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Decreasing Bend Radius and Improving Reliability—Part I
10/11/2019 | Kelsey Smith, All Flex
SMTA Additive Electronics Conference: Industry Trends
10/10/2019 | I-Connect007
Meet Dana Korf, I-Connect007 Columnist
09/20/2019 | I-Connect007
Additive Electronics Conference Set for October 2019
09/18/2019 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Weaving Advocacy into E-Textiles
09/18/2019 | Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research
All About Flex: Flexible PCB: What’s in a Name?
Flexible PCB is a common term that is synonymous with flexible circuits. While the term “PCB” is generally used to describe rigid printed circuitry, “flexible PCB” is a little contradictory because “boards” aren’t really flexible. Some companies, like All Flex, design and manufactures flexible PCBs, but not rigid PCBs. There are many similarities between the two, but also significant differences.
productronica 2015: atg Shows Off the Latest in Automated Inspection Equipment
Peter Brandt, sales manager with atg Luther & Maelzer, tells I-Connect007’s Pete Starkey all about their automated inspection equipment that is well-suited for both small and large batch operaions. Watch this video from the floor of productronica to see the equipment in action while Brandt discusses the embedded technology market that is taking off.
Designs on Flex: Underwriters Laboratory and Flexible Printed Circuits
Underwriters Laboratory is a worldwide safety consulting and certification company headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois. UL certifies, validates, tests, inspects, audits, and advises on safety of electrical and electronic products.
Mr. Laminate Tells All: Where in the Holy Halogens did 900, 900, 1500 Come From?
The 900, 900, 1500 is not a combination to an enormous safe that contains the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, nor is it the weight of three elephants at the San Diego Zoo in kilograms. The 900, 900, 1500 is the maximum parts per million (ppm) of bromine and chlorine and the total bromine and chlorine in a material that can be defined as “halogen-free” in the electronics industry today. But where did these requirements come from? Clearly, 900 ppm of bromine or chlorine is obviously not halogen-free. Some would argue that it is not even low-halogen at all.
Catching up with PNC
PNC, in Nutley, New Jersey, is a truly unique company. Started in 1968, and then taken over by Sam Sangani in 1996, it has evolved into one of the premier PCB companies on the East Coast, if not the country. Over the years, the company has grown to the point where it now offers circuit design, layout, fabrication and assembly to its customers, making it one of the few total concept under one roof companies in North America.
Plant Culture: a Direct Contributor to Quality, Output and Predictable Manufacturing
The culture of any organization influences the net output of any product or service it produces. That being said, the manufacturing of products brings complexity with an order of magnitude that can affect the net output at any given point along the build cycle, starting with the sub-component supply chain to final pack.
Whelen & IPS: A Strategic Partnership—A Winning Combination
Of the 39 suppliers Whelen chose to use, none were as integral to the automation and overall design and layout of the line as IPS, with its team led by President Mike Brask.
Catching up with Cosmotronic’s Gary Abel
Cosmotronic’s history spans a number of decades, from the hot-as-hell boom days of the '60s and early '70s when Southern California was leading the world in electronics, from weaponry to avionics to apace exploration. Today, as innovation has become more focused on personal electronics, Cosmotronic has been there, leading the way and serving a customer base that is uniquely similar to the one they had back in the day.
Recruiting for Growth - An Interview with Jack Pattie, President & CEO of Ventec USA
Ventec USA is growing its successful US team, whilst others seem to be suffering from closures, stock downgrades and market challenges. I caught up with Ventec USA President Jack Pattie to find out why they are busy bucking trends.
American Standard Circuits Taking Business to New Heights
PCB007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman sat down with American Standard Circuits President Anaya Vardya at the recent SMTAI show and conference in Rosemont, IL. Anaya wanted to share all the great new things going on at his company. Among the topics they discussed: new equipment, new processes, new people, and what it all means for ASC’s growth.
Breaking the Bottleneck: Electrical Test Cycle Time Reduction
From the conception of the design and issuance of the procurement document, dozens of processes must take place before the PCB is shipped for assembly. This article looks at reducing the cycle time in electrical test of PCBs, and highlight strategies to do so.
