Article Highlights
NIST Resources for CHIPS Act Participants
01/27/2023 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
01/27/2023 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
The Nuts and Bolts of Advanced Packaging
01/24/2023 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Monday Recap: Optimism and Economics at IPC APEX EXPO
01/24/2023 | Nolan Johnson and Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Classes and Meetings Under Way at IPC APEX EXPO
01/23/2023 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
PCB :: Business

Latest Articles

Flex is Where It’s At

At the recent SMTA-Ohio Expo event, Jack Baculik of Circuits LLC speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about the latest developments driving demand for flex and rigid-flex circuits.

Punching Out! Timing: When is the Best Time to Sell?

A few of the top questions we receive relate to the timing of the sale of a business. The first is, "Is now a good time?" The second one is, "How are market conditions?" These are the top FAQs.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Roadmapping Essentials

Many industries recognize value and benefits in technical roadmapping. However, misuse leads to abundant dangers and can render a technology roadmap useless, or worse. Good roadmaps embrace uncertainty, exploiting apparent weakness to derive maximum insight and understanding. The Technology Roadmapping Handbook from the University of Leipzig is a useful roadmapping reference.

Let’s Talk Testing: Welcome Your Product to the Real World!

The days, weeks, and (sometimes) years that go into a product’s development usually are incomprehensible to the lay person. Like laws and sausages, no one wants to really understand what has gone on behind the scenes to make your “thing” a reality. They just care that your widget makes their life easier and/or more enjoyable!

From Afterschool Robotics Club to FIRST Competitions

Seven years ago, Joel Bruxvoort, a science teacher at Jefferson High School in Daly City, California, started a robotics club as an afterschool program. Now, his club has two teams competing in events for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international youth organization developed to advance STEM subjects around the world.

Launch Letters: Embrace Your Brand

Whether it be your company brand or personal brand, you have to fully embrace it and believe in it. It’s the trust, knowledge and confidence you communicate to your customers, the community, and the industry you interact with and react to every nanosecond. In his latest column, Barry Lee Cohen explains why, and provides some pointers on how you can launch—or relaunch—your brand.

Shane Whiteside and Summit Interconnect: Aspiring to New Heights

A few weeks ago I was privileged to meet with Shane Whiteside in Anaheim, California, at KCA Electronics. Whiteside, former COO of TTM, has helped launch a new company—Summit Interconnect— which encompasses the recent acquisition of KCA Electronics and Marcel Electronics International. Once again assuming an executive role, this time as CEO and president, Whiteside shared his story, strategy and vision for this new chapter.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a process that measures how a company is performing against those industry leaders. It is used to better understand how outstanding companies perform, and then helps your company develop plans to improve or adapt specific best practices.

Weiner’s World

This month's column has a higher percentage of IC coverage than normal for several reasons. The end of Moore's Law regarding transistor scaling will be dead by 2021 as will be replaced by 3D integration according to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS).

Happy’s Essential Skills: Project/Program Management

No matter what your job, you may have to manage, or play an active role in, a project at some point during your career. It takes a great deal of skill to do this well, but the time you invest in building good project management skills can pay off enormously.


Book Review: Pinterest Power

Let’s be honest: Pinterest is hot right now. It’s so hot there are shelves full of books about what Pinterest is, what you do with it, and how you can increase your business by using it.

Round Robin of High-Frequency Test Methods by IPC-D24C Task Group (Part 1)

Currently there is no industry standard test method for measuring dielectric properties of circuit board materials at frequencies greater than about 10 GHz. Various materials vendors and test labs take different approaches to determine these properties. It is common for these different approaches to yield varying values of key properties like permittivity and loss tangent.

John Tusant on Geek-A-Palooza

John Tusant of American Standard Circuits is a repeat attendee of Geek-A-Palooza events. Recently, at the first-ever West Coast Geek-A-Palooza event, he talked briefly with me about the benefits of attending.

Let's Talk Testing: Seeing is Believing in Fractographic Analysis

One of the more common types of failure analysis is the investigation of something that has broken. For this column, we will be discussing a broken material, or, more commonly, a fractured or cracked material.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Understanding the Concept of Managing Management Time

You can get the most value out of monkey management and one-minute management by using these principles together. Who knows? With these techniques, maybe you'll have a chance to take care of your own work instead of everyone else's!

Punching Out! The PCB Sector—What Buyers Look for and Recent Deals

The past few months have seen a rash of PCB deals in North America, for a variety of reasons. Tom Kastner lists some of the deals completed during the past eight months.

