Article Highlights

Latest Articles

Book Recommendation: Make it Matter

Look, it’s pretty straightforward isn’t it? People work harder and are much more passionate when they know that what they are doing has a purpose and a meaning and what they are doing is important.

The Application of Advanced Ultrasonics in Metal Plating Processes

Most surface modification chemical treatments by their very nature contain hazardous and oxidising chemicals; there is a major concern that these chemicals are used maliciously with the intent to manufacture explosives or formulate poisons to harm the public. Cyanide-based plating solutions and high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide used in current techniques are a significant use of these materials in industry.

Cycling Around

This month in The PCB Magazine we are paying attention to cycle time and the many ways to reduce it in your process—whatever you consider your process to be. Beginning with the story of Whelen’s new fully automated facility in New Hampshire and continuing through discussions on Lean Six Sigma, Kanban, Value Stream Mapping and other cycle time reduction strategies, our contributors have it covered.

Stepping Up To Laser Processing for Flex, Part 1: Opportunities and Implications

Market demand for smaller, faster, wearable, lighter and more powerful devices continues to keep PCB manufacturers scrambling to keep up as they evolve and adapt their manufacturing capabilities to meet changing customer needs. But keeping up with the dizzying pace of change in the world of PCB manufacturing need not be a daunting task.

New Leadership at MuTracx

I-Connect007's Barry Matties speaks with Arnoud De Geus, managing director of the Sioux Group, who discusses the recent integration of MuTracx into the Sioux Group, and how Whelen Engineering, who has installed the MuTracx Lunaris primary imaging equipment and happens to be the United States’ first captive PCB manufacturing facility in many years, will impact U.S. manufacturing.

Book Recommendation: No Sweat

People don’t do things they don’t want to do, especially in our industry, and they sure as shooting don’t do things they hate doing. Instead, they do things they like to do, and that is what this book is all about. This book is about fitness. It’s a book about staying motivated to stay fit.

Semico Impact Conference 2015: The Coming of Age of Hardware Technologies

For most of us who are deeply involved in the electronics hardware market, we are used to talking about new products and technologies, the future of things to come, and probably most importantly, the challenges or issues that we, as an industry, are facing.

Book Recommendation: The Hidden Leader

The true leader is one who is customer purposed, not just customer service but purpose which means a much deeper understanding of the customers. Wanting to learn everything possible about a customers in order to serve them better than they have ever been served before. A true leader makes it her purpose to develop her company’s products and services in such a way that they will make her customers successful and hence unable to live without them.

Computer on Wheels

You could say that today's automobile is a "computer on wheels," but from a point of accuracy it would be more like 35 computers on wheels. With printed circuit boards being the backbone of our electronic products, this is major market segment for our industry. In this article, Steve Williams writes about the evolution of automotive electronics, and the future of the industry.

Testing Flexible Circuits, Part 2: Raw Materials and Components

Even though the raw materials may individually meet certain specifications, it is important to determine if the final product configuration meets those specs. So testing done at the finished circuit level is also needed. Tests specific to the finished circuit will be the topic of our next column on testing.


Book Recommendation: Learning to Succeed

It’s time we took learning seriously. For many years things in business were static enough or at least much more static that they are today so that you could go to college, get your MBA and then be set for life.

Carmakers Now Embracing Plasma Treatment

The growing complexity of automotive electronics is leading more carmakers to consider using plasma treatment to ensure greater reliability. Nordson MARCH's Jonathan Doan shares the benefits of the process along with some new information regarding the MES3 requirement with I-Connect007 publisher Barry Matties.

Becoming an Automotive Supplier—Proceed with Caution

Possibly further fueling a growing desire in our industry towards participating in the automotive electronics sector have been further technology advancements in automobiles, as well as a tear in Tesla's stock price and headlines. But before you make that plunge to becoming an automotive supplier, we need to talk about liabilities.

