Latest Articles

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.

High-Frequency Circuit Materials Can Enhance Non-High-Frequency Applications

Creative circuit material selection can greatly benefit some applications that might not initially be associated with those materials. High-frequency circuit laminates feature a number of properties that work well beyond their targeted high-frequency uses.

The Future Is Closer Than You Think!

Dr. Kaku, famous as a theoretical physicist, futurist and populariser of science, held the attention of a packed San Diego Convention Center audience with his views on the way technology could dramatically reshape how people would live and play 20 years into the future.

Good Show or Bad Show, It's up to You

A trade show is yet another opportunity to make something happen; and just like advertising, social media or other forms of marketing, you get out of it what you put into it.

A Talk with Murrietta Circuits' Andrew Murrietta

Murrietta joins Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu to discuss his company's integrated solution (design, fabrication, and assembly all under one roof), making it easier than ever for innovators to get their new products to market using only one company.

Future Drill and Lamination Products from Matrix

Jim Alves, regional sales manger for Matrix Electronics, joins Guest Editor Mark Thompson to discuss the benefits and the future of his company's Megtron multilayer laminate. Edson Bosetti, product manger, joins the conversation to speak about Matrix's other drill and lamination products.


Multiline's Angelo Presents Advances in Post-etch Punches

Guest Editor Bob Neves speaks with Michael Angelo, president of Multiline Technology, about his company's products for lamination and post-etch punching. The duo also discuss the advances in post-etch punching with multi-camera and special material handling techniques.

Heavy and Extreme Copper for Maximum Reliability in PCB Design and Fabrication

Various power electronics products are designed every day for a wide range of applications. Increasingly, these projects are taking advantage of a growing trend in the printed circuit board industry: Heavy copper and extreme copper PCBs.

FIB: Beyond SEM-EDS Analysis

The SEM-EDS has proven itself an invaluable tool in examining process outputs and analyzing defects. Going beyond the SEM-EDS, the focused ion beam (FIB) can be used to qualify processes and perform root cause failure analysis.

Multilayer Quick-Turn: Texas Style

Viny Mulani, president of Multilayer Technology, joins Guest Editor Kelly Dack to discuss his company's capabilities and desire to provide an expanding customer base with industry-certified manufacturing quality.

IPC-2581 Update with Ed Acheson

Ed Acheson, product engineer with Cadence Design Systems, presented a session on the IPC-2581 design standard at Designers Day 2013. He sits down with Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss the advantages of IPC-2581 and what's next in the quest for a truly standardized standard.

Review: IPC's Roadmap for Electronic Interconnection

IPC has introduced its all new "IPC International Technology Roadmap for Electronic Interconnections" and this comprehensive document it is filled with data you will need to run your business today and in the future.

Maskless DI System a Smart Solution for Prototron

"American-made," "a great value," and "impressive technology"--these are just a few of the reasons Prototron recently decided to invest in a Maskless DI system. Guest Editor Stuart Hayton finds out more by speaking with Dave Ryder, president, and Mark Thompson, CID, of Prototron, and Maskless Lithography, Inc. President and CEO Bill Elder.

Gardien's Group COO Talks Global Testing

Roland Valentini sits down with Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu to explain how his company's testing services can help PCB shops expand their business. With 26 locations in seven countries, the business plan Valentini describes is definitely working.

The Art of Pinless Multilayer Registration

Technical Editor Pete Starkey joins Duetto Integrated Systems (DIS) Inc.'s Tony Faraci for an in-depth explanation of the principles, features, and benefits of his company's pinless multilayer registration system, which eliminates the pinning process.

Understanding Environmental & Conflict Minerals Regulations

To help electronics manufacturers better understand today's compliance requirements and sustainability trends, IPC will hold two back-to-back events, "IPC Conflict Minerals Update: Developing Industry Practices" and "It's Not Easy Being Green: Regulatory and Sustainability Update" in Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 3-5, 2013.


The Ins and Outs of Technology Roadmaps

Technology roadmaps serve multiple purposes in the industry and they come in many shapes and sizes, from technical to environmental. Jack Fisher, Interconnect Technology Analysis; Michael Weinhold, EIPC; Chuck Richardson, iNEMI; and Dale Kersten, Sanmina, discuss the many sides of technology roadmaps.

