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- From The Show
Catching up with ACT-USA President Jack Gemmell
03/21/2018 | Dan Beaulieu
Institute of Circuit Technology Meriden Seminar, 2018
03/21/2018 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: IPC—Industry Trends Moving Forward
03/20/2018 | Real Time with...IPC
Defining Customer-Supplier Relationships and Customer Satisfaction
03/19/2018 | I-Connect007
Bridging Knowledge and Understanding of Thermal Management Materials
03/14/2018 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
ELTEK Looking for Strong Growth in the USA
At the recent Nadcap meeting in London, I spoke with Eltek USA President Jim Barry about the state of the company, further investment from their new owner, and their focus on the U.S. market.
All About Flex: Soldering Flexible Circuits
The most common methods for component attachment on flexible circuits and rigid printed circuit boards involve soldering. The basic principles for soldering are the same for both flex and hard board, but soldering components to flexible circuits involves certain specific considerations vs. our rigid cousins.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Quality Functional Deployment (QFD)
Wikipedia has one of the best definitions of quality function deployment (QFD): “QFD is a method to help transform customer needs (the voice of the customer or VOC) into engineering characteristics (and appropriate test methods) for a product or service. It helps create operational definitions of the requirements, which may be vague when first expressed. It prioritizes each product or service characteristic while simultaneously setting development targets for the product or service.”
Spirit Circuits: Building a New Factory in Romania...
Recently I sat down with Managing Director Steve Driver of Spirit Circuits. We discussed the company’s future, and the interesting decision to build a new facility in Craiova, Romania, and how Whelen’s Alex Stepinski influenced the design.
FTG: Focus to Expand
Firan Technology Group (FTG) is a Canadian circuit board and cockpit product manufacturer. With a newly established global footprint, they look now to grow within that footprint, particularly by way of acquisition. I-Connect007’s Judy Warner and Barry Matties met CEO Brad Bourne at FTG’s Chatsworth, California facility to learn more about the acquisitions, their success in China, and the overall challenge of working in the aerospace and defense market.
Multiple Markets Merge for PCBs at H&T Global
While at the SMTA-Ohio expo I met Rob DiGiovanni, VP of sales and marketing with H&T Global, a printed circuit manufacturer based in Florida. I was attracted to the H&T booth by a large photo of an Army jeep. I wanted to learn what this particular photo had to do with PCBs, and Rob had a ready answer.
Flex is Where It’s At
At the recent SMTA-Ohio Expo event, Jack Baculik of Circuits LLC speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about the latest developments driving demand for flex and rigid-flex circuits.
Punching Out! Timing: When is the Best Time to Sell?
A few of the top questions we receive relate to the timing of the sale of a business. The first is, "Is now a good time?" The second one is, "How are market conditions?" These are the top FAQs.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Roadmapping Essentials
Many industries recognize value and benefits in technical roadmapping. However, misuse leads to abundant dangers and can render a technology roadmap useless, or worse. Good roadmaps embrace uncertainty, exploiting apparent weakness to derive maximum insight and understanding. The Technology Roadmapping Handbook from the University of Leipzig is a useful roadmapping reference.
Trouble in Your Tank: Building Reliability into the PCB, Part 2
In Part 1 of this column on reliability, I presented the common PTH failures encountered when reliability is less than robust. PTH reliability is influenced by several factors including the quality of the PTH after drilling, plating thickness and plating distribution in the PTH. In this column, I will present additional factors, including the Coffin-Manson model in the context of understanding reliability failures.
Catching up with Artnet Pro’s Meir Polack
Interested in all aspects of our industry, I have lately been especially focused on our suppliers, because more and more of my board shop clients are concerned about their vendor support chain as more of them are either reducing their presence in North America or leaving altogether. I am also keenly interested in companies whose mission it is to help the PCB industry survive, especially a company that does not abandon the “little guys,” but rather is focused on helping those smaller companies to compete with the giants whose goal is to run them over.
Let’s Talk Testing: Welcome Your Product to the Real World!
The days, weeks, and (sometimes) years that go into a product’s development usually are incomprehensible to the lay person. Like laws and sausages, no one wants to really understand what has gone on behind the scenes to make your “thing” a reality. They just care that your widget makes their life easier and/or more enjoyable!
If you have paid any attention at all to our newsletters and other publications, you should have been aware of this month’s topic long before opening this magazine. We tried to reach… everybody, so we could get their thoughts on the industry for this issue.
From Afterschool Robotics Club to FIRST Competitions
Seven years ago, Joel Bruxvoort, a science teacher at Jefferson High School in Daly City, California, started a robotics club as an afterschool program. Now, his club has two teams competing in events for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international youth organization developed to advance STEM subjects around the world.
