Article Highlights
The iNEMI 2019 Roadmap: Flexible Hybrid Electronics
06/04/2020 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Plasma Applications in the PCB Industry
06/03/2020 | Nikolaus Schubkegel
Joe O’Neil: Green Circuits Running Strong Under Current Social Restrictions
06/01/2020 | Nolan Johnson, PCB007
Rogers Corporation Keeps Materials Moving
05/28/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
3D Additive Electronics Manufacturing: Are We Nearing an Inflection Point?
05/28/2020 | Dan Feinberg, I-Connect007

Latest Articles

Making Materials Succeed: Past, Present, and Future Trends

Tony Senese, manager for the business development group at Panasonic EMBD, gives Nolan Johnson an overview of materials and components as well as changing business models and methods to make materials succeed and how to stay profitable.

XNC Format: Gerber Takes Data Into the Future

The problem is that so many NC files are of deplorable quality because the NC format was never designed as a data transfer format. It has always been a machine driver and contains all sorts of information that a drilling machine needs, but that is irrelevant and confusing for data exchange.

Technically Appropriate Material Choices are Key to Design Success

Materials are no longer a passive part of the design; they play an active role in the manufacturability, reliability, and speed of a PCB. I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson and Mike Creeden, founder of San Diego PCB Design, discuss several key characteristics that designers should consider in their material selection process.

Alun Morgan on the Future of PCB Materials

The I-Connect007 editorial team asked Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group, to discuss materials at a high level. Our conversation delivered a detailed overview of the current state of the electronics industry.

Words of Advice: Your Company’s Design Process

In a recent survey, we asked PCB designers to describe their company’s design process: Is it a rigid workflow they follow to the letter, or a process that allows for their individual techniques? Of course, the comments were illustrative. Only one respondent said, "We just wing it."

New Technical Director and Upcoming 2019 EIPC Summer Conference

Tarja Rapala-Virtanen is the newest technical director for the EIPC. I-Connect007's Nolan Johnson and long-time EIPC conference attendee Pete Starkey discuss her new role, the upcoming summer conference in Leoben, Austria, and the program in place for the June conference.

Learning to Be More Flexible: Case Studies on Improving FPC Design

As miniaturization requirements force manufacturers to pack more functionality into ever-smaller packages, it becomes more difficult to conform to IPC construction recommendations. Achieving robust FPCs requires frequent, iterative interaction internally among the mechanical, electrical, and PCB design teams, as well as with the fabricators and assemblers. The sooner in the design cycle you can engage the supplier and assembler, the better.

Vertical Conductive Structures, Part 1: Rethinking Sequential Lamination

Sequential lamination, as it is used today in high density interconnect (HDI) and derivative technologies, is constrained by the fact that one cannot plate a blind hole deeper than the diameter of the hole. A larger hole allows processes to plate deeper. In fact, this manufacturing constraint has made it a challenge even to reliably plate and process blind holes up to a 1:1 aspect ratio.

Averatek on the Future of Additive and Semi-additive Processing

Averatek’s President and COO Mike Vinson talks with Barry Matties about the benefits semi-additive and additive processing can bring to the shop floor as well as some of the current challenges and limitations that continue to leave many manufacturers hesitant to implement the technology.

Words of Advice for New PCB Designers

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What do you think is the most important thing a designer should remember when planning a new PCB design? Here are a few answers, edited slightly for clarity. One favorite: "Have a good music selection."


Export Controls in Flux

U.S. export control rules have changed significantly over the last decade, and more changes are expected as policymakers tackle the treatment of new and foundational technologies and respond to geopolitical developments.

Creating Smart Surfaces with Electronic Functionality

Of all of the technical user presentations I attended at the AltiumLive design summit in Munich, the one I found most fascinating introduced an innovative technology that encouraged a bit of lateral thinking and appealed to my creative side: the IMSE, or injection-moulded structural electronics.

Words of Advice: Long Component and Laminate Lead Times

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What advice do you have regarding the current supply chain issues? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity. One reply really sticks out: "If the end customer is large, use their power."

XPLM: Using PLM to Integrate ECAD and MCAD Data

During AltiumLive in Munich, I met with Robert Huxel, XPLM’s director of business development for EMEA and APAC. XPLM offers data integration for some of the big EDA tool companies, and their tools can integrate ECAD and MCAD data into PLM systems. I asked Robert to tell us about the requirements of today’s PLM tools, the changing world of ECAD and MCAD integration, and whether these two types of data are ever going to converge.

