Latest Articles

Now is the Time for Comprehensive Tax Reform

Tax policy is among the most basic tools of any government to accomplish its objectives. From the private sector perspective, taxes are one of largest expenses of any business. But despite being such an important topic for government and business, there is widespread agreement that the U.S. federal tax code is a mess.

Catching up with…Nessis Inc. President Kathleen Niles

When I checked in on one of my old PCB sales associates recently, he told me that he had a new gig selling the latest and greatest new productivity software tools. He spoke so highly about Nessis Inc. and what their tools could do for companies, especially PCB shops, that I decided to learn more. I arranged to talk with Kathleen Niles, the co-founder and president of Nessis Inc. Here is a portion of that conversation.

Patty’s Perspective: Everything Old is New Again

This month’s issue is all about plating and surface finishes; long ago, that was pretty much my start in the world of printed circuits—wet processing. So this is kind of my home turf—and not, since I haven’t worked in wet processing for some…well, for many years. I’ve always expected that I could hop right back onto the plating room floor and pick right up where I left off all those years ago. Or could I? Have things changed much? Time to read on and see.

Understanding Rush PCB

I had an interesting interview recently with Rush PCB CEO Akber Roy, who goes by Roy. I was stunned by some of the things he told me about the Silicon Valley company, such as how Rush PCB can turn around full turn-key quotes in less than three hours. He also told me they can deliver full turn-key product in five days or less, sometimes three days.

WKK and Schmoll Join Forces in China

Tom Burkhardt of Schmoll Maschinen and Hamed El-Abd of WKK spoke with Publisher Barry Matties about the recently formed distribution partnership between the two companies and specifically how each company stands to benefit from this pairing.

Ladle on Manufacturing: Material Matters

Have you considered whether or not you could improve your multilayer yields by better use of your base materials? Perhaps the following could give you a few ideas of how this could help you.

CES 2017: Disruptive Technologies

Those of you that have read my previous columns covering CES 2017 know that at recent CES shows I have seen many drones, autonomous cars, IoT devices, robots, and many other items ranging from robots who stand in for your doctor to smart trash cans who tell you via Alexa, Google, or soon, Cortana on your own computer, that since you have thrown away two empty milk cartons in the last few days it may be time to order more milk; just say yes and consider it ordered.

Catching up with...Coast to Coast Circuits CEO Walt Stender

Coast to Coast is an independent American circuit board manufacturing company. Yes, the key word here is “independent.” After many mergers and acquisitions that have diminished the mil/aero PCB vendor base, there are only a handful of independent companies for our country’s defense and aerospace contractors to choose from.

Book Recommendation: Simply Brilliant—Powerful Techniques to Unlock your Creativity and Spark New Ideas

This is more than a brainstorming book, much more. In his new book, Schroeder teaches the reader not only how to brainstorm in a group, but also how to come up with ideas as an individual.

Catching up with…LinkedIn Expert Bruce Johnston

My friend and business associate Bruce Johnston was named one of the LinkedIn Thought Leaders—The USA & Canada List (100+) by Andy O’Hearn, an expert LinkedIn coach and social media analyst. When you consider that there are over 467 million LinkedIn members, being in this list of approximately 100 is a pretty big deal.


CES 2017: Press Day, Launch.It and Showstoppers

Before the show opens, CES provides two days and evenings not open to the general attendees, to enable companies, large and small, an opportunity to present their new offerings to the press. These opportunities range from small meetings with individual members of the trade press to huge events such as those presented by Samsung, Asus, Sony, Intel, Panasonic and others, with literally several hundred in attendance.

Emmy Ross Discusses the New I-Connect007 E-Book Series

One thing that is long overdue in our industry is a series of guidebooks focused on helping companies with all their needs, from qualifications like AS9100 and Mil-P-31032 to various technologies, heavy copper, rigid-flex and microvias. I-Connect007 is now providing our industry with an entire series of these guidebooks, starting with the first book, "The Printed Circuits Buyers Guide to… AS9100 Certification." Authored by Imagineering Inc., this book educates readers about the AS9100 quality standard, and explains how to earn this certification.