Launch Letters: Embrace Your Brand
Whether it be your company brand or personal brand, you have to fully embrace it and believe in it. It’s the trust, knowledge and confidence you communicate to your customers, the community, and the industry you interact with and react to every nanosecond. In his latest column, Barry Lee Cohen explains why, and provides some pointers on how you can launch—or relaunch—your brand.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Engineering Economics (ROI)
Engineering economics is fundamental in engineering, especially for manufacturing support. For simplicity, I am using the term here as a process engineer for printed circuit equipment and automation of production.
A Day with Pete (Starkey)
Usually the one conducting the interviews, I-Connect007’s own Pete Starkey recently found himself on the other side of the microphone when I spent time with him in his hometown of Market Bosworth, England. There, between hiking and gardening, we found time to discuss Pete’s rich history in the PCB industry and the many changes and surprises he’s seen in the manufacturing process over the years.
Shane Whiteside and Summit Interconnect: Aspiring to New Heights
A few weeks ago I was privileged to meet with Shane Whiteside in Anaheim, California, at KCA Electronics. Whiteside, former COO of TTM, has helped launch a new company—Summit Interconnect— which encompasses the recent acquisition of KCA Electronics and Marcel Electronics International. Once again assuming an executive role, this time as CEO and president, Whiteside shared his story, strategy and vision for this new chapter.
All About Flex: Considerations for Impedance Control in Flexible Circuits
Impedance can be thought of as a system’s opposition to alternating or pulsing electronic current. The unit of measurement is ohms, the same unit of measurement in a direct current system. However, the components for calculating impedance are much more complex than DC resistance.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Benchmarking
Benchmarking is a process that measures how a company is performing against those industry leaders. It is used to better understand how outstanding companies perform, and then helps your company develop plans to improve or adapt specific best practices.
This month's column has a higher percentage of IC coverage than normal for several reasons. The end of Moore's Law regarding transistor scaling will be dead by 2021 as will be replaced by 3D integration according to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS).
All About Flex: Creating Via Holes in Flexible Laminates
Almost all double-sided and multilayer flexible circuits require through-holes or vias to enable an electrical connection between conductive layers. Creating a reliable plated via requires several critical steps. The first one is creating the through-hole.
Inside Spirit Circuits
I was recently treated to a factory tour with Spirit Circuits’ Managing Director Martin Randall, to learn more about their process line and how it has evolved over time. In the discussion following, I learned about Spirit’s involvement in the China market and how they’ve structured their business to handle quick turn prototypes locally and high volume abroad.
High-Throw Electroless Copper– New Opportunities for IC Substrates and HDI Manufacturing
The one constant in electronics manufacturing is change. Moore’s Law, which successfully predicted a rate of change at which transistor counts doubled on integrated circuits (ICs) at lower cost for decades, is ceding to be an appropriate prediction tool.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Project/Program Management
No matter what your job, you may have to manage, or play an active role in, a project at some point during your career. It takes a great deal of skill to do this well, but the time you invest in building good project management skills can pay off enormously.
Using the Type 1 Gauge Study to Assess Measurement Capability
Measurement capability is a critical aspect of ensuring product quality, therefore a measurement system must be assessed before being used on products. Understanding how to assess measurement capability becomes critical. The Type 1 Gauge study is typically the first step in a measurement system analysis program. Type 1 Gauge parameters are explained, and a worked example using electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) is provided.
A Thermal Conductivity Measurement Method, Adapted to Composite Materials Used in the PCB Industry
Most of today’s printed circuit board base materials are anisotropic and it is not possible to use a simple method to measure thermal conductivity along the different axes, especially when a good accuracy is expected. Few base material suppliers’ datasheets show X, Y and Z thermal conductivities. In most cases, a single value is given, moreover determined with a generic methodology, and not necessarily adapted to the reality of glass-reinforced composites with a strong anisotropy.
Book Review: Pinterest Power
Let’s be honest: Pinterest is hot right now. It’s so hot there are shelves full of books about what Pinterest is, what you do with it, and how you can increase your business by using it.
Round Robin of High-Frequency Test Methods by IPC-D24C Task Group (Part 1)
Currently there is no industry standard test method for measuring dielectric properties of circuit board materials at frequencies greater than about 10 GHz. Various materials vendors and test labs take different approaches to determine these properties. It is common for these different approaches to yield varying values of key properties like permittivity and loss tangent.