The Reindustrialisation of Europe

With an inquisitive mind and a head for challenges, besides the ability to think outside the box and the courage to dare to be different and strive to be first, Spirit Circuits MD Steve Driver can be relied upon to grab the attention of an audience of PCB professionals. As keynote speaker at the Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar, he lived up to his reputation with a motivational presentation, the two themes of which exemplified his latest entrepreneurial venture.

Final Surface Finishes for Automotive: No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Regardless of whether your application is automotive, medical or military, there are many factors to consider when selecting a final surface finish. Cost, lead or lead-free requirements, end environment, shelf life, fine-pitch components, RF applications, probe-ability, thermal resistance and shock and drop resistance, to name a few. There is not a one-size-fits-all finish. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each surface finish allows the designer to select the finish that best fits each particular application.

How to Handle Short Development Cycles

By focusing on developing relationships, delegation and avoidance of mistakes, you can make your next project a success and improve the current one. Be open-minded and analyze your situation without bias. Simple changes that are implemented as culture will ensure your success in the environment we operate in today.

It's Only Common Sense: Leaders Instill Greatness in Their People

It’s very simple. As a leader, it is your job to do everything you can to encourage your people to greatness. And a company filled with great people is a great company, every time.

Testing Flexible Circuits, Part I: Requirements and Procedures

In this first of a three-part series regarding tests for flexible circuits, I will examine overall requirements and procedures; the second installment will focus on raw materials, and the third and final part will focus on testing for bare flexible circuit and circuit assemblies.

Automotive Technology: The Next Driving Force in Electronic Manufacturing

The devices we have come to expect in luxury and high-end vehicles are now becoming available and even common in lower priced ones. While that significantly increases automotive electronic device manufacture volume, the next wave, will dwarf what we have experienced to date. Soon, we will be considering the self-driving, fully connected and self-learning vehicle that is part of a network that teaches and learns from its peers.

Car Talk

The automotive electronics segment has exploded. Early cars didn’t have much in the way of electronics. Even in 1950, electronics made up only 1% of a car’s cost. But that figure is expected to hit 35% in 2020, and 50% in 2030--and that means a whole lot of PCBs. This issue of The PCB Design Magazine features the impact of increasing electronics content in cars on the PCB design and manufacturing industry.


Big Strategies for Success

I-Connect007’s Barry Matties speaks with Pratish Patel of Electronic Interconnect about the new strategies and capabilities the company is building. The conversation also covers Electronic Interconnect’s move into the automotive industry and how strategies for buyers could help to lower cost and improve quality.

HDI Technology - Flex Circuits

The flex circuit industry in North America is moving rather quickly. The packaging densities are moving to smaller and the electrical requirements much faster. In order to keep pace with the industry requirements of HDI, North American flex vendors need to invest in equipment, resources and R&D.

Detroit vs. Silicon Valley: What’s Driving the Proliferation of Automotive Electronics?

For the past several decades, modern cars have not changed much. They have four wheels, an engine, a radio (possibly even an 8-track) and seatbelts. Over time, however, cars’ electronics parts have evolved faster than any other part of a car with enhancements like power windows, power mirrors, seat heaters and GPS navigation.

Cars, Cars, Cars!

The September 2015 issue of The PCB Magazine focuses on automotive electronics, and includes discussions on the automotive electronics market today, where it's heading tomorrow, and what it all means to companies wanting to participate; latest innovations in automotive electronics technologies; and what to expect in our car of the future.

Catching Up to Yesterday

Recently, KPMG, an international consultancy that operates as a network of member firms offering audit, tax and advisory services, came out with their 6th annual survey of manufacturing executives focusing on global manufacturing trends.

Characterization of PCB Material & Manufacturing Technology for High-Frequency

Concepts like Industry 4.0, Internet of things, M2M communication, smart homes and communication in, or to cars are maturing. All these applications are based on the same demanding requirement—a considerable amount of data and increased data transfer rate. The aim of this paper is to develop a concept to use materials in combination with optimized PCB manufacturing processes, which allows a significant reduction of losses and increased signal quality.

