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Bürkle Discusses Cycle Time in PCB Lamination Systems

At the recent HKPCA & IPC APEX Show 2015 in Shenzhen, China, I interviewed Stefan Roller, sales manager at Bürkle Process Technologies, about the innovations happening in Bürkle, as well as cycle times in PCB processing equipment. He also talked about the current market landscape and the opportunity for growth in the industry.

IoT, Community and Content at the Centre of CES

Phillip Stoten writes about his observations during the recent CES 2016 Show in Las Vegas, including new trends driving the next generation of consumer electronics technologies such as IoT and content.

Happy’s Essential Skills: The Need for Total Quality Control (Six Sigma and Statistical Tools): Part 1

In this first of many columns covering my "Twenty-Five Essential Skills Every Engineer Needs to Learn," I will expand on each of those skills. To read the introduction to this series, which published in the January issue of The PCB Magazine. As a quick recap, here are the 25 skills that I will be writing about over the next 18 months or so, to publish every three weeks or so in the PCB007 Daily Newsletter.

CES 2016 Wrap-Up, Part 2: The Road Less Traveled

There was plenty to see on the show floor at CES 2016. But we found an entirely new universe of products to learn about and explore. We found such a dimension in the semi-private suites located on the upper floors of the Venetian, the Westgate, Mandalay Bay and other hotels. I'll spend a day in these suites next year!

CES 2016 Wrap-Up, Part 1

CES 2016 is now history and most of us are home, or at our next port-of-call. I have seen various attendance numbers but it’s somewhere in the range of 175,000; it was busy, crowded and impossible to see everything. Here is my review of some of the most innovative devices and technologies at CES.

Catching Up with HSIO’s James Rathburn

I have interviewed James Rathburn a number of times in the past few years and he always has something new to say. One of the industry’s leading technology inventors, Jim is always finding himself on the cutting edge of our technology. The recent acquisition of the former HEI operation in Tempe, Arizona exemplifies the path his company, HSIO, is taking towards a goal of being the industry’s true technology leader.

CES 2016: Press Day, Showstoppers and LaunchIt Event

Tuesday, January 5, was press day at CES 2016. Some of the largest press conferences are held on press day. Many of them are one- or two-hour advertisements with a number of new product announcements inserted, and some do provide a great deal of market data and trends. The bigger “pressers,” such as the Samsung event, fill multiple auditorium-sized rooms as well as overflow rooms.

Weiner's World

In this article, industry veteran Gene Weiner looks back at some of the industry highlights in 2015, and ponders on the challenges and opportunities to expect this year. He also highlights recent industry events, including the 2015 International Printed Circuit & APEX South China Fair and SEMICON Japan.

CES: Day One

CES Unveiled is the official media event for CES. It is the first official happening of what promises to be a very busy and fascinating week. At this event, members of the press get to preview a number of innovative startups as well as some new products from a few established global brands.

IPC’s Fern Abrams: Keeping up with Regulatory Matters

Recently, I met with IPC’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, Fern Abrams. In the course of our conversation, we delved into everything from what her role entails and recent regulatory matters, to some of the group’s successes and why companies need to get involved (it matters to your representatives in Congress or Parliament).


CES 2016: A Preview and a Prediction for the Future

Here I am getting ready to head to Las Vegas to once again cover CES, and as I look at my predictions and coverage for the last few years it seems that most of what I've written was right on track. Life is not always that kind with regards to meeting our expectations, but for the last few years not only have the predictions for technology’s future been mostly on track, it seems that they have been exceeded and that progress has accelerated.

2015’s Most Read PCB Articles

Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular PCB news and articles. These are the top 10 most-read PCB articles from the past year. Check them out.

EIPC: Furthering the Reach of Electronics Industries in Europe

The European Institute of Printed Circuits (EIPC) might be based in Europe, but it very much helps its members on a global scale. Chairman Alun Morgan and Executive Director Kirsten Smit-Westenberg sat down with me at productronica recently, and explained how companies around the world have benefited from joining the EIPC. We also discussed current industry trends in Europe and the upcoming EIPC conferences and workshops being designed around them.

