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Nano Dimension Details New DragonFly LDM

Dan Feinberg talks with Nano Dimension CEO Amit Dror about the new DragonFly LDM 3D printer technology announced by the Israeli company on July 24, 2019, aimed at increasing machine uptime and moving forward from prototyping to higher production volumes.

Bill Brooks on Teaching PCB Design at Palomar College

Bill Brooks of Nordson ASYMTEK is a long-time PCB designer and one of the first people to teach PCB design courses in a college setting. He recently spoke with the I-Connect007 editorial team about his history in design and his time as a PCB design instructor, the curriculum he developed and taught, and various techniques that might be enacted today to better educate the designers of tomorrow.

Focusing on Surface Sensitivity for Reliability

At the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit, Customer Applications Scientist Elizabeth Kidd and Sales Engineer Alex Bien, both of BTG Labs, discuss with Andy Shaughnessy their presentation on the challenges of working with highly sensitive surfaces, such as the risk of contamination. They also talked about the various surface characterization techniques that BTG Labs uses to identify such contaminants.

Solder Mask Curing: UV Bump Overview

Ultraviolet (UV) bump, also called UV cure, is a processing step in which the solder mask pattern is irradiated with ultraviolet and infrared light. This step is performed with special equipment that is built as a continuous flow system, which consists of a conveyor belt and tubular UV lamps mounted above and below the belt. Read on to find out more about this process.

Interconnect Reliability Correlation With System Design and Transportation Stress

Interconnect reliability is very critical to ensure product performance at predefined shipping conditions and user environments. Plating thickness of the compliant pin and the damping mechanism of electronic system design are key success factors for this purpose. This paper discusses design variables—such as pin hard gold plating thickness, motherboard locking mechanism, and damping structure design—to ensure interconnect reliability.

There’s An Art to Plating

There's definitely an art to plating. Start with a generally planar substrate, then alternately put stuff on and take things off. Continue this in subtle variations until what you have is the stuff you want, where you want.

Words of Advice: Drawbacks to Your PCB Data Format?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What is the biggest drawback to your current PCB data format? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Development of Flexible Hybrid Electronics

This article will present a hybrid manufacturing process to manufacture FHE systems with a two-layer interconnect structure utilizing screen printing of silver conductive ink, filled microvias to connect ink traces at the different layers, and use of the traditional reflow process to attach the semiconductor chips to the printed substrates.

Names to Know: Up and Comers in U.S. Congress

When major news occurs in the U.S. Congress, you usually hear the names of top congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Meet Chris Mitchell, I-Connect007 Columnist

Chris Mitchell is vice president for global government affairs at IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries—where he is responsible for development and implementation of the organization’s global advocacy efforts and public policy agenda with a focus on electronics industry business improvement, environment, health and safety, and defense initiatives.


IPC Reliability Forum Wrap-up With Brook Sandy-Smith

I attended the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland. The speakers and panelists focused on a variety of topics, but one issue that kept popping up was the failure of some microvias on military and aerospace PCBs. Fortunately, some smart technologists are focusing on determining the cause of these via failures. I asked Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC’s technical education program manager, to give us a quick wrap-up of this event.

Words of Advice: Planning a New Design

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 of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

The Impact of Inductance on Impedance of Decoupling Capacitors

This article discusses the impact of interconnection inductance on the impedance of the decoupling capacitor, which influences the power integrity of the PCB. The investigation is performed with 3DEM simulation by varying the trace length and height of stitching vias that connect the decoupling capacitor across the power rail and ground.

Altium Designer 19.0 Features Printed Electronics Design Functions

The newest version of Altium Designer—revision 19.0—includes functionality for designing printed electronic circuits. We wanted to get the scoop on Altium’s PEC tools, so we asked Nikolay Ponomarenko, Altium’s director of product management, to give us a tour of the new functions.

IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part II

The Microvia Summit on May 16 was a special feature of the 2019 event in Baltimore, since microvia challenges and reliability issues have become of great concern to the PCB manufacturing industry. It provided updates on the work of members of the IPC V-TSL-MVIA Weak Interface Microvia Failures Technology Solutions Subcommittee and opportunities to learn about latest developments in methods to reveal and explain the presence of latent defects, identify causes and cures, and be able to consistently and confidently supply reliable products.

