit from Samsung and LG's commencing production of ultra HD TVs. Kinsus, meanwhile, is forecast to achieve a 10% growth in Q3, driven by orders for low-end to mid-range smartphones.


UL Splits FR-4 Standards Into Two Categories

For the past year, it seemed likely that designers and users of new FR-4 laminate and prepreg materials would have to run new materials through complete testing to be certified by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. That 2012 requirement disappeared when UL's Standards Technical Panel split what was a single category of FR-4 into two categories.

Solving DAM Problems: What To Do with Your DAM Data

Too many of us are swamped with mountains of data. In his latest column, Gray McQuarrie illustrates how to make sense of data sets with large and small numbers and visualize the data to optimize wise decision-making.

Microvia Fabrication: When to Drill, When to Blast!

As today's designs become increasingly dense, PCB fabricators' capabilities are tested--especially when drilling for microvias. By using DFM rules, fabricators can match the best method of manufacturing with the type of microvia incorporated into a design. Moreover, many fabricators will be surprised to discover which capabilities they may already have in-house.

IPC Brings Out Enthusiasm

All too often, we're forced to deal with people who are largely apathetic about their jobs, or those who pay little attention to detail. One of the refreshing aspects of IPC involvement is the high level of interest and enthusiasm throughout the volunteer organization and the staff.

The Future of PE: Assuming the Shape of 3D

Ken Church, CEO of nScrypt Capital, enthusiastically speaks about the future of electronics, specifically 3D printed electronics. Imagine, resistors and capacitors that print directly onto a third dimension--a UAV with active printed 3D electronics built into the shape of a wing or a table the shape of a computer. He even predicts a melding of the PCB industry to printed electronics.

Circuit Imaging Overview: Putting Options in Focus

Imaging technologies are arguably the most important technology used in the manufacture of printed circuits. Methods both old and new are in play as improvements to the old technologies attempt to keep pace with the advances now underway.

The Vital Role of Simple Infrastructure Components

Board fabricators and electronic manufacturing services suppliers know that components that seem to be simple infrastructure components have to perform precisely or complex systems will fail. When companies create innovative technologies that give these basic components new capabilities, everyone benefits.

Key Components to a Quality PWB Fabrication Drawing

James Brown offers a fabricator's perspective on what details make a quality fab drawing--it's much more than providing a few dimensions with which to work. Some engineers might say the guidelines suggested are obvious, but Brown says you'd be surprised as to how often much-needed details are left out of many of the fab drawings he receives.

Hall of Fame Roundtable Welcomes Lionel Fullwood

Guest Editor Bob Neves moderates this roundtable panel of IPC Hall of Famers and welcomes Lionel Fullwood, who was inducted into the IPC Hall of Fame along with Ray Prasad. Neves, Dan Feinberg, Gene Weiner, and Fullwood discuss their common link.

Direct Determination of Phosphorus Content in EN Plating Using XRF Spectroscopy

X-ray fluorescence is an excellent method for not only measuring plating thickness, but also the weight percent elemental composition of coatings. New developments in XRF instrument hardware and software have extended the measurement application of electroless plating processes to nearly any substrate.


Bay Area Circuits: Creating PCBs, Solving Problems

Peter Brissette, director of sales and marketing for Bay Area Circuits, sits down with Guest Editor Kelly Dack to describe how his company's PCB layout tools shorten the time from design to manufacture.

IPC Expansion in Asia Driven by Hands-on Training

As emerging countries push to gain a share of the electronics industry, it's important for companies to train personnel. It's also beneficial for these companies to understand the benefits that come when they comply with global standards.

Nordson's Q2 Sales Up 21% to Record $382 Million

"Our team continued to deliver value to our customers at a high level across the diverse end markets we serve, while also focusing on continuous improvement initiatives, resulting in another excellent quarter," said President and Chief Executive Officer Michael F. Hilton.

Innovation, R&D, Training Key Strategies for OMG Electronic

Global Business Manager Chris Hrusovsky discusses OMG Electronic Chemicals' focus on product innovation, direct customer support, and on-site technical service. He also explains his company's model of direct tech support and continued investment in the North American, European, and Asian markets.

UL Classifications for FR-4 Materials

Editor Pete Starkey joins European Institute of Printed Circuits' (EIPC) Technical Director Michael Weinhold to discuss the challenges faced in placing new generations of FR-4 material into UL classifications.
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