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

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A Conversation with Joe O’Neil, the New Chairman of the IPC Board of Directors

Joe O’Neil, formerly of Hunter Technology, recently stepped into the position of chairman of the IPC Board of Directors. I met with Joe at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to discuss his new position, the industry, and the arc of his 20-year involvement with IPC.

Book Review: Mark Goulston’s “Talking to Crazy”

We call know crazy. We all know people who are somewhat irrational or even completely bonkers! But we don’t know how to deal with them, right? Well, put that in the past tense. We did not know how to deal with them until this new book came along.

PCB Shops in Brazil: Are you Kidding Me?

Let´s face facts: Who would ever think of listening to an opinion about the PCB industry coming from someone in Brazil?

Happy’s Essential Skills: Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) is a systematic process to evaluate failure modes and causes associated with the design and manufacturing processes of a new product. It is somewhat similar to the potential problem analysis (PPA) phase of the Kepner-Tregoe program.

Catching up with…PNC: Open House Planned for May

I’m a great believer in open houses. Any time customers and vendors get together to learn and talk about what they can do for each other it’s a good thing. That’s why, when I heard that PNC, in Nutley, New Jersey, planned to hold an open house on May 20, I wanted to learn more about it. So I called my friend Sam Sangani, the company’s owner, to learn more about it.

Williams and Beaulieu: Board Shops and CMs Must Communicate Better

Two well-known consultants in the PCB industry, Dan Beaulieu and Steve Williams, have joined forces to try to help close the divide between CMs and board shops. I recently sat down with them at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to better learn about their strategy for bringing the two sides together.

ESI: Drawing on a Deep History to Create a Vision for the Future

I had an opportunity to sit down for a chat with ESI’s Vice President and General Manager Michael Darwin at the recent HKPCA show. Darwin shared some of the challenges that come with managing the culture of a 70-year-old company, and a little about where they plan to focus their efforts going forward.

Weiner’s World: March 2016

Sellers of equipment at the Shanghai CPCA event complained of continued poor business. This was especially evident amongst those selling to firms building boards for phones and other portables devices as indicated below. However, not all reports were bad. Major fabricators such as Wu's in China, not dependent upon HDI or flexible products, stated that they were "satisfied" with their current business levels.

IPC APEX EXPO: Discussing the MacDermid-Enthone-OMG Integration

Guest Editor Dick Crowe talks with Strategic Account Manager Tom Bell about their newly formed company, MacDermid Enthone Electronic Solutions and what customers can expect to see, including a larger team in the field for service.

Catching up with…Fastrak Manufacturing’s Phil Guzman

Fastrak Manufacturing is one of those companies that focus on solving problems, tough problems, problems that other companies cannot solve. Technically a contract manufacturer, Fastrak is much more than that, working with companies who have an engineering/manufacturing problem to solve, or with inventors trying to get a new product developed, manufactured and out to the market in a limited amount of time.


Francis Tsoi on the Future: What's in Store for Technology, Automation in China's PCB Industry?

I caught up with Francis Tsoi, CEO of World Wide Group whilst at CPCA in Shanghai recently, where we enjoyed a lively discussion on a number of critical topics surrounding China’s PCB industry: namely, what is on the horizon with regard to technology and automation?

Walt Custer Elaborates on his Annual IPC APEX EXPO Forecast Presentation

IPC APEX EXPO 2016 has come and gone, and this year, Walt Custer’s annual presentation forecasting the upcoming year for the industry was much anticipated, as always. I met up with Walt at the show to learn about his presentation and dig deeper into his findings.

Cost Saving Tips for PCB Fabrication

Money is the most common problem in any type of business, and many American companies are looking for ways to cut costs, but still make sure they turn a profit. They also want to ensure the quality of what they produce remains the same, or exceeds present quality, and in the electronics sector this is essential for staying in business.

IPC APEX EXPO: Insulectro's Newest Hire Discusses his Plans for Chemistry Group

Chris Hrusovsky joined Insulectro two days before this interview, but many technologists know him from his 30 years in the PCB industry. Hrusovsky discusses his career and the issues he plans to tackle as the new VP of sales for chemistry at Insulectro.

The Supplier View: An Interview with Hamed El Abd

I sat down with WKK’s Hamed el Abd at CPCA, where we discussed the show, the growing trend toward automation, as well as a few other topics, namely world politics and economics and how they relate to the PCB industry.

Gene Weiner: Congrats to Dan Beaulieu on Column 500

Congratulations on achieving this milestone, Dan. Column 500 contains enough fodder for many months of discussion, investigation and recommendations.