Super PCB's Jessica Zhang on LEDs and Other Trending Business Areas

In an interview with I-Connect007 at the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Super PCB Program Manager Jessica Zhang provides an overview of the company and shares new business trends they're seeing, including LEDs, wearable devices, and more.

EM Modeling: The Impact of Copper Ground Pour on Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces the general purposes of copper ground pour on printed circuit boards. Subsequently, the impact of copper ground pour on PCB channel loss in terms of insertion loss and impedance in terms of time domain reflectometry (TDR) is studied with electromagnetic modeling using Mentor HyperLynx.

IPC Asia President Phil Carmichael on China Trends

At the productronica China 2019 show in Shanghai, Barry Matties joined Phil Carmichael, president of IPC Asia, to discuss the continued growth of IPC in Asia, including the increasing emphasis on training. IPC China has grown from hosting two technical conferences five years ago to 32 in the past year. Phil also addresses current trends he’s seeing as well as trade tensions between China and the U.S.

Youth in the Industry Putting Training to Work

At a job fair on campus at George Fox University, Nolan Johnson sat down with Jake Whipple, a computer engineering senior, to discuss the GFU engineering program. This is one of the few engineering programs in the U.S. that gives students experience designing PCBs before they enter the work force.

Patty's Perspective: From Start to Finish

Our goal in this month's issue of Flex007 Magazine is to provide insights into how best to accomplish the seemingly daunting task of designing flexible and rigid-flex circuits—and with a new and different design each time. A lot of it boils down to one factor: working with your supplier and customer.

Alun Morgan on Thermal Management and LEDs in Automotive

Guest Editor Judy Warner met with Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group, to discuss topics addressed at the Automotive Executive Forum that took place at IPC APEX EXPO 2019. Morgan describes his presentation and findings centered around thermal management in automotive, specifically LEDs, as well as the unique set of growing thermal management challenges Tier 1 suppliers are now facing in the automotive sector.


Stacked Microvia Reliability: Ongoing Work and Upcoming IPC Conference

One year ago, Happy Holden's review of the 2018 IPC High-Reliability Forum reported the presentation of J.R. Strickland and Jerry Magera, who described research at MSI Applied Technology into overcoming the risk of stacked microvia failures escaping standard quality assurance procedures. Their report provided a basis for the IPC white paper IPC-WP-023, which addressed reliability issues associated with stacked microvias and included data collected from several other printed circuit manufacturers.

University Students Point to the Future in their Research

Cutting-edge automation, AI, machine learning, and Industry 4.0 are all part of the response to the increasing demands for printed circuit boards that are not only faster, smaller, and cheaper but also higher-frequency, lower-loss, more temperature tolerant, and higher reliability. In many cases, it will be unique and advanced research coming out of the university system that will help move the industry forward.

American Standard Circuits' Ken Moffat on Flex and Rigid-flex Business

Ken Moffat is the director of business development at American Standard Circuits, where covers a fairly broad territory from his base in Toronto throughout Canada and parts of the U.S. from east to west. In an interview with I-Connect007 at the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Ken talks about the state of the flex and rigid-flex industry.

Preparing to Enter the Workforce With PCB Design Experience

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Alex Burt, a computer engineering student at George Fox University, at a well-attended college career fair on the GFU campus in Newberg, Oregon. In the interview, Alex discusses his PCB classwork, challenges of design, and how it has impacted his internship experience as he prepares to enter the workforce upon graduation in the spring semester of 2019.

George Fox University: Teaching PCB Design to EE Students

Gary Spivey is director of engineering projects at George Fox University, a Christian college in the Pacific Northwest, and his students learn to design and fabricate a PCB while also giving back to the community. Not surprisingly, these graduates get snapped up quickly. In this wide-ranging interview, Spivey discusses GFU’s engineering curriculum, their cutting-edge lab facilities, and the need to teach students to think critically.

Book Review: Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell

Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell is a great book for technical people to learn the art of storytelling and anyone else who wants to tell better stories.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Orbotech West on Supporting Customer Needs

Orbotech West President Sharon Cohen speaks with Kelly Dack about Orbotech West’s restructuring to better support customer needs, their customer monitoring center, and hints at the capabilities of new products coming soon.

U.S. Tax Law Boosts Growth, But Uncertainties Loom

Monday, April 15 was the deadline for millions of Americans to file their income tax returns, so this is a good time to review the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) as well as the current tax policy landscape and how these rules are affecting the electronics industry.