Cycle Time Reduction in a Flexible Circuit Facility
Managing product flow and cycle time across a wide range of product constructions and volumes in a high-mix flexible circuit fabrication facility can be extremely challenging. What seems to work best is a tailored hybrid system, with concepts adopted from classic just in time manufacturing (JIT), theory of constraints (TOC) and quick response manufacturing (QRM).
All About Flex: Plated Through-holes in Flexible Circuits
There is probably no more important feature than the plated through-hole (also called via or via hole) with regard to the reliability and integrity of a flexible circuit. The through-hole provides electrical connection between insulated layers and enables electrical functionality on double-sided and multilayer flexible circuits.
The Economics of Reducing Cycle Time in PCB Fabrication
As circuit board fabricators are constantly pressured for cost reductions, speed is definitely one thing worth paying for in 2015. This article highlights examples of industry practices that successful fabricators in the quick-turn market embrace that can help those companies who want to reduce cycle times in their operations.
The PCB Marathon
Printed circuit board shops have been driven to build new business strategies that overcome the paradigm of trade-offs, in which customers had to choose between one characteristic or another, into a new way of doing business in which an equilibrium is found that meets customer needs.
Book Recommendation: A Team of Leaders
Many changes have occurred in the workplace in the past 25 years. Great efforts have been made to increase productivity. Companies have been hit with so many financial challenges that their people have been stretched to the limit when it comes to being able to take a breath, coordinate with their follow workers and come together as a team, with common goals.
Flex Circuit Shielding Design Options
Shielding may not be your company’s number one design concern when thinking about your interconnect designs. But if you have to shield circuits for EMI, then you will need to depend on your supplier to assist you with their favorite shielding technique and experience.
Practical Application of Lean Six Sigma to Drive Cycle Time Reduction, Part 1
One of the most systematic and successful approaches to the challenge of cycle time reduction can be found in the principles and tools of lean six-sigma methodology. The success of this strategy requires commitment; it is not a quick fix, nor will it be effective if it is only used as an occasional housecleaning activity.
Interim CEO Jeff McCreary Discusses Recent Changes at Isola
Isola’s Interim President and CEO Jeff McCreary explains to Barry Matties the impetus for the personnel reduction taking place at Isola, the closing of their northern California facility, and why there’s no need to panic. He also shares his view of what the industry may expect from Isola going forward and what the company is looking for in a new CEO, the name of which McCreary expects to announce in the next few months.
Book Recommendation: Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins
Stories sell. Stories are what get your point across. They are the very best way to communicate with your customers, with your employees and just about everyone else you want to communicate with.
Mutracx: First Install Achieves CAM to Etch in 5 Minutes
Mutracx Sales and Marketing Director Peter Coakley discusses with I-Connect007's Barry Matties how the new Lunaris machine installed at Whelen Engineering works and explains how it can save time and money on the shop floor.
Catching up with Nujay Technologies: A Conversation with Urvi and Nesh Dholakia
I have been following value added vendor Nujay Technologies for a number of years now because I like their story and their positive and helpful attitude. Their mission, if you will, is to provide their customers with whatever they need. They are also willing to talk to their customers and prospective customers to find out what their biggest challenges are when it comes to finding and purchasing PCBs. Thus, they embody the classic definition of a business, which is to find a need and fill it.
Testing Flexible Circuits, Part 3: The Completed Flex Circuit
Most flex houses perform a variety of tests on completed flexible circuits. The type, frequency, and complexity of these tests vary with customer and application. Test requirements are generally defined by the customer, but input is often solicited from the supplier during the quote process.
Whelen Engineering Reduces Cycle Time by Building a New Automated PCB Factory
With the Chinese stock market in turmoil and China’s wage scales still rising, one might think this would fuel new hope for U.S. PCB manufacturers trying to gain traction in a marketplace that’s been dominated by their Asian counterparts for the better part of two decades. But despite chatter about reshoring of late, the general consensus in the industry doesn’t seem overly optimistic that substantial change will occur.
