Article Highlights
A Conversation with Gene Weiner
03/30/2017 | Barry Matties and Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: New Dimensions in Fine-Pitch Probe Testing from Microcraft
03/30/2017 | Real Time with...IPC
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Updates on Formulations for Direct Imaging and Inkjet Technologies
03/29/2017 | Real Time with...IPC
Capitol Connection: Drumroll, Please…Announcing the IPC Government IMPACT Awardees
03/28/2017 | John Hasselmann, IPC
EIPC Workshop on PCB BioMEMS
03/28/2017 | Alun Morgan, European Institute of Printed Circuits

Latest Articles

Book Review: The World’s your Stage: How Performing Artists Can Make a Living Still Doing What They Love

The arts are not that different than any other business. Cash is the fuel on which a ballet company runs just like any other business. Some institutions are well run and others have problems. This book gives real-life examples of how some of the more successful arts companies have made it, while others have floundered.

'Can Do' in CAM Outsourcing: A Case for Outsourcing CAM Engineering

In the West, outsourcing is sometimes considered taboo and many believe it is one of the causes for shifting our manufacturing base to the East—specifically China and other lower cost Asian countries. In this series of columns, I will make a case in support of CAM outsourcing—especially for North American and Western European printed circuit board manufacturers.

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.

Ventec International Group Expands North American Focus

Ventec International Group is looking to expand their U.S. operations, and they’ve begun this process by bringing Chris Alessio on board as VP of sales and operations of Ventec USA. I met with Chris and Ventec USA President Jack Pattie at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to discuss their approach and possible opportunities for the North American laminate market.

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.

Nano System, Two Years On

Established in July 2014, Nano System Inc. focuses on the design and manufacture of laser drill systems for the PCB industry. I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias caught up with Nano System President Sam Sekine last month at IPC APEX EXPO to discuss the latest product and business developments at his company.


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.

All About Flex: Lean Manufacturing and NPIP for Flexible Circuits

Many companies are familiar with lean manufacturing concepts and have successfully used these techniques to improve manufacturing processes. Lean techniques, while most often used in printed circuit fabrication and assembly operations, can also be applied to nonmanufacturing processes. One such process is new part number introduction (NPIP).

Catching up with KT Technical Sales: Looking at Things from the Rep's Point of View

Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time working with reps. I like to think of myself as an advocate for reps since I have spent so much time trying to get the PCB shops to play nice with them.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Using Web Resources

The World Wide Web is a real boon to information retrieval. The key is getting to relevant information and not being overwhelmed by the sheer number of references. When confronted with a process problem, the urgency of a solution requires that you know how to use Web resources expeditiously.

The Four New Agreements to Explode Profitability

We have been brainwashed to focus on a relatively small number of metrics such as revenue and profits as the driving force behind critical outputs of our organizations. The actual driver of these critical metrics is the mostly informal systems in which the company operates. Because in excess of 90% of the profitability of a company is systems-based, a sustainable increase in profitability requires changes (optimization or re-creation) in existing systems.

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.

LPKF Launches New Laser Drilling System for Flex Printed Circuits

At Laser World of Photonics Exhibition in Shanghai recently, I had a chance to speak with Florian Roick, strategic product manager with LPKF. The company is celebrating a big anniversary this year with the launch of a laser drilling machine to support the specific requirements of the flexible circuit industry.


A Salute to Process Engineers

It seems very appropriate, coming on the heels of IPC APEX EXPO 2016, that the focus of our April issue is process engineering. I believe process engineers (and process engineer types) are the worker bees of IPC (and obviously of the companies they work for).

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.

Book Review: Shawn Murphy’s ‘The Optimistic Workplace’

Happy workers are great workers. Workers with a purpose, a true reason for being at work and finding importance in that work, are all part of a successful workplace in a successful company.

The Sum of All Parts: Total Concept—Growing for the Future

Last month, we discussed the importance of the PCB industry’s need to focus on a “made in USA” philosophy. This month, we will go over how to methodically do this amid different company cultures and different logistical challenges.

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.

IPC APEX EXPO: IPC Government Relations—Your Advocate in Washington

IPC's VP of Government Relations, John Hasselman, explains IPC's "meet the policy makers" initiative (site visits by congressmen) to help build and broaden relationships with these decision makers.


Martin Cotton Explains Ventec’s Plan for Growth

I always enjoy talking to Martin Cotton, global director of OEM technology and marketing for Ventec and a longtime PCB designer. I ran into Martin at DesignCon and asked him to discuss Ventec’s plans for the future and how he figured into the equation.