SEMI’s Cristina Sandoval on Mentoring and Retaining Young Talent

Cristina Sandoval, manager of workforce development and university initiatives for the SEMI Foundation, discusses how two new programs, as well as a long-running high school STEM outreach program, are aiming to address the skills gap within the industry. Sandoval also explains SEMI’s efforts to prepare students to enter the workforce and continuing to develop talent as young professionals join the industry.

Advance Your Company Through Automation

At the recent IPC APEX EXPO 2019, Yash Sutariya discusses with Patty Goldman the labor shortage he has experienced in the Detroit area, the impact automation can have in the manufacturing process, and other strategies to advance your company.


Sunstone's Terry Heilman Discusses the Evolving Industry

For the last 14 years, CEO Terry Heilman has been one of the key leaders in driving the expansive growth at Mulino, Oregon-based Sunstone Circuits, growing from a traditional PCB manufacturer to a PCB solutions provider with online ordering and a free PCB design tool. At IPC APEX EXPO 2019, Terry discusses the importance of serving the customer, how customers are shaping companies today, and the impact this will have on companies in the future.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MivaTek Discusses Flatbed LED Direct Imaging Systems

Brendan F. Hogan, managing director for MivaTek Global, and Chris Hrusovsky, VP of business development, give Pete Starkey their outlook on the market for flatbed LED direct imaging systems, report spectacular sales success, and describe their new introductions for large-format, dual-tray and microelectronics systems.

Ventec Focuses on High-mix Manufacturing

The I-Connect007 team recently toured Ventec International Group’s Suzhou factory where a modern, flexible manufacturing concept designed for fast delivery is enhancing their established volume manufacturing of specialty, high-reliability epoxy laminates and prepregs. Read on to know more about Ventec's ongoing investment in the facility to offer flexible world-class high-mix manufacturing capabilities for polyimide, thermal management, low-loss, and signal integrity material solutions.

ITEQ’s Tarun Amla Discusses 5G Inflection Points

ITEQ Corporation Executive VP and CTO Tarun Amla discusses effects of 5G on materials and shares general observations on the 5G rollout at DesignCon. He also talks about the challenges for their customers, and how they help them address their issues.

Words of Advice: Obstacles to Getting Designs to Fab

In a recent survey, we asked, "What are the biggest obstacles you face in getting your design to the fabricator?" Here are a few of the responses, edited slightly for clarity.

Andy Johnson: EDA a Great Field for Young People

At the AltiumLive event in Munich, Germany, I sat down for an interview with Altium’s Andy Johnson. Andy is 25 and just a few years out of college, so I asked for his thoughts on working in this industry and what we can do to draw more young people into the PCB design community.

Kelly Dack at IPC APEX EXPO: The Attendees Speak!

During IPC APEX EXPO, Guest Editor Kelly Dack and the I-Connect team roamed the show floor, recorders in hand. They asked various attendees for their impressions of the show, and any new tools and technology that may have caught their attention. These are their stories.

Staying Current on Flex Manufacturing is Smart Business

Brendan Hogan, managing director of smart electronics manufacturer MivaTek Global, discusses how to better design for flex, and ways designers can stay current on manufacturing technology that can impact their flex boards.

Dan Gamota Discusses Flex and Alternative Substrates

As the VP of manufacturing technology and innovation for Jabil, Dan gave us his take on the current state of flex and alternative substrates and explained why modeling, automation, and process controls are likely to be key ingredients in the recipe for manufacturing non-FR-4 boards in the future.

Brexit Postponed Amid Political Gridlock; Industry Disruptions in Store

The United Kingdom’s effort to leave the European Union, known by the nickname “Brexit,” is bogged down in political uncertainty, which in turn is creating disruptions in the global economy.


EIPC Winter Conference, Day 2

After the papers from the first day of the EIPC Winter Conference in Milan on February 14–15, the delegates were hosted at a reception and plant tour of Elga Europe at their nearby production facility. Here's a recap of the events and highlights of the Day 2 of the conference.

Automation on Full Display at Recent China Exhibitions

With the rising cost of labor in China, the growing demand for automation has never been stronger. At the recent productronica China 2019, and accompanying shows, one hall was packed full of automation technology. This video gives you a glimpse into what was on display… and the new workforce.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Miraco Discusses Flexible Circuit Products and Offerings

Jason Michaud is the vice president of sales and marketing at Miraco Inc. In this interview, Michaud discusses with Joe Fjelstad the history of the company, and their flexible circuit products and offerings. He also talks about how they are helping customers improve their product designs.