Denny Fritz: The Difference Between Quality and Reliability

I recently spoke with industry veteran (and I-Connect007 columnist) Denny Fritz about the relationship between quality and reliability—two terms that are unequal but often used interchangeably. We also discuss the current state of lead-free solders in the U.S. military and defense market as well as the microvia reliability issues Denny focused on at IPC’s High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland.

Mentor Tools: Optimized for Flex and Rigid-flex Design

With the launch of the new Flex007 section in Design007 Magazine, we asked David Wiens, product marketing manager with Mentor, a Siemens Business, to tell us about their tools’ flex and rigid-flex design capabilities. As David explains, today’s higher-end design software tools are optimized for flex design, making workarounds a thing of the past.

How to Feed Test Data Back to Engineering for Process Improvement

Some people think of the PCB manufacturing process as a black box: design data goes to the manufacturer (fabrication house), and magically, the finished PCB is produced. While it may have been like that in the past, in actuality, fabricating PCBs today is quite a ballet of processes.

Avoiding CAF Failures at the IPC High-reliability Forum

Foresite CEO Terry Munson recently spoke with Andy Shaughnessy during the IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore about his presentation on the causes of conductive anodic filament (CAF), the dangers of resin starvation, and what advice he'd give to PCB designers to avoid those types of failures.

IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part I

The IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit covered a broad range of topics related to reliability and provided interactive opportunities to share expert knowledge and experience in determining and understanding the causes of failure and selecting the best design rules, materials, processes, and test methods to maximise product reliability.


Crowded Congressional Calendar Affects Industry Priorities

More than five months remain in 2019, but U.S. congressional leaders are already running out of time as they face a long list of must-pass bills before year’s end. Although some of these bills do not affect the electronics industry, some of them do, and the overall agenda does affect the opportunities and risks we face.

A Guide to High-reliability PCBs from Design to Specification

Creating reliable PCBs is an outcome of considering all aspects that can affect reliability as early as possible in the design process. The further down the design process, the more expensive and risky it can be to fix. As they say, everything starts with the design. Because a good board design improves the reliability of the end product and lessens the risk of failure.

A Conversation with Karen McConnell—An Emerging Engineer Program Mentor

IPC’s Emerging Engineer program, launched in 2016, provides early career professionals an opportunity to learn from dedicated industry volunteers who participate in IPC standards development. IPC’s editorial staff had the opportunity to talk with one of those dedicated volunteers, mentor Karen McConnell, Senior Staff Engineer CAD CAM, Northrop Grumman, about why she participates as a mentor in IPC’s Emerging Engineer program.

How Changing Cleaning Technologies Affect Reliability

At the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Michael Konrad, founder and president of Aqueous Technologies and a speaker and panelist at the event in Baltimore, Maryland. They discussed Konrad’s presentation and the recent proliferation of cleaning, from solely high-reliability products to Class 1 consumer products.

Nano Dimension CEO Gives Company Update

Dan Feinberg and Nolan Johnson speak with Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension, about recent company events and the company’s focus on high-mix/low-volume and agile local manufacturing.

Words of Advice: Where Do You Get Involved in the Design Process?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: Where in the process do you typically get involved with a design project? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

EPA, Industry Come Together in Visit to TTM Facility

IPC member TTM Technologies is proud to show off the new wastewater-treatment system at its Sterling, Virginia plant, which is helping to enhance the company’s pollution prevention and resource recovery performance.

Microvias: Links of Faith are Not Created Equally

Microvias connect adjacent copper layers to complete electrical paths. There are copper-filled microvias, which can be stacked to form connections beyond adjacent copper layers, and staggered microvias, which stitch adjacent copper layers with paths that meander on the layers between the microvias. This article discusses the various laser-drilled microvias and presents SEM photographs to begin the search for the root cause of weak copper interface.

Reliability... It All Comes Down to the Landing

Our industry is embarking on a new age of technical development to achieve much higher levels of overall reliability that will be required of the devices we fabricate. Whether in medical devices, autonomous vehicles, or in IoT, reliability will be crucial to both our success and safety.

Dissecting the IPC Regional Survey on PCB Technology Trends

Sharon Starr, Denny Fritz, and Mike Carano talk about the global 2018 IPC Technology Trends Report released early this year—the size of the survey, how it was conducted, the general findings, and regional differences. They also shared their takeaways and regional insights, and the industry outlook over the next five to 10 years.