Book Review: Mark Goulston’s “Talking to Crazy”

We call know crazy. We all know people who are somewhat irrational or even completely bonkers! But we don’t know how to deal with them, right? Well, put that in the past tense. We did not know how to deal with them until this new book came along.

IPC President John Mitchell on the Past, Present, and Future, Pt. 2

In Part 2 of our on-the-show-floor interview with John Mitchell, conducted at IPC APEX EXPO 2016, John continues describing IPC’s key measures, and then invites industry folks who are reading this to participate in a unique challenge—some might say experiment. The question is, will there be any takers?

The Importance of Choosing Equipment Suppliers Carefully and Investing in the Future

Burkle Process Technologies, a long-time PCB equipment supplier to high-end manufacturers in the world, is seeing their business continuing to grow despite the perceived slowdown in the industry in China. They ensure this by working closely with customers, making premium products to understand future technology needs, and offering the highest quality in laminating machines and technical support.

IPC President John Mitchell on the Past, Present, and Future, Part 1

We conducted this interview with IPC President John Mitchell on the show floor at IPC APEX EXPO to discuss the event, the changes on the IPC board, and the key metrics that IPC uses to measure their own performance and effectiveness. John also invites the industry to a unique challenge.

PCB Shops in Brazil: Are you Kidding Me?

Let´s face facts: Who would ever think of listening to an opinion about the PCB industry coming from someone in Brazil?

Happy’s Essential Skills: Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) is a systematic process to evaluate failure modes and causes associated with the design and manufacturing processes of a new product. It is somewhat similar to the potential problem analysis (PPA) phase of the Kepner-Tregoe program.

Catching up with…PNC: Open House Planned for May

I’m a great believer in open houses. Any time customers and vendors get together to learn and talk about what they can do for each other it’s a good thing. That’s why, when I heard that PNC, in Nutley, New Jersey, planned to hold an open house on May 20, I wanted to learn more about it. So I called my friend Sam Sangani, the company’s owner, to learn more about it.

Karl's Tech Talk: Green Legislation and the Impact on Electronic Materials and Processes

In general, “green” and “environmentally friendly” refer to manufacturing that involves the replacement of toxic substances with less toxic materials, the elimination of materials or processing steps, less consumption of chemicals (i.e., more efficient or higher yield processing), reduction of water use, reduction of energy use, less space requirement (i.e., smaller equipment footprint), recycling, and on-site recovery of materials.

Williams and Beaulieu: Board Shops and CMs Must Communicate Better

Two well-known consultants in the PCB industry, Dan Beaulieu and Steve Williams, have joined forces to try to help close the divide between CMs and board shops. I recently sat down with them at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to better learn about their strategy for bringing the two sides together.


ESI: Drawing on a Deep History to Create a Vision for the Future

I had an opportunity to sit down for a chat with ESI’s Vice President and General Manager Michael Darwin at the recent HKPCA show. Darwin shared some of the challenges that come with managing the culture of a 70-year-old company, and a little about where they plan to focus their efforts going forward.

Weiner’s World: March 2016

Sellers of equipment at the Shanghai CPCA event complained of continued poor business. This was especially evident amongst those selling to firms building boards for phones and other portables devices as indicated below. However, not all reports were bad. Major fabricators such as Wu's in China, not dependent upon HDI or flexible products, stated that they were "satisfied" with their current business levels.

IPC APEX EXPO: Discussing the MacDermid-Enthone-OMG Integration

Guest Editor Dick Crowe talks with Strategic Account Manager Tom Bell about their newly formed company, MacDermid Enthone Electronic Solutions and what customers can expect to see, including a larger team in the field for service.

Catching up with…Fastrak Manufacturing’s Phil Guzman

Fastrak Manufacturing is one of those companies that focus on solving problems, tough problems, problems that other companies cannot solve. Technically a contract manufacturer, Fastrak is much more than that, working with companies who have an engineering/manufacturing problem to solve, or with inventors trying to get a new product developed, manufactured and out to the market in a limited amount of time.

Francis Tsoi on the Future: What's in Store for Technology, Automation in China's PCB Industry?

I caught up with Francis Tsoi, CEO of World Wide Group whilst at CPCA in Shanghai recently, where we enjoyed a lively discussion on a number of critical topics surrounding China’s PCB industry: namely, what is on the horizon with regard to technology and automation?