Understanding Risk, Striking Balance in PCB Material Usage

Formed after a successful management buyout of Viasystems' Special Products Group in 2001, Invotec Group has become a leading quick-turn PCB provider and one of the top 10 PCB companies in Europe. Managing Director Tim Tatton discusses the latest developments and technology challenges in the PCB manufacturing industry.

TMT's Michels Reveals Success to PCB Industry in Germany

Thomas Michels, managing director at TMT, joins Technical Editor Pete Starkey to discuss the state of the German electronics industry in general and the European PCB industry as a whole. Learn why the industry in Germany has seen very few setbacks in the last few years and continues strong growth.

High-Speed Boards Need Automated Checking

A set of PCB protos typically costs $250,000 or more, not to mention a couple of months of schedule. The solution is to assemble the pieces of the system to see if they function correctly, and it's faster and cheaper to do so in a simulation than to wait for hardware prototypes. Michael Steinberger wonders why automated checking of serial channel interconnects is still not common, and he offers some tips.

Industry Titans Offer System Development Outlook

In an industry of ongoing integration, restructuring, and cost reduction--and as systems become denser and more complex--it's becoming more important to take a holistic view of product development for true innovation and sales growth.

More Social Media Marketing Mistakes that Companies Make

This week, Bruce Johnston offers several social media marketing mistakes that companies often make. Do you recognize your company?

Taiyo Coatings: Covering All Things PCB

Bob MacRae and Donald Monn, sales managers for Taiyo America, join Guest Editor Kelly Dack to discuss legend inks, laser direct imaging, and their company's new PRISM coating solution.

Unexpected Results in Intermetallic Growth Study

Continental's Senior Materials Research Engineer Jose Servin joins Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad to review the high points of a study on intermetallic growth which he reported in, "Method to Measure Intermetallic Layer Thickness and Its Application to Develop a New Equation to Predict Its Growth," presented at the IPC APEX EXPO technical conference.

CPCA 2013: Becoming the Show it Was Meant to Be

Editor Marcy LaRont recently attended the CPCA 2013 show in China and relates the lack of multi-national companies exhibiting this year. Trade shows develop and change just as companies and industries do--perhaps CPCA has simply grown into the local trade show it was meant to be.

Isola Reveals Plans for 2013 and Beyond

Laminate manufacturer Isola had a lot to show off at IPC APEX EXPO 2013, says NPI/Field Engineer Luc Beauvillier. He also chats with Guest Editor Judy Warner about the company's future developments in more environmentally-friendly and halogen-free products.


Interdyne Reveals New Mechanical Drilling Technology

Mike Jennings, vice president, sales and marketing of Interdyne Systems, explains how the company's new, patented machines use a wing in the X direction and linear motors on the drill heads in the Y and Z direction, reducing the mass of motion dramatically and allowing for high-speed and high-hit-count drilling of small and high-aspect ratio holes.

Aismalibar Unveils Thermal Laminate for LED

Aismalibar's Jeff Brandman, president, North America, and Aaron Harlow, director of customer relations and technical support, join Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad to discuss the benefits of a new aluminum-based laminate which addresses the important challenges encountered in the manufacture of LED substrates.

Kingboard: A $4.5 Billion Laminator

Guest Editor Stuart Hayton chats with Kingboard Director Denny Cheung and discovers the scope of the company's global organization. Sunil Shah, product manager for Matrix, shares his experiences while representing Kingboard and introducing its laminates to the North American market.

HABI: Enabling Photo-Lithography in Electronics for 50 Years

Hexaarylbiimidazole, better known as HABI, is a photoactive material that rapidly initiates free radical polymerization. Original applications were in lithographic printing plates, photoresists, and other light-sensitive systems. Since then, the digital revolution has changed the use and requirements of photopolymerization compositions in modern electronic systems, including PCBs.

High-Reliability PCBs in Mil/Aero Applications

Experienced EMS providers and contract manufacturers apply special steps and techniques at layout, fab, and assembly to build in product reliability. These steps and techniques must be implemented at various design and manufacturing stages to ensure high quality and reliability in mil/aero applications.