An Examination of Glass-fiber and Epoxy Interface Degradation in Printed Circuit Boards

Multilayer organic laminates, which make up over 90% of the interconnecting substrates in electronics (standard FR-4 represents 85% of the substrates used for laminates), can develop a loss of electrical insulation resistance between two biased conductors due to conductive filament formation.

Identifying Product Board Class and Pre-quote Software

Deciding on the class of the final product will determine what files are needed for fabrication and assembly. It is critical to note that for a product to be built to any class level, it must be designed to that class level from its inception.

Words of Advice: What Feature Would You Like to See in Your CAD Tool?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What feature would you like to see in your CAD tool? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Conventional Exposing: Direct Imaging Solder Mask

When you compare direct imaging of solder mask with contact exposure of solder mask, the positive aspects and the advantages are clear. Without a doubt, direct imaging shortens the throughput time and eliminates artwork production. It also eliminates the costly measurement of the panels and manufacturing of artwork with different scaling factors.

Design Is a Pivotal Piece of the Puzzle

As a field applications engineer at TTM Technologies, which has fabrication and manufacturing locations around the world, Julie Ellis sees a wide variety of customer design requirements. In this interview with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, Julie explains how PCB designers can influence the development of the PCB. She shares a variety of tips and tricks that designers can implement early in the design process to help optimize fabrication and assembly later on and keep small issues from becoming big problems downstream.

Kelvin Characterization to Accurately Predict Copper Thickness

A few years ago at Integrated Test Corporation, we found that the reaction plan for void fallout at electrical test was ineffective and not standardized. Like many PCB manufacturing facilities (including a Sanmina shop that I used to work at), the reaction plan consisted of cross section analysis to determine the void type.

Virtual Verification Station From CIMS Enhances AOI Capabilities

At this year’s CPCA Show, CIMS Marketing and Technical Director Vladi Kaplan spoke to Barry Matties about a number of add-ons CIMS designed to further enhance their AOI capabilities and systems. He described their Virtual Verification Station (VVS), CIMS Quality Center (CQC), and Software Development Kit (SDK) as well as trends he sees with laser via inspection.

Saying Yes to Opportunities: IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program Offers Career Growth for Electronics Industry Newcomers

What makes the IPC Emerging Engineer Program a premier networking and career enriching program? IPC staff spoke to Emerging Engineer Kate Stees, materials and process engineer, Lockheed Martin, about her experience in the program and why she recommends it to other engineers.

Albert Gaines: Design All Comes Down to Documentation

During SMTA Atlanta, I spoke with Albert Gaines of HiGain Design. We discussed Albert’s belief that everything starts with design and that too many engineers and designers focus solely on the final board at the expense of the documentation, which is a designer’s most important product. Do you consider your documentation to be a critical product?

Words of Advice: Making Life Easier for Fabrication and Assembly

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What steps do you take to make the job easier for your fabrication and assembly providers? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.


Pulsonix 10.5 Development Driven by Customer Demand

I recently spoke with Bob Williams, the managing director of Pulsonix, about the release of the EDA tool’s version 10.5. Bob explained how the company had made the tool more intuitive based on user input, and he discussed some of the more cutting-edge functionality not normally found in competitively priced tools.

IPC SummerCom Highlights: A Government Relations Perspective

Last week, IPC hosted SummerCom, our semi-annual standards development committee meetings, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event brought together thousands of technical experts from around the world to shape the product, manufacturing, and supply-chain standards that guide our industry.

Technically Appropriate Material Choices Are Key to 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. Editor Nolan Johnson and Mike Creeden, founder of San Diego PCB Design, discuss several key characteristics that designers should consider in their material selection process.

Emma Hudson: From Tomboy to Tech Lead

In this interview, Emma Hudson, CTO of Gen3, and Gayle Paterson, founder of Female Leaders in Tech, Everywhere (FLITE), discuss careers and the electronics industry.

Insulectro’s OEM Program: Time to ACT!

Ken Parent, Insulectro VP of sales and product management, discusses the current dynamics in the materials marketplace and how Insulectro is developing educational resources to help design teams and fabricators better understand the capabilities and features for the emerging laminate materials.