Flex Market Evolution

Flex circuits are designed to solve electronic packaging and assembly problems, solve interconnection issues, assist in miniaturization, and provide a dynamic electro-mechanical solution. They are configured with repeatable conductors that foolproof assembly errors. Flex is used in designs where standard printed circuit boards, connectors and cable assemblies just don’t provide the right electrical or mechanical solution.

Why are PCBs Green?

Why are PCBs green? This is one of the questions I get asked when people ask of me what do I do for a living, especially after I explain that my company supplies the little green things that one will find in pretty much anything and everything you purchase today that you cannot eat or drink.

Integrating with Gardien Group's Roland Valentini

Gardien Group is one of those companies that are always looking out for their customers. The company is, without a doubt, the last word when it comes to bare board quality assurance, focused on helping customers deliver the most electrically sound boards in the business. Gardien’s technologists are experts at testing and other quality assurance disciplines. For more than 30 years, Gardien has been in the business, originally as the equipment manufacturer Mania.

Improved Design of Dry Film Resist Laminator for Optimal Transfer of Micron-sized Features

Since the inception of dry film lamination, the process of squeezing two hot rolls at their end axis points has caused roll bending. An innovative process has now been developed whereby the film is attached with a process that minimizes this issue and provides optimal, evenly dispersed heat and pressure across the entire surface of the panel. This simple and elegant design will ensure that the integrity of the resulting image will be ideal, as measured by the continuity of the resulting transferred traces and features.


Designing Flex Circuits for Domestic Prototyping

Designing a flex circuit to be prototyped domestically? No problem. Designing a rigid-flex circuit for production offshore? Got it. Designing a part that will be prototyped domestically with a seamless transition to offshore production? That can be a little more challenging.

Plating and Quality are Close Partners

A good plating manager is a seasoned veteran with many years of hands-on experience and probably an engineering degree. Bob Tarzwell sees firsthand how PCB manufacturers, without the proper plating shop set-up operations, knowledge and experience, adapt and accept poor practices as normal while they continue with poor quality processes—even after attempted corrective input from vendors and consultants.

Fighting the War on Failure with Supplier Analytics: An Interview with Fane Friberg

Steve Williams sat down with operations and supply chain expert Fane Friberg to talk about how a company can only be as good as its supply base, and how driving supplier improvement directly impacts product improvement.

Is Wearable Technology Just a Fad?

Wearable technology is in its infancy. The industry needs to mature and go back to basic marketing—finding a need and filling it. Flexible circuits have been around since the mid-1960s and have been successfully filling needs. Flexible circuits are ideal for wearable technology because they are thin and lightweight. As the marketing matures, the applications will come and flexible circuits will be there to fill the technical needs.

The War on Process Failure

Who out there thought of it as a war? Is it? Well, we think it is—and a never-ending one at that. In fact, we thought it significant enough to devote all three of our August issues to the subject, because no matter how good you are or how great things are running, Murphy’s Law is right there, ready to take you down a peg or two—or worse.

Latent Short Circuit Failure in High-Rel PCBs due to Cleanliness of PCB Processes and Base Materials

Latent short circuit failure of power PCBs has been associated with fiber contamination of the dielectric material. Tests and inspections have shown various sources of contamination in laminate, prepreg and on etched innerlayers. It has been demonstrated by IR tests that contamination can cause breach of insulation due to electromigration.

The War on Process Failure Continues in August Issue of The PCB Magazine

The August issue of The PCB Magazine is focused on the war on process failure. This subject of process failure turns out to be quite broad and affects essentially everyone in our industry, from the raw material suppliers to the circuit designer to the PCB processor to the assembly folks and on to the OEM. We all have a hand in it, both causing and solving problems and benefiting from solutions. You will find several appropos and useful articles in this issue.

Book Review: We Are Market Basket

How many times does a business book read like a novel? Dan Beaulieu says this book is not just a great story, but also a parable of sorts filled with great examples of the way to run and grow a successful business… and how not to.