Five New Books that Will Change Your Perspective on Sales and Marketing

In honor of the December topic of sales and marketing of The PCB Magazine, I’m providing a review of five books that can directly influence the way we think about sales, marketing, customers and customer service.

CES Unveiled: Press Day and the NVIDIA Keynote

CES Unveiled exhibitors range from well-known companies such as: Lenovo, showing their latest high-end (and very impressive) notebooks, tablets and all in one computers; Ampad, with their new series of very capable fast and long range routers; and Thrustmaster, showcasing their virtual reality-ready gaming peripherals. Additionally, there are many previously almost unknown companies exhibiting many IoT items.

On Location at HKPCA: IPC’s Mitchell and Carmichael on Asia, the Global Industry Outlook, and Trump

While in Shenzhen, China recently, with the PCB industry’s biggest trade show as a backdrop, Publisher Barry Matties sat down once again to interview IPC President John Mitchell and IPC Asia President Phil Carmichael. This time they discussed trends they’re seeing in the Asia-Pacific region and what a Trump presidency means to the industry.

Catching up with...M&A Expert Tom Kastner

If you want to know what is going on in our industry when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, there is no better person to turn to than Tom Kastner. Whenever I want to verify a rumor of a company being bought or sold, Tom is the first person I call, and unless he is under an NDA, he will fill me in. In this, our latest discussion, we talked about the PCB industry’s M&A activity in 2016 and what Tom expects to see in 2017.

CES 2017: Preview and a Projection for the Future

Well here we are again; one more year has gone. Think back to one year ago and look at all that has happened, including recent political happenings, technical advances in 3-D printing and manufacturing, and the huge improvement in display technology, what with OLED and HDR putting everyday 4K displays into the background and driving the proverbial nail in 3D TVs.

Catching up with…Dr. Anthony Caputo

I met Dr. Anthony Caputo last year while helping one of my clients secure some strong engineering talent. Anthony had been reading my columns and reached out to me since he was looking for a new opportunity in a high-tech printed circuit board facility. Once I read his CV and saw his credentials, I jumped at that chance to help this talented young man.

Weiner’s World

Rather than joining the annual forecast fray by attempting to provide guidance or guesses as to the outlook for the PCB and electronic assembly businesses in 2017, I thought I would provide a different year-end assessment. Here are a few thoughts for the New Year and beyond from a long-term colleague and friend of the past half century, Harvey Miller, electronics market researcher, consultant and founder of Fabfile Online.

Supplier Spotlight: American Standard Circuits' AS9100 Journey

I had the privilege of working with American Standard Circuits (ASC) over the past year with their successful pursuit of AS9100 quality management system certification. The company has chosen to share their approach, lessons learned and benefits gained by going through this formidable process.


TTM President Thomas Edman on the Global PCB Market, Technology, and More

The TTM and Viasystems merger put the PCB industry on notice last year when it created one of the biggest powerhouses in the world. At this year’s HKPCA and IPC show, Barry Matties met with TTM Technologies President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Edman to get his views on the market, technology, the culture of TTM and even the Trump effect.

Book Recommendation: Leading the Unleadable—How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, and Other Difficult People

This is the book you’ve been looking for. I approached this book with a bit of trepidation. I wasn’t sure what this was going to be about. But being inquisitive, I decided to give it a read. It was the subtitle "How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, and other Difficult People" that got to me.

Real Time With...HKPCA & IPC Show 2016: Rogers Discusses 5G, Power Electronics Trends

At the recent HKPCA and IPC Show 2016 in Shenzhen, China, John Ranieri of Rogers Corp. speaks with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias about the 5G trend and thermal management issues in power electronics and how they will impact PCB materials requirements.

