The Designers Council: A Chapter Primer From the Ground Up
Thinking it might be a way to make new contacts with PCB designers in Orange County, I attended a couple of Designers Council meetings. The chapter president at that time was Paul Fleming, who asked me to be part of his steering committee because he learned that I had spent decades in fabrication. Within a few months, he had gotten a job transfer to Arizona, so he twisted my arm to take over as the chapter president. I agreed, but little did I know that this would become a major turning point in my PCB career.
AltiumLive Munich: Day 2 Keynotes
Having enjoyed the conference dinner and robot battles of the previous evening, a good night’s sleep, and a hearty breakfast, Altium’s family of over 220 electronics engineers and designers eagerly returned to the conference room. Many jostled to secure the best seats for the second day of the European AltiumLive design summit in Munich, keen to make the most of the “learn, connect, and get inspired” opportunity it offered.
Laser Focus on Flex and Rigid-flex
ESI’s Chris Ryder, director of Product Management, and Shane Noel, Flex Systems product manager, discuss laser vias for flex users and the increasing necessity for companies to collaborate early on and become more and more involved, whether that be in the product design, or with the process or base material manufacturers.
Happy Anniversary, Gerber Format: Looking Ahead to Digital Innovation
This year, we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the introduction of the Gerber machine language format. We can thank H. Joseph Gerber, the man who took manual PCB design to the next level with the automated photoplotter, for giving us this format in 1964. Gerber immigrated to the United States in 1940 with his mother following the death of his father during the Holocaust. Gerber started Gerber Scientific Instrument Company in 1948 to commercialize his first patented invention—the variable scale.
AltiumLive Munich Draws Designers from Around Europe
I’m finally unpacked after last week’s AltiumLive PCB design summit in Munich. Much like the AltiumLive event I attended in San Diego last October, the conference drew hundreds of PCB designers. This marked the second AltiumLive PCB design summit held in Munich, and Altium seems to have it down to a science. I spoke with designers from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium, just to name a few countries. Many of them were involved in the automotive segment but some were in medical and industrial controls as well. It’s great to be at an event that is full of PCB designers, because designers are few and far between at most PCB industry events.
STEM: The Future of Our Industry
Facing a growing shortage of talented labor with which to fill the employment positions in America, IPC is working to help solve this problem. Colette Buscemi, senior director of IPC’s education programs, is encouraging IPC members to better engage pre-college and post-secondary college students at the local level. Barry Matties spoke with Colette about the educational programs IPC has put in place to invest in future generations, including the STEM program at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO.
CES 2019 Showstoppers, the Show Floor, and Some Neat Stuff
CES 2019 is over, and those of us who spent four to five days trying to see and hear as much as possible are in recovery mode. There were over 182,000 attendees, and 6,600 of us were media all trying to get to as much of the 2.9-million-square-feet exhibit space as possible.
Atotech at HKPCA on Announcements and Advancements
Edy Yu, managing editor for PCB007 China, caught up with Daniel Schmidt, Atotech’s director of global marketing, during the 2018 HKPCA and IPC Show in December. Edy and Daniel discussed Atotech’s new announcements at the show including their new solutions for 5G, high-speed, and high-frequency applications, and more.
Catching up With Artnet Pro
I recently caught up with my old friend Meir Polack, co-owner with Rony Hod of Artnet Pro, which is a high-tech equipment sales and service company with offices in the U.S., China, and South America. We discussed a new line of direct imaging equipment called Altix (also the name of the company).
The Quest for Perfect Design Data Packages
There’s an ongoing problem in the PCB industry: fabrication shops are receiving incomplete or inadequate design data packages, leaving manufacturers scrambling to fill in the blanks. For a quick-turn prototype shop like Washington-based Prototron, with over 5,000 customers and up to 60% of orders coming from new customers each month, that can add up to a lot of wasted time and effort just in the quoting stage. Dave Ryder, Prototron president, and Mark Thompson, engineering support, delve into this continuing issue and more.
Mentor and Seica Partner for Data Prep and Testing Big Boards
Mark Laing, business development manager of the Valor division at Mentor, a Siemens company, and Luca Corli, director of sales at Seica, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about the partnership between their two companies, which enables efficient data preparation for testing big boards, and accelerates new product introduction (NPI) cycles.
