Article Highlights
Michael Carano: A Focus on Process Control, Part 2
09/28/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
The New World Order of JIC
09/27/2022 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
A Focus on Process Control, Part 1
09/27/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
09/23/2022 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
IPC: Companies Are Intentional About Tracking Environmental and Social Risks
09/22/2022 | Suhani Chitalia and Kelly Scanlon, IPC
PCB :: Fabrication Process

Latest Articles

All About Flex: Five Characteristics of a Reliable Flexible Circuit Supplier

Due diligence when selecting a source for a custom electronic product can be a critical sourcing procedure. Chains are only as good as the weakest link, and the electronic components assembled to create a marketable product need to combine into a robust solution.

Ventec Europe Celebrates 10 Years as 'Not Just Another Laminate Merchant'

Incorporated in November 2006 as a joint venture known as Global Ventec Laminates, Ventec Europe imported its first container-full of material in May 2007. Now, here we are 10 years on, a bit older and not a lot wiser, in Ventec Europe’s immaculate headquarters facility, still in Leamington Spa, but in smart new premises.

Patty’s Perspective: Take Me to Your Leader

We must have touched a real hot button when we decided to do this issue on leadership. When we sent out our survey on the topic, we received a lot of responses, which we’ll review in a separate article, plus many of our regular columnists were inspired to write on the subject.

Setting the Standard at American Standard Circuits

With an impressive array of investments on display, both in terms of technology and software, as well as its 120 employees, ASC offers a diversified product mix. Publisher Barry Matties and members of the I-Connect007 team recently took a tour of the American Standard Circuits facility in West Chicago, Illinois. In this interview, Anaya Vardya shares their strategies and the challenges the market faces.

Altium ActiveRoute Debuts at PCB West: Routes Under One Second Per Connection

While at PCB West, Judy Warner had the chance to sit down with Charles Pfeil of Altium and learn more about their exciting new tool, ActiveRoute, that was introduced and demonstrated during PCB West 2016. She also learned a bit of background about Pfeil, who is a living history lesson in PCB design.

The Right Approach: My Leadership Journey

I have been in leadership positions for the majority of my 40-year career, but it has not always been a smooth and natural relationship. With the following three stories, I will attempt to share the lessons learned on my journey as a lifelong student in pursuit of the art of leadership.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuit Prototypes

Most electronic projects begin with at least one build of prototype parts before moving into volume manufacturing. But the definition of a flex circuit prototype can vary considerably from one project to another. In many cases, a prototype build is only a few parts used to verify form, fit and function, with engineering trying to determine if something actually works.

Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar 2016

In recent years, the Hayling Island Seminar has become established as the most popular date on the Institute of Circuit Technology calendar and, as expected, the 2016 event attracted a large gathering of industry professionals to the south coast of England to share knowledge and experience and to discuss current developments.

A New Facility in India for PCB Fabricator ACI

I-Connect007's Barry Matties met with Raj Dhanani and Bryan Ricke of Advanced Circuitry International to discuss their growing footprint in India, recent investments in their U.S. facility, and the future of the RF and antenna markets.

The Right Approach: FOD and the Aerospace Industry

Unless you are currently building aerospace product to AS9100[1] you are probably saying, “What the heck is FOD?” What started out as a requirement to prevent damage to aircraft parts such as engines has been flowed down to any component or assembly including PCBs.


Weiner’s World

This month, I was a guest at the High Density Packaging Users Group (HDPUG) meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The consortium, composed of more than 50 companies (small and large) in the electronics packaging supply chain, conducts projects to solve real world problems or develop data for product parameters, package/component life, and production processing.

EIPC Reliability Workshop, Tamworth, UK, September 22, 2016

EIPC’s reliability workshop, presented in cooperation with Amphenol Invotec, attracted a capacity audience from eight countries—some delegates having travelled from as far away as Russia—to take the opportunity to learn first-hand how to meet OEM, ODM and EMS product quality and safety requirements, and to understand how interconnection stress testing techniques could be applied to determine the reliability of multilayer PCBs.

Karl’s Tech Talk: EPOXY—Supply Chain and Use in Electronics

From a PCB fabricator’s perspective, epoxy resin supply chain issues are of indirect concern as they become a subset of laminate quality, supply, and cost considerations.

All About Flex: Lead-Free Soldering Flexible Circuits

Ever since the European community adopted the RoHS directive in 2006, the U.S. electronics industry has been steadily increasing its use of lead-free solder. Medical was the first U.S. industry to go totally lead-free. Today, a significant percentage of electronics soldering is done with lead-free solder.

Sensible Design: Conformal Coatings - Beware the Boards that ‘Bare’ All!