Best of Show: Industry Veterans Weigh In

Pete Starkey, Joe Fjelstad, Dan Feinberg, and John Andresakis talk shop at the culmination of IPC APEX EXPO 2013. The industry veterans weigh in on technology and machinery present on the show floor this year, where the industry is headed, and the importance of an organization like IPC.

Alun Morgan on the European PCB Market and Role of EIPC

On the eve of the EIPC Winter Conference in Berlin, Guest Editor Stuart Hayton met up with old friend and recently-appointed EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan to get his thoughts on the state of the European market and plans for the organization now that he's at the helm.

Manufacturing Renaissance: For Show or For Real?

Editor Ray Rasmussesn feels that it really never made sense to send most U.S. manufacturing to China. For some products, China was a no-brainer, but for many others it wasn't the lowest-cost producer. Now, he says more and more companies are beginning to figure that out.

OEM Press Systems Moving Forward

Mary Quinlan, sales manager, talks about the loss of company founder Jon Copp, his legacy, and the company's plans for the future. With solid engineering and operations, OEM Press Systems is introducing a series of new, innovative systems to the market.

A Techie Book Review: Pulse Plating

This book features chapters covering all aspects of pulse plating, from the fundamentals to the equipment and processes for the deposition of a range of metals. Conveniently, the book is arranged in four sections that start with the fundamentals and then move through implementation to applications and, finally, special systems.


Electra LDI Soldermask Addresses Future Needs

It's an exciting time to be in the LDI space. Sales Director Shaun Tibbals joins Editor Andy Shaughnessy to detail his company's newest LDI soldermask products, as well as the issues his customers face now and in the future.

TTM COO Provides Global Perspective on the Market

Guest Editor Stuart Hayton and TTM COO Shane Whiteside discuss the challenges faced when operating a global organization in the PCB industry today while attending IPC APEX EXPO 2013. Whiteside shares his perspective on both the Asian and North American markets.

McQuarrie: Solving Your DAM Problems with New Book

Dan Beaulieu recently had the opportunity to sit down with Gray McQuarrie, president of Grayrock & Associates, and chat about his new book, "You Have a DAM Problem: How to Identify the Behaviors Sabotaging Your Company."

Electrically Testing PCBs with Gardien

Rick Meraw, senior vice president, joins Guest Editor Mark Thompson to discuss the technical paper he and Todd Kolmodin, vice president of quality, presented at IPC APEX EXPO 2013. The electrical test conditions and considerations offered are designed to help PCB fabricators better understand the various types of electrical test requirements.

Book Review: You Have a DAM Problem

Many business books focus on systems and processes, but fail to reveal the source of problems within a company--the people. McQuarrie identifies all types of DAM thinkers: the "jerk" whose ego is so big that he crowds everyone else out of the room, and the "perfectionist" who is so busy trying to get everything just right that he spends his life in the "aim, aim, aim" mode.

John Mitchell on IPC's Future Plans and Programs

IPC President and CEO John Mitchell discusses the association's five-year strategic plan and its renewed focus on member success, training and certification, and marketing to the needs of the member base. IPC also announced the Ambassador Program for those who contribute to IPC, but do not work for a company.

Gardien's Kolmodin on Electrical Test

Dan Beaulieu recently sat down with Todd Kolmodin, Gardien's VP of quality, to discuss a variety of subjects pertaining to the fast-changing world of electrical test technology and to find out more about the paper he's presenting this week at IPC APEX EXPO 2013.

Carter Details Printed Electronics Initiative at IPC

Director of Technology Transfer Marc Carter is leading IPC's efforts to develop materials standards for printed electronics. Now in it's second year, printed electronics will play an ever-increasing role in the electronics industry as new technologies enter the market.

Experts to Discuss Industry Standards at IPC APEX EXPO

Hundreds of experts will discuss electronics manufacturing standards in more than 80 standards meetings during IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, California. According to Dave Torp, IPC vice president of standards and technology, industry standards enable companies to negotiate commerce and contribute directly to the success of the industry as a whole.