John Tusant on Geek-A-Palooza
John Tusant of American Standard Circuits is a repeat attendee of Geek-A-Palooza events. Recently, at the first-ever West Coast Geek-A-Palooza event, he talked briefly with me about the benefits of attending.
Made in Brazil: The Evolution and Revolution of Impedance Control in PCB Production
The PCB industry in Brazil has gone through several changes over the last decade. Our customers have been demanding better quality and higher-reliability products more than ever before, but few things have changed as much as impedance control. PCBs with impedance control requirements have become the engine of the market, and finding solutions to fit the customer’s needs is extremely challenging.
Viking Test Services: Much More than Test
Recently, 007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey and I toured Viking Test’s facility in Hants, UK where we met Managing Director Jake Kelly to learn about the history of the company, their recent involvement in the Indian PCB market, and what he thought of the EIPC Summer Conference.
All About Flex: Variability and Quality Costs
Statistics are terms used for measurements that describe groups of numbers. The most common averaging statistics are mean, median and mode. Mean and average are often used interchangeably, a statistic with all numbers added together and then divided by the quantity of numbers.
Building Reliability into the PCB, Part 1
Sometimes there is confusion among PCB engineers and quality managers as to what constitutes reliability. Some may say that reliability refers to avoiding PTH failures such as corner cracks or interconnect defects. Then there are those who subscribe to a wider range of failure criteria to determine whether or not the final product is reliable for long-term service.
Let's Talk Testing: Seeing is Believing in Fractographic Analysis
One of the more common types of failure analysis is the investigation of something that has broken. For this column, we will be discussing a broken material, or, more commonly, a fractured or cracked material.
Testing Todd: Test & Measurement—The Case for Validation
Test and measurement (T&M) are terms that can strike fear into the most robust of minds. Many engineers create designs and products of the future with specific results predicted for performance.
Faster, More Accurate AOI is More Important than Ever
Among PCB manufacturers, there is a common perception that AOI has not changed much since it was introduced decades ago. Over the last few years, however, new advanced technologies have made AOI solutions smarter, faster and much more accurate. AOI system data have even been integrated with newly developed automatic 3D shaping tools.
Patty's Perspective: Delving into Test and Inspection
I’ve always been a wet processing person, if not always in a PCB shop, at least at heart. My undergraduate degree is in chemistry and I cut my teeth working on electroless copper processes (just a metaphor, mind you!). Testing, testing and more testing in R&D can be sooo boring and repetitive.
All About Flex: Taguchi Design of Experiments and Flexible Circuits
Reducing variability in a process, or a sequence of processes, can require a significant and structured amount of work and analysis. One must develop an understanding of critical variables and determine methods to control them. Statistically based experiments are often needed for proper analysis.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Understanding the Concept of Managing Management Time
You can get the most value out of monkey management and one-minute management by using these principles together. Who knows? With these techniques, maybe you'll have a chance to take care of your own work instead of everyone else's!
Punching Out! The PCB Sector—What Buyers Look for and Recent Deals
The past few months have seen a rash of PCB deals in North America, for a variety of reasons. Tom Kastner lists some of the deals completed during the past eight months.
Launch Letters: Give Your Literature Some Lovin’
Collateral is such an ugly word. As the late, great Rodney Dangerfield would have put it, brochures, sell sheets, process manuals, and other sales support tools often get no respect in our digital world. Even the convenience of downloading a PDF is scoffed at by today’s millennials who rely on the “Almighty App” and the “All-Knowing Cloud” to view, digest and store information.
Catching up with Sunrise Electronics’ Ashok and Jigar Patel
I had been hearing about Sunrise Electronics for many years, so when Ashok asked me to come and see them for myself, I jumped at the chance. It was one of the most amazing plant tours that I’ve been on in a long time. I wanted to know more, so we sat down and had a chat.
Standard of Excellence: The Future is in Fine lines
The age of much finer lines and spaces is upon us. After years of slowly moving towards this technology our customers are now demanding that all of us provide them with fine lines and spaces. Our new trend in electronics is for denser and denser circuitry on smaller and smaller real estate.
A PCB Manufacturers’ Representative Point of View
I met with long-time PCB manufacturers’ representative David Lanagan of Mandalay Technologies at the recent Geek-A-Palooza event, to discuss the current state of the Southern California market and the challenges of doing business there.
Book Recommendation: Sales Manager Survival Guide—Lessons from Sales’ Front Lines
Sales Manager Survival Guide is a perfect book for a new sales manager. It is also important for those of us who have been in sales for many years, because it contains everything you need to become a great sales manager. Truth be known, it is the most comprehensive book on sales management I have ever read.
