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IPC’s Shawn Dubravac: COVID-19 Outbreak Accelerates Industry Shifts Already Under Way

On May 19, Barry Matties spoke with Shawn Dubravac, chief economist for IPC. While discussing other topics, Matties asked for Dubravac’s perspective on shifts in the market, who observed that the recessionary trend might be behind us; the markets are already showing recovery. Still, it could take a year or so to fully recover.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 6

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In Part 6, he shares two tips for taking care of your mental health during these uncertain times.

Survey: Lessons Learned in Unparalleled Times

Parents often share nuggets of wisdom with their children in hopes that they won’t repeat past mistakes. But what do our electronics industry leaders want to share about lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis?

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 5

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In Part 5, he shares tips on continuing your professional development during this lockdown, while making sure to take much-needed time off to rest your mind.

IPC's Dr. John Mitchell: Leadership in Times of Crisis

On May 13, Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, spoke with Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson in another installment in our series of industry updates. In this interview, Mitchell discussed the challenges of leadership in crisis situations.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 4

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In Part 4, Dan shares some age-old advice about running a business in turbulent times, including the need to dress for work and stay on a schedule, even while working from home.

Flexible Circuit Technologies Adds Johnson Company as a Product Representative

Nolan Johnson spoke with Carey Burkett, VP of business development at Minneapolis-based Flexible Circuit Technologies. FCT recently signed a sales representation agreement authorizing Johnson Company to represent FCT in the Midwest region of the U.S.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 3

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nolan's Notes: Sometimes, You Have to Shout ‘Stop the Presses!’

I-Connect007 was working diligently to research and report on “Going Green” for the April issue. Although it was a good topic, sometimes, the world has other plans. While going green was our original topic, current events demanded that we pivot, devoting this issue to the breaking news and changing dynamics COVID-19 has brought us.

Happy Holden's Essential Skills: Online Instruction and Distance Learning

Online courses have become increasingly available and popular. For this to be effective, specific requirements must be met for courses taken or produced over the internet in order to provide the user with a positive experience. Read Happy Holden's updated article from his series on 25 essential skills for engineers.


I-Connect007 In-Depth: Averatek and RBP Chemical Ink Distribution Agreement

On April 30, 2020, Michael Carano, RBP Chemical Technology vice president, and John Johnson, Averatek vice president, spoke with I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson about the new distribution agreement inked by the two companies. Carano and Johnson also talk in more detail about the A-SAP additive plating process developed by Averatek. The conversation included why Averatek and RBP have partnered to distribute chemistries related to Averatek's A-SAP process.

I-Connect007 Survey: Lessons Learned During COVID-19 Lockdown

In a recent survey, we asked I-Connect007 readers about lessons that they and their companies have learned since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Survey respondents were asked to pick up to three areas of business operations where the most important lessons have been learned.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 2

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In Part 2, he highlights using online tools.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine: How Engineers Can Use SPI Tools for Verification

Koh Young’s Ray Welch and Brent Fischthal detail how engineers can work with SPI tools to verify how small they can go in component size with their solder paste application, and how the company’s SPI equipment is helping not only to verify but also to help drive the development collaboration between solder paste and stencil printer manufacturers, and inspection tools and software.

A Sustainable Supply Chain for Lowest Total Cost

Kennedy outlines the sustainabilty challenges facing an OEM when choosing a fabricator. The idea of "green" extends into the supply chain as well.

iNEMI’s PCB Roadmap Explained

In an informative and enlightening webinar, iNEMI Project Manager Steve Payne was joined by Isola Group CTO Ed Kelley to explain, review, and discuss the details of the recently published “iNEMI 2019 Roadmap for Organic PCBs.” Pete Starkey provides an overview.

Freedom CAD’s Expert PCB Design Tips, Part 1

When you’re designing complex PCBs, knowledge truly is power. The more PCB design tips, tricks, and techniques you know, the better your cutting-edge designs will be. With that in mind, we’re bringing you a series of PCB design tips, courtesy of Freedom CAD Services.