IPC APEX EXPO: How Entelechy Is Changing the Industry

Mehul Dave, CEO of Entelechy Global Inc., talks about the need for speed in front-end engineering as PCB fabricators are overwhelmed with overload from supporting the high-mix, low volume and QTA markets.

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).

IPC APEX EXPO: Gardien Discusses Providing Test Solutions with an Integrated Partnership

Gardien's VP of Quality, Todd Kolmodin, tells Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu about their customer partnership program, helping to provide solutions to their customers' test and quality issues.

IPC APEX EXPO: Design Through Box-Build Strategy Works for PNC Inc.

Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu talks with PNC's production manager, Bhavesh Sangani, about PNC's "design through box-build" strategy along with their significant capital equipment purchases over the past few years for both PCB fabrication and assembly.


IPC APEX EXPO: Innovation in Surface Finishes from Uyemura

Uyemura Senior Strategic Account Manager John Meyers describes the company's innovation in surface finishes, particularly its ENEPIG chemistry. John also briefly discusses their new electroless copper process.

Punching Out! Putting Together the Deal Team

When preparing to sell, remember the old saying, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” While many owners might be tempted to go it alone, in my experience it pays to have a deal team to help prepare a company (and the owner) for a sale.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Design of Experiments

Design of experiments (DOE) is one of the most powerful and influential engineering tools for product yield improvements, new products or processes development, or for problem solving. As mentioned in my last column, process problems led me to a career in printed circuits, and quickly solving those problems led me to a bonus stock award and a great life. Even though I knew nothing about printed circuit manufacturing processes, I was able to quickly find the root causes of all the problems and fix them. My secret? Total quality control (TQC), statistics, and DOE.

Rex Rozario, Part 4: A 10,000-ft. view of his Business Ventures, the Industry, and Life

In our final installment, Rex describes the common thread woven through all of his successful business ventures and varied interests: confidence and the fortitude to follow his dreams until they are realized. Rex also takes a look back at the evolution of the global PCB industry, and explains his approach to profitability, which includes building (and rewarding) a successful team.

Rex Rozario, Part 3: The Future Beckons

In Part 3 of our multi-part interview with industry veteran Rex Rozario, we begin with the future. Having achieved success in China, could Rex and the Graphic team have their sights trained on the U.S.? Also in this installment, Rex weighs in on China’s future, and we discuss the value of automation. Is it for everyone?

Rex Rozario, Part 2: The Beat Goes on: New Developments at Exeter, the Music Scene, and China

In Part 2 of I-Connect007’s multi-part interview with PCB industry icon Rex Rozario, we continue to discover more about what has made Graphic PLC the company it is today. Rex explains the work they’re doing with Exeter University, Graphic’s success in China, and his own personal experience in the UK music scene.

Rex Rozario: The PCB Industry’s True Renaissance Man

In this exclusive multi-part interview that was conducted recently, I-Connect007's Barry Matties will introduce you to all of the people that Rex Rozario is, and where he, his team, and Graphic PLC are headed to next.

World Wide PCB on the “Purification” of the China Market, Industry Changes and More

Francis Tsoi of World Wide PCB Equipment tells Barry Matties that although growth in the China PCB market may be slowing, the government has used this time to transition the industry towards automation, better environmental regulations and the ability to make high-end PCBs in large volumes.

All About Flex: Three Emerging Trends That You Can Bet On

Flexible circuits are light weight, require minimal space, can be bent into “origami” shapes for adoption to a wide range of applications. These utilitarian features give electronic designers endless options for the new and exciting products that will soon become part of our everyday life.

Manufacturing Institutes Can Boost the Nation

In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted a remarkable trend of recent years: the turnaround in many corners of America’s manufacturing sector. Nearly 900,000 new jobs have been created by U.S. manufacturers in the last six years.


The Sum of All Parts: The Cost of Quality

Throughout the decades, irrespective of industry or sector, markets have thrived on competition. They have, however, also relied upon some semblance of unity within their respective competitors. Industries rely upon their individual member companies’ ability to work together for the greater good.

Solder Mask for LED Applications: Formulation 101

In 2007, the United States passed legislation to phase out the manufacture and trade of incandescent light bulbs, the EU following passed similar legislation in 2009. The rest of the world has been following suit creating a huge opening in the lighting market for a technology to fill the gap.

Printing PCBs…In Your Office!