'Can Do' in CAM Outsourcing: CAM Engineering – Automation

As volume production in PCB has shifted significantly to Asia, manufacturers in Europe and North America have been focusing on high technology, quick-turn, prototype, and lower-volume production.

Ladle on Manufacturing: Making Suppliers Work for You

Every company has its own way of doing things. For some, the engineering team develops a detailed specification for the equipment they would like to purchase and this is put out to multiple suppliers for tender, along with full documentation for the commercial terms that will apply to the purchase. At the other end of the scale, a machine inquiry can be a simple phone call: “How much for a new machine?”

Real Time With...HKPCA & IPC Show 2016: Orbotech Highlights Need for Industry 4.0

Orbotech's Shavi Spinzi speaks with Editor Stephen Las Marias about the latest trends happening in the PCB manufacturing industry, and the market growth drivers. He explains why the PCB manufacturing industry needs to move to Industry 4.0, and discusses how Orbotech can help them in their Industry 4.0 journey.

Innovative Use of Vias for Density Improvements

In today’s fast-paced global, economic environment—which requires constant innovation, upskilling, and performance improvements— there is a need for increasing density. The classic way to increase density is to reduce the trace and spacing.

Patty’s Perspective: Everything You Want to Know about Vias but Were Afraid to Ask

Regarding our survey on vias, almost 85% of our respondents said they used blind/buried vias. And since 15% of those answering were either suppliers or consultants, it seems that approximately 100% use the B/Bs. OK then, on to a tougher question. We then asked how often, and it turns out that “use” covers everything from rarely to pretty much all the time, with a definite undercurrent of “because we have to.”

New Tools Mean More Designer Control for High-Speed PCBs

In the last hour of the electronica exhibition in Munich, Pete Starkey finally got the opportunity to sit down with Martyn Gaudion, Managing Director of Polar Instruments. They discussed the changing state of PCB design, and how the newest software tools allow PCB designers and engineers to have more control when designing high-speed PCBs.

Real Time with...HKPCA & IPC Show 2016 Slideshow - Day 1

The International Printed Circuit & APEX South China Fair 2016, presented by HKPCA and IPC, kicked off this week in Shenzhen, China. The theme of this year’s event is “Global Wisdom Shaping the Future.”


Advanced UV Lasers for Fast, High-Precision PCB Manufacturing

For more than 30 years, lasers have played a significant role in the manufacturing of PCBs. It is not a coincidence that electronic devices have, at the same time, become increasingly miniaturized. The ability to tightly focus a laser beam much smaller than a mechanical tool has been an enabler of such dense, compact circuitry; and the elimination of consumables such as drilling and routing bits has reduced manufacturing costs.

Aismalibar on Markets, Materials, and the Increase in Copper Prices

As a European laminate provider specializing in insulated metal substrates and thermal management, Aismalibar is often put in the demanding position of catering to some of Europe’s toughest customers, including the automotive industry. Pete Starkey and Barry Matties caught up with Director General Eduardo Benmayor at the most recent Electronica trade show to learn more about the company and get his take on the current state of the IMS marketplace.

Weiner’s World

Here we go again! The winter holiday (and trade show) season is upon us! Electronica's mood was upbeat. Next, the Asia and San Diego shows. We just received word as we were preparing for our trip to next month's HKPCA/IPC event in Shenzhen China that the CPCA (China Printed Circuit Association) show suddenly changed its March 2017 date and venue. Meanwhile, the HKPCA show, now billed as our industry's largest event, will have nearly 550 exhibitors—of which 20% are new.

KCE Group: A Thailand-Based PCB Manufacturer with a Growing Global Footprint

Recently, while at electronica in Munich, Germany I-Connect007's Judy Warner met KCE America President Rick Rhodes, and Joe Yeo of KCE Group. They discuss the unique challenges and opportunities that come with the rigorous automotive market, and explain why they continue to enjoy explosive growth.

