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A Year in the Life: Spirit Circuits

"As is typically British, putting your best foot forward was the order of the day in January 2012, and we started the year with positive energy, vigour, and enthusiasm; we were ready to face another year on the PCB roller coaster," says Steve Driver, managing director.

NAMM: Perhaps the Happiest Place on Earth

NAMM featured a record 11,981 exhibitors at the show: Huge multi-room suites featuring Fender, Gretsch, and others; custom-carved instruments that not only sound like a work of art, but also look like one; and even small 10 x 10 booths selling--yes, you guessed it--covers and stands for smart phones and tablets.

How Often Do You Visit Your Fabricator?

If you anticipate that you'll never layout boards with more than two layers, or holes, traces and spaces smaller than 10 mils, and you're sure you'll never have to deal with impedance control, you have no reason other than curiosity to investigate how your boards are constructed. But if you design complex, high-speed boards, Amit Bahl's new column is just for you.

Book Review: Supermanager

If you want to know how to be a great manager in about an hour, read this book. Everything you need to know about becoming a great manager can be found by discovering seven principles put forth by Greg Blencoe.

MESMOPROC: Implementation of a Maskless Electrochemical Surface Modification Process

Professors Martin Goosey and Sudipta Roy explain the EnFACE approach, a process that exploits the possibility of localizing deposition and dissolution current on an unmasked substrate by optimising reactor design, flow conditions, and the electro-chemistry of a system.

CES: Innovation, Not so New Technology

After a long week exploring the new products and innovations on display at CES 2013, Dan Feinberg gives an in-depth review of the technologies that impressed him most. Except for a very few items, Dan did not see many revolutionary new products, but the evolution of the consumer tech world's devices seems to be accelerating.

Iron Atom: Changing the Way the Industry Views DFM

One of the most enjoyable parts of Dan Beaulieu's job is getting to meet with new companies, especially companies create with new and innovative ways of doing things. He recently interviewed Iain Wilson, president of Iron Atom, a new software company whose DFM/Pre-CAM product is based on the cloud.

Trouble in Your Tank: Understanding the Reactions of Resin Systems with Alkaline Permanganate Processes, Part 1

Don’t assume your current set-up for desmear will work the same way with all the newer laminate resin systems. You must carefully evaluate any changes and make adjustments accordingly.

Trouble in Your Tank: Is it Black Pad or Something Else? Case Study No. 2

It is easy to blame solderability and ENIG problems on black pad. In this month’s Trouble in Your Tank, readers can test their troubleshooting skills. How can you tell if it is really black pad?

SMT Manufacturability and Reliability in PCB Cavities

Considering technological advances in multi-depth cavities in the PCB manufacturing industry, various subtopics have materialized regarding the processing and application of such features in device manufacturing.

The First 200 Tech Talks: A Reflection

In January 2004, Tech Talk Number 100 was published. At the time, Karl Dietz used the occasion to reflect on noteworthy industry changes during the course of the previous 100 months and reminisced about the beginnings of this column. At #200, Dietz looks industry changes throughout the years and the transition to The PCB Magazine.

IPC APEX EXPO to Feature Seven Free BUZZ Sessions

Seven free BUZZ sessions will be offered this year at IPC APEX EXPO. The industry's top technical experts, on subjects ranging from automotive and new technologies to conflict minerals, export controls, and technology roadmaps, will provide insights into timely issues surrounding each of these BUZZ-worthy topics.

Is Kaizen Required to Make Those DAM iPhones?

In the not-too-distant future, the demand flexibility that Apple achieves with manual labor will have to be replaced with automation. Our best chance of figuring out this complex challenge is to embrace the value, principle, and philosophy of Kaizen.

Book Review: Proactive Selling

This book will help you: Learn the language of value, demonstrate the value of your product or services to the customer, open a sales call, craft an introduction, control the meeting, discuss customer needs (instead of just your product), and help you engage the customer.

Top 10 Most-Read PCB007 News Stories of 2012

As the year comes to a close, the editors at I-Connect007 have pulled together a list of the top 10 news stories from the pages of PCB007. Enjoy this list of the most-read news highlights of 2012.