Walt Custer Elaborates on his Annual IPC APEX EXPO Forecast Presentation

IPC APEX EXPO 2016 has come and gone, and this year, Walt Custer’s annual presentation forecasting the upcoming year for the industry was much anticipated, as always. I met up with Walt at the show to learn about his presentation and dig deeper into his findings.

Cost Saving Tips for PCB Fabrication

Money is the most common problem in any type of business, and many American companies are looking for ways to cut costs, but still make sure they turn a profit. They also want to ensure the quality of what they produce remains the same, or exceeds present quality, and in the electronics sector this is essential for staying in business.

IPC APEX EXPO: Insulectro's Newest Hire Discusses his Plans for Chemistry Group

Chris Hrusovsky joined Insulectro two days before this interview, but many technologists know him from his 30 years in the PCB industry. Hrusovsky discusses his career and the issues he plans to tackle as the new VP of sales for chemistry at Insulectro.

The Supplier View: An Interview with Hamed El Abd

I sat down with WKK’s Hamed el Abd at CPCA, where we discussed the show, the growing trend toward automation, as well as a few other topics, namely world politics and economics and how they relate to the PCB industry.

Dan Beaulieu's 'It’s Only Common Sense' Celebrates 500th Column

“We’d like to congratulate Dan on his 500th column,” said Publisher Barry Matties. “Dan is a strong advocate for smart business. We thank Dan and look forward to 500 more columns, and you can be sure that Dan will keep stirring the pot.”


Gene Weiner: Congrats to Dan Beaulieu on Column 500

Congratulations on achieving this milestone, Dan. Column 500 contains enough fodder for many months of discussion, investigation and recommendations.

PhiChem Open House a Success!

Delighted to be invited to an exclusive preview of the new PhiChem global headquarters and R&D centre in Shanghai’s Baoshan suburb, I joined the VIP group assembled at the PhiChem booth at the CPCA show, made welcome by PhiChem President Dr. Jin Zhang.

IPC APEX EXPO: How Entelechy Is Changing the Industry

Mehul Dave, CEO of Entelechy Global Inc., talks about the need for speed in front-end engineering as PCB fabricators are overwhelmed with overload from supporting the high-mix, low volume and QTA markets.

Lean Manufacturing and NPIP for Flexible Circuits

Many companies are familiar with lean manufacturing concepts and have successfully used these techniques to improve manufacturing processes. Lean techniques, while most often used in printed circuit fabrication and assembly operations, can also be applied to nonmanufacturing processes. One such process is new part number introduction (NPIP).

IPC APEX EXPO: Gardien Discusses Providing Test Solutions with an Integrated Partnership

Gardien's VP of Quality, Todd Kolmodin, tells Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu about their customer partnership program, helping to provide solutions to their customers' test and quality issues.

IPC APEX EXPO: Design Through Box-Build Strategy Works for PNC Inc.

Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu talks with PNC's production manager, Bhavesh Sangani, about PNC's "design through box-build" strategy along with their significant capital equipment purchases over the past few years for both PCB fabrication and assembly.

IPC APEX EXPO: Innovation in Surface Finishes from Uyemura

Uyemura Senior Strategic Account Manager John Meyers describes the company's innovation in surface finishes, particularly its ENEPIG chemistry. John also briefly discusses their new electroless copper process.

Punching Out! Putting Together the Deal Team

When preparing to sell, remember the old saying, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” While many owners might be tempted to go it alone, in my experience it pays to have a deal team to help prepare a company (and the owner) for a sale.

On Site at the CPCA Show 2016 International PCB Technology and Information Spring Forum

The first session of the CPCA Spring Forum 2016 was dedicated to UL Consumer Technology who took the opportunity to inform the audience around their exciting new services.

Patricia (Patty) Goldman Inducted into IPC Hall of Fame

We at I-Connect007 are thrilled that our own Patty Goldman has been awarded the highest level of volunteer recognition that IPC can give to an individual, the Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Award. The award is given in recognition of superior achievement, extraordinary contributions and distinguished service to IPC and the advancement of the electronics industry.


Happy’s Essential Skills: Design of Experiments

Design of experiments (DOE) is one of the most powerful and influential engineering tools for product yield improvements, new products or processes development, or for problem solving. As mentioned in my last column, process problems led me to a career in printed circuits, and quickly solving those problems led me to a bonus stock award and a great life. Even though I knew nothing about printed circuit manufacturing processes, I was able to quickly find the root causes of all the problems and fix them. My secret? Total quality control (TQC), statistics, and DOE.