A Scientific Response to Mr. Laminate Tells All

We read with interest Doug Sober’s recent Mr. Laminate Tells All column, "The Certification of IPC-4101D Polyimide Base Materials: Buyer Beware." The article raises interesting questions about the IPC 4101 classification system, primarily, how is a pure resin defined?

Rogers on the Booming Wireless Infrastructure Market

With the advent of 5G and next generation antennas, the already booming wireless infrastructure market is slated for continued growth through 2021, and as the primary material supplier for this sector, Rogers Corp. must continue to meet the technological demands of the Verizons and AT&Ts of world.

Walt Custer’s Global Market Outlook

With 2016 winding down, Walt Custer shared his end-of-the-year market research data with me at the recent electronica trade show in Munich, Germany. In our interview, Walt breaks down his findings and offers insight into the changing trends as we head into 2017.

Mr. Laminate Tells All: The Certification of IPC-4101D Polyimide Base Materials: Buyer Beware

At the most recent IPC meeting held in Rosemont, Illinois, one of the hot topics of discussion at the Laminate and Prepreg Subcommittee was the three polyimide specification sheets. The header portion for the three polyimide-based copper-clad laminates and prepregs are shown in Figure 1, for easy comparison of polyimide grades.

Rogers Highlights Thermally Enhanced 92ML Materials at electronica

I met with Rogers Corporation Business Development Manager John Ranieri at Electronica recently. Ranieri’s professional focus is on the 92ML series of laminate, prepregs, and IMS, which was highlighted at the Munich show. The 92ML products are geared for the power electronics marketplace where thermal management is a major concern.

HKPCA’s Daniel Chan on China’s PCB Manufacturing and Technology Landscape

Editor Edy Yu recently spoke with Daniel Chan, executive director of the Hong Kong Printed Circuit Association (HKPCA). Chan possesses more than 25 years of experience in global business management with strong leadership influencing suppliers and internal clients in business strategy and transformation.


electronica 2016 Impressions

Germany’s third-largest city, and capital of the southeastern state of Bavaria, Munich was once more host to electronica, which can justifiably claim to be the world’s leading trade fair for electronic components, systems and applications.

Streamline Circuits: The Importance of Being a Sales-Driven Organization

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Tom Doslak, senior VP of sales and marketing for Streamline Circuits. We discussed how the company got started, technologies that seem to be driving the marketplace, critical equipment for today’s PCB fabricator, and how being a customer-centered, sales-driven organization serves as the key to their success.

EIPC's New Tagline and electronica 2016 Reflections

EIPC Technical Director Michael Weinhold and Editor Pete Starkey discuss the significance of EIPC's new tagline, 'The European Electronics Association'.

Let's Talk Testing: Vias for Dummies

In simple terms, a circuit board is but a composition of things designed to be connected and not. The number of layers and number of connections make no real difference as the geometry shapes the landscape.

What’s New with IPC’s Validation Services

During this year’s IPC Fall Committee Meetings, held in conjunction with SMTAI in Chicago, I met with my friend Randy Cherry, director of IPC Validation Services. Since the inception of Validation Services three years ago, I’ve conducted video interviews with Randy at IPC APEX EXPO, and I've been tracking the growth and progress of this program. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to do a mid-year check-up on IPC’s Validation Service programs.

Catching Up (Literally) with Uyemura’s George Milad at SMTAI 2016

I managed to catch up with George Milad of Uyemura at the recent SMTA International conference, which wasn’t easy to do. But he did take a few minutes to fill me in on his schedule for the week and it sure was packed—with a tutorial, presentations and IPC committee meetings.

World Mastery: Automotive Electronics Driving Business Growth

I-Connect007’s Pete Starkey is in the booth of China PCB manufacturer World Mastery to speak with Thomas Ip, Director of Sales and Marketing, about their manufacturing capabilities, and their key industry segments in Europe.

EIPC's Alun Morgan Holds Forth on electronica

EIPC’s Alun Morgan and Editor Pete Starkey discuss electronica's rise to prominence as the best place to meet not just EIPC members but also a broad spectrum of the value chain—designers through OEMs.