A Conversation with IPC President and CEO John Mitchell

I-Connect007's Patty Goldman was able to sit down with John Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC, to discuss the organization and where we are going as an industry. We discussed IPC’s four aspirational goals—standards, education, advocacy and solutions—as well as short-term goals. We also talked a bit about going virtual and becoming paperless.

Pete’s Top Ten PCB Articles for 2015

It's been a long year, hasn't it? It certainly seems like more than 365 days. And every year, our technical editor and industry veteran Pete Starkey picks his choice of the 10 best PCB technical articles for the year. Check them out.

ESI Taking Laser-Based Tooling to New Levels

ESI is a leading supplier of laser-based tools to the Chinese market, and they are trying to make a splash in the HDI realm with their new CO2-based system, nViant. I met with Chris Ryder of ESI at the recent HKPCA show in Shenzhen, China, to learn about the new system and how ESI plans to enter this new market.

All About Flex: Saying Yes

During the Reagan presidency, First Lady Nancy Reagan championed the advertising slogan “Just say no” as part of a “War on Drugs” campaign. The message of the campaign was intended to protect children from the harmful effects of illegal drug use by offering various ways of saying “no.”

What is the Internet of Things and Why Should it Matter to Us?

It is often surprising how closely our science fiction novels and movies model the future. The Internet of Things (IoT) and big data may prove to be an excellent example of this phenomenon. Coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton (the RFID standards pioneer), the IoT is one of the least descriptive monikers of all time for something very important in the history of technology.

Can Technology be Too Disruptive?

Technology represents new ways of doing things, and, once mastered, creates lasting change, which businesses and cultures do not unlearn. Adopted technology becomes embodied in capital, whether physical or human, and it allows economies to create more value with less input. At the same time, technology often disrupts, supplanting older ways of doing things and rendering old skills and organizational approaches irrelevant.

As Vias Shrink, Opportunities for Laser Drilling Expand

While lasers have long been employed for via drilling in PCB fabrication, mechanical drilling still remains the predominant production technology. However, as via diameters shrink to support various advanced packaging techniques, mechanical drilling becomes more expensive, and ultimately technologically unfeasible. A variety of laser technologies are now poised to step in to extend production via drilling down to the micron level.


An Examination of the China Market with Laminate Supplier Shengyi

Chief Executive Director Jack Dong explains to Pete Starkey how Shengyi Technology, the world’s second largest laminate manufacturer, plans to continue to develop its European market and to comprehensively meet the diverse requirements of the automotive, industrial controls and medical sectors. He also comments on how the Chinese government recognises the Industry 4.0 revolution in automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies, and is steering its industrial development strategy in a similar direction.

Catching up with Gardien’s Rick Meraw

There are companies out there who are truly changing the world—companies who are making a dent in the universe, to quote the late Steve Jobs. Gardien is one of those companies. So much so that I like to catch up with them on a regular basis because they’re always adding something to their repertoire and it’s typically something that helps improve the way we handle quality assurance in our industry.

All About Flex: Process Controls for Flexible Circuit Fabrication

Manufacturers of flexible circuits use several chemical processes for fabrication. These processes are generally located in a common area of the plant because of facility requirements and environmental considerations. These chemical operations are referred to as wet processes.

The Power of Data: The Most Important Questions Any Leader Must Ask

In the recently completed I-Connect007 survey of readers titled, “The Data Factor(y): The Power of Data,” I had difficulty segmenting the results into useful categories. In other words, what were the issues that most concerned readers and customers?

The Associations Issue

Well, it’s the end of the year. How did that happen? It really is true that every year goes by a little faster. You young whippersnappers out there won’t know what I’m talking about, but just you wait and see. We changed it up for our December issues this year. Instead of doing a year-end review, we decided to devote this month to our associations and trade organizations—at least some, because when you start poking around, you will find there are scads of them.

Data, Data and More Data!

We did a survey on our topic this month--as we do every month--and we asked an open-ended question about the "largest issues" with data. The answers seemed to revolve around the accuracy of data collected (and whether it is the right data); lack of time; collecting in real-time; and then how to organize and analyze what has been collected.