Rex Rozario, Part 4: A 10,000-ft. view of his Business Ventures, the Industry, and Life

In our final installment, Rex describes the common thread woven through all of his successful business ventures and varied interests: confidence and the fortitude to follow his dreams until they are realized. Rex also takes a look back at the evolution of the global PCB industry, and explains his approach to profitability, which includes building (and rewarding) a successful team.

Rex Rozario, Part 3: The Future Beckons

In Part 3 of our multi-part interview with industry veteran Rex Rozario, we begin with the future. Having achieved success in China, could Rex and the Graphic team have their sights trained on the U.S.? Also in this installment, Rex weighs in on China’s future, and we discuss the value of automation. Is it for everyone?

Rex Rozario, Part 2: The Beat Goes on: New Developments at Exeter, the Music Scene, and China

In Part 2 of I-Connect007’s multi-part interview with PCB industry icon Rex Rozario, we continue to discover more about what has made Graphic PLC the company it is today. Rex explains the work they’re doing with Exeter University, Graphic’s success in China, and his own personal experience in the UK music scene.

Rex Rozario: The PCB Industry’s True Renaissance Man

In this exclusive multi-part interview that was conducted recently, I-Connect007's Barry Matties will introduce you to all of the people that Rex Rozario is, and where he, his team, and Graphic PLC are headed to next.

World Wide PCB on the “Purification” of the China Market, Industry Changes and More

Francis Tsoi of World Wide PCB Equipment tells Barry Matties that although growth in the China PCB market may be slowing, the government has used this time to transition the industry towards automation, better environmental regulations and the ability to make high-end PCBs in large volumes.

All About Flex: Three Emerging Trends That You Can Bet On

Flexible circuits are light weight, require minimal space, can be bent into “origami” shapes for adoption to a wide range of applications. These utilitarian features give electronic designers endless options for the new and exciting products that will soon become part of our everyday life.

Manufacturing Institutes Can Boost the Nation

In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted a remarkable trend of recent years: the turnaround in many corners of America’s manufacturing sector. Nearly 900,000 new jobs have been created by U.S. manufacturers in the last six years.

The Sum of All Parts: The Cost of Quality

Throughout the decades, irrespective of industry or sector, markets have thrived on competition. They have, however, also relied upon some semblance of unity within their respective competitors. Industries rely upon their individual member companies’ ability to work together for the greater good.

The Institute of Circuit Technology Tewkesbury Seminar, 1st March 2016

The Annual General Meeting of the Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) was held at Puckrup Hall, near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, England, on 1st March 2016, and was followed by a well-attended evening seminar with presentations on a novel laser-induced deposition process, an analysis of the market for PCBs, and a review of three development projects in which the Institute had participated. The programme was introduced and moderated by ICT Technical Director Bill Wilkie.


It’s Only Common Sense: Your Ads Need a Call to Action!

Do you advertise? Do you spend your hard-earned dollars trying to get your name out there, only to feel that you are just throwing your money down a rabbit hole? I bet your ads don’t promote anything that will get your customers to take action. Your ads should include a call to action.

Solder Mask for LED Applications: Formulation 101

In 2007, the United States passed legislation to phase out the manufacture and trade of incandescent light bulbs, the EU following passed similar legislation in 2009. The rest of the world has been following suit creating a huge opening in the lighting market for a technology to fill the gap.

Printing PCBs…In Your Office!

The days of producing a PCB prototype with a 3D printer may not be as distant as you think. I spoke with Simon Fried of Nano Dimension about how 3D printing is becoming a reality, and how this disruptive technology will change the way designers produce rapid prototypes.

Camtek Takes Inkjet Technology into the Future

I recently spoke with Amir Tzhori, vice president of the PCB (AOI) division of Camtek in China, about the current and future status of their solder mask and legend inkjet technology, Gryphon. Also, with automation so instrumental, we discussed a new automated robotic arm that can be attached to their AOI systems.

Weiner’s World

Gene Weiner discusses PhiChem's upcoming open house event at its global HQ and R&D center in Shanghai during SEMICON China 2016, CPCA 2016 and productronica China 2016. He also focuses on the IPC Ambassador Council's plans to produce an executive forum in conjunction with IPC APEX EXPO 2017, IPC's association with NextFlex, SEMI's launch of the ESiPAT SIG, and much more.
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