The Efficiency Toolbox

What should the efficiency toolbox contain for Lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, or any manufacturing discipline that hopes to flourish? Two must-haves are a healthy dedication to continuous improvement and plenty of common sense.

Book Review from Professor Goosey: Pulse Plating

Although many papers and several earlier books have been published on the pulse plating, this new work by Wolfgang Hansal and Sudipta Roy provides a more up to date compilation of the basic science coupled with details of the latest developments, possibilities, and applications associated with this powerful technology.

Multek Around the World

Company President Werner Widman speaks with Editor Marcy LaRont about his company's extensive international market presence: LCDs in Brazil, smartphones in China, and what about Germany?

Orbotech Launches Two New Machines at HKPCA 2012

The company has installed more than 730 LPI machines worldwide. To celebrate, the company launched several new machines at the HKPCA & IPC Show 2012. Yair Alcobi, vice president of Orbotech's PCB business, discusses the Discovery II AOI solution with Editor Marcy LaRont.

IPCA President Updates Goals

India Printed Circuit Association President Paresh Vasani joins Editor Marcy LaRont on the HKPCA 2012 show floor to discuss the IPCA's efforts to foster and support PCB manufacturing in India.

Airtech Demonstrates Staying Power in China

Airtech PCB Business Development Manager Jim Hegeduis has been coming to the HKPCA show for 10 years and he's watched the show and the region grow and develop. He discusses his company's strong commitment to technology and their equally strong commitment to Chinese PCB manufacturing.

Weiner, Kennett Break Down the Rainbow Process

Based on a liquid resist, LEDs, and phototools, the Rainbow Process can achieve 20 micron detail and below, and produce a double-sided image in under 20 seconds. Jonathan Kennett, CEO of Rainbow Technology Systems, sits down with Guest Editor Gene Weiner to discusses this process, which can operate without a full clean room.

An American PCB Manufacturer's Tale

Though it is among the smaller companies of its type in the U.S., Mass Design is well positioned as a manufacturer of high-reliability military, aerospace and medical PCBs. Mass Design's Bill Gately shares his views on the company, its challenges and successes, and the future of the industry overall.

HKPCA Supports China's Manufacturers

Ivy Wong, honorary chairman of HKPCA, says the show has expanded, with a record-breaking number of exhibitors this year. Wong explains how the HKPCA has developed over the years, following the development of electronics in China; she also discusses how the HKPCA is working to support Chinese manufacturing and their member companies.

Maskless Lithography's Next Generation

Maskless Lithography recently announced the sale of six digital imaging systems in N.A. while attending the company's third HKPCA & IPC show. CEO Bill Elder discusses their next-generation LDI machine, and the importance of China.

I-Connect007 PCB Asia Week: Taiwan Set for Growth

Increasing demand for high-end HDI boards, flexible PCBs, and IC substrates is expected to drive growth for Taiwan's PCB industry in 2013. Production is expected to ramp up as a number of new production lines run by Taiwan-based PCB companies in China and Thailand will come online by the end of this year or in the first half of 2013.

Fillebrown: From Salesman to President of ACD

Scott Fillebrown started out as a salesman at ACD in the 1990s, and wound up buying the company. Now the Richardson, Texas-based company has expanded to offer turnkey manufacturing services, from design through assembly. Scott shares his story.

PCB Reliability: Cleaning Up Your Act

Author Yash Sutariya explains that bare board cleanliness is a serious matter, yet also a relatively new issue for the industry. In addition to design, a product's environment causes ionic contamination to form dendritic growth. End-users should review both board design and the environment to combat the issue.

Novel Material for High-Layer Count & High-Reliability PCBs

This paper examines a new family of laminate systems developed to face the increasing physical demands of the lead-free soldering processes used in the assembly of RoHS-compliant products. A thermoplastic resin-modified multifunctional epoxy material shows outstanding heat resistance, reliability and toughness.

Built Board Tough

PCBs are electronic real estate. Establishing the foundation for assembly, a direct correlation can be made between the reliability of a final electronic product and the bare PCB. There is much to knowing what it takes as both a buyer and a producer of PCBs to ensure high-reliability PCB performance.