How to Handle Short Development Cycles
Automotive is a segment that any market can learn from. In past years, we had a saying: “You can have cheap, on-time or high quality; pick two.” Going back five years, this was the response to short development cycles. In looking at the last two years, however, we have the reality of the short development cycle. Mix this with the recent recalls and safety issues, and it is now an unwritten requirement to deliver low cost, high quality and on time. It is not uncommon to go from idea to series production in only 14 months.
Book Recommendation: Make it Matter
Look, it’s pretty straightforward isn’t it? People work harder and are much more passionate when they know that what they are doing has a purpose and a meaning and what they are doing is important.
The Application of Advanced Ultrasonics in Metal Plating Processes
Most surface modification chemical treatments by their very nature contain hazardous and oxidising chemicals; there is a major concern that these chemicals are used maliciously with the intent to manufacture explosives or formulate poisons to harm the public. Cyanide-based plating solutions and high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide used in current techniques are a significant use of these materials in industry.
This month in The PCB Magazine we are paying attention to cycle time and the many ways to reduce it in your process—whatever you consider your process to be. Beginning with the story of Whelen’s new fully automated facility in New Hampshire and continuing through discussions on Lean Six Sigma, Kanban, Value Stream Mapping and other cycle time reduction strategies, our contributors have it covered.
Stepping Up To Laser Processing for Flex, Part 1: Opportunities and Implications
Market demand for smaller, faster, wearable, lighter and more powerful devices continues to keep PCB manufacturers scrambling to keep up as they evolve and adapt their manufacturing capabilities to meet changing customer needs. But keeping up with the dizzying pace of change in the world of PCB manufacturing need not be a daunting task.
New Leadership at MuTracx
I-Connect007's Barry Matties speaks with Arnoud De Geus, managing director of the Sioux Group, who discusses the recent integration of MuTracx into the Sioux Group, and how Whelen Engineering, who has installed the MuTracx Lunaris primary imaging equipment and happens to be the United States’ first captive PCB manufacturing facility in many years, will impact U.S. manufacturing.
Book Recommendation: No Sweat
People don’t do things they don’t want to do, especially in our industry, and they sure as shooting don’t do things they hate doing. Instead, they do things they like to do, and that is what this book is all about. This book is about fitness. It’s a book about staying motivated to stay fit.
Semico Impact Conference 2015: The Coming of Age of Hardware Technologies
For most of us who are deeply involved in the electronics hardware market, we are used to talking about new products and technologies, the future of things to come, and probably most importantly, the challenges or issues that we, as an industry, are facing.
Book Recommendation: The Hidden Leader
The true leader is one who is customer purposed, not just customer service but purpose which means a much deeper understanding of the customers. Wanting to learn everything possible about a customers in order to serve them better than they have ever been served before. A true leader makes it her purpose to develop her company’s products and services in such a way that they will make her customers successful and hence unable to live without them.
Computer on Wheels
You could say that today's automobile is a "computer on wheels," but from a point of accuracy it would be more like 35 computers on wheels. With printed circuit boards being the backbone of our electronic products, this is major market segment for our industry. In this article, Steve Williams writes about the evolution of automotive electronics, and the future of the industry.
Testing Flexible Circuits, Part 2: Raw Materials and Components
Even though the raw materials may individually meet certain specifications, it is important to determine if the final product configuration meets those specs. So testing done at the finished circuit level is also needed. Tests specific to the finished circuit will be the topic of our next column on testing.
Book Recommendation: Learning to Succeed
It’s time we took learning seriously. For many years things in business were static enough or at least much more static that they are today so that you could go to college, get your MBA and then be set for life.
Carmakers Now Embracing Plasma Treatment
The growing complexity of automotive electronics is leading more carmakers to consider using plasma treatment to ensure greater reliability. Nordson MARCH's Jonathan Doan shares the benefits of the process along with some new information regarding the MES3 requirement with I-Connect007 publisher Barry Matties.
Becoming an Automotive Supplier—Proceed with Caution
Possibly further fueling a growing desire in our industry towards participating in the automotive electronics sector have been further technology advancements in automobiles, as well as a tear in Tesla's stock price and headlines. But before you make that plunge to becoming an automotive supplier, we need to talk about liabilities.