MacDermid’s Research Team Talks New Cyanide-free Immersion Gold at SMTAI

While at SMTAI in Chicago recently, I met with two of MacDermid’s research team, Jun Nable, research project manager, who has been with MacDermid since 2007, and Cherry Santos, associate research fellow responsible for formulation work for metal plating solutions. We talked about the posters they were presenting and why they chose SMTAI.

Catching up with Winonics’ Mark Eazell

I have always thought of Winonics as one of the hidden gems of the North American PCB industry. Their well-equipped and well-laid-out facility in Brea, California is one of the more impressive looking PCB facilities in North America today. Winonics is one of three PCB companies owned by JR Controls, the other two being Cosmotronic and Bench2Bench. I had the opportunity to talk with Mark Eazell, the general manager at Winonics, who also oversees the operation of all three JR Controls’ PCB companies.

Conducting Very High Currents through PCB Substrates at High Ambient Temperatures

One of the major challenges of our time is climate change and the associated need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The requirement to reduce CO2 emissions has brought about significant changes in the area of power generation, and also in the area of mobility. Supported by a favorable subsidy policy, the solar boom originated in Germany and quickly spread widely across Europe.

The PCB Magazine's December 2015 Issue 'Associations' Now Available

Our final issue of 2015 is a view into various global associations that help our industry function and thrive. In their own words, top executives from around the world are on hand to provide an insider’s perspective of the who, what, where, when and why of their organizations.


productronica 2015: Isola Supports Developments in Automotive Electronics

Helmut Kroener gives a perspective on Isola’s European market, whose major segments are industrial and automotive electronics. Driver assistance systems are a huge growth market and demand cost-effective low-dielectric-constant materials capable of 100 gigahertz operation.

Behind the Scenes with IPC Technical Conference Coordinator Toya Richardson

I have known and worked with IPC Technical Conference Coordinator Toya Richardson for quite a few years, but we have never had an in-depth chat about her job at IPC. In this interview, she talks about her work at IPC, their preparations for the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO 2016, and some of the latest developments at IPC.

Specialist Coatings for Specialist Applications

Taiyo America’s Josh Goldberg agreed to spend a few minutes with I-Connect007's Pete Starkey at productronica recently, where he indeed climbed out of the box and explored the broader market for high-performance polymer coatings in the electronics industry.

productronica 2015: Ventec's Latest Developments in the UK

Ventec continue to invest in the pursuit of ultra-cleanliness in pre-preg fabrication and packaging in their UK distribution operation, and announce a range of complementary consumable materials - foils, drill boards and release films - as proven in their Ventec-Option laminating and drilling service, leveraging their purchasing power and sharing the cost benefits with their laminate customers.

For Pioneer MuTracx, the Future Looks Bright

In this interview conducted at productronica recently, I-Connect007 Tech Editor Pete Starkey and Publisher Barry Matties speak with Arnoud de Geus, Executive Board member at technology company Sioux. They discuss the success of MuTracx’s (owned by Sioux) first installation of the Lunaris machine in the Whelen factory in New Hampshire, and what this has meant towards proving it can operate in a full-time production process. Arnoud forecasts what’s next for MuTracx and what they must do in order to capitalize on the positive exposure.

For Pioneer MuTracx, the Future Looks Bright

In this interview conducted at productronica recently, I-Connect007 Tech Editor Pete Starkey and Publisher Barry Matties speak with Arnoud de Geus, Executive Board member at technology company Sioux, about the success of MuTracx’ (owned by Sioux) first installation of the Lunaris machine in the Whelen factory in New Hampshire, and what this has meant towards proving it can operate in a full-time production process. Arnoud forecasts what’s next for MuTracx and what they must do in order to capitalize on the positive exposure.

The Opportunities for Plasma Processing

Pete Starkey interviewed Andre Bodegom, managing director of Netherlands-based Adeon Technologies B.V., about their long relationship with Nordson MARCH, typical applications for plasma equipment, and what the most challenging materials are from the point of view of plasma processing in the PCB industry.