SimplifyDA: Time for a New Autorouter Paradigm?

At DesignCon, I spoke with SimplifyDA CEO Zen Liao and Director of Sales and Marketing Dale Hanzelka. SimplifyDA is putting a new twist on the old autorouter by utilizing topological technology. I asked them to discuss their approach to autorouting, and how they plan to entice more PCB designers to use routers. Is it time for a paradigm shift in autorouting?

Hardware and Software in Smart Factories

As smart factories become a part of the present rather than a thing of the future, we will all need to become familiar with related concepts and components. This article is dedicated to various automation protocols, including some new ones just coming on the market, and covers hardware, such as PLCs and machine interfaces, as well as software and network protocols, such as MAPS, SECS/GEM, OML, CFX, IPC-2541, and custom software.

CPCA Show and productronica China 2019 Review

It was a busy week in China for the electronics industry. With multiple trade shows and conferences going on simultaneously in Shanghai, including the CPCA Show 2019, productronica China, SEMICON China, electronica China, and FPD China, it appears from the crowds that the market is strong in the region.

Meyer Burger on Inkjet Technology and Digital Printing Benefits

Don Veri, sales and business development manager for Meyer Berger, discusses some of the challenges fabricators face in adopting inkjet technology, the benefits they can expect once it’s deployed in their facility, and the advantages of digital printing in solving problems on the shop floor.

Bert Simonovich on Modeling Copper Roughness

I met with one of our contributors, Bert Simonovich of Lamsim Enterprises, at DesignCon 2019. Bert’s paper on interconnect modeling was nominated as a Best Paper finalist, so I asked him to discuss his paper and some of the challenges that engineers and their customers are facing right now.

IPC: Trump’s FY2020 Budget Plan Kicks Off U.S. Policy Debates

Within the last week, U.S. President Trump released his $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget plan, kicking off the annual federal budget process. IPC is watching several budget debates that could impact the electronics industry and its supply chain.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MacDermid Alpha Discusses Recent Company Rebranding

Senior VP Joseph D’Ambrisi of MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions speaks with Steve Williams about the recent rebranding of the business, and the benefits to their customers.


3DEM Modeling: Influence of Metal Plating on PCB Channel Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces different types of metal plating commonly used in PCB fabrication. Subsequently, the influence of metal plating on PCB channel loss (i.e., insertion loss or S21) and impedance (i.e., time domain reflectometry or TDR) is studied with 3DEM modeling,

Smart Factories: More Than Robots

The acceptance of smart factories is a global movement across multiple industries. Even materials and chemistries are aligning with a move toward further automation, which allows equipment manufacturers to capture and store more data, and software layers to perform more detailed analysis, prediction, and optimization.

TTM to Exhibit at SAE WCX 2019

TTM Technologies, Inc. will be exhibiting at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress Experience 2019 (SAE WCX), booth 2234.

Mentor’s Cristian Filip Discusses His Award-winning DesignCon Paper

During DesignCon, I met with Cristian Filip, a senior product architect with Mentor, a Siemens business. Cristian had just received word that his paper had won a DesignCon Best Paper award—his second such award in three years. I asked Cristian to discuss his paper and how this technology can help improve manufacturing yields at high volumes.

Current Megatrends You Pay the Most Attention To

In our recent survey, we asked the following question: "What current megatrends do you pay the most attention to?" Below are some of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.

TTM on Flex and Rigid-flex PCB Challenges

One of the biggest bareboard manufacturers in the world, TTM Technologies has seen a recent surge in flex and rigid-flex demands from their customers. In this interview, Clay Zha, Vice President of Technology Solutions of TTM’s Mobility business unit, and VP of Corporate Marketing Winnie Ng discuss the differences in manufacturing flex versus traditional PCBs, and the increasing need for rigid-flex HDI boards.

EIPC Winter Conference, Day 1

EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan writes about the highlights of and the technical discussions at the recent EIPC Winter Conference held in Milan last February 14–15.

Industry Outlook from IPC's Sharon Starr

Sharon Starr, IPC's director of market research, provides updates on the EMS and PCB industry outlook, benefits of IPC membership and participation, plans to expand the EMS statistical program, and new studies being published.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Arlon Discusses Investments and Important Role of a Niche Supplier

Arlon Electronic Materials President Brad Foster sits down with Nolan Johnson to discuss capital investments the company is making in business expansions and upgrades, and the important role a niche supplier plays in the North American quick-turn electronics market.