The days of producing a PCB prototype with a 3D printer may not be as distant as you think. I spoke with Simon Fried of Nano Dimension about how 3D printing is becoming a reality, and how this disruptive technology will change the way designers produce rapid prototypes.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Problem Solving

Related to TQC and a very important role of an engineer is solving problems. Using a problem solving methodology is a job that all engineers will use sooner or later, but if you are in product or process engineering in manufacturing, it will be sooner! This was the situation that introduced me to printed circuit manufacturing.

Punching Out: How to Sell Your PCB/Assembly Shop

You are thinking of selling your PCB or assembly shop. Perhaps you are contemplating retirement, you have no successors, and the thought of going to the office on Monday is driving you crazy. This column is designed to help your planning efforts. Future columns will go deeper into each subject.

Japan’s MicroCraft on the Japanese Market, Technology, and More

Soichiro Fujita of MicroCraft sat for an interview recently, in which we discussed what the current PCB market looks like in Japan, from a Japanese supplier’s perspective. Fujita also shared the company’s strategies for combating copycat machines, and even copies of the copycats, which includes a healthy dose of acceptance. He also shared what technology trends he sees moving forward.

25 Essential Skills for Engineers

The 25 engineering skills are just my opinion; they are what I have observed to be the essential tools that engineers, including myself, needed to complete a project, develop a product, meet a schedule, or solve a problem. These were the important skills that got me the promotion, or the opportunity for a challenging job.

The Pinless Registration System, Explained by DIS’ Bernd Gennat

I sat down at productronica recently with Bernd Gennat, VP sales Asia and Europe for Duetto Integrated Systems (DIS Inc), for an overview of the industry, including his company’s technology. Our discussion touched on trends in multilayer registration, market requirements in Europe compared with those in China, and the benefits of pinless over hard-tooled registration systems for current and future rigid, flex and flex-rigid constructions.

What a Difference a Year Makes: Voxel8 and the 3D Printing Pioneering Spirit

At CES in Las Vegas in January, Dan Feinberg and I met with Michael Bell, co-founder of 3D printing company Voxel8, to get an update on their developments of the past year, where he sees the company going in the future and whether rapid prototyping might be a valid application for their machines.

Catching up with…Tom Kastner

When is the right time to sell your board house? Who is going to buy it? What is a buyer looking for in a PCB fabrication business? These are questions I hear all the time particularly in the past few months as many owners are reaching an age when they are thinking about retirement.


What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been—and It’s a Long Way from Being Over

Harvey Miller has been in the PCB industry for more than 40 years, and he’s probably seen it all. I recently sat down with Harvey at a wine bar in Palo Alto to learn more about his history in the industry and where he sees it going forward. Harvey arrived wearing jogging shorts and running shoes. No surprise after what his doctor recently shared with him.

New CEO Jeff Waters Outlines his Roadmap for Isola

Jeff Waters, Isola’s newly appointed CEO and president, comes to the laminate supplier after more than 25 years in the semiconductor industry, working for companies like Texas Instruments and National Semiconductor. Only a few days into his new job, I met with Jeff to discuss the transition and what we can expect from Isola under his leadership.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuit Antennas

In our world of fabricating custom electronics, a circuit can generally be defined as “a path between two or more points along which an electrical current is carried.” The printed circuit board industry designs and fabricates an incredibly diverse set of rigid and flexible circuits. But it is also true this industry produces many parts that do not carry current between discreet points.

Happy’s Essential Skills: The Need for Total Quality Control (Six Sigma and Statistical Tools), Part 2

The statistical representation of Six Sigma describes quantitatively how a process is performing. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. A Six Sigma defect is defined as anything outside of customer specifications. A Six Sigma opportunity is then the total quantity of chances for a defect.

The Fascinating Possibilities of Medical Electronics

I see the medical electronics industry today as overlapping several of the traditional market divisions—computer (from the doctor’s office to you to the hospital to caregivers), communications (think of it as “telehealth”), consumer (it’s for us, right?), industrial equipment and of course medical. And who knows when it will also encompass automotive and milaero? But let’s not forget security, since equipment and wearables are definitely part of the Internet of Things.

Weiner's World: A Challenge: Looking Forward to 2016 and Beyond

Are you ready for rapid changes in global manufacturing shifts? Are you prepared to seize opportunities arising from new innovations? Are you part of the current mega-merger trend running through the entire interconnect supply chain? Are larger customers and prospects by-passing you because they are uncertain of your future and sustainability?

Is IPC the Past or the Future of our Industry?

In the electronics industry, there seems to be an infinite number of trade organizations, each with their own special niche and purpose. It can be challenging from the outside to understand why they each exist and how they fit together.