All About Flex: Embracing the Mess

Marketing in the world of printed circuits is an important discipline, but I have learned it is better to be prepared with a nimble reaction than to expect the marketing department to consistently be successful in predicting the future. The path to the goal is often achieved much more quickly by making an early decision followed by a course correction rather than waiting for all the information.

Navigating the Global Materials Supply Chain: A Roundtable Discussion

At SMTAI recently, I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy sat down for a roundtable discussion with some key players from the materials side of the supply chain. Participants included two executives from Ventec: Mark Goodwin, COO USA and Europe for Ventec International Group; and Jack Pattie, president of Ventec USA. Also participating in the roundtable were Schoeller Electronics CEO Michael Keuthen and Bob Willis, from the National Physics Laboratory (NPL).

HKPCA & IPC Show 2015 Kicks Off in Shenzhen China

Barry Matties talks with Daniel Chan, executive director of the HKPCA, about the organization’s expanded global outreach. They discuss what attendees can expect from this South China trade show that has become one of the biggest and most important shows in the PCB industry.


On Scene: ICT Darlington Seminar, 24 November 2015

Darlington, in the north-east of England, has become an established venue for the Institute of Circuit Technology’s annual Northern Seminar, a not-to-be-missed opportunity for the UK’s PCB technologists to keep abreast with current developments and to network and exchange ideas and experiences with their peers. Coordinated by ICT technical director Bill Wilkie, and generously supported by Merlin PCB Group, the programme consisted of papers on funded projects and project funding, and updates on chemical process technology.

productronica 2015: Gardien's Quality Management in a Global Quality Assurance Organisation

Rick Meraw, group vice president, quality, for Gardien Services, discusses with I-Connect007's Pete Starkey the responsibilities of quality management in a global quality assurance service company, ensuring consistency of standards and technology across all geographical locations, cross-pollination of knowledge and skills, and making best use of data for real-time feedback and process improvement.

Data Analytics through Statistical Techniques

Many companies get caught in data traps. They focus so heavily on cost and survival that they end up using data as merely a marketing and sales tool. In doing so, they fail to realize the true power of data: It can transform every aspect of a business.

productronica 2015: Taiyo's Exciting Inkjet Solder Mask Options are on the Horizon

Donald Monn, European Sales Manager, Taiyo America, discusses with I-Connect007's Pete Starkey about the latest developments in ink-jetting solder masks.

productronica 2015: Electra's LDI Soldermasks for LED and Future Ink-jet Developments

Ashley Steers of Electra Polymers Ltd discusses with I-Connect007's Pete Starkey about the continuing developments in LDI soldermasks, and how the challenges associated with highly reflective white soldermasks for LED applications are progressively being overcome.

productronica 2015: MATU\AWP: Understanding Market Needs for Process Efficiency

The engineers in MATU/AWP represent hundreds of years of industry experience in developing the right machines for the right applications for the right customers! Design technology of the highest calibre - an in-depth understanding of achieving process efficiency, process economy and environmental friendliness in wet-processing and closed-loop copper recycling equipment.

productronica 2015: MicroCraft's EMMA Probe-tester Automated

Jesse Ziomek, sales manager at Microcraft, discusses with I-Connect007's Pete Starkey their automated version of the EMMA probe-tester, which is capable of lights-out operation on multiple designs and panel sizes, at 6000 test-points per minute.

HKPCA Executive Director Daniel Chan on the Upcoming Show and More

Daniel Chan discusses the latest developments to expect at this year's HKPCA and IPC show, and the new features that the show will offer delegates and attendees. He also speaks about the trends to expect in the PCB manufacturing industry, and the major drivers of innovation.

All About Flex: Flexible PCB: What’s in a Name?