MFLEX in Line for Growth According to 4QFY12 Results

Net sales in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 are expected to be approximately $200 million, up 4% from the same quarter last year. Reza Meshgin, CEO, said, "We completed our capacity expansion project in September which positions us to drive record revenues during the first quarter of fiscal 2013, and support the strong demand forecasts we are seeing from customers."

Innovative Circuits Planning for the Future

Business Development Manager Amir Davoud came to SMTA International 2012 on a scouting mission to consider whether or not the company should exhibit at next year's show. He sits down with Editor Andy Shaughnessy to discuss Innovative's recent equipment purchases, including a Hitachi router and a wastewater system.

New Challenges for Higher Aspect Ratio: Filling Through-holes and Blind Microvias with Copper by Reverse Pulse Plating

This paper presents investigations on complete through-hole filling for cores by a Cu electroplating process as an alternative to the paste-plugging process. The process consists of two steps, merging both centers of the through-hole walls (X-plating) followed by filling up the resulting blind microvias. Processes and manufacturing technology are described as well as current limitations and requirements.

Tech Circuits: We're All in Customer Service

Sales Representative Stephanie Zarrella explains why Tech Circuits' customers can speak directly to the technologists working on their boards. She also discusses her company's preparation of prototype boards for volume production offshore.

Six Keys to Design Excellence: Combating PCB Complexity

When companies effectively deal with making complex PCBs right the first time, on-time delivery and income for that product is maximized. But when companies fail to deal with complex PCB issues, their product can be delayed, cost significantly more than projected, or they may miss the market window.

Gene Weiner Reflects on 50 Years of IPC

Environmental concerns and circuit board production have always been linked, but things have changed a lot since the 1960s. Looking back over his long association with IPC, IPC Hall of Fame member Gene Weiner recalled how technology's evolution, safety issues, and ecological issues have changed.

Overcoming Challenges in Laminate Development

John Coonrod, market development engineer for Rogers Corporation, discusses his company's newest development in high-speed, high-frequency laminates. This new material is also halogen-free and compatible with lead-free soldering. John explains the many challenges that had to be met to bring this material to the marketplace.

CCMP: America's Mass Lamination Company

Dan Beaulieu recently had the chance to talk with Bill Schwerter, vice president and co-founder of Copper Clad Multilayer Products, Inc. (CCMP) about his company, the industry, and the future. Dan says he enjoys talking to innovators, a word that definitely fits Schwerter.

Ray Pritchard Reveals Keys to IPC's Success

“Never turn down people who want to do something,” Pritchard said. “Whenever I found two guys who wanted to do something outside our ongoing activities, I would put them in a meeting room and let them talk.”

Developments in Printed Electronics

Vice President, Strategic Technology at Oak-Mitsui John Andresakis talks with Editor Ray Rasmussen about developments in printed electronics. The IPC has made printed electronics a technology priority and John details the progress with standards and technologies in the market.

Uyemura Investing and Growing in PCB Industry

Director of operations for Uyemura, Don Walsh, sits down with Editor Ray Rasmussen to discuss the company's efforts around R&D for plating chemistry and product development for the PCB industry.

Training Demand Drives IPC India Expansion

Two years after its inauguration, IPC India continues to put down roots to bring IPC services to this populous nation. Patient efforts are beginning to pay off: companies are embracing IPC's efforts to establish itself locally, prompting the need for expansion.

LED Market Drives Demand for New Laminates

Ventec's Director of Marketing and Sales Bruce Hurley discusses how the LED market has driven demand for materials that transfer heat efficiently. Further development of standards are required in this area. Apples-to-apples product comparisons are currently a challenge and continued long-term reliability studies are needed.

Standards Development for Printed Electronics

Marc Carter, director of technology transfer at IPC, discusses the importance of standards for the electronics industry and IPC's role in standards development. He also discusses the technology of printed electronics and the role IPC is playing in the development of those standards.

Isola: European President Reveals Keys to Longevity

Isola has been around for quite some time, recently celebrating its centennial anniversary. In this interview, Europe President Karl Stollenwerk talks about the keys to their success.