Survey: Complete, Accurate Design Data Tops List of Fab Expectations

In a recent survey, we asked PCB designers about expectations, particularly fabricators’ expectations of their PCB designer customers. The overwhelming majority (84%) of respondents indicated that a fabricator’s primary expectation of a designer is a complete, accurate data package.

Happy’s Smart Factory Protocol Primer

The smart factory concept is built upon data interchange as the foundation. There has been much development in the area of industrial and manufacturing data protocols over the years, stretching back into the 1960s. This article by Happy Holden surveys what are considered the most common protocols in use in the electronics manufacturing industry today, including IPC-CFX/ Hermes, OML, SECS/GEM, and MAPS.

Photography Slideshow by Columnist Mehul Davé

At I-Connect007, we like to work hard, play hard, and highlight our contributors. Mehul J. Davé is a great example of someone who is passionate about the industry as well as his other interests outside of work—especially photography. Here, we feature some of his work.


Aurora Circuits’ Chris Kalmus Offers PCBs for Ventilators at No Charge

Electronics manufacturers continue to step up to the plate during these uncertain times. In this interview, Dan Beaulieu speaks with Chris Kalmus, owner of Aurora Circuits in Aurora, Illinois, who announced on April 24 that his company would be offering PCBs for ventilators free of charge.

What It Takes to Be a Milaero Supplier, Part 3

The decision to pursue military and aerospace (milaero) certification impacts every facet of the organization, and not every shop is prepared to make this transformation. In Part 3, Anaya Vardya explores what it takes to be a milaero supplier in the areas of purchasing and quality.

Improving Copper Distribution in Pattern Plating Using Simulation Software

Technical Editor Pete Starkey had the opportunity to sit in on a webinar presented by Robrecht Belis, manager of the surface finishing business unit at Elsyca—a Belgian company specialising in the simulation of electrochemical processes.

I-Connect007 Survey Details Concerns About Future of Industry

I-Connect007 continues to monitor the current worldwide economic situation by seeking input from our market leaders. Here’s what we discovered: If you’re feeling the pressure, you’re not alone. In a recent survey, we asked about your primary concerns for the future of our industry. The number one concern (26%) indicated a belief that sales will be affected negatively in the coming months.

14 ‘Business as Usual’ Tips, Part 1

In this series, Dan Beaulieu will share 14 “business as usual” tips for selling without visiting customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. In Part 1, he shares two tips that highlight ways to keep your name in front of your customers, no matter what.

An M&A Perspective on the Current Market

Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson spoke to Tom Kastner about what he sees from an M&A perspective in company leadership resistance to change, as well as the current state of the M&A market and how it’s been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

MFLEX Increases Growth

Happy Holden recently spoke with Jay Desai of MFLEX about the latest flex work the company has been doing and its aim to transition toward more automation and a smart factory approach.

IPC Europe Shares Technical Education and Standards Awareness

Against a background of COVID-19 uncertainty and unprecedented challenges, but recognizing the vital importance of continuing to educate engineers and share the knowledge and skills required to manufacture boards and assemblies of the highest yields and reliability, the IPC Europe team hosted a technical webinar for the European electronics industry, featuring the expertise of two of I-Connect007’s regular columnists: Mike Carano and Jan Pedersen. Pete Starkey provides an overview.

Jolly Holden: Expert Insights Into Distance Learning and Webinars

With COVID-19 leading to increased distance learning throughout the U.S. and world, the I-Connect007 editorial team spoke with Jolly Holden, Ed.D., who is an expert on distance learning (and also Happy Holden’s brother). In this wide-ranging interview, they discuss what distant learning is, how to do it well, what not to do, differences between academic and job skills training, and much more.

