Institute of Circuit Technology Annual Symposium
On June 1, Technical Director Bill Wilkie introduced the 42nd Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology, at the Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, UK, commenting upon the success of the recent Foundation Course and acknowledging the sterling efforts of his course tutors, although recognising that some of his longest-standing experts were now retiring.
What You Probably Don't Know About NASA
While at Maker Faire 2016 in San Mateo recently, I met with George Gorospe of NASA’s Ames Research Center to discuss his group’s recent findings and projects, NASA’s CubeSats and microsatellites, and what the commercialization of space travel means for the near future.
Punching Out! What the Heck is Adjusted EBITDA?
If you are looking to sell or buy a business, you will most likely come across the term ‘adjusted EBITDA.’ Other common terms are adjusted cash flow, owner’s discretionary earnings, earnings after add-backs, etc. What do these terms mean, and why are they important?
Impacting the Industry—Literally
Unless you have been living under a rock or in a cave for the past six months or so, you should be aware (and perhaps astounded, astonished, amazed, dumbfounded, aghast…) at the presidential campaign goings-on. Dear heaven! But without going into detail or expressing an opinion, I thought I would share some highlights of my recent visit to our nation’s capital.
New Management and Strategies at eSurface
At the recent Geek-A-Palooza, I spoke with Alex Richardson and Rick McCann of eSurface Technologies, to learn about the condition of the company, their new semi-additive approach, and a couple of big announcements.
Global Technology Development: HDP User Group European Meeting 2016
Delighted and honoured to be invited again to attend the open session of the High Density Packaging User Group (HDPUG) European Meeting, I made my way to the picturesque Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a tiny principality bordered by Belgium, France and Germany, and ranked among the world's top-three nations in both wealth and wine consumption, to learn about the latest in collaborative research and development by member companies engaged in the manufacture of products utilising high-density electronic packages.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Learning Theory/Learning Curves
Learning is not instantaneous! Nor is progress made in a steady manner, but at a rate that is typified by one of two basic patterns. In some cases, plateaus will be seen in learning curves. These are caused by factors such as fatigue, poor motivation, loss of interest, or needing time to absorb all the material before progressing to new. This column will not go into details of how learning is achieved, but will summarize some of these theories.
MACFEST—Manufacturing Advanced Coatings for Future Electronic Systems
Now in its second year, MACFEST is a collaborative research project involving partners A-Gas Electronic Materials, C-Tech Innovation, MTG Research, the Institute of Circuit Technology, the University of Leicester and Merlin Circuit Technology.
It’s Only Common Sense: Elevate the Conversation to get Closer to your Customers
So we all think we are doing a pretty good job getting to know our customers, right? We think because we know what market they are in and what they build, and have some sort of idea of what they need we are in pretty good shape, right?
Automation is the Talk of the Town at CPCA Show 2016
As Pete Starkey’s interviewees point out, the case for automation is not just about moving things faster, but also reducing handling and handling defects, improving consistency and reliability, and of course, reducing costs.
Case Study: Reducing Defects Caused by Excess Handling and Mishandling
Most folks associate quality improvement initiatives with upfront expenses and ongoing cost increases. Fortunately, when done efficiently and with enough forethought and planning, quality improvement programs can pay for themselves in the form of increased throughput, reduced labor steps, and reduction in materials consumption.
Standard of Excellence: LED and Metal-Backed Technology—Today and in the Future
Probably one of the hottest, or should I say coolest, technologies today is LED. I would also venture to say it is one of the fastest growing as well. All you have to do is look around you can see evidence of this everywhere from holiday lights in your home and Jumbotrons at sports arenas, to highway and business signage. The lighting industry is now dominated by LED technology.
BOOK REVIEW: Printed Circuits Handbook, Seventh Edition, 2016 (McGraw-Hill)
The Printed Circuits Handbook has been a classic reference to the industry for many years, and the new edition will assure its place for years to come. The 7th Edition features 71 chapters, four more than the last edition, structured in 12 parts, and authored by 38 contributors—a list of accomplished authors that could double as a who’s who in the world of circuit boards.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Project/Product Life Cycle
The product, and or project (process) life cycle (PLC) is fundamental to a corporation intent on developing new products or processes. It sometimes is called the new product introduction (NPI) process but that is only half of the life cycle. There is product support, enhancement and eventually, obsolescence.