Launch Letters: Give Your Literature Some Lovin’

Collateral is such an ugly word. As the late, great Rodney Dangerfield would have put it, brochures, sell sheets, process manuals, and other sales support tools often get no respect in our digital world. Even the convenience of downloading a PDF is scoffed at by today’s millennials who rely on the “Almighty App” and the “All-Knowing Cloud” to view, digest and store information.

A PCB Manufacturers’ Representative Point of View

I met with long-time PCB manufacturers’ representative David Lanagan of Mandalay Technologies at the recent Geek-A-Palooza event, to discuss the current state of the Southern California market and the challenges of doing business there.

Book Review: Sales Manager Survival Guide—Lessons from Sales’ Front Lines

Sales Manager Survival Guide is a perfect book for a new sales manager. It is also important for those of us who have been in sales for many years, because it contains everything you need to become a great sales manager. Truth be known, it is the most comprehensive book on sales management I have ever read.

Catching up with…Author David A. Brock

By far the best and most useful business book I have read this year is The Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons from Sales' Front Lines by David A. Brock. I was so impressed by this book that I’ve since recommended it to just about every sales manager I know.


The Newest Flex Shop in the U.S.

I-Connect007 sales team member Angela Alexander and I recently got a tour of Lenthor’s new Silicon Valley flex board shop and then sat down with President and CEO Mark Lencioni to discuss the new flex facility, the markets, management, and the future.

Weiner’s World

The way that I see the problem relates to overcapacity for fabricators in the consumer segment of devices with flat panel displays—mobile and otherwise—as well as a decline in notebook PCs, TVs and other household and portable electronic devices. Additional culprits include the improved packaging designs as well as more powerful chips replacing multiple ICs—both requiring less board real estate.

Next-Generation PCB Drilling

During the recent NEPCON China event in Shanghai, I spoke with Andreas Schneider, sales director for cutting and structuring laser at LPKF Laser & Electronics, about the latest developments in laser drilling, how customers can justify investments in laser drilling machines, and their outlook for the industry in Asia.

All About Flex: Imaging Methods for Etch Resist, Part 3: LDI

When LDI technology was first introduced around 20 years ago, throughput was an issue. LDI was often restricted to low volume or prototype runs. Subsequent advances in equipment as well as faster acting photoresist have made it practical for high volume circuit fabrication.

Against the Density Wall: Landless Vias Might be the Answer

I saw my first landless via multilayer while visiting NEC in Japan in 1985. You may not know much about landless vias. This has been a well-kept secret for the last 30 years, possibly because it is not permitted on military boards, and therefore, discouraged in all IPC standards. So when a company showed us their landless via boards, we said, "You can't do that!"

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Matrix Supply Partners Talk Advances in PCB Drill, Copper Foil Technologies

I-Connect007 guest editor Dick Crowe speaks with Hans Vandervelde, product manager of carbide tools at Perfect Point, and Shane Stewart, product manager at Advanced Copper Foils about advancements in drill technology and in copper foils.

Catching up with Frank Bevans—the PCB Industry’s Premier Photographer

I can tell you from first-hand experience that working with Frank Bevans has always been a pure delight. Ask anyone who Frank has worked with and they will agree. Frank is also nothing short of a magician when it comes to making even the most basic (and even a little messy) PCB facility look like a multimillion-dollar high-tech center through his photographs and videos.

Graphic PLC…Are the Rumors True?

During a visit to Europe recently, I-Connect007's Barry Matties met with Rex Rozario to get to the bottom of the rumors and speculation regarding the sale of his company, Graphic PLC.

The Sum of All Parts: The Fabricator-Assembler Connection

After discussing the relationship between PCB fabricators and those who design the boards (see my previous column ), it is imperative to do the same for the relationship between assemblers and fabricators. This brings about a whole new set of potential complications.

Ken Moffat of American Standard Circuits Talks Aerospace Accreditation, DfM, and More

At the recent SMTA West Penn Expo & Tech Forum, I had the opportunity to speak with Ken Moffat, of American Standard Circuits, based in Chicago. Among the topics we discussed was the importance of attending local chapter shows like this one, and ASC’s value-added services such as DfM, especially in the metal-backed and RF arenas.


Alun Morgan on the EIPC Summer Conference 2016

Each year, the EIPC puts on two conferences for their members. I recently attended their summer conference in Edinburgh and had a chance to speak with EIPC President Alun Morgan about the topics covered at the conference and the connectedness and networking that is always present at EIPC events.