The Reindustrialisation of Europe
With an inquisitive mind and a head for challenges, besides the ability to think outside the box and the courage to dare to be different and strive to be first, Spirit Circuits MD Steve Driver can be relied upon to grab the attention of an audience of PCB professionals. As keynote speaker at the Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar, he lived up to his reputation with a motivational presentation, the two themes of which exemplified his latest entrepreneurial venture.
Final Surface Finishes for Automotive: No One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Regardless of whether your application is automotive, medical or military, there are many factors to consider when selecting a final surface finish. Cost, lead or lead-free requirements, end environment, shelf life, fine-pitch components, RF applications, probe-ability, thermal resistance and shock and drop resistance, to name a few. There is not a one-size-fits-all finish. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each surface finish allows the designer to select the finish that best fits each particular application.
How to Handle Short Development Cycles
By focusing on developing relationships, delegation and avoidance of mistakes, you can make your next project a success and improve the current one. Be open-minded and analyze your situation without bias. Simple changes that are implemented as culture will ensure your success in the environment we operate in today.
It's Only Common Sense: Leaders Instill Greatness in Their People
It’s very simple. As a leader, it is your job to do everything you can to encourage your people to greatness. And a company filled with great people is a great company, every time.
Testing Flexible Circuits, Part I: Requirements and Procedures
In this first of a three-part series regarding tests for flexible circuits, I will examine overall requirements and procedures; the second installment will focus on raw materials, and the third and final part will focus on testing for bare flexible circuit and circuit assemblies.
Automotive Technology: The Next Driving Force in Electronic Manufacturing
The devices we have come to expect in luxury and high-end vehicles are now becoming available and even common in lower priced ones. While that significantly increases automotive electronic device manufacture volume, the next wave, will dwarf what we have experienced to date. Soon, we will be considering the self-driving, fully connected and self-learning vehicle that is part of a network that teaches and learns from its peers.
The automotive electronics segment has exploded. Early cars didn’t have much in the way of electronics. Even in 1950, electronics made up only 1% of a car’s cost. But that figure is expected to hit 35% in 2020, and 50% in 2030--and that means a whole lot of PCBs. This issue of The PCB Design Magazine features the impact of increasing electronics content in cars on the PCB design and manufacturing industry.
Big Strategies for Success
I-Connect007’s Barry Matties speaks with Pratish Patel of Electronic Interconnect about the new strategies and capabilities the company is building. The conversation also covers Electronic Interconnect’s move into the automotive industry and how strategies for buyers could help to lower cost and improve quality.
HDI Technology - Flex Circuits
The flex circuit industry in North America is moving rather quickly. The packaging densities are moving to smaller and the electrical requirements much faster. In order to keep pace with the industry requirements of HDI, North American flex vendors need to invest in equipment, resources and R&D.
Detroit vs. Silicon Valley: What’s Driving the Proliferation of Automotive Electronics?
For the past several decades, modern cars have not changed much. They have four wheels, an engine, a radio (possibly even an 8-track) and seatbelts. Over time, however, cars’ electronics parts have evolved faster than any other part of a car with enhancements like power windows, power mirrors, seat heaters and GPS navigation.
Cars, Cars, Cars!
The September 2015 issue of The PCB Magazine focuses on automotive electronics, and includes discussions on the automotive electronics market today, where it's heading tomorrow, and what it all means to companies wanting to participate; latest innovations in automotive electronics technologies; and what to expect in our car of the future.
Catching Up to Yesterday
Recently, KPMG, an international consultancy that operates as a network of member firms offering audit, tax and advisory services, came out with their 6th annual survey of manufacturing executives focusing on global manufacturing trends.
Characterization of PCB Material & Manufacturing Technology for High-Frequency
Concepts like Industry 4.0, Internet of things, M2M communication, smart homes and communication in, or to cars are maturing. All these applications are based on the same demanding requirement—a considerable amount of data and increased data transfer rate. The aim of this paper is to develop a concept to use materials in combination with optimized PCB manufacturing processes, which allows a significant reduction of losses and increased signal quality.