Supply-chain Recovery: Plan for Now and the Future

We are living in unprecedented times related to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus and its impact on our day-to-day lives. Individuals, families, businesses, and entire communities have been affected in unparalleled ways. As difficult as the situation has become, it’s critical for business leaders to step forward. In a time of crisis, understanding current and future logistics capacity by mode—and their associated trade-offs—will be even more essential than usual.


Accurate Circuit Engineering Staying Ahead of the COVID-19 Curve

On April 16, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Accurate Circuit Engineering’s James Hofer. James provided an update on the company’s responses to the challenges of fabricating PCBs while much of the country is under COVID-19 quarantine. James explained that he is dedicated to keeping his employees safe and healthy while continuing to meet the needs of his customers, many of whom are medical and military OEMs. He also discussed his current workload, which includes one customer developing a ventilator that can serve four patients at the same time.

Koh Young Update With Quintin Armstrong

In this video interview from the show, Quintin Armstrong, Americas service and applications senior manager for Koh Young, updates Guest Editor Dick Crowe on Koh Young America's Technical Services Team, where the focus is on AOI of components and materials on the stuffed board, as well as demonstrations and training at their new facility in Duluth, Georgia.

Flexible Circuit Technologies: ‘We Do it All’

During IPC APEX EXPO 2020 in San Diego, Carey Burkett, VP of Flexible Circuit Technologies, sat down for an interview with Dan Beaulieu. The two discussed the company’s expansive growth, the current flex and rigid-flex landscape, and FCT’s drive to provide complete solutions from rigid and flex circuits through box build.

ACE Wins JPL’s First-ever Customer Appreciation Plaque

I recently spoke with James Hofer, general manager of Accurate Circuit Engineering, about a customer appreciation plaque the company was awarded from JPL for their work on NASA’s Integrated Solar Array and Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA). James talks about some of the challenges of the project and the role ACE played in developing the ISARA that is now orbiting the Earth.

Via Reliability and Robustness in Today’s Environment

When Bob Neves dropped by the I-Connect007 booth at IPC APEX EXPO 2020 this year, Happy Holden took the opportunity to record the conversation. Bob had some startling and exciting updates on the testing of microvias and through-hole technology.

Dr. John Mitchell: IPC’s Ongoing Efforts Related to COVID-19

On April 14, IPC president and CEO, Dr. John Mitchell, described IPC’s ongoing efforts related to COVID-19 with I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties. From a standpoint approximately 30 days into the U.S. shutdown, Mitchell reported that 94% of the executives attending the executive forum are expressing concern. He also outlined many of the chaotic drivers and influences in the industry, including shifting over to different, mandated products; supply shortages; potential declining demand for normal products; and increased shipping costs. Worker and staffing shortages have also become an emerging concern.

Ucamco Harnesses Power of Artificial Intelligence

In this video interview from the show, Luc Maesen, Ucamco director, and Technical Editor Pete Starkey discuss how AI has been applied to help automate the CAM/CAD process, resulting in the company's IamCam system. This platform enables intelligence-aided manufacturing designed to lower costs while achieving fewer errors and faster delivery.

SMTA Europe’s Electronics in Harsh Environments Conference and Exhibition: A Taste of Things to Come

SMTA Europe’s Electronics in Harsh Environments Conference has become a must-attend annual event; unfortunately, it also became another casualty of the COVID-19 lockdown. Scheduled to take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from April 21–23, 2020, it has now been postponed until December 1–3. Pete Starkey reports on a preview seminar presented by SMTA Europe.

DIS: It’s All About Alignment

Jesse Ziomek, VP of sales for DIS, updates Pete Starkey on the capability of the company to achieve ultimate accuracy in layer-to-layer registration, not just in rigid multilayers, but also in flex and rigid-flex builds. Jesse also comments on keeping technology exciting enough to attract young engineers into the industry.