Launch Letters: Exceptional Service—Extra Toppings without Sacrifice

Exceptional service is often recognized by not being recognized. Exceptional—not good— service is demonstrated by actions that are assumed and relied upon by the customer to be the norm. Exceptional service is providing the extraordinary and value-added without being asked. For companies that break this trust, being “recognized” may very well result in disenfranchised customers and lost business.

Book Review: Beating the Workplace Bully

There’s the woman who conned her co-worker into buying her coffee on the first day and then made it a daily event. Or the boss who was always threatening to fire his staff and telling them, “There’s blood in the water.” Or the supervisor who told her new employee on the first day that it was not her choice to hire her, because she had only worked in a small firm and “did not have the sophistication this corporate position needs. You don’t even dress properly.” This great book is full of such terrible people.

What You Probably Don't Know About NASA

While at Maker Faire 2016 in San Mateo recently, I met with George Gorospe of NASA’s Ames Research Center to discuss his group’s recent findings and projects, NASA’s CubeSats and microsatellites, and what the commercialization of space travel means for the near future.

Laser Pointers: Automate to Innovate in Flex Processing

The growing market demand for mobile devices, wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices continues to create new challenges for suppliers and manufacturers in the electronics value chain. Along with this market demand comes a challenging set of market requirements for the underlying circuits and components that drive such devices.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: NuJay Technologies a 'Borderless' PCB Company

Nujay Technologies’ President Nesh Dholakia tells Guest Editor Steve Williams what it means to be a “borderless” and “mortarless” PCB supplier serving the global market. By carefully choosing their manufacturing partners, NuJay is able to consistently supply PCBs of any technology, from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world.

The Right Approach: Our IoT Lives

In March, at the 2016 IPC APEX EXPO show in Las Vegas, the next big thing everyone was talking about was the Internet of Things (IoT). Equipment manufacturers were standing in line to tout their machines as IoT-capable and just waiting for the industry to catch up. But the IoT has been at play in our personal lives for quite a while…

Punching Out! What the Heck is Adjusted EBITDA?

If you are looking to sell or buy a business, you will most likely come across the term ‘adjusted EBITDA.’ Other common terms are adjusted cash flow, owner’s discretionary earnings, earnings after add-backs, etc. What do these terms mean, and why are they important?

Impacting the Industry—Literally

Unless you have been living under a rock or in a cave for the past six months or so, you should be aware (and perhaps astounded, astonished, amazed, dumbfounded, aghast…) at the presidential campaign goings-on. Dear heaven! But without going into detail or expressing an opinion, I thought I would share some highlights of my recent visit to our nation’s capital.

Multilayer's Viny Mulani on what it Takes to Survive Offshoring

As the leader of one of the surviving PCB shops in the United States, Multilayer Technology's President Viny Mulani has a unique perspective. He sat down with I-Connect007's Barry Matties recently at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to discuss what kind of machinery he’s looking to invest in to keep more business from moving offshore.


Happy’s Essential Skills: Learning Theory/Learning Curves

Learning is not instantaneous! Nor is progress made in a steady manner, but at a rate that is typified by one of two basic patterns. In some cases, plateaus will be seen in learning curves. These are caused by factors such as fatigue, poor motivation, loss of interest, or needing time to absorb all the material before progressing to new. This column will not go into details of how learning is achieved, but will summarize some of these theories.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: ASC's Vardya Talks Strategies for Growth

American Standard Circuits CEO Anaya Vardya talks with I-Connect007 guest editor Steve Williams about the company’s strategies for continued growth, such as expanding their product mix, and investing in equipment, software and people.

It’s Only Common Sense: Elevate the Conversation to get Closer to your Customers

So we all think we are doing a pretty good job getting to know our customers, right? We think because we know what market they are in and what they build, and have some sort of idea of what they need we are in pretty good shape, right?

Automation is the Talk of the Town at CPCA Show 2016

As Pete Starkey’s interviewees point out, the case for automation is not just about moving things faster, but also reducing handling and handling defects, improving consistency and reliability, and of course, reducing costs.

What’s in a Name? ICAPE Group’s Glenn Colescott Explains

Glenn Colescott, director of ICAPE USA, speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about his company, their expansion plans, why they attend regional shows like the SMTA West Penn Chapter Expo & Tech Forum, and how they make customers get over the phobia over a trading company.