IPC’s President on IPC EDGE: Cutting Edge and Education

Chatting with IPC President John Mitchell is always a good time—he never fails to be upbeat and full of ideas, and his eagerness to fill us in on what’s happening with IPC was evident during our recent interview at the IPC Fall Committee Meetings, co-located with SMTAI in late September.

Ventec International Group Celebrates the 10-year Anniversary of Ventec Europe

Ventec International Group celebrates the 10-year anniversary of Ventec Europe today at electronica 2016, in Munich, Germany... See video slideshow!


Ventec Talks Strategies to Gain Market Share

At electronica 2016 in Munich, Germany, Tamara den Daas, OEM global account manager at Ventec International Group, speaks with I-Connect007’s Pete Starkey about Ventec Europe’s 10th anniversary, as well as the relevance of electronica for the company. She also discusses Ventec's strategies for gaining market share through PCB designers on the OEM side.

Tech Talk: 225 Tech Talks—1995 to 2016

Checking back on Tech Talk Nos. 100 and 200, which reflected on past and anticipated future changes in electronic packaging, I noted the production shift to Asia, followed by the relocation of the supplier base, and, more recently, the design of electronic devices.

Ventec Sees Growth in Automotive Electronics

Didier Mauve, sales and marketing manager for Ventec Europe, talks with Editor Pete Starkey during electronica 2016 about how the automotive electronics industry is driving growth for the company.

Lessons in Leadership From My Father

When I was asked to contribute an article for this issue on leadership, I thought it was an opportune time since my Dad, Nagji Sutariya, had recently passed away. I had spent nearly every daylight hour with him since I started working with him at Saturn in 2001.

One World, One Industry: Six Leadership Lessons from 20 Years in the Electronics Industry

The orchestra conductor is an apt metaphor for the successful leader. Effective leadership often boils down to the ability to inspire others (the symphony) to their best work, while keeping and driving the overall vision of the organization (the musical score).

Made in Brazil: Leadership Lessons from the Rio Olympics 2016

This month’s column is not about PCB technical stuff; instead, it’s about some valuable lessons I have learned this summer during that most fantastic of events, the Olympics. What I have learned can now be applied to PCBs and how we can transform a glass-reinforced laminate or any other bare material into an incredibly useful product that will make the difference in every single life of this planet.

BizBrain IQ Test: The Suprising Results

Focusing upon the work of W. Edwards Deming, Peter Senge, Buckminster Fuller, Ilya Prigogine, and John S. Bell, David became an expert in workplace systems improvement. Since 1990, he has been training and consulting using his Four New Agreements for Leaders and Managers as a proven model for sustainable organizational transformation, with remarkable results. Today, he is the president of Dibble Leaders.

All About Flex: Specifying a Flexible Circuit

IPC has created a specification document, IPC 6013, which is referenced for many flex circuit applications. This commercial document, in combination with the CAD data and print, is used as the product specification. Most flexible circuitry fabricators’ internal quality standards are based on IPC 6013.

New Developments at MacDermid Enthone

One of the best parts of industry conferences and shows is the opportunity to meet new people and renew acquaintances. Another highly enjoyable part is learning what is going on within companies—especially those with which one has had a close association in the past.

Weiner’s World

This year’s TPCA (Taiwan Printed Circuits Association) show held October 26–28 seemed to have lighter attendance than last year. Robots were on display everywhere, with lot of loaders and unloaders as well as the multi-axis, multipurpose types.


Book Recommendation: Hard-Won Wisdom—True Stories from the Management Trenches

Author Jathan Janove is a workplace litigation lawyer. He has spent the bulk of his career litigating workplace relationships, which gives his book a completely fresh and different perspective to workplace management techniques.

IPC Validation Services Audit Program to Include Laminate, Prepreg Manufacturers

Essex Technologies’ Doug Sober is a long-time IPC chairman who is now also working with IPC’s Validation Services division. I met with Doug while at the recent SMTA International conference, and we discussed the upcoming audit program for laminate manufacturers, which is ready to go.