AWE 2019: Go XR, Be Awesome

Dan Feinberg attended and covered the recent 2019 Augmented World Expo (AWE) and conference in Santa Clara, California. The event featured the latest developments and technologies in augmented (AR), mixed (MR), virtual (VR), and extended virtual reality (many just call it all XR to make it simple). Here's a wrap-up of the event.

Microtek Labs: Providing Trusted Testing in the Chinese Market

On a recent visit to Microtek Laboratories' Changzhou facility, Barry Matties, publisher, and Edy Yu from the I-Connect007 China team spoke with chairman and CTO Bob Neves about the changes he has seen living and doing business in China over the past 15 years, and the increased importance of standards and testing as China moves into manufacturing more high-reliability products.

Digital Twin Drives Design in the Smart Factory

New product realization and design for manufacturing and assembly has now started to become more visible as a program that can improve a company’s time to market and lower product costs. This is one of the main focuses of Industry 4.0 for the smart factory. Many programs are underway by numerous companies, and what is now needed is a framework to coordinate the application of these programs.

Libraries: A Must-have for Design

I-Connect007 was invited to attend a session of the Orange County Chapter of the IPC Designers Council (DC). Even though I have been an IPC member for over half a century (yes, almost since vacuum tubes dominated design), this was my first DC event.

Photonics Systems Looks to Expand Its PCB Capabilities

Pulsed-laser equipment manufacturer Photonics Systems looks to expand its capabilities to the PCB industry. Barry Matties sat down with Antonio Schmidt and Kurt Weber to talk about the company’s transition and the challenges they’ve faced thus far as they continue to build and extend their brand into a new market segment.


Quality by Design

The design team’s files and the accompanying documentation is the real-world implementation plan to turn the OEM’s concepts and marketing research into a viable, physical, competitive product. Unless manufacturing defies the build instructions from the designers, the product will only be as manufacturable as the design files themselves.

Stitching Capacitor: Crosstalk Mitigation for Return Path Discontinuity

When the return path is broken due to the switching of reference planes with different potential, e.g., from ground to power or vice versa after layer transition on PCB, the return current might detour and propagate on a longer path, which causes a rise in loop inductance. This might lead to the sharing of a common return path by different signals that pose a high risk of interference among the signals due to higher mutual inductance. This interference results in signal crosstalk. To mitigate the crosstalk due to return path discontinuity (RPD), stitching capacitors are mounted on the PCB to serve as a bridge between the two reference planes of interest on different PCB layers.

ICT 45th Annual Symposium Review

The Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) held its 45th annual symposium on June 4, 2019 in Dudley at the Black Country Museum—a symbol of the spirit of innovation in engineering technology and the entrepreneurial and manufacturing skills that had established that region’s supremacy in leading the original Industrial Revolution. Here's a recap of the events and presentations at the symposium.

What Electronics Companies Need to Know About Environmental Product Requirements

The task of monitoring and complying with environmental, health and safety (EHS) rules that affect electronics companies and their products requires a watchful eye on all levels of government: local, state, national, and international.

IPC’s PCB Tech Trends Study Highlights Issues Impacting Fabricators

The 2018 survey results indicated the need for speed and low loss as critical functions of the materials chosen. This is the digital age, and with the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, etc., the need for low-loss and ultra-low-loss materials continues to grow as a percentage of circuit boards fabricated.

DuPont on Materials Challenges and New Opportunities

John Andresakis, senior marketing technologist in the Interconnect Solutions (ICS) Group of DuPont, and Jonathan Weldon, RF applications engineer also in ICS at DuPont, spoke with the I-Connect007 editorial team about trends the company is seeing, what challenges their customers are facing with materials today, and future opportunities with new technologies, including 5G, electric cars, IoT, and more.

Words of Advice: Planning a New Design

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 of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Creating Stability in Materials Chaos

Nolan Johnson and Tony Senese—manager, business development group, Panasonic EMBD—discuss the evolution of the materials marketplace over the years from a time when the market aligned for the rise of Panasonic’s MEGTRON 6 to the ever-changing materials industry of today. With the ramp-up to 5G and everyone pushing product development, Tony describes a chaotic materials market flooded with new companies and materials.

PCB Fabricators’ Tech Capabilities Exceed OEMs’ Needs in Many Areas

Some interesting differences showed up in the board property data reported by the OEMs and PCB fabricators that participated in IPC’s PCB Technology Trends 2018 study.