Case Study: Reducing Defects Caused by Excess Handling and Mishandling

Most folks associate quality improvement initiatives with upfront expenses and ongoing cost increases. Fortunately, when done efficiently and with enough forethought and planning, quality improvement programs can pay for themselves in the form of increased throughput, reduced labor steps, and reduction in materials consumption.

2016 Asian Consumer Electronics Show Highlights

The second annual CES Asia in Shanghai, China concluded on May 13, surpassing last year’s event by all measures and reinforcing the show as the premier platform for launching technology in the Asian marketplace.

All About Flex: Imaging Methods for Etch Resist, Part 2: Photoimaging

This is the second of three columns describing typical methods for creating an etch resist for fabrication of printed circuits. Photoresist can come in the form of a liquid that gets coated on the substrate or as a dry film that is laminated. Liquid and dry film resist can be positive-acting or negative-acting.

The Right Approach: Quick & Easy 6S to Reduce Handling Issues

Handling is often the source of many pain points for PCB fabricators, resulting in rework, scrap and customer returns. Quick & Easy 6S is a fantastic tool to minimize handling risk by reducing product travel and improving shop cleanliness.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Project/Product Life Cycle

The product, and or project (process) life cycle (PLC) is fundamental to a corporation intent on developing new products or processes. It sometimes is called the new product introduction (NPI) process but that is only half of the life cycle. There is product support, enhancement and eventually, obsolescence.


The Sum of All Parts: Planning for a First-Time-Right PCB Design

The development of highly integrated and high-speed, chip-based circuit boards brings several functional benefits. But at the same time, these can introduce additional challenges to the actual board itself. Therefore, developing an effective plan for designing, developing, testing and producing the final PCBs is a good business practice.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuits and Kaizen Events

All Flex uses a variety of different tools and techniques in its continuous improvement efforts. A Kaizen event or Blitz is one technique that has resulted in significant improvements in our yields, productivity and customer satisfaction.

A Conversation with Walt Custer: Market Report

In a recent conversation, Walt Custer shared current market data and industry trends, detailing those market segments and regions that are currently seeing growth and those that are in decline. Walt also offered his interpretation of the data, which he uses to forecast the upcoming month.

Long-Term Thermal Reliability of PCB Materials

This paper describes the purpose, methodology, and results to date of thermal endurance testing performed at Amphenol Printed Circuit Board Technology in Nashua, NH. The intent of this thermal aging testing is to establish longterm reliability data for PWB materials for use in applications that require 20+ years (100,000+ hours) of operational life under different thermal conditions.

Flexible Thinking: Process Engineering—PCB Manufacturing’s ‘Delta Force’

Process engineers serve a vital function on the front line of printed circuit manufacturing. They are often, if you will, the “Delta Force” that subdues and controls that which is one of the mortal enemies of manufacturing…process variation.

A Process Engineer's Guide to Effectively Troubleshooting PWB Defects

The printed wiring board fabrication process is an intricate maze of interrelated steps, both chemical and mechanical. A thorough understanding of each of the process steps is critical in minimizing or eliminating non-conforming defects—the ones that cost the fabricator money and can lead to lost customers.

Punching Out! The Additive Process: Tips on How to Buy a Board Shop or Assembly House

One of the quickest ways to grow a business is to acquire another business. At the same time, acquiring a business can be risky, and a really bad deal may put your original business in jeopardy. Here are some tips on how to make acquisitions.

Getting a Handle on Handling Errors

When gathering info for this month’s topic on handling strategies, I knew there was much happening in the automation end of things and all that it can do for handling. But I also knew it was not something that is easy for the “little guy” to do—automation is expensive, in general, and it is not always conducive to the high mix of small lot sizes typical of the many prototypeplus facilities in North America and Europe.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Technical Writing

Technical writing is one of those topics that they don’t really talk about in college—at least not where I went. Writing and English has never been a strong like of mine compared to science and math. So I did my required time in English and wrote my lab reports the best I knew how.

'Can Do' in CAM Outsourcing: A Case for Outsourcing CAM Engineering

In the West, outsourcing is sometimes considered taboo and many believe it is one of the causes for shifting our manufacturing base to the East—specifically China and other lower cost Asian countries. In this series of columns, I will make a case in support of CAM outsourcing—especially for North American and Western European printed circuit board manufacturers.


Made in Brazil: Focusing on What Matters Most!

Every company claims to be constantly improving their business or process, but not as many grasp the core idea of continuous improvement and live it daily. This is evident when one analyzes companies competing on the same market, providing quite the same products, yet having totally different results. Improvement is often misunderstood as doing things differently, which is a huge mistake.