Schoeller Electronics Presenting a New Organizational Structure in North America

At the recent SMTA International show in Rosemont, Illinois, I met Padraig McCabe at Schoeller Electronics Systems’ booth. It was obvious that they had a lot going on so it was good to be able to sit down and get the full story of their new organizational structure, name change and the recent acquisitions of PCB companies.

Standard of Excellence: Let’s Get Flexible

Although flex and rigid-flex technology has been around for many years, it is only in recent years that it has come into its own. The reason for the increased requirements for the flex and rigid-flex technology is simple: Devices are getting smaller.

Speeding up the PCB Manufacturing Process

Lino Sousa of Pluritec discusses the next generation of equipment that's speeding up drill room processes. He also explains how technologists can now coat soldermask, tack cure, and be ready for imaging in 25 minutes or less. Sousa says a three-year ROI can be found in reduced electricity consumption alone.

All About Flex: Five Characteristics of a Reliable Flexible Circuit Supplier

Due diligence when selecting a source for a custom electronic product can be a critical sourcing procedure. Chains are only as good as the weakest link, and the electronic components assembled to create a marketable product need to combine into a robust solution.

Book Recommendation: What Customers Crave

Customer service is out and customer experience is in. It’s not enough to deliver great customer service anymore— instead you must deliver an entire customer experience and a great experience at that. Customers want to feel good about the very act of working with you. They want to feel that you are on their side; and that you have their best interests at heart.

Ventec Europe Celebrates 10 Years as 'Not Just Another Laminate Merchant'

Incorporated in November 2006 as a joint venture known as Global Ventec Laminates, Ventec Europe imported its first container-full of material in May 2007. Now, here we are 10 years on, a bit older and not a lot wiser, in Ventec Europe’s immaculate headquarters facility, still in Leamington Spa, but in smart new premises.

Patty’s Perspective: Take Me to Your Leader

We must have touched a real hot button when we decided to do this issue on leadership. When we sent out our survey on the topic, we received a lot of responses, which we’ll review in a separate article, plus many of our regular columnists were inspired to write on the subject.

The Sum of All Parts: Three Keys to Successful Leadership

It is often easy to lose sight, particularly in the manufacturing sector, of your most valuable resource: people. You can’t take purchase orders, operate equipment and develop new strategies all on your own.


Happy’s Essential Skills: Online Instruction and Long-Distance Learning

More and more knowledge is now available over the Internet. For this to be effective, there are specific requirements for a course taken or produced over the Internet (without a live instructor) in order for the instructed (user) to have a positive experience.

Setting the Standard at American Standard Circuits

With an impressive array of investments on display, both in terms of technology and software, as well as its 120 employees, ASC offers a diversified product mix. Publisher Barry Matties and members of the I-Connect007 team recently took a tour of the American Standard Circuits facility in West Chicago, Illinois. In this interview, Anaya Vardya shares their strategies and the challenges the market faces.

Leadership and...You

In our now well-known monthly topic survey, we got some very interesting results on leadership. Most of the questions were designed to be open-ended, specifically to encourage original answers—to keep our respondents from just checking off a few boxes. Many of the answers were rather intriguing—and unexpected.

The Right Approach: My Leadership Journey

I have been in leadership positions for the majority of my 40-year career, but it has not always been a smooth and natural relationship. With the following three stories, I will attempt to share the lessons learned on my journey as a lifelong student in pursuit of the art of leadership.

GP Ventures: Facilitating ‘Multi-layered’ M&A Deals

One of our newer I-Connect007 columnists is Tom Kastner of GP Ventures, an M&A advisory company. I spent a few minutes with Tom at SMTAI recently, and he filled me in on his background in the electronics industry, which includes specializing in buying, selling or merging businesses; his columns deal with many of the requirements and issues on all sides of those changes.
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