Altium Prepares for Munich Show as Growth Continues
It’s been just two months since the AltiumLive event drew several hundred designers to San Diego, California, and Altium is already gearing up for the next show in Munich, Germany (January 15–17, 2019). I recently spoke with Chris Donato, VP of global sales for Altium, about the upcoming AltiumLive show as well as the company’s growth over the past few years.
ESI’s Chris Ryder: There’s More to Choosing a Laser Than You Think
At the recent HKPCA show, I sat down with ESI’s Chris Ryder, director of product management—HDI—to discuss considerations for choosing a new laser system, and how ESI uses its decades of flex and rigid-flex drilling experience to help guide customers in their decision-making process.
A Fractal Conversation with Jim Howard and Greg Lucas
Veteran PCB technologists Jim Howard and Greg Lucas have made an interesting discovery: Certain shapes of copper planes make a PCB run more efficiently than other shapes, a process they dubbed fractal design. It doesn’t appear to cost a penny more, and testing suggests that fractal design techniques could eliminate edge noise. Barry Matties and Andy Shaughnessy asked Jim and Greg to discuss the fractal design process, and the advantages of using this technique.
Dispatches from CES 2019: The Future in the Kickoff
Press kickoff briefings at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are no stranger to big claims and hyperboles. At the “CES 2019 Trends to Watch” presentation on Monday morning, Steve Koenig, Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA’s) VP of market research, made some pretty big claims about what we should expect to see at the show, but those claims don't seem at all to be hyperbolized.
CES Press Day: NVIDIA, Samsung, and Intel
Three major companies—NVIDIA, Samsung, and Intel—had lengthy, interesting presentations on CES press day, and each had with their own agenda.
Rainer Beerhalter Discusses His AltiumLive Munich Presentation
Rainer Beerhalter is a physicist, and according to his design bureau’s website, “founder, owner, and mastermind” of B GMBH. Rainer attended the first AltiumLive in Munich in 2017, and he’s returning to this year’s event in Munich January 15–17. I asked him to tell us about the class he’ll be teaching in Munich, and why he decided to come back for the sophomore AltiumLive show.
Birds of a Feather: PCB Carolina and the RTP Designers Council
At PCB Carolina 2018, I met with show founders Tony Cosentino, Randy Faucette, and Lance Olive, who are all employees at the Better Boards service bureau in nearby Cary. I asked the trio to discuss the show’s history, its relationship to the Research Triangle Park (RTP) North Carolina Chapter of the IPC Designers Council, as well as the show’s tremendous growth over the past few years.
Agfa on Revolutionary Inkjet Solder Mask Applications
Does inkjet solder mask have the potential for volume production? Mariana Van Dam, global sales manager for PCB imaging solutions, and Dr. Frank Louwet, business unit manager for advanced coatings and chemicals, discuss Agfa's latest developments, plus some novel applications for inkjet etch and plating resists.
Better to Light a Candle: Chapter 1—Prepping the Next Generation
There has been a considerable amount of (electronic) ink and words shared in our industry bemoaning the graying-out of our industry and the growing shortage of skilled people at all levels. (See the May 2017 PCB007 Magazine column “Help Wanted—and How!” for just one example). As is usually the case, though, when all is said and done, more has been said than done.
Robert Art on the Importance of Thermal Management
Robert Art, global account manager for IMS materials at Ventec International Group, discusses future market requirements for thermal management materials, the need for a better understanding of the concept of thermal impedance, and an initiative to propose a consistent industry-standard method for measuring thermal conductivity while at electronica 2018.
Top 10 Most-Read PCB Design Articles of 2018
Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular PCB design news, articles, interviews, and columns. Without further ado, here are the top 10 most-read PCB design articles from the past year. Check them out.
Susy Webb: The History and Future of the Designers Council
When we started planning this issue on the IPC Designers Council, I knew I’d have to speak with design instructor Susy Webb, a longtime DC member and currently an executive board officer. I asked Susy to discuss how she first got involved with the DC, why designers should join their local chapter, and what the future holds for this group.