Isola’s Travis Kelly: Maintaining Continuity of Supply

On April 9, Barry Matties spoke with Travis Kelly, Isola president and CEO. Travis gave an update on Isola’s responses to the COVID-19 challenges in materials manufacturing. Travis pointed out that Isola’s products fill a critical need in the switch to medical equipment manufacturing for ventilators and related products. He also spoke to the three keys to maintaining continuity of supply.


Jan Pedersen Updates on Automotive and Design Standards Progress

In this video interview from the show, IPC Task Group Chair Jan Pedersen comments on some recent successes in the development of the IPC-6012 automotive addendum and progress with its medical counterpart. Pete Starkey and Jan also discuss ways in which digital specification information could be abstracted from IPC-2581 in a readable form for quotation and sales office purposes.

Stencil Cleaning Update With Tom Forsythe

In this video interview from the show, Pete Starkey and Tom Forsythe, executive VP of KYZEN, which celebrated its 30th anniversary, discuss the practicalities of stencil cleaning and describe the characteristics and capabilities of KYZEN's newest versatile stencil cleaning product.

IPC Education Foundation: STEM and Online Learning Resources

Nolan Johnson recently caught up with Charlene Gunter du Plessis, senior director of the IPC Education Foundation, about how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting the IPCEF, including how they are continuing to connect with IPC Student Chapter members and seek industry support. Charlene also discussed the increased usage of IPCEF’s online educational modules and shares STEM resources.

Panasonic: From Hardware to Solutions and Data

In this video interview from the show, Managing Editor Nolan Johnson speaks with Sean Murray—director of sales, service, operations, and logistics process automation at Panasonic—about the company's focus on software and information management on top of their long history in hardware and equipment.

PCB Surface Preparation Before Solder Mask on Non-copper Finishes

A circuit board is made of copper. Usually, final finishes are applied after the solder mask process. In some cases, for special applications, the final finish may be applied before solder mask. In this case, we have solder mask on ENIG or galvanic nickel-gold. It is also possible to have tin or tin-lead under solder mask; this was an old technology that no longer plays a role today.

IPC Standards Work Continues to Move Forward

On April 3, 2020, Teresa Rowe, IPC’s director of assembly and standards technology, and David Bergman, vice president, spoke with Barry Matties about ongoing standards activities during the global COVID-19 outbreak. Rowe and Bergman reported that, where one might think that standards committees would be negatively affected, standards work seems to be going stronger than ever.

Gene Weiner: Lessons Learned From COVID-19

Barry Matties speaks with Gene Weiner, president and CEO of Weiner International Associates, about the electronics industry’s continued operation under COVID-19 restrictions and some of the lessons learned during this pandemic. One such lesson: Companies and nations must do a better job of sharing information to help prevent this from happening again.

Averatek’s A-SAP Semi-additive Process Enables HDI

In this video interview from the show, columnist Tara Dunn spoke with Mike Vinson, president and COO of Averatek, who described the company's semi-additive process, A-SAP, with 25-micron features sizes and below, which enables high-density interconnections. Vinson also discusses the papers Averatek presented at IPC APEX EXPO 2020.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine: Exclusive Interview With Burt Rutan, Aerospace Legend

If you follow advancements in aerospace technologies and expeditions, then you know the name Burt Rutan. Described by Newsweek as “the man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer,” Rutan is a bold visionary with a passion for the advancement of technology, who has designed 46 aircraft throughout his career. Following his IPC APEX EXPO keynote presentation, Rutan stopped by the I-Connect007 booth and shared his thoughts on a wide variety of topics.

When Your Fabricator Is Late

The I-Connect007 Editorial Team recently had a wide-ranging discussion with John Watson, CID, of Legrand. Questions covered include, “What happens when your fabricator is late, whether it’s a prototype or volume production?” and, “What are the costs and ramifications up and down the chain?”