Dry Film Photoresist Thickness Selection Criteria

Dry film photoresist suppliers typically indicate for which process a certain resist type is suitable; however the fabricator still has to select the resist thickness that matches his needs best. The most important thickness selection criteria that come to mind are price, resolution, and yield. This article talks about the advantages and disadvantages of choosing films that are too thin for the application.

The Drive for Transparent Circuits

DKN Research develops many types of unique electronic circuits. Some products in our portfolio include ultra-thin conductor circuits as small as 0.2 microns, metal-free circuits, and some circuits up to 20 meters long. Our staff fields many inquiries for packaging of new electronic devices. Lately, there is a lot of interest in transparent flexible circuits. The increase in interest is driven by the recent market expansion of display and optical devices.


The Keys to Success for Supply Chain Management

This article describes the key components and issues regarding achieving supply chain management success, offers some suggestions and action items mostly for customers to store in their memory banks. It also explains key partner relationships and how they must work to gain each other's confidence. When it comes to results, the most important requirement is the product. When a distributor is awarded a tier one product from a tier one supplier, 50% of the goal has been accomplished.

Accomplish Change Together (ACT)

Shifting strategies for selling PCBs and the materials to build them is the impetus for ACT. Insulectro's Ken Parent and Jason Marsh spoke to I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties about the ACT approach—and how it is helping their PCB fabricator customers increase sales and OEMs to get better products.

Agricultural Drones and Flexible Circuits

Agricultural drones are expected to have a significant impact on farming over the next few years. In the article mentioned above, the drone’s ease of use and affordability make this a tool that virtually every farmer could employ. One major complementary technology to the drone is the advances in imaging technology and analysis. Specifically, the agricultural drone gives farmers data analysis capability that they have not had before.

Supply Chain in the 21st Century

The shift away from vertical integration has pushed the topic of supply chain management to the forefront of strategic planning for many manufacturers. This wide-ranging article talks about supply chain management, a brief history of supply chain innovation, managing supply chain risk, as well as presents the "7 Rights" of supply chain management.

Eliminate Connectors with Sculptured Flex

Any time you eliminate a component, hidden costs are eliminated, such as the cost of stocking, tracking and managing the supply chain for that part number. When designing an electronic package, don’t assume that you need a component for every connection point. Sculptured flex will give some options that can make your electronic package, lighter, less costly, more reliable, and take up less space.

A Well-Designed Laminate Supply Chain has to Own It!

Suppliers must use industry knowledge, robust systems, clever software and total visibility to build a supply chain agile enough for any PCB fabricator. Consigned stock, local customization, regional hubs, short manufacturing cycles, controlled processes and highly evolved systems are just a few of the tools needed to develop custom fit solutions that flex and move with the needs of the fabricator and their customers. You can only design the supply chain when you own the supply chain.

Coated Ultra-Thin Copper on Printed Circuit Laminates

Nano copper-based electronic ink and associated processing have been developed to create ultra-thin copper on flexible PCB substrates, allowing for much finer etch resolution and increased circuit density. The process is rapid and sufficiently low-temperature to allow deposition onto temperature-sensitive substrates such as polyimide, plastic and paper.

An Update on the Rogers Material Supply Line

As part of a recent I-Connect007 supply chain survey, we found that RF laminate material can be very difficult to obtain. Rogers Corporation was named specifically in our survey as one supplier with a limited amount of material available. In fact, their delivery time was reported as being as high as 55 days for some materials at one point. In an industry where quick turnaround time is critical, this is one supply line that killed any hope of being quick.

Innovative Technologies Drive PCB Industry Growth

PCB growth has slowed in recent years, though last year the growth rate was slightly higher than the 2% of the last three years. Estimates by IEK of Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan show that the PCB industry will continue to grow in 2015 at a rate of 3-5% with an annual output of RMB 576 billion (USD 93.8 billion).

“Supply Chain Management”: Overused, Underused or Just Misunderstood?