Chris Nuttall Discusses NCAB Group's IPO and Future Plans
Editor Nolan Johnson sat down with Chris Nuttall, COO and VP of technology at NCAB Group, to discuss software tools, predictive reports, and the company's recent IPO.
Dock Brown on Succeeding at Failure Analysis
Dock Brown of DfR Solutions gave a keynote speech at SMTAI, “Requirements for Both Cleaning and Coating to Building Medical Hardware.” Barry Matties and Happy Holden sat down with Dock to discuss the current trends he sees in failure analysis, the concept of “rules versus tools,” and how predictive engineering software used early in the design cycle can help predict failures in components and microvias and drive cost down.
The Shape of Things to Come: Curved, Flexible, Stretchable, and Three-Dimensional Electronics
The seamless integration of electronics into flexible, curved, and even stretchable surfaces is being requested for several markets, such as automotive (dashboards, lighting, sensors), smart buildings (lighting facades, air quality, solar panels), medical (health patches, X-ray, analysis), and smart clothing (position tracking, sports).
Randy Burcham Discusses New Techniques for BOM, Daughterboards
During AltiumLive, I spoke with IOTA Engineering's Randy Burcham, who taught several classes during the event. He explained his methodology for filtering BOM data as well as his new approach to working with daughterboards and how he was up and running on Altium tools after only three days.
Successful Flex Circuit Design and Processing Guidelines
With the use of sensors and technology in everything from mobile phones to refrigerators, automobiles, and wearable medical devices, circuit boards are a component in many different types of products. In today’s world of electronics, any product with an on-off switch contains a circuit board.
Mentor Discusses New DFT, DFM, and Design Verification Tools
At electronica 2018, John McMillan, digital marketing program manager-Electronic Board Systems, and Mark Laing, business development manager-Valor Division of Mentor, a Siemens business, discuss new tools for PCB design verification, as well as design for manufacturing (DFM) and design for testing (DFT).
Martyn Gaudion on Signal Integrity Modelling and Stackup Tools
The accuracy of signal integrity modelling continues to improve, and stackup tools are becoming widely used, which now include material suppliers' datasheet information. During the recent electronica show in Munich, Germany, Martyn Gaudion, managing director at Polar Instruments, explained how Polar often serves as a bridge between PCB design and fabrication, and why educating his customers is so critical.
Ventec's Marketing Strategy and Their Newly Appointed Technology Ambassador
At electronica 2018, Mark Goodwin, chief operating officer at Ventec International Group, discusses the company’s marketing strategy along with their newly appointed technology ambassador, Alun Morgan, and how he sees the world.
New Designers Council Column: The Digital Layout
The IPC Designers Council is launching a new column in Design007 Magazine: “The Digital Layout.” I recently asked two IPC Designers Council (DC) Executive Board members, Mike Creeden and Stephen Chavez, to discuss the content and objective of their new column, and how this all ties in with the DC.
Meet All Flex’s New President and CEO Matt Keithly
All Flex Flexible Circuits and Heaters recently appointed Matt Keithly as their new president and CEO. In this exclusive interview, Keithly discusses his background, the direction of the company, and topics related to flexible circuits and other areas of All Flex’s business.
Stephen Chavez: Breaking the Design Data Bottleneck
When we started planning this issue on design data, I knew we’d have to speak with PCB designer and EPTAC design instructor Steph Chavez. In this interview, he explains some of the biggest issues related to good design data handoff, and he offers some ways forward.
Design Data: File Naming Conventions
Working for an EMS provider, I am often asked to make sense of customers’ PCB design data packages that must be audited for completeness and manufacturability. Quite often, EMS operations receive data to produce a PCB design and begin the auditing process, only to be called off due to customer changes. Sometimes the data is incomplete, or it is missing one or more of the data files required to fabricate the PCB at the supplier. There are also occasions where a customer has sent files that were supposed to be the updated version but were not changed at all.
Life Beyond 10 Gbps: Localize or Fail!