The Sum of All Parts: Planning for a First-Time-Right PCB Design
The development of highly integrated and high-speed, chip-based circuit boards brings several functional benefits. But at the same time, these can introduce additional challenges to the actual board itself. Therefore, developing an effective plan for designing, developing, testing and producing the final PCBs is a good business practice.
A Conversation with Walt Custer: Market Report
In a recent conversation, Walt Custer shared current market data and industry trends, detailing those market segments and regions that are currently seeing growth and those that are in decline. Walt also offered his interpretation of the data, which he uses to forecast the upcoming month.
Long-Term Thermal Reliability of PCB Materials
This paper describes the purpose, methodology, and results to date of thermal endurance testing performed at Amphenol Printed Circuit Board Technology in Nashua, NH. The intent of this thermal aging testing is to establish longterm reliability data for PWB materials for use in applications that require 20+ years (100,000+ hours) of operational life under different thermal conditions.
Jason Chung Offers the Asian Perspective and Explains Ventec’s Aim to Differentiate
I spent a few minutes with Ventec’s Jason Chung whilst attending CPCA recently, where I had the opportunity to absorb his views on the current China market, the importance of setting yourself apart in a tight economy, and the value of bringing stability to customers.
IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2016: Industry Leaders Advocate for a Pro-Manufacturing Policy Agenda
IPC places a high priority on educating government officials about key policy issues of importance to the electronics industry. That’s why top executives from leading electronics companies gathered in Washington, D.C. recently for “IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2016.”
Getting a Handle on Handling Errors
When gathering info for this month’s topic on handling strategies, I knew there was much happening in the automation end of things and all that it can do for handling. But I also knew it was not something that is easy for the “little guy” to do—automation is expensive, in general, and it is not always conducive to the high mix of small lot sizes typical of the many prototypeplus facilities in North America and Europe.
Stepping up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 3: Readiness and Site Preparation
With so many processes to keep track of in a flex manufacturing line, it can be easy to get lost in the details and begin to rely on your suppliers to address any issues that might crop up. However, given that laser processing equipment and flex materials are both impacted by your facilities, your attention to and investment in clean, stable, and robust facilities and support equipment will quickly pay off in less downtime, higher yield, and—perhaps most importantly—fewer headaches!
Beyond FR-4: High-Performance Materials for Advanced Designs, Part 1
In the past 40-plus years of PCB manufacturing, the primary material of choice has overwhelmingly been e-glass supported FR-4 resin laminates. This is due to the excellent dimensional stability and reasonably acceptable thermal performance (based on glass transition temperature [Tg] and decomposition temperature [Td]). In general, these materials exhibit impressive performance and excellent cost for a wide range of applications.
All About Flex: Imaging Methods for Etch Resist, Part 1
Imaging is a major process step in creating a copper circuit or flexible PCB. In single-sided circuit fabrication, the imaging process creates the resist pattern that protects the copper from the etchant. It is critical that this pattern precisely define the circuit traces, as issues with imaging will transfer to the subsequent processes.
Koen Hollevoet Explains Rogers' New PEEK-based Material for Extreme Temps
Rogers has been developing a new material called XT/duroid laminate, which is based on polyether ether ketone (PEEK) material and can withstand some of the harshest temperatures and environments. I met with Koen Hollevoet, Business Development Manager at Rogers Corporation, at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to further discuss this material and learn how it might benefit the PCB market.
Made in Brazil: Focusing on What Matters Most!
Every company claims to be constantly improving their business or process, but not as many grasp the core idea of continuous improvement and live it daily. This is evident when one analyzes companies competing on the same market, providing quite the same products, yet having totally different results. Improvement is often misunderstood as doing things differently, which is a huge mistake.
IEC: Celebrating 50 Years in Business
I caught up with Shawn Stone of IEC recently, to discuss plating, laminates, printed electronics and IEC’s many strategic alliances, including their most recent agreement with ITEQ to distribute their copper-clad laminate line throughout North America. This alliance will give IEC, a company his father started more than 50 years ago, its first North American footprint.
Rex Rozario Brings IPC Board Duties to a Close
At this year’s IPC APEX EXPO, Rex Rozario’s term as an IPC Board member came to an end. At the show, I sat down with Rex, who reflected on his time with IPC and the areas on which he hopes the association will focus more in the future—namely, strengthening the relationship between the UK and the U.S., as well as continuing to encourage smaller PCB manufacturers to join IPC and contribute.