Facing Incredible Times: Robin Taylor's Vision of the Future

The highlight of the “Speakers’ Corner” at the 2015 productronica trade fair in Munich was the presentation by Robin Taylor of Atotech entitled, “Facing Incredible Times Where the Only constant is Change,” in which Taylor took a step back from his everyday marketing and technical sales management responsibilities to contemplate what might happen in the substrate business over the coming decade, in light of current trends and developments and drivers for the longer term.

Are Local Industry Events the New Social Media?

I love social media marketing. I discovered, quite by accident, that I am actually pretty good at it, too. It all started about five years ago, when marketing was unexpectedly thrust upon me in order to support my sales efforts, while working for a small PCB manufacturer in Southern California. Until then, I had no experience with social media platforms apart from posting the occasional family photo on Facebook.

Robots, Wearables and Implanted Devices in the Age of Bionic Health

If you are an electronics manufacturer and you ask your business bankers where their market research suggests growth will come from, they will almost certainly identify medical electronics as a key growth area. For the past five years, the segment has enjoyed something close to 6% CAAGR with acceleration predicted in the short term and remains one of the few areas where the U.S. is a net exporter of products.


Book Review: The Inventor’s Dilemma: The Remarkable Life of H. Joseph Gerber

Everyone in the PCB industry should read this book. All of us who have used “Gerbers” for our entire career should take a moment and thank the man, H. Joseph Gerber, who changed our industry for the better. This masterfully written extensive biography by his son, David Gerber, is a must-read for anyone who is interested in an inventor who escaped the Nazis and put a proverbial dent in the universe.

Catching up with David Gerber

Speaking with David Gerber, the son of noted inventor and PCB industry innovator Joseph Gerber, about his new book, "The Inventor’s Dilemma: The Remarkable Life of H. Joseph Gerber," was one of the highlights of my career.

First EIE and CCI Eurolam on Direct Imaging, Printers and Partnership

In this interview, Gregory Stoeckli, CEO of First EIE, shares the realities of direct imaging requirements, while Lawson Lightfoot of CCI Eurolam discusses the success of the new distribution partnership the two companies have formed. Something we all agreed upon: A somewhat slower machine that is both highly flexible and affordable is a great fit for high-mix, low-volume producers.

Working for the Industry: Renee Michalkiewicz, NTS

I spent some time with my friend and former colleague Renee Michalkiewicz, vice president and general manager at NTS Baltimore, formerly Trace Laboratories. I was interested in Renee’s views on IPC and the Technical Activities Executive Council, of which she is currently the chairman, a position I held some years ago.

Insulated Metal Base Circuits — an Enabling Technology for Power Electronics

The use of structural metal in the manufacture of electronic circuits has been a part of the electronics’ industry technology toolkit for many decades. For example, metal chassis structures were required and used in the early days of the electronics industry to both support the weight and handle the heat generated by the vacuum tube components that were the transistors of their day.

WKK's Hamed El-Abd on the Current State of China

In the world of real estate, the key term might be “location,” but in manufacturing today, it’s automation, automation, automation. I had the opportunity to interview WKK’s Hamed El-Abd at the recent HKPCA show, who discussed the company’s entry into the direct imaging market and how certain areas of the Chinese market are being flooded by a staggering amount of Chinese equipment manufacturers.

Optima Discusses Advantages of In-line AOI

At the recent HKPCA & IPC APEX South China Fair, I spoke with Gillad Galor, founder and general manager of AOI maker Optima LTD, about the his company's technology, and what's driving product innovation in the AOI space. He also talked about the benefits of in-line AOI systems.

Bürkle Discusses Cycle Time in PCB Lamination Systems

At the recent HKPCA & IPC APEX Show 2015 in Shenzhen, China, I interviewed Stefan Roller, sales manager at Bürkle Process Technologies, about the innovations happening in Bürkle, as well as cycle times in PCB processing equipment. He also talked about the current market landscape and the opportunity for growth in the industry.

IoT, Community and Content at the Centre of CES

Phillip Stoten writes about his observations during the recent CES 2016 Show in Las Vegas, including new trends driving the next generation of consumer electronics technologies such as IoT and content.

Happy’s Essential Skills: The Need for Total Quality Control (Six Sigma and Statistical Tools): Part 1

In this first of many columns covering my "Twenty-Five Essential Skills Every Engineer Needs to Learn," I will expand on each of those skills. To read the introduction to this series, which published in the January issue of The PCB Magazine. As a quick recap, here are the 25 skills that I will be writing about over the next 18 months or so, to publish every three weeks or so in the PCB007 Daily Newsletter.