Book Review: Ninja Innovation

Author Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA, which owns and produces CES, the most influential innovative oriented trade show in the world, has seen it all.


Electrical Test Talk with Gardien's Rick Meraw

In an effort to learn more about opportunities offered during Since IPC APEX EXPO 2013, Dan Beaulieu spoke with one of this year's white paper presenters, Rick Meraw, senior vice president of U.S. operations for Gardien Group. Meraw's paper is geared toward PCB designers and design engineers, as well fabricators.

IPC Sees Bright Future for Latin American Industry

"The Latin American region has received significant attention in the last few years as a potential growth area for the electronics industry," says Sree Bhagwat, IPC market research manager. "This report examines political, economic, and business risks companies need to understand as they consider pursuing opportunities in the region."

Automated Drill Bit Resharpening

Drill bit resharpening using the latest, fully-automated techniques goes a long, long way toward eliminating traditional defects resulting during the drilling process. However, one of the most important steps occurs before the resharpening process begins: Ultrasonic cleaning.

PCB Industry Results for December 2012 Released by IPC

"North American PCB book-to-bill ratios appear to have begun recovering after a downward trend that began in the second quarter of 2012," according to Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research. "The industry's sales ended 2012 at 5.2% below 2011."

Zen and the Art of Manufacturing Flex

Engineer Glenn Oliver of DuPont discusses a paper he's presenting at DesignCon that stresses the need for collaboration among all parties to get flex manufactured right.

PCB Teamwork Works

Guest Editor Kelly Dack joins Mark Thompson, CID, Prototron Circuits, and several members of his team to examine the benefits of using stack-up templates to speed up the prototype fabrication process.

A Year in the Life: Spirit Circuits

"As is typically British, putting your best foot forward was the order of the day in January 2012, and we started the year with positive energy, vigour, and enthusiasm; we were ready to face another year on the PCB roller coaster," says Steve Driver, managing director.

NAMM: Perhaps the Happiest Place on Earth

NAMM featured a record 11,981 exhibitors at the show: Huge multi-room suites featuring Fender, Gretsch, and others; custom-carved instruments that not only sound like a work of art, but also look like one; and even small 10 x 10 booths selling--yes, you guessed it--covers and stands for smart phones and tablets.

How Often Do You Visit Your Fabricator?

If you anticipate that you'll never layout boards with more than two layers, or holes, traces and spaces smaller than 10 mils, and you're sure you'll never have to deal with impedance control, you have no reason other than curiosity to investigate how your boards are constructed. But if you design complex, high-speed boards, Amit Bahl's new column is just for you.

Book Review: Supermanager

If you want to know how to be a great manager in about an hour, read this book. Everything you need to know about becoming a great manager can be found by discovering seven principles put forth by Greg Blencoe.


MESMOPROC: Implementation of a Maskless Electrochemical Surface Modification Process

Professors Martin Goosey and Sudipta Roy explain the EnFACE approach, a process that exploits the possibility of localizing deposition and dissolution current on an unmasked substrate by optimising reactor design, flow conditions, and the electro-chemistry of a system.

CES: Innovation, Not so New Technology

After a long week exploring the new products and innovations on display at CES 2013, Dan Feinberg gives an in-depth review of the technologies that impressed him most. Except for a very few items, Dan did not see many revolutionary new products, but the evolution of the consumer tech world's devices seems to be accelerating.

Iron Atom: Changing the Way the Industry Views DFM

One of the most enjoyable parts of Dan Beaulieu's job is getting to meet with new companies, especially companies create with new and innovative ways of doing things. He recently interviewed Iain Wilson, president of Iron Atom, a new software company whose DFM/Pre-CAM product is based on the cloud.

Trouble in Your Tank: Understanding the Reactions of Resin Systems with Alkaline Permanganate Processes, Part 1

Don’t assume your current set-up for desmear will work the same way with all the newer laminate resin systems. You must carefully evaluate any changes and make adjustments accordingly.

Trouble in Your Tank: Is it Black Pad or Something Else? Case Study No. 2

It is easy to blame solderability and ENIG problems on black pad. In this month’s Trouble in Your Tank, readers can test their troubleshooting skills. How can you tell if it is really black pad?
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