In a world of buzz words, "supply chain" and "supply chain management" have certainly been right up there in our industry. Everyone sort of knows what the terms mean, or at least what they want them to mean. Everyone has assigned their own level of importance and interest to the idea of supply chain management, so it made perfectly good sense for us to highlight that subject in our July issues.


EIPC Summer Conference: Day 2

Refreshed after an excellent conference dinner, and for most, a good night’s sleep, delegates returned for the second day of the EIPC Summer Conference in Berlin, continuing the theme of improving profitability through technical leadership and innovation to meet future market requirements, with sessions on materials and processes for high performance PCBs and advanced material testing strategies to meet OEM and ODM needs.

EIPC Summer Conference, Berlin: Day 1

Berlin, capital of Germany and a world city of culture, politics, media and science, was the venue for the 2015 EIPC Summer Conference, which attracted delegates from sixteen countries, including Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, Israel, USA and Canada, as well as the European Union, to experience a programme of 21 technical presentations over two days. Also included was a visit to the Berlin laboratories of Fraunhofer Institute, Europe’s largest application-oriented research organisation.

Book Review: Brian Tracy’s “Business Strategy”

If you’re serious about your company’s strategic planning, this book is for you. And if you’re not serious, then you won’t be around much longer anyway. Pick up this little volume, the latest from The Brian Tracy Success Library.

Catching Up with Vector Fabrication’s Quang Luong: Here Comes Vietnam!

I have known Quang Luong, the owner of Vector Fabrication, for many years now, and I have always been interested in his business and how it operates, especially since he is the only PCB shop owner I know of who has a company in the U.S. and in Vietnam.

Enabling Smart Wearable Technology: Flexible, Stretchable Interconnect

In this article, Joan Vrtis highlights the current and forward-looking interconnect technologies enabling the stream of amazing new smart wearable electronic devices connecting the user to their personalized experience.

Institute of Circuit Technology 41st Annual Symposium

ICT Technical Director Bill Wilkie has always excelled in locating interesting and unusual venues for the Institute of Circuit Technology Annual Symposium, and this year was no exception. For the 2015 event, the 41st, he chose the Black Country Living Museum, an open-air museum of rebuilt historic buildings in Dudley, in the West Midlands of England, home of the original Industrial Revolution.

UK PCB Industry Leader Brian Haken Passes Away

Brian Haken helped steer the UK PCB industry to wider markets, forging close ties with the IPC in the United States and JPCA in Japan.

Flexible and Stretchable Circuit Technologies for Space Applications

This article describes two original technologies developed at imec-CMST--the ultra-thin chip package (UTCP) and stretchable moulded interconnect (SMI)--and how they could be offering new form factors with increased functional density, as well as improved reliability in harsh environments .

Revolutionizing Equipment Repair & Service

Guest Editor Steve Williams sits down with Randy Cook of CalTeks and Yash Sutariya of Alpha Circuits to talk about servicing equipment, especially foreign equipment not previously available in North America. With quality service now readily available, one can take advantage of considerably less expensive equipment being manufactured in China.

How to Make Mass Lam Outsourcing Successful

For PCB manufacturers in the United States and Europe, finding a suitable mass lam-outsourcing partner can be a challenge. In this interview with Option Technologies, a Ventec International Group company, I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey and Option Managing Director Steve Law discuss the ins and outs of this specialist market.


Novel High-Performance Substrate for Stretchable Electronics

A cornerstone feature of any viable stretchable material is its ability to return to zero after stretching. This article talks about a new transparent, high-performance thermal setting stretchable material that could open doors to a range of new and innovative products.

Wearable Technology and Flexible Circuits

Flexible circuits are an ideal fit for wearable technology. Wearable electronics need to be light, dense and bendable. While what is currently considered standard flexible circuit technology is more than adequate for many the wearable products, there are requirements that may be pushing the boundaries a bit.

A New Source for Laser Drills

Publisher Barry Matties recently visited the West Coast offices of Nano System Inc. to catch up with Sam Sekine, formerly of Hitachi. Nano System is a new company focused on producing and selling laser drill systems to the PCB industry. In this interview, Mr. Sekine discusses his staff, the company’s technology, and Nano System’s strategy for the future.