Catching up with…Author David A. Brock
By far the best and most useful business book I have read this year is The Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons from Sales' Front Lines by David A. Brock. I was so impressed by this book that I’ve since recommended it to just about every sales manager I know.
The Newest Flex Shop in the U.S.
I-Connect007 sales team member Angela Alexander and I recently got a tour of Lenthor’s new Silicon Valley flex board shop and then sat down with President and CEO Mark Lencioni to discuss the new flex facility, the markets, management, and the future.
The way that I see the problem relates to overcapacity for fabricators in the consumer segment of devices with flat panel displays—mobile and otherwise—as well as a decline in notebook PCs, TVs and other household and portable electronic devices. Additional culprits include the improved packaging designs as well as more powerful chips replacing multiple ICs—both requiring less board real estate.
Next-Generation PCB Drilling
During the recent NEPCON China event in Shanghai, I spoke with Andreas Schneider, sales director for cutting and structuring laser at LPKF Laser & Electronics, about the latest developments in laser drilling, how customers can justify investments in laser drilling machines, and their outlook for the industry in Asia.
The 21st Century PCB Factory– Designed to Eliminate Offshore Cost Advantages
Over 15 years have passed since North America and Europe ceased being the center of worldwide PCB fabrication and were supplanted by a Chinese market with low-cost labor, lax environmental requirements, and strong government support. In just a few short years, the superior offshore cost advantages of this new dynamic put volume PCB production in the West out of business, aside from the military and specialty technology applications contained in the few shops that continue to exist today.
Laser Pointers: Special Edition—Those Five Words I Didn’t Expect to Hear
I’m going to hijack the column this month for kind of a public service announcement regarding a topic that hit very close to home for me, and it may well hit home for others. On February 18, 2016, I heard the words, “Mike, you have bladder cancer.”
Happy’s Essential Skills: Design for Manufacturing and Assembly, Part 2
Advances in interconnection technologies have occurred in response to the evolution of component packages, electronic technology and increasing complex functions. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that various forms of printed wiring remains the most popular and cost effective method of interconnections.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Design for Manufacturing and Assembly, Part 1
Advances in interconnection technologies have occurred in response to the evolution of component packages, electronic technology and increasing complex functions. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that various forms of printed wiring remain the most popular and cost-effective method of interconnections.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Microcraft Discusses Eliminating Process Steps and Minimizing Set-Up Times
Zachary Cliff, outside sales account manager at MicroCraft, speaks with I-Connect007 guest editor Steve Williams about how their inkjet printers are helping customers minimize setups, eliminate process steps, and thereby save a lot of time and labor fees.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Shengyi Technology to Increase Push in NA PCB Market
Jack Dong, executive vice president of Shengyi Technology Group, one of the biggest PCB laminate producers worldwide, speaks with I-Connect007 guest editor Dan Beaulieu about a variety of issues, including the company’s activities in the United States, their R&D capabilities, and their receiving the IPC Peter Sarmanian Corporate Recognition Award.
All About Flex: Imaging Methods for Etch Resist, Part 3: LDI
When LDI technology was first introduced around 20 years ago, throughput was an issue. LDI was often restricted to low volume or prototype runs. Subsequent advances in equipment as well as faster acting photoresist have made it practical for high volume circuit fabrication.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Panasonic Discusses Trends Driving Innovations in Copper
Tony Senese, business development manager for Panasonic Electronic Materials Center, talks with I-Connect007 guest editor Steve Williams about the laminate and circuit board business, and how developments in the raw materials side could make a big difference as designers push further and further to higher and higher frequencies.
Against the Density Wall: Landless Vias Might be the Answer
I saw my first landless via multilayer while visiting NEC in Japan in 1985. You may not know much about landless vias. This has been a well-kept secret for the last 30 years, possibly because it is not permitted on military boards, and therefore, discouraged in all IPC standards. So when a company showed us their landless via boards, we said, "You can't do that!"
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Matrix Supply Partners Talk Advances in PCB Drill, Copper Foil Technologies
I-Connect007 guest editor Dick Crowe speaks with Hans Vandervelde, product manager of carbide tools at Perfect Point, and Shane Stewart, product manager at Advanced Copper Foils about advancements in drill technology and in copper foils.
All About Flex: Common Flex Circuit Surface Finish Requirements
Copper is a unique metal and has been proven with the test of time in an incredible array of printed circuit and electrical wiring applications. It is highly conductive, has good flexibility properties, can withstand high temperatures and has good chemical resistance. Copper is also is in abundant supply and is fairly inexpensive.