Flex Market Evolution
Flex circuits are designed to solve electronic packaging and assembly problems, solve interconnection issues, assist in miniaturization, and provide a dynamic electro-mechanical solution. They are configured with repeatable conductors that foolproof assembly errors. Flex is used in designs where standard printed circuit boards, connectors and cable assemblies just don’t provide the right electrical or mechanical solution.
Why are PCBs Green?
Why are PCBs green? This is one of the questions I get asked when people ask of me what do I do for a living, especially after I explain that my company supplies the little green things that one will find in pretty much anything and everything you purchase today that you cannot eat or drink.
Integrating with Gardien Group's Roland Valentini
Gardien Group is one of those companies that are always looking out for their customers. The company is, without a doubt, the last word when it comes to bare board quality assurance, focused on helping customers deliver the most electrically sound boards in the business. Gardien’s technologists are experts at testing and other quality assurance disciplines. For more than 30 years, Gardien has been in the business, originally as the equipment manufacturer Mania.
Improved Design of Dry Film Resist Laminator for Optimal Transfer of Micron-sized Features
Since the inception of dry film lamination, the process of squeezing two hot rolls at their end axis points has caused roll bending. An innovative process has now been developed whereby the film is attached with a process that minimizes this issue and provides optimal, evenly dispersed heat and pressure across the entire surface of the panel. This simple and elegant design will ensure that the integrity of the resulting image will be ideal, as measured by the continuity of the resulting transferred traces and features.
Designing Flex Circuits for Domestic Prototyping
Designing a flex circuit to be prototyped domestically? No problem. Designing a rigid-flex circuit for production offshore? Got it. Designing a part that will be prototyped domestically with a seamless transition to offshore production? That can be a little more challenging.
Plating and Quality are Close Partners
A good plating manager is a seasoned veteran with many years of hands-on experience and probably an engineering degree. Bob Tarzwell sees firsthand how PCB manufacturers, without the proper plating shop set-up operations, knowledge and experience, adapt and accept poor practices as normal while they continue with poor quality processes—even after attempted corrective input from vendors and consultants.
Fighting the War on Failure with Supplier Analytics: An Interview with Fane Friberg
Steve Williams sat down with operations and supply chain expert Fane Friberg to talk about how a company can only be as good as its supply base, and how driving supplier improvement directly impacts product improvement.
Is Wearable Technology Just a Fad?
Wearable technology is in its infancy. The industry needs to mature and go back to basic marketing—finding a need and filling it. Flexible circuits have been around since the mid-1960s and have been successfully filling needs. Flexible circuits are ideal for wearable technology because they are thin and lightweight. As the marketing matures, the applications will come and flexible circuits will be there to fill the technical needs.
The War on Process Failure
Who out there thought of it as a war? Is it? Well, we think it is—and a never-ending one at that. In fact, we thought it significant enough to devote all three of our August issues to the subject, because no matter how good you are or how great things are running, Murphy’s Law is right there, ready to take you down a peg or two—or worse.
Latent Short Circuit Failure in High-Rel PCBs due to Cleanliness of PCB Processes and Base Materials
Latent short circuit failure of power PCBs has been associated with fiber contamination of the dielectric material. Tests and inspections have shown various sources of contamination in laminate, prepreg and on etched innerlayers. It has been demonstrated by IR tests that contamination can cause breach of insulation due to electromigration.
The War on Process Failure Continues in August Issue of The PCB Magazine
The August issue of The PCB Magazine is focused on the war on process failure. This subject of process failure turns out to be quite broad and affects essentially everyone in our industry, from the raw material suppliers to the circuit designer to the PCB processor to the assembly folks and on to the OEM. We all have a hand in it, both causing and solving problems and benefiting from solutions. You will find several appropos and useful articles in this issue.
Book Review: We Are Market Basket
How many times does a business book read like a novel? Dan Beaulieu says this book is not just a great story, but also a parable of sorts filled with great examples of the way to run and grow a successful business… and how not to.