Interview with Dean Kamen, Segway Inventor and Founder of FIRST
One of the keynote speakers at this year’s IPC APEX EXPO 2016 was Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and hundreds of other innovative devices. But perhaps most importantly, Kamen is the founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), which is recognized as the leading not-for-profit STEM engagement program for kids worldwide.
Rogers: 'To PIM-test Our Material, You Have to Build a Circuit'
Passive intermodulation (PIM) is a circuit anomaly that has been occurring in cellular base station antennas, causing tremendous frustration and cost to antenna OEMs. As the supplier of the materials being used by these OEMs, Rogers Corp., and more specifically, Product Manager Tony Mattingly, must come up with a solution.
Flex Talk: PCB Sourcing? One Size Does Not Fit All
When analyzing a set of PCBs to improve yields and maximize profits, the first place to start is with a critical review of each PCB design. Are there any attributes that are pushing your manufacturer’s standard design rules? If so, is this necessary to the design or is there another approach that could improve the manufacturer’s yields, reduce cost, and ultimately increase profit?
Orbotech’s Gaby Waisman: 'The Future is Digital'
I sat down with Orbotech President Gaby Waisman at CPCA in Shanghai recently, and he offered a comprehensive explanation of why digitalization is truly the future, especially with regard to increasing throughputs. We also discussed Orbotech’s company vision and products, as well as its role in “helping to drive the industry into fully digitalized imaging technology.”
Sun Chemical Expands Range and Market Share in China
At CPCA in Shanghai recently, I had the opportunity to sit down for a one-on-one with Tony Searle, business manager for Sun Chemical. The focus of our discussion was Sun Chemical’s recent expansion of its range of offerings and manufacturing capabilities in China, and what the future of the PCB market is in China, from his point of view.
IPC’s Phil Carmichael on Asia, New Standards, and the Future
At the very busy IPC APEX EXPO in Las Vegas recently, IPC’s head of operations for Asia, Phil Carmichael, spent a few minutes in the I-Connect007 booth with me and Stephen Las Marias, managing editor of SMT Magazine, discussing all things Chinese. Among the topics we covered were the association’s current role in Asia, and the new corporate social responsibility standard currently being developed, something IPC is very excited about.
Stepping Up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 2: Calculating and Optimizing Production
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the advantages of adding flex laser processing to gain a competitive advantage. In Part 2 we will build on that discussion, looking at the ways you can optimize your flexible circuit laser processing to get the efficiencies that drive lower cost of ownership.
All About Flex: Why Copper is Ideal for Flexible Circuitry
Copper is the second-most conductive metal (in pure form). The copper used on flexible circuits can be formed by a number of methods such as electro-deposition (ED), rolling/annealing, or a combination of the two. The conductivity of copper by volume on a flexible circuit is not exactly the same as pure copper, but it is quite close.
The ESI Solution: High-Throughput Roll-to-Roll UV Laser Drilling of Thin, Flex Materials
ESI’s Flex Product Manager, Patrick Riechel, speaks with I-Connect007's Pete Starkey at the recent CPCA event last month in Shanghai. Among the topics covered: How ESI addresses issues associated with machining roll-to-roll flex circuits, laser technology, and more.
Punching Out! Your Baby’s Ugly, Now Get Over it (How to Work with Buyers)
Here’s a scenario: An owner has gone to market and is starting to get feedback from buyers, and shockingly, not everyone appreciates the hard work and achievements that went into the business. Buyers may not understand the business, or they may be trying to position things for a low offer. In any case, it is important to know how to work with buyers.
Morgan and Starkey on CPCA 2016, Automation, and the Upcoming ECWC14
On the last day of CPCA in Shanghai recently, I was delighted to catch up with my friend and industry colleague, EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan, for a discussion on the show we were both currently attending, as well as the upcoming 14th Electronics Circuits World Convention (ECWC14), to be held in April 2017, in Korea.
A Conversation with Joe O’Neil, the New Chairman of the IPC Board of Directors
Joe O’Neil, formerly of Hunter Technology, recently stepped into the position of chairman of the IPC Board of Directors. I met with Joe at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to discuss his new position, the industry, and the arc of his 20-year involvement with IPC.