Rex Rozario Brings IPC Board Duties to a Close

At this year’s IPC APEX EXPO, Rex Rozario’s term as an IPC Board member came to an end. At the show, I sat down with Rex, who reflected on his time with IPC and the areas on which he hopes the association will focus more in the future—namely, strengthening the relationship between the UK and the U.S., as well as continuing to encourage smaller PCB manufacturers to join IPC and contribute.

All About Flex: Lean Manufacturing and NPIP for Flexible Circuits

Many companies are familiar with lean manufacturing concepts and have successfully used these techniques to improve manufacturing processes. Lean techniques, while most often used in printed circuit fabrication and assembly operations, can also be applied to nonmanufacturing processes. One such process is new part number introduction (NPIP).

Catching up with KT Technical Sales: Looking at Things from the Rep's Point of View

Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time working with reps. I like to think of myself as an advocate for reps since I have spent so much time trying to get the PCB shops to play nice with them.

The Four New Agreements to Explode Profitability

We have been brainwashed to focus on a relatively small number of metrics such as revenue and profits as the driving force behind critical outputs of our organizations. The actual driver of these critical metrics is the mostly informal systems in which the company operates. Because in excess of 90% of the profitability of a company is systems-based, a sustainable increase in profitability requires changes (optimization or re-creation) in existing systems.

Flex Talk: PCB Sourcing? One Size Does Not Fit All

When analyzing a set of PCBs to improve yields and maximize profits, the first place to start is with a critical review of each PCB design. Are there any attributes that are pushing your manufacturer’s standard design rules? If so, is this necessary to the design or is there another approach that could improve the manufacturer’s yields, reduce cost, and ultimately increase profit?

Sun Chemical Expands Range and Market Share in China

At CPCA in Shanghai recently, I had the opportunity to sit down for a one-on-one with Tony Searle, business manager for Sun Chemical. The focus of our discussion was Sun Chemical’s recent expansion of its range of offerings and manufacturing capabilities in China, and what the future of the PCB market is in China, from his point of view.

IPC’s Phil Carmichael on Asia, New Standards, and the Future

At the very busy IPC APEX EXPO in Las Vegas recently, IPC’s head of operations for Asia, Phil Carmichael, spent a few minutes in the I-Connect007 booth with me and Stephen Las Marias, managing editor of SMT Magazine, discussing all things Chinese. Among the topics we covered were the association’s current role in Asia, and the new corporate social responsibility standard currently being developed, something IPC is very excited about.

A Salute to Process Engineers

It seems very appropriate, coming on the heels of IPC APEX EXPO 2016, that the focus of our April issue is process engineering. I believe process engineers (and process engineer types) are the worker bees of IPC (and obviously of the companies they work for).

Stepping Up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 2: Calculating and Optimizing Production

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the advantages of adding flex laser processing to gain a competitive advantage. In Part 2 we will build on that discussion, looking at the ways you can optimize your flexible circuit laser processing to get the efficiencies that drive lower cost of ownership.


The ESI Solution: High-Throughput Roll-to-Roll UV Laser Drilling of Thin, Flex Materials

ESI’s Flex Product Manager, Patrick Riechel, speaks with I-Connect007's Pete Starkey at the recent CPCA event last month in Shanghai. Among the topics covered: How ESI addresses issues associated with machining roll-to-roll flex circuits, laser technology, and more.

Punching Out! Your Baby’s Ugly, Now Get Over it (How to Work with Buyers)

Here’s a scenario: An owner has gone to market and is starting to get feedback from buyers, and shockingly, not everyone appreciates the hard work and achievements that went into the business. Buyers may not understand the business, or they may be trying to position things for a low offer. In any case, it is important to know how to work with buyers.

Morgan and Starkey on CPCA 2016, Automation, and the Upcoming ECWC14

On the last day of CPCA in Shanghai recently, I was delighted to catch up with my friend and industry colleague, EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan, for a discussion on the show we were both currently attending, as well as the upcoming 14th Electronics Circuits World Convention (ECWC14), to be held in April 2017, in Korea.

Book Review: Shawn Murphy’s ‘The Optimistic Workplace’

Happy workers are great workers. Workers with a purpose, a true reason for being at work and finding importance in that work, are all part of a successful workplace in a successful company.

The Sum of All Parts: Total Concept—Growing for the Future

Last month, we discussed the importance of the PCB industry’s need to focus on a “made in USA” philosophy. This month, we will go over how to methodically do this amid different company cultures and different logistical challenges.
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