George Milad Updates IPC Plating Committee 414

IPC Plating Committee Chair George Milad updates the progress of the committee while at IPC Midwest 2012. The adopted standard for ENIPIG is the latest accomplishment of this critical IPC effort.

AT&S: Coming to America

International Account Manager for AT&S Jim Sierakowski meets with Editor Ray Rasmussen to talk about his company's efforts to gain a foothold in the U.S. market, providing OEMs and EMS companies with a variety of PCBs from factories around the world.

IPC's On-Shoring Report Now Available

Is on-shoring a reality? IPC's Director of Market Research Sharon Starr sits down with Editor Ray Rasmussen at IPC Midwest 2012 to discuss the organization's new report, "On-Shoring in the Electronics Industry: Trends and Outlook for North America."

Gardien Services USA Expands with Acquisition

Gardien Services USA expands its services to the Chicago market by acquiring the assets of Electronic Test Center, Inc.

N.A. Electronics Supply Chain Shows Signs of Recovery

According to the report, reduced growth forecasts from China and continued worries about Greece reinforced concern about a global economic slowdown. Although domestic growth in China is showing resilience, exports remained sluggish in the second quarter due to the slow recovery in the U.S. and contracting economy in Europe.

Taylor Gives Updates on Polar Instrument Products

President and CEO of Polar Instruments Ken Taylor walks Editor Ray Rasmussen through the significant software upgrades to Polar's product suites on the show floor at IPC Midwest 2012.

On-Shoring in N.A. Electronics Industry Continues

Based on a May 2012 survey of 229 companies with global revenues totaling more than $935.3 billion, the study indicates that on-shoring--actions by North American manufacturers to return overseas operations to North America or to build new operations in the region--is underway and will continue.

ENIG and ENEPIG: Latest Processes and Standards

George Milad, Uyemura's national account manager for technology, and chairman of the IPC Plating Committee, explains to Technical Editor Pete Starkey how recent improvements in ENIG chemistry have reduced process costs and eliminated black pad defects. He also gives an update on IPC standards for ENIG and ENEPIG.

Basista Banks on Continuous Capability Enhancements

Basista Leiterplatten GmbH, based in Bottrop (Germany), specializes in the production of circuit board prototypes and small production runs of the highest quality. The circuit board manufacturer enjoys an outstanding reputation among its large client base. With the continual modernization of his company, Peter Basista not only guides the development of the market, he anticipates it.

Revolutionary Thermal Pastes

Ormet Circuits Vice President James Haley joins Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu to discuss his company's critical products and how they can help PCB fabricators increase their technological edge.

IPC: PCB Sales Down YoY in May; B2B Still Positive

"North American PCB sales and orders in May continued slightly below last year's levels and reflected normal seasonal patterns," said Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research. "The May book-to-bill ratio remained positive for the sixth consecutive month and was especially strong for the flexible circuit segment of the industry."

Re-Defining Flying Probe Testing

MicroCraft introduced its new EMMA E4M6151 flying probe tester at IPC APEX EXPO. Technical Editor Pete Starkey chatted with company President Lino Sousa, who demonstrated the machine's ability to test a 36,000-test-point board in less than eight minutes.

1 Mil Lines and Spaces: Fact or Fiction?

In this roundtable discussion with George Dudnikov, Joe Fjelstad, and John Andresakis, subtractive processing, semi-additive processing, and interposers are examined. One thing agreed upon by all: Determine if there is a real need and work with the customer on design options. Bottom line: 1 mil lines and spaces are a fact, but do you really need them?

High-Accuracy PCB Stackup Registration System

DIS Engineering Manager, Gary Sortino, gives Editor Ray Rasmussen an overview of his company's high-accuracy registration system for PCB lamination stackups.

IPC: Federal Regulations Burden Electronics Manufacturers

At the invitation of U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), IPC President Dr. John W. Mitchell outlined existing and proposed regulations that negatively impact the electronics manufacturing industry.

Using Jet Printers to Apply Solder Paste

An evolving North American assembly market is beginning to embrace the benefits of losing stencils and using jet printers. Popular in Europe, these printers can actually take cost out of the assembly process. Mydata's Global Sales Director Nico Coenen explains.