'Coatings Uncoated!' Webinar Series and Automotive Industry Trends

Phil Kinner, global business/technical director of Electrolube’s coatings division, tells Pete Starkey about the positive impact of the “Coatings Uncoated!” webinar series and comments on how the company has responded to the changes in the focus of the automotive industry.

Arlon Takes on High-Power Failure

In this video interview from IPC APEX EXPO, Pete Starkey and Dave Nelson, director of business development at Arlon Electronic Materials, explore causes of failure in high-power PCBs and explain how resin cracking during drilling can be overcoming using thermally conductive filled resin.

The Formation of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association

Patty Goldman spoke with Gary Ferrari, FTG Corporation, at IPC APEX EXPO 2020 about the formation of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association, which—having been started two months ago—has attained lots of interest from the industry. The PCEA hopes to bring together designers, engineers, fabricators, assemblers through local chapters to focus mainly on education and learning.

Technica and Wise Partner For Atmospheric Plasma Cleaning

In this video interview from IPC APEX EXPO, Technical Editor Pete Starkey speaks with Frank Medina, president and CEO of Technica USA, who introduces Massimo Passerini, VP of Wise, and the revolutionary Wonderwise system for cleaning double-sided atmospheric plasma.

The Direction of MacDermid Alpha’s Automotive Initiative

Nolan Johnson speaks with Lenora Clark about MacDermid Alpha’s automotive initiative, where her role fits into the company’s focus on supporting carmakers in various business areas, and where the future of automotive is heading.

Siemens and Valor: Two Complementary DFM Technologies

Before IPC APEX EXPO kicked off, Andy Shaughnessy attended a Siemens seminar in San Diego on smart manufacturing for electronics and the integration of technologies from Siemens’ digital industry software and Valor. Afterward, Andy spoke with Andy Farrington, director of portfolio development for the Americas, about the event, as well as some of the hot topics and solutions that the speakers addressed.

IPC’s Dr. John Mitchell Commends U.S. Manufacturers and Governors

On March 31, Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, gave Barry Matties an update on the industry response to COVID-19 since their conversation on March 20. Mitchell provides an overall update on the industry, commending U.S. manufacturers for their proactive responses.

Industry Outlook With Siemens’ Fram Akiki

In this video interview from the show, Editor Dan Feinberg speaks with Fram Akiki, VP of electronic and semiconductor industries for Siemens, about the biggest challenges in the electronics industry. They also discuss major industry trends, including smart connected devices used in autonomous transportation and robotics, increased complexity, and a reduced time to market.

Advances in Medical Diagnostics Using LoC and LoPCB Technologies

Several techniques for detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 are currently under development, some of which may detect the novel virus exclusively; others may also detect strains that are genetically similar. A detection kit recently announced uses technology based on a portable lab-on-chip (LoC) platform capable of detecting, identifying, and differentiating MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and COVID-2019 in a single test.

BGA Standard Update With Ray Prasad

In this video interview from the show, Ray Prasad, president of Ray Prasad Consultancy Group, updates Guest Editor Joe Fjelstad on the ongoing work with the BGA standard and the latest revision that is going to ballot.


With DIS, Accurate Registration is Everything

In this video interview from the show, Technical Editor Pete Starkey and Jesse Ziomek, VP of sales for DIS, discuss how the company achieves ultimate accuracy in layer-to-layer registration, not just in rigid multilayers, but also in flex and rigid-flex builds. Jesse also comments on keeping technology exciting enough to attract young engineers into the industry.

Todd Kolmodin: Gardien an Essential Business for U.S. DoD Work

Todd Kolmodin, VP of quality for Gardien Services USA, updates Nolan Johnson on Gardien’s operations. Specifics include Gardien’s certification as an essential business for U.S. Department of Defense work and an overview of the work and staffing policies in place at all of the company's facilities across the United States and the various work restrictions—all with the goal of “keeping the wheels turning” in the industry.