Dry Film Photoresist Thickness Selection Criteria
Dry film photoresist suppliers typically indicate for which process a certain resist type is suitable; however the fabricator still has to select the resist thickness that matches his needs best. The most important thickness selection criteria that come to mind are price, resolution, and yield. This article talks about the advantages and disadvantages of choosing films that are too thin for the application.
The Drive for Transparent Circuits
DKN Research develops many types of unique electronic circuits. Some products in our portfolio include ultra-thin conductor circuits as small as 0.2 microns, metal-free circuits, and some circuits up to 20 meters long. Our staff fields many inquiries for packaging of new electronic devices. Lately, there is a lot of interest in transparent flexible circuits. The increase in interest is driven by the recent market expansion of display and optical devices.
The Keys to Success for Supply Chain Management
This article describes the key components and issues regarding achieving supply chain management success, offers some suggestions and action items mostly for customers to store in their memory banks. It also explains key partner relationships and how they must work to gain each other's confidence. When it comes to results, the most important requirement is the product. When a distributor is awarded a tier one product from a tier one supplier, 50% of the goal has been accomplished.
Accomplish Change Together (ACT)
Shifting strategies for selling PCBs and the materials to build them is the impetus for ACT. Insulectro's Ken Parent and Jason Marsh spoke to I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties about the ACT approach—and how it is helping their PCB fabricator customers increase sales and OEMs to get better products.
Agricultural Drones and Flexible Circuits
Agricultural drones are expected to have a significant impact on farming over the next few years. In the article mentioned above, the drone’s ease of use and affordability make this a tool that virtually every farmer could employ. One major complementary technology to the drone is the advances in imaging technology and analysis. Specifically, the agricultural drone gives farmers data analysis capability that they have not had before.
Supply Chain in the 21st Century
The shift away from vertical integration has pushed the topic of supply chain management to the forefront of strategic planning for many manufacturers. This wide-ranging article talks about supply chain management, a brief history of supply chain innovation, managing supply chain risk, as well as presents the "7 Rights" of supply chain management.
Eliminate Connectors with Sculptured Flex
Any time you eliminate a component, hidden costs are eliminated, such as the cost of stocking, tracking and managing the supply chain for that part number. When designing an electronic package, don’t assume that you need a component for every connection point. Sculptured flex will give some options that can make your electronic package, lighter, less costly, more reliable, and take up less space.
A Well-Designed Laminate Supply Chain has to Own It!
Suppliers must use industry knowledge, robust systems, clever software and total visibility to build a supply chain agile enough for any PCB fabricator. Consigned stock, local customization, regional hubs, short manufacturing cycles, controlled processes and highly evolved systems are just a few of the tools needed to develop custom fit solutions that flex and move with the needs of the fabricator and their customers. You can only design the supply chain when you own the supply chain.
Coated Ultra-Thin Copper on Printed Circuit Laminates
Nano copper-based electronic ink and associated processing have been developed to create ultra-thin copper on flexible PCB substrates, allowing for much finer etch resolution and increased circuit density. The process is rapid and sufficiently low-temperature to allow deposition onto temperature-sensitive substrates such as polyimide, plastic and paper.
An Update on the Rogers Material Supply Line
As part of a recent I-Connect007 supply chain survey, we found that RF laminate material can be very difficult to obtain. Rogers Corporation was named specifically in our survey as one supplier with a limited amount of material available. In fact, their delivery time was reported as being as high as 55 days for some materials at one point. In an industry where quick turnaround time is critical, this is one supply line that killed any hope of being quick.
Innovative Technologies Drive PCB Industry Growth
PCB growth has slowed in recent years, though last year the growth rate was slightly higher than the 2% of the last three years. Estimates by IEK of Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan show that the PCB industry will continue to grow in 2015 at a rate of 3-5% with an annual output of RMB 576 billion (USD 93.8 billion).
“Supply Chain Management”: Overused, Underused or Just Misunderstood?
In a world of buzz words, "supply chain" and "supply chain management" have certainly been right up there in our industry. Everyone sort of knows what the terms mean, or at least what they want them to mean. Everyone has assigned their own level of importance and interest to the idea of supply chain management, so it made perfectly good sense for us to highlight that subject in our July issues.
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