Catching up with Frank Bevans—the PCB Industry’s Premier Photographer
I can tell you from first-hand experience that working with Frank Bevans has always been a pure delight. Ask anyone who Frank has worked with and they will agree. Frank is also nothing short of a magician when it comes to making even the most basic (and even a little messy) PCB facility look like a multimillion-dollar high-tech center through his photographs and videos.
Graphic PLC…Are the Rumors True?
During a visit to Europe recently, I-Connect007's Barry Matties met with Rex Rozario to get to the bottom of the rumors and speculation regarding the sale of his company, Graphic PLC.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Taiyo America Talks Inkjet Solder Masks and 3D Printing
Josh Goldberg of Taiyo America speaks with I-Connect007 guest editor Steve Williams about some of the latest innovations happening in his company, including inkjet solder masks, and how they lend to small runs and rapid prototyping type of development work, especially with the idea of doing an additive manufacturing process.
EIPC Summer Conference 2016, Day 2: Strategies to Maintain Profitability in the European PCB Industry
Delegates awoke to a gloomy Scottish morning on the second day of the EIPC Summer Conference 2016. One or two who maybe overindulged in the whisky on the previous evening had some difficulty in finding time for breakfast before the conference proceedings, but the atmosphere in the meeting room was brighter than the weather outside, as Professor Martin Goosey introduced the day’s programme.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Bob Neves Talks Trends Driving Test Services in China
Bob Neves, chairman and CTO of Microtek Laboratories China, talks with I-Connect007 guest editor Dick Crowe about a variety of issues, including the growing automotive electronics and military/aerospace industries, and how companies in the US that are buying boards and assemblers buying their materials in China can benefit from his company's test services locally.
The Sum of All Parts: The Fabricator-Assembler Connection
After discussing the relationship between PCB fabricators and those who design the boards (see my previous column ), it is imperative to do the same for the relationship between assemblers and fabricators. This brings about a whole new set of potential complications.
Ken Moffat of American Standard Circuits Talks Aerospace Accreditation, DfM, and More
At the recent SMTA West Penn Expo & Tech Forum, I had the opportunity to speak with Ken Moffat, of American Standard Circuits, based in Chicago. Among the topics we discussed was the importance of attending local chapter shows like this one, and ASC’s value-added services such as DfM, especially in the metal-backed and RF arenas.
Alun Morgan on the EIPC Summer Conference 2016
Each year, the EIPC puts on two conferences for their members. I recently attended their summer conference in Edinburgh and had a chance to speak with EIPC President Alun Morgan about the topics covered at the conference and the connectedness and networking that is always present at EIPC events.
All About Flex: Plating Process Options for Flexible Circuits
Plating copper through-holes or vias is a requirement for double-sided and multilayer circuits. In a previous column we discussed the plating process; specifically copper seed coating using electroless copper and Shadow plating, which is then followed with an electroplating process.
EIPC Summer Conference 2016, Day 1: Strategies to Maintain Profitability in the European PCB Industry
Resplendent in the kilt, EIPC chairman Alun Morgan welcomed a large and enthusiastic gathering of printed circuit professionals from all over Europe and as far afield as the USA, Canada and Russia, to the EIPC Summer Conference 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland's cosmopolitan capital city.
Launch Letters: Exceptional Service—Extra Toppings without Sacrifice
Exceptional service is often recognized by not being recognized. Exceptional—not good— service is demonstrated by actions that are assumed and relied upon by the customer to be the norm. Exceptional service is providing the extraordinary and value-added without being asked. For companies that break this trust, being “recognized” may very well result in disenfranchised customers and lost business.
Happy’s Essential Skills: Producibility and Other Figures of Merit
Metrics are data and statistically backed measures. It is always expedient to base decisions on data and metrics, for example, in PCB design. These measures can be density, first-pass yield connectivity or in this context, producibility. These measures are the basis for predicting and planning a printed circuit design. But what if a metric doesn’t exist? Then you can create the next best measure, the Figure of Merit.
Book Review: Beating the Workplace Bully
There’s the woman who conned her co-worker into buying her coffee on the first day and then made it a daily event. Or the boss who was always threatening to fire his staff and telling them, “There’s blood in the water.” Or the supervisor who told her new employee on the first day that it was not her choice to hire her, because she had only worked in a small firm and “did not have the sophistication this corporate position needs. You don’t even dress properly.” This great book is full of such terrible people.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Matrix Highlights How Dry Film Laminator Addresses Fine Line Challenges
Fred Long, business development manager at Matrix USA, talks to I-Connect007 guest editor Dan Feinberg about how a new pressure system in the Hakuto Dry Film Laminator provides even heat and pressure along the entire length of the pressing cycle system to address the challenges of circuits with finer lines.
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