Flexible PCB is a common term that is synonymous with flexible circuits. While the term “PCB” is generally used to describe rigid printed circuitry, “flexible PCB” is a little contradictory because “boards” aren’t really flexible. Some companies, like All Flex, design and manufactures flexible PCBs, but not rigid PCBs.

productronica 2015: Rogers Scales Up Production and Integrates Arlon's Product Range

John Hendricks gives a perspective on the European market for special-purpose laminates, and comments upon Rogers’ acquisition of Arlon and the integration of their complementary product range into the Rogers portfolio.


productronica 2015: Schmid's InfinityLine Opens New Era in Etching Machine Technology

Schmid has combined the best attributes of their long-established CombiLine and PremiumLine in the development of their new InfinityLine family of modular etching machines, which offer an attractive cost structure without compromising performance, quality or durability.

productronica 2015: Ucamco's Integr8tor Incorporates Polar Stack-up Functionality

Big extensions to the capabilities of the Integr8tor client-server work-flow system, way beyond the established CAM functions, now include full product definition covering all production stages of PCB manufacture, including flex and flex-rigid technologies. Integr8tor now incorporates all of the functionality of Polar Instruments’ stack-up design package, instantly accessible.

Flex Talk: Thoughts on the IPC Flexible Circuits–HDI Forum

As an attendee at the IPC Flexible Circuits–HDI Conference held October 28–30, I found myself in a room full of people, all eager for technical information, with the opportunity to reconnect with industry friends and to make new connections. The audience was diverse with young people, new to our industry, sitting alongside industry veterans willingly sharing their knowledge and passion for HDI design and flexible circuit technology.

productronica 2015: Orbotech's Nuvogo 1000 Brings High Speed to Solder Mask LDI

28 watts of laser power enables the Nuvogo 1000 dual wavelength direct imaging system to achieve production throughput for solder mask up to 40 double-sided panels per hour, while retaining the versatility to image inner layer and outer layer features as fine as 24 microns.

Catching Up with Circuit Connect

When I met with Circuit Connect President Bob Lazzara and Director of Operations Paul LaLiberte, I was first struck by the passion they both have for their customers, as well as for their customers’ businesses, using the innovation they have today, as well as what they can develop together with their customers. They don’t just invite, but urge their customers to come and visit them in their very well-equipped facility in Nashua, N.H.

Walt Custer's 2016 Business Outlook

What’s going to be the next boom in the electronics industry? Is it self-driving cars, the Internet of Things, drones, or something else that’s still completely off the radar? At productronica, the I-Connect007 team caught up with Walt Custer of Custer Consulting Group, who offered his forecast for 2016.

All About Flex: Flexible PCB: What’s in a Name?

Flexible PCB is a common term that is synonymous with flexible circuits. While the term “PCB” is generally used to describe rigid printed circuitry, “flexible PCB” is a little contradictory because “boards” aren’t really flexible. Some companies, like All Flex, design and manufactures flexible PCBs, but not rigid PCBs. There are many similarities between the two, but also significant differences.

productronica 2015: atg Shows Off the Latest in Automated Inspection Equipment

Peter Brandt, sales manager with atg Luther & Maelzer, tells I-Connect007’s Pete Starkey all about their automated inspection equipment that is well-suited for both small and large batch operaions. Watch this video from the floor of productronica to see the equipment in action while Brandt discusses the embedded technology market that is taking off.

Designs on Flex: Underwriters Laboratory and Flexible Printed Circuits

Underwriters Laboratory is a worldwide safety consulting and certification company headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois. UL certifies, validates, tests, inspects, audits, and advises on safety of electrical and electronic products.

Mr. Laminate Tells All: Where in the Holy Halogens did 900, 900, 1500 Come From?

The 900, 900, 1500 is not a combination to an enormous safe that contains the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, nor is it the weight of three elephants at the San Diego Zoo in kilograms. The 900, 900, 1500 is the maximum parts per million (ppm) of bromine and chlorine and the total bromine and chlorine in a material that can be defined as “halogen-free” in the electronics industry today. But where did these requirements come from? Clearly, 900 ppm of bromine or chlorine is obviously not halogen-free. Some would argue that it is not even low-halogen at all.


Catching up with PNC

PNC, in Nutley, New Jersey, is a truly unique company. Started in 1968, and then taken over by Sam Sangani in 1996, it has evolved into one of the premier PCB companies on the East Coast, if not the country. Over the years, the company has grown to the point where it now offers circuit design, layout, fabrication and assembly to its customers, making it one of the few total concept under one roof companies in North America.