IPC: N.A. PCB Shipments, Bookings Down in April

"April PCB sales and orders in North America continued slightly below last year's levels and reflected normal seasonal patterns," said Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research. "The good news is that the book-to-bill ratio continued to be positive for the fifth consecutive month. When orders exceed sales, there is potential for sales growth over the next three to six months."

The Supplier and PCB Fabricator: Bridging the Gap

IPS Technical Sales Manager Dan Czebiniak recalls his many years of PCB fabrication experience as he explains to Technical Editor Pete Starkey how the IPS range of wet process equipment continues to be developed to meet the critical needs of the PCB manufacturer.

Keys to Selecting Military/Aerospace Boards

Zulki Khan explains why it's a good idea to ratchet up specifications to assure higher reliability. An EMS provider can increase board specs beyond an OEM's minimum engineering specifications so that the board and its end-product maintain high performance and optimum reliability, regardless of environmental, terrain, or temperature conditions.

Isola Introduces Four New Products

Rich Pangier, director of OEM marketing at Isola, discusses the company's new products introduced at IPC APEX EXPO 2012 with Editor Ray Rasmussen.

IPC Releases PCB Industry Results for March 2012

"PCB sales in North America in March continued to reflect normal seasonal patterns," said Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research. "Orders continued to outpace sales," she added, "pushing the book-to-bill ratio up for the fourth consecutive month, and that bodes well for sales growth in the next quarter."

"Those Jobs Aren't Coming Back, Mr. President."

At a 2011 dinner that included Steve Jobs, President Obama and a who's who of Silicon Valley, the president asked Jobs what it would take to bring back to the U.S. the type of assembly work being done in Asia to build Apple's products. Of course, Obama was interested in creating American jobs. The Apple CEO replied, "Those jobs aren't coming back." Is that so?

Special Customers, Tight Requirements

Prototron's Mark Thompson talks with Guest Editor Kelly Dack about his company's R&D customer base and how special fabrication requirements are being met, including high-copper boards and drilled vias that approach microvias in size.

Thermal Management of RF & Digital Assemblies Using Optimized Materials & PCB Designs

With any electronic device, its performance, reliability, efficiency, and life expectancy are related inversely and exponentially to the magnitude of increased temperature above its optimum operating range. In this paper, Sandy Kumar of American Standard Circuits discusses the thermal interface materials which are designed to rapidly transfer the heat generated from the semiconductor device to a properly designed and sized heat sink.

Gardien's Quality Assurance for the PCB Industry

Todd Kolmodin, Gardien's vice president of quality, discusses how his company offers the highest level of quality assurance products, including embedded test centers right in customers' factories.

Specs are a-Changin'

Panasonic's Michael Cieslinski, chair of the committee that recently revised IPC-9850, discusses the key changes made in the standard, such as simplifying stages and adding more components, as well as how the specification was organized to allow for expansion with future technologies.

Understanding New Product Introduction

MuTracx has been in inkjet product development mode for nearly three years. With the successful installation of its first machine recently, the company is entering a new growth phase. Global Sales and Marketing Director Stuart Hayton discusses the long, strange trip that is NPI--and where his company will be headed in the near future.

Makers Optimistic of Germany's PCB Market

Germany's overall PCB revenue for 2011 rose by about 4% over the previous year, according to the ZVEI PCB and Electronic Systems.

IPC Roadmap Offers OEM Vision of Trends, Technologies

"We've turned the roadmap inside out to help users connect the dots a little easier, in terms of translating OEM system level requirements into the materials, features, structures, and process requirements for printed boards and assemblies to support those needs," says Jack Fisher, chairman of the IPC Roadmap Executive Committee.

Conversations with…Bill Hanson of AccuKraft

Rack 'em up! Bill Hanson, general manager of AccuKraft, has a passion for plating racks and corrosive-resistant baskets, and it shows. Plating racks aren't glamorous, but they're absolutely critical to PCB manufacturing. Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu caught up with Hanson recently and interviewed him while he worked at a client company's board shop.
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