Laminate Suppliers Face Increasing Demands From Customers

As a global laminate supplier with a large product offering, TUC is at the forefront of the growing customer demands that stem from a number of market segments pushing next-generation products. In an interview with Nolan Johnson, TUC North American President Alan Cochrane talks about the company’s shift toward trending areas and how strategies like the adoption of thinner glass styles have helped make it all possible.


The GraftWorx Fluid Management Patch Story

The GraftWorx vision is to connect patients to clinicians with clinical data that will have a meaningful impact on their care. Its first application is to monitor patients with end-stage renal disease or kidney failure using a wearable device called the SmartPatch that records numerous clinical cardiovascular metrics. This article details how GraftWorx was designed, fabricated, and assembled.

Orbotech Celebrates Success of Orbotech Diamond and Discusses Future Trends

At the recent CPCA Show in Shanghai, Orbotech celebrated having over 100 of their Orbotech Diamond™ direct imaging machines in the marketplace. Barry Matties caught up with Meny Gantz—VP of marketing for Orbotech’s PCB division—to talk about the drivers behind the success of Orbotech Diamond systems before turning the conversation toward the future and Industry 4.0.

Words of Advice: What Feature Would You Like to See in Your CAD Tool?

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What feature would you like to see in your CAD tool? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2019 Recap: Leaders Call for Action on USMCA Trade Deal

Top executives from electronics companies across the United States were in Washington, D.C., last week to call on the Trump administration and Congress to support policies that will drive the electronics industry’s future growth in North America and worldwide.

Isola on Adapting Processes to Meet Customer Needs

In an interview with I-Connect007, Sean Mirshafiei, chief sales and marketing officer for Isola, discusses the company’s perspective on material market trends and how they are adapting product development processes to respond to new customer needs.

Collaboratively Creating Wearable Medical Products

Patty Goldman, Barry Matties, and Happy Holden recently spoke with David Moody and Rich Clemente of Lenthor Engineering along with Anthony Flattery and Amit Rushi—their customers at GraftWorx. They discussed a recent project and how they worked together to solve a difficult problem by designing a rigidized flex circuit for their product.

Electrolytic Plating: Filling Vias and Through-holes

The continuously evolving electronics industry environment is causing the development of various electrolytic copper processes for different applications over the past several decades. This article describes the reasons for development and a roadmap of dimensions for copper-filled through-holes, microvias, and other copper-plated structures on PCBs.

FlexFactor Program Informs, Inspires, Attracts, and Recruits Talent

Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson speak with Brynt Parmeter, Emily McGrath, Clarence Chi, and Mikayla Ridi about the NextFlex program FlexFactor. This initiative aims to help high school and college students see potential futures in the advanced manufacturing sector and combat common misperceptions young people might have about modern-day manufacturing.

Are Regional Differences in PCB Technology as Great as We Think?

We keep hearing that Asia is all consumer and automotive electronics and North America and Europe are all high reliability/long life. The findings in IPC’s PCB Technology Trends 2018 study show that these regions are not as different as expected, and the differences we do see are interesting.

Barbara Bracken Discusses ICAPE's New Facility

During the recent SMTA Atlanta show, Andy Shaughnessy sat down for an interview with Barbara Bracken, sales manager for Texas for the ICAPE Group. Barbara explained why ICAPE is much more than a PCB broker; the company now owns its own assembly facility in the U.S. and can assembly boards in the U.S. or China.


Growing Opportunities with 3D Printed Electronics

Dr. Kurt Christenson, senior scientist at Optomec, discusses the company’s Aerosol Jet technology, which eliminates the need for wire bonding by printing interconnects on 3D surfaces. Christenson also explores the current state of the technology and highlights the market segments and applications with the most to benefit from being able 3D print electronic components, such as resistors, capacitors, antennas, and transistors.

DuPont on New Beginnings and Empowering the Industry

Andy Kannurpatti gives the I-Connect007 team an overview of the latest news from DuPont Electronics and Imaging, including investments toward the new production assets in Ohio, Silicon Valley Technology Center, and other facilities. He also details how the company is engaging OEMs and PCB fabricators and design teams, as well as some exciting business updates coming this spring and summer.

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.
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