NCAB Group on Supply Chain Issues

In an interview with I-Connect007, Wayne Antal, a key account manager with NCAB Group, discusses supply chain issues, the effect he sees on PCB fabrication channels, and how his customers are adapting to the new business dynamics.


2019 Outlook: IPC Advocacy for Workforce Education and Training

The chronic shortage of skilled workers is the top business challenge facing the electronics industry worldwide. Our skilled workers are aging and retiring faster than we can hire replacements.

Electromagnetic Analysis Design Insight: Effects of Meshed Reference Planes on Interconnects

Most of the transmission lines in PCB or packaging interconnects have so-called quasi-TEM waves with the electric and magnetic fields mostly perpendicular or transverse to the propagation direction. Parameters of such transmission lines can be accurately approximated with the analysis of a single cross-section in a 2D field solver. With the cutouts in the reference plane, the waves become non-TEM and not even quasi-TEM due to the presence of the longitudinal components in the electric and magnetic fields.

Perspectives on Supply Chain Ripples

The ripples start at the very front of the process when the engineering and design team make their first choices about the performance characteristics for their project, then select components to fit their performance windows.

The Smart Factory IQ Test

Let's see how prepared you are to talk about Industry 4.0. The following 12-question test will measure how much you know about smart factory concepts and philosophies. Since the concept of a smart factory is larger than the electronics manufacturing industry and encompasses the entire supply chain, the terms and concepts here are also more global in nature.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Ucamco Discusses Latest Evolution of PCB Software

Ucamco Managing Director Karel Tavernier speaks with Dan Feinberg about their aim of automating the CAM process as much as possible. He also discusses the recent evolution of their PCB software.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Insulectro Sees Growth and Opportunities in Printed Electronics

Judy Warner speaks with Tim Redfern, Insulectro president, and Kevin M. Miller, VP of sales, about growth in the printed electronics market, the direction Insulectro is going, and opportunities for North American PCB suppliers. They note that the company will increase their focus and investment in the printed electronics market.

Words of Advice: What are Your Biggest Design Challenges?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What are your biggest design challenges? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Cherie Litson on ECAD/MCAD and Training the Next Generation

Cherie Litson, CID+, was one of the instructors at AltiumLive Munich. I asked her to discuss some of the topics she covered in her class, and what the future of PCB design will look like. How are we going to pass down all of this design knowledge to the next generation?

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Limata Unveils Exciting Developments in LDI

Lino Sousa, sales, Limata, explains to Pete Starkey the latest developments in Limata’s laser direct imaging technology, which eliminates the need to change the solder mask.

Flex/MSTC Joint Conference: A Collaborative Week in Monterey

Collaboration filled the air at the Hyatt Regency in Monterey, California, as the 18th annual Flex/Mems&Sensors technical conference brought flex technology and sensor experts and 550+ attendees together to network and share ideas from February 18–21, 2019.


USMCA Fights Ramps Up; IPC Helps Launch New Coalition

The coalition has a series of daunting and time-pressing tasks ahead of it. The USMCA needs to surmount procedural and political hurdles and be passed this year if we are to avoid the pitfalls of election year politics in the United States.

Accelerating and Disrupting Innovation: The Tesla Story

The time was right for Tesla to bring new thinking into the concept of electric transportation when the company observed the quantum shift in battery technology from lead-acid to lithium-ion that had been driven by developments in portable consumer electronics.

Chemical Recycling as Part of a Zero-effluent Strategy

Green manufacturing methodologies for PCBs are becoming a global shift. Green efforts have been underway in the European Union for quite some time. Likewise, in the United States, new PCB manufacturers are building zero-waste, zero-effluent facilities and gaining certification as such.

Institute of Circuit Technology Evening Seminar

The Institute of Circuit Technology hosted its first 2019 seminar at the Woodland Grange Hotel in Royal Leamington Spa in the Midlands of England on February 26. The diverse programme of four presentations was introduced by ICT Chairman Andy Cobley, a professor at Coventry University, who stood in for Bill Wilkie, who had been taken ill at short notice.

Gene Weiner on the IPC APEX EXPO 2019 Automotive Executive Forum

Dan Feinberg spoke with Gene Weiner, president and CEO of Weiner International Associates, about IPC's history of forums, his thoughts on the Executive Forum on Advancing Automotive Electronics at IPC APEX EXPO 2019, and how the IPC Hall of Famers and the industry can help improve forum success.
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