CES 2016 Wrap-Up, Part 2: The Road Less Traveled

There was plenty to see on the show floor at CES 2016. But we found an entirely new universe of products to learn about and explore. We found such a dimension in the semi-private suites located on the upper floors of the Venetian, the Westgate, Mandalay Bay and other hotels. I'll spend a day in these suites next year!

CES 2016 Wrap-Up, Part 1

CES 2016 is now history and most of us are home, or at our next port-of-call. I have seen various attendance numbers but it’s somewhere in the range of 175,000; it was busy, crowded and impossible to see everything. Here is my review of some of the most innovative devices and technologies at CES.

Catching Up with HSIO’s James Rathburn

I have interviewed James Rathburn a number of times in the past few years and he always has something new to say. One of the industry’s leading technology inventors, Jim is always finding himself on the cutting edge of our technology. The recent acquisition of the former HEI operation in Tempe, Arizona exemplifies the path his company, HSIO, is taking towards a goal of being the industry’s true technology leader.

CES: Day One

CES Unveiled is the official media event for CES. It is the first official happening of what promises to be a very busy and fascinating week. At this event, members of the press get to preview a number of innovative startups as well as some new products from a few established global brands.

IPC’s Fern Abrams: Keeping up with Regulatory Matters

Recently, I met with IPC’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, Fern Abrams. In the course of our conversation, we delved into everything from what her role entails and recent regulatory matters, to some of the group’s successes and why companies need to get involved (it matters to your representatives in Congress or Parliament).

CES 2016: A Preview and a Prediction for the Future

Here I am getting ready to head to Las Vegas to once again cover CES, and as I look at my predictions and coverage for the last few years it seems that most of what I've written was right on track. Life is not always that kind with regards to meeting our expectations, but for the last few years not only have the predictions for technology’s future been mostly on track, it seems that they have been exceeded and that progress has accelerated.

2015’s Most Read PCB Articles

Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular PCB news and articles. These are the top 10 most-read PCB articles from the past year. Check them out.

Dave Bergman: IPC’s Technology & International Reach

I met with the IPC’s VP of Standards and Technology, Dave Bergman, while in Chicago recently. I’ve known Dave for almost 30 years, so we had quite a chat, covering a lot of ground, from the efforts of IPC China and IPC India, to the standards activities that are certainly the core activity of IPC.

ESI Taking Laser-Based Tooling to New Levels

ESI is a leading supplier of laser-based tools to the Chinese market, and they are trying to make a splash in the HDI realm with their new CO2-based system, nViant. I met with Chris Ryder of ESI at the recent HKPCA show in Shenzhen, China, to learn about the new system and how ESI plans to enter this new market.

All About Flex: Saying Yes

During the Reagan presidency, First Lady Nancy Reagan championed the advertising slogan “Just say no” as part of a “War on Drugs” campaign. The message of the campaign was intended to protect children from the harmful effects of illegal drug use by offering various ways of saying “no.”


What is the Internet of Things and Why Should it Matter to Us?

It is often surprising how closely our science fiction novels and movies model the future. The Internet of Things (IoT) and big data may prove to be an excellent example of this phenomenon. Coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton (the RFID standards pioneer), the IoT is one of the least descriptive monikers of all time for something very important in the history of technology.

Can Technology be Too Disruptive?

Technology represents new ways of doing things, and, once mastered, creates lasting change, which businesses and cultures do not unlearn. Adopted technology becomes embodied in capital, whether physical or human, and it allows economies to create more value with less input. At the same time, technology often disrupts, supplanting older ways of doing things and rendering old skills and organizational approaches irrelevant.

An Examination of the China Market with Laminate Supplier Shengyi

Chief Executive Director Jack Dong explains to Pete Starkey how Shengyi Technology, the world’s second largest laminate manufacturer, plans to continue to develop its European market and to comprehensively meet the diverse requirements of the automotive, industrial controls and medical sectors. He also comments on how the Chinese government recognises the Industry 4.0 revolution in automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies, and is steering its industrial development strategy in a similar direction.

Catching up with Gardien’s Rick Meraw

There are companies out there who are truly changing the world—companies who are making a dent in the universe, to quote the late Steve Jobs. Gardien is one of those companies. So much so that I like to catch up with them on a regular basis because they’re always adding something to their repertoire and it’s typically something that helps improve the way we handle quality assurance in our industry.

All About Flex: Process Controls for Flexible Circuit Fabrication

Manufacturers of flexible circuits use several chemical processes for fabrication. These processes are generally located in a common area of the plant because of facility requirements and environmental considerations. These chemical operations are referred to as wet processes.
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