A High-Reliability, Stress-free Copper Deposit for FPC, Polyimide and Rigid-Flex

Conventional electroless copper systems often required pretreatments with hazardous chemicals or have a small process window to achieve a uniform coverage without blistering. To overcome the challenge of metallizing smooth surfaces, a new stress-free electroless copper was developed to serve this important sector of the printed circuit industry.

Flexible Circuit Materials for High-Temperature Applications

To meet the increasing needs for flexible circuit materials for high-temperature applications, new test methods will need to be developed. These new methods will assign new ratings that are consistent with actual performance.

New Embedded Component Standard Finalized

Solberg Technical Consulting's Vern Solberg talks to I-Connect007 about the recently launched standard, the IPC-7092, which focuses on embedded component technology. According to Solberg, this new standard took the earlier standards involved with passive devices, and combined it with standards on newer technologies using active devices, to help form components that can be manufactured and placed on layers within the PCB.

HDPUG Demonstrates Benefits of Cooperative R&D

The High Density Packaging User Group (HDPUG) is a member-driven, non-profit, project-oriented industry consortium that addresses the integration of new electronics component packaging and interconnection technologies into the supply chains of its member companies.

eSurface Breaking Down Barriers for Murrietta

Murrietta Circuits is the first facility in North America successfully processing PCBs made with the eSurface technology. Andy Murrietta talks with Guest Editor Judy Warner about the key benefits, including greatly improved line geometry, trace tolerance, and peel strength.

HDPUG and High-Frequency Test Methodologies

CEO Brian Butler talks with Guest Editor Bob Neves about the HDP User Group, an industry consortium that is developing test methodologies and programs. Brian decribes three of the current subcommittees: Material Characterization; Back Drill, having to do with defect detection and reliability; and Copper Surface Roughness.

The Flex-to-Fit Approach

The flex-to-fit concept reminds us that creativity and engineering go hand-in-hand. When there is not ample space for a conventional approach, this process, which is the convergence of the mechanical world and the electronics world, results in the ability to design a flexible circuit along the contour of an existing, irregularly shaped structure.


Electroplating Through-Holes with Different Geometry: A Novel and High-Productivity Process

Microfill through-hole fill electrolytic copper is a new process designed to offer outstanding through-hole fill, particularly for substrates intended for use as core layers in build–up applications, producing planar, solid copper plugs in high-volume production plating equipment. This article describes a novel copper through-hole fill electroplating process designed for use with insoluble anodes and direct current (DC) rectification.

Flexible, Stretchable, and Wearable: If You Can Dream it, You Can Create it!

We originally intended the June issue of The PCB Magazine to be centered on flexible circuits, but it quickly became apparent that we needed to broaden the scope and include all (well, at least some) of the new and exciting things going on these days in the world of flexible everything. As such, we have garnered a trove of authors, with much information to impart on the above mentioned.

Optimization of Acid Copper Electrodeposition Processes for High-Throwing Power DC Plating

One of the three most fundamental aspects of printed circuit fabrication is the metallization and electroplating of throughhole vias and blind via interconnections. In this article, Michael Carano writes about the strategies in optimizing acid copper electrodeposition processes for high-throwing power DC plating.

ENEPIG: The Plating Process

In this article, George Milad talks about the complexity of the ENEPIG process, how it works, its requirements and the critical parameters that must be maintained in the ENEPIG line. He writes that shops that have good engineering and documentation of the manufacturing process, coupled with a dedicated, experienced ENEPIG operator that is backed by a capable analytical laboratory, run defect-free ENEPIG day in and day out.

Precision Back-drilling High-Speed PCBs? No Problem!

Grant Christiansen of Schmoll Maschinen discusses the latest developments for high-speed back-drilling, particularly for the North American market. He stresses the importance of both software and machine capability, along with working closely with the customer.
PREVIOUSNEXT
Copyright © 2017 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.