Plant Culture: a Direct Contributor to Quality, Output and Predictable Manufacturing

The culture of any organization influences the net output of any product or service it produces. That being said, the manufacturing of products brings complexity with an order of magnitude that can affect the net output at any given point along the build cycle, starting with the sub-component supply chain to final pack.

Whelen & IPS: A Strategic Partnership—A Winning Combination

Of the 39 suppliers Whelen chose to use, none were as integral to the automation and overall design and layout of the line as IPS, with its team led by President Mike Brask.

Catching up with Cosmotronic’s Gary Abel

Cosmotronic’s history spans a number of decades, from the hot-as-hell boom days of the '60s and early '70s when Southern California was leading the world in electronics, from weaponry to avionics to apace exploration. Today, as innovation has become more focused on personal electronics, Cosmotronic has been there, leading the way and serving a customer base that is uniquely similar to the one they had back in the day.

Recruiting for Growth - An Interview with Jack Pattie, President & CEO of Ventec USA

Ventec USA is growing its successful US team, whilst others seem to be suffering from closures, stock downgrades and market challenges. I caught up with Ventec USA President Jack Pattie to find out why they are busy bucking trends.

American Standard Circuits Taking Business to New Heights

PCB007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman sat down with American Standard Circuits President Anaya Vardya at the recent SMTAI show and conference in Rosemont, IL. Anaya wanted to share all the great new things going on at his company. Among the topics they discussed: new equipment, new processes, new people, and what it all means for ASC’s growth.

Breaking the Bottleneck: Electrical Test Cycle Time Reduction

From the conception of the design and issuance of the procurement document, dozens of processes must take place before the PCB is shipped for assembly. This article looks at reducing the cycle time in electrical test of PCBs, and highlight strategies to do so.

Cycle Time Reduction in a Flexible Circuit Facility

Managing product flow and cycle time across a wide range of product constructions and volumes in a high-mix flexible circuit fabrication facility can be extremely challenging. What seems to work best is a tailored hybrid system, with concepts adopted from classic just in time manufacturing (JIT), theory of constraints (TOC) and quick response manufacturing (QRM).

All About Flex: Plated Through-holes in Flexible Circuits

There is probably no more important feature than the plated through-hole (also called via or via hole) with regard to the reliability and integrity of a flexible circuit. The through-hole provides electrical connection between insulated layers and enables electrical functionality on double-sided and multilayer flexible circuits.

The Economics of Reducing Cycle Time in PCB Fabrication

As circuit board fabricators are constantly pressured for cost reductions, speed is definitely one thing worth paying for in 2015. This article highlights examples of industry practices that successful fabricators in the quick-turn market embrace that can help those companies who want to reduce cycle times in their operations.


The PCB Marathon

Printed circuit board shops have been driven to build new business strategies that overcome the paradigm of trade-offs, in which customers had to choose between one characteristic or another, into a new way of doing business in which an equilibrium is found that meets customer needs.

Book Recommendation: A Team of Leaders

Many changes have occurred in the workplace in the past 25 years. Great efforts have been made to increase productivity. Companies have been hit with so many financial challenges that their people have been stretched to the limit when it comes to being able to take a breath, coordinate with their follow workers and come together as a team, with common goals.

Flex Circuit Shielding Design Options

Shielding may not be your company’s number one design concern when thinking about your interconnect designs. But if you have to shield circuits for EMI, then you will need to depend on your supplier to assist you with their favorite shielding technique and experience.

Practical Application of Lean Six Sigma to Drive Cycle Time Reduction, Part 1

One of the most systematic and successful approaches to the challenge of cycle time reduction can be found in the principles and tools of lean six-sigma methodology. The success of this strategy requires commitment; it is not a quick fix, nor will it be effective if it is only used as an occasional housecleaning activity.

Interim CEO Jeff McCreary Discusses Recent Changes at Isola

Isola’s Interim President and CEO Jeff McCreary explains to Barry Matties the impetus for the personnel reduction taking place at Isola, the closing of their northern California facility, and why there’s no need to panic. He also shares his view of what the industry may expect from Isola going forward and what the company is looking for in a new CEO, the name of which McCreary expects to announce in the next few months.
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