Ideally, all interconnects should look like uniform transmission lines (or wave-guiding structures) with the specified characteristic impedance. In reality, an interconnect link is typically composed of transmission lines of different types (microstrip, strip, coplanar, coaxial, etc.) and transitions between them such as vias, connectors, breakouts and so on. Transmission lines may be coupled to each other that cause crosstalk. The transitions may reflect and radiate energy due to discontinuities in signal and reference conductors. The crosstalk, reflections and radiation cause unwanted and sometime unpredictable signal degradation.
150+ Years of Experience: Reflections with Three Industry Icons
You would be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable and experienced group than that of Gary Ferrari, Gene Weiner, and Happy Holden. In a brief interview with Barry Matties, these three industry icons consider the past, present, and future state of electronics manufacturing while also offering advice to the newest generation of manufacturers.
Julie Ellis: Communication and Fabrication Knowledge Critical for Designers
Field Application Engineer Julie Ellis of TTM sees it all: good designs, bad designs, and everything in between. Her classes on proper DFM techniques are always a big draw. She taught at the inaugural AltiumLive in 2017 and was back at this year’s event. I caught up with Julie and asked her to discuss some of the things she covered in class. As she points out, many issues could be eliminated if designers communicated with their fabricators and had a better understanding of how PCBs are manufactured.
Strategies to Manage Your China Business Through Turbulence
While the United States may be the world’s most open market, China remains the most competitive, and is still viewed by most U.S. and EU companies as the "last great opportunity for growth.” Many companies want to gain entry to the Chinese market share for their products or services. Thus, the competition for sales of products or services is correspondingly intense. Here's how to succeed in the world's second largest economy.
RTW SMTAI: LiloTree's Shah Discusses Hyper Corrosion, Black Pad in ENIG
Dr. Kunal Shah, chief scientist and president of LiloTree, talks about the major issues in ENIG, such as hyper corrosion—which can be very benign, or very extreme, resulting to black pad—and how LiloTree is helping to improve the performance and efficiency of the ENIG finish processes.
Jeff Waters: Isola Updates
During PCB West 2018, Nolan Johnson and Barry Matties sat down with Jeff Waters, Isola CEO, to catch up on company activities, including the recent sale of the factory in Chandler, Arizona, the plan to build a new facility, product developments, current market dynamics, a new CFO, and much more.
Cadence Presents New Software System and Technical Papers at PCB West 2018
During PCB West 2018, I spoke with Dan Fernsebner, product marketing group director, and Hemant Shah, product management group director for enterprise PCB products, both with Cadence Design Systems, about their new software launch—DesignTrue DFM Ecosystem. Fernsebner and Shah also address recent technical papers from Cadence on Industry 4.0, IPC-2581, system-level design, and return-path analysis and management.
Altium Designer Increasingly Used for High-Speed Design
I recently met with Mark Forbes, the director of technical marketing at Altium, during the AltiumLive event in San Diego. We discussed Mark’s class on MCAD/ECAD collaboration and the success of AltiumLive, as well as the growth of Altium users who design high-speed PCBs with Altium Designer.
Copper Pillar Plating Systems: High Speed, Low Heat
The industry is seeing ever-more stringent requirements of interconnect technologies (ICT) from die through final assembly, in particular digital and analog high frequencies, undistorted signal propagation and efficient heat propagation are concerned.
Catching up With Scott McCurdy and Freedom CAD
During PCB West, Scott McCurdy of Freedom CAD Services sat down with Technical Editor Tim Haag for an interview. We discussed Freedom CAD’s latest news, some trends in PCB design software tools, and the continuing need to draw more young people into a career in PCB design.
Rick Hartley is Bullish on PCB Design, 3D Printing
At the recent PCB West in Silicon Valley, Consulting Technical Editor Tim Haag met with long-time design industry veteran Rick Hartley to discuss the changing landscape of circuit board design, the layout designers of the future, and how designers can benefit from 3D printing of circuit boards.
Darwin E. George: Seeking PCB Design Job at Retirement Age
Some of us dream of living a life of leisure at 70. But not Darwin E. George. This septuagenarian wants to find a job designing PCBs. We met up with Darwin at AltiumLive, where he was networking and trying to get his foot in the door with one of the companies that are hiring now. Darwin told us about his career in PCB design, his experience learning a new EDA tool, and why he would rather design high-speed PCBs instead of playing shuffleboard for the rest of his life.