Dan Beaulieu: Adapting to New Methods at D.B. Management

In this audio interview, Nolan Johnson gets an update from Dan Beaulieu, a 40+ year veteran of the electronics manufacturing industry and an industry consultant for 25+ years. Dan shares an update on current business operations for D.B. Management, including how—like his clients—he may be at home, but it's still business as usual. Dan also offers his perspective on how our industry will weather and emerge from this challenging time.

I-Connect007 COVID-19 Outbreak Research Survey Results

Our ongoing survey regarding the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the electronics industry has produced some interesting results. Here are some of the response highlights as of today. If you would like to make your voice heard, please take the survey.

EPTAC Preparing Young People for Future in Industry

In this video interview from the show, Guest Editor Kelly Dack and Leo Lambert, VP/technical director of EPTAC Corporation, describe the impact of internships and apprenticeships, the importance of IPC specifications, the effectiveness of certification.

The Smart Factory: All the Bits and Bobs

“Smart factory” is another phrase that describes Industry 4.0 programs. These programs seem to have replaced CIM and CAM, but it did not make them obsolete. While these topics are getting a lot of press, there is nothing new about them. We have been on a journey to automate manufacturing since the mid-‘70s. What has evolved are faster and cheaper computers, and more complex and integrated networking.

Matt Stevenson on Sunstone Circuits' Current Operations

Nolan Johnson speaks with Matt Stevenson, VP of marketing at Sunstone Circuits, who shares an update on the company's current level of business operations under COVID-19 restrictions. Stevenson confirms that Sunstone Circuits is fully operational and classified as an essential business.

This Month in PCB007 Magazine: A Scorecard for Suppliers

Al Block and Naji Norder from National Instruments talk about the PCQR2 tool, what that entails, and how companies can use the data-driven analysis to validate the quality of suppliers and potentially save millions.

InduBond Gets Hot With Induction Heating Lamination

In this video interview from the show, Editor Nolan Johnson sat down to speak with Víctor Lázaro, InduBond’s R&D director and technical manager, about InduBond's latest technology for panel lamination utilizing induction heating. InduBond demonstrates a lamination oven on the IPC APEX EXPO show floor, as well as the advantages of the technology.

What It Takes to Be a Milaero Supplier, Part 2

The decision to pursue military and aerospace (milaero) certification impacts every facet of the organization, and not every shop is prepared to make this transformation. In Part 2, Anaya Vardya focuses on what it takes to be a milaero supplier in the areas of engineering and CAM.


IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Heston Singh

"We have been coming here for many years, and we had another good experience this year," said Unitron's Heston Singh. "If it wasn’t good, we wouldn’t be coming back. They have products that are needed for this market, so we’ll be back every year."

IPC Chief Economist Dr. Shawn DuBravac Shares Industry's Financial Outlook

On March 23, IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., CFA, spoke with I-Connect007 publisher Barry Matties in an exclusive phone interview immediately following DuBravac’s online briefing to IPC member attendees.

IPC President and CEO Dr. John Mitchell: COVID-19 Global Industry Update

On March 20, Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, spoke with I-Connect007 publisher Barry Matties in an exclusive phone interview with updates on COVID-19-related current events in the manufacturing industry. In this information-packed 14-minute audio interview, Dr. Mitchell shared key takeaways from Friday’s IPC Executive Forum conference call.

Book Review: The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell

Everyone is talking about stories, and rightfully so. Anyone who knows anything about marketing in the 21st century knows that the way to get into peoples’ heads is to tell them a story. Dan Beaulieu reviews Paul Smith's 'The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell.'

Alumni Week at IPC APEX EXPO 2020

When you see friends and colleagues just once a year, you would think there would be a lot of catching up to do. That’s not the case at IPC APEX EXPO. Greeting friends and colleagues is always like picking up a conversation you had with them yesterday. Everyone looks the same, acts the same (we age well and lightly!), and we talk about the same things with just slight modification—like a daily conversation would evolve.
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