This month, Phil Kinner departs from his usual format of providing five essential facts about conformal coatings. Instead, he provides an account of a customer’s problem—no company names mentioned, of course—that brought into question the adhesion performance of a coating that they had been using successfully for some time.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Computer-Aided Manufacturing, Part 2 - Automation Examples

Semiconductor fabs like to avoid writing custom software to fit all of the idiosyncrasies of individual processing systems. So HP developed PC-10 to handle IC process equipment by separating it into general classes. SECS II was a mandatory prerequisite of the equipment before an interface to PC-10 could be developed.

The Story Behind the News: Ventec’s IMS Manufacturing Capabilities in China Doubled

In this interview conducted at Ventec Europe’s headquarters in Leamington Spa, UK, Ventec Europe & USA COO Mark Goodwin sat down with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey to share the details of Ventec International Group’s $2 million equipment investment. With this injection of new equipment, Ventec doubles its IMS material manufacturing capacity in China.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Computer-Aided-Manufacturing, Part 1—Automation Protocols

I have addressed automation planning previously in this series, so I hope by now you realize the difference between ‘automation’ and ‘mechanization.’ In printed circuit fabrication and assembly, most of what is advertised is mechanization. But when you get to assembly test, then you begin to see true automated solutions.

Testing Todd: Testing Military/Aerospace— Houston, We Have a Solution

This month we will dive into the testing of aerospace and military product. These designs require special processing in many cases above and beyond the IPC standards. The main specifications used when testing military product are MIL-PRF-55110, MIL-PRF-50884 and MILPRF-31032.

Patty's Perspective: Are We Flying Yet?

Walt Custer is on a photo safari in Africa and suggested I take a look at some of his slides regarding the military/aerospace market and then give a little report on it. Well, I am no Walt Custer, so while I can tell you a bit about where things are, far be it from me to make predictions.


Peter Lymn of Cemco: Adapting to the Market

Recently, I went on a tour of Cemco’s facility in Waterlooville, UK, where I met with longtime industry leader Peter Lymn to discuss Cemco’s roots in hot air solder leveling and the transitions Cemco has made in order to stay competitive.

Laser Pointers: Laser Processing and Telecentricity

Since Mike and I often receive questions on topics that are relevant to a broader audience, we’ve decided to start using this column to share those questions and answers with our readers. We’ll periodically devote the space in this column to address questions that we receive that are especially timely or topical, or address a topic that affects a wider range of readers.

Happy’s Essential Skills: CIM and Automation Planning, Part 2—Six Principles of Automation

In Part 1 of this column, I discussed the foundation of CIM and the principles of automation planning. In Part 2, we will assume that all the necessary preparations in strategy and tactics have been completed. How does it all fit together for successful implementation? This problem affects large, wealthy companies as well as the smallest job shop.

Factors Affecting the Adhesion of Thin Film Copper on Polyimide

The use of copper foils laminated to polyimide (PI) as flexible printed circuit board precursor is a standard practice in the PCB industry. We have previously described an approach to very thin copper laminates of coating uniform layers of nano copper inks and converting them into conductive foils via photonic sintering with a multi-bulb conveyor system, which is consistent with roll-to-roll manufacturing.

All About Flex: FAQs on RoHS for Flex Circuits

In 2003, the European Union (EU) adopted a standard called the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), which restricts the use of certain materials in electronic products and electronic equipment. The intent is to reduce the environmental impact of known hazardous materials and has driven changes in manufacturing processes and materials used to manufacture a wide array of electronic products.

Happy’s Essential Skills: CIM and Automation Planning, Part 1

There is a lot of talk and information about automation, but I find that there is very little available on automation planning. This is one of my specialties. I started by getting a master's in EE in control theory. This went well with my B.S. in chemical engineering as I specialized in process control and IC manufacturing.

All About Flex: Soldering Flexible Circuits

The most common methods for component attachment on flexible circuits and rigid printed circuit boards involve soldering. The basic principles for soldering are the same for both flex and hard board, but soldering components to flexible circuits involves certain specific considerations vs. our rigid cousins.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Quality Functional Deployment (QFD)

Wikipedia has one of the best definitions of quality function deployment (QFD): “QFD is a method to help transform customer needs (the voice of the customer or VOC) into engineering characteristics (and appropriate test methods) for a product or service. It helps create operational definitions of the requirements, which may be vague when first expressed. It prioritizes each product or service characteristic while simultaneously setting development targets for the product or service.”

Spirit Circuits: Building a New Factory in Romania...

Recently I sat down with Managing Director Steve Driver of Spirit Circuits. We discussed the company’s future, and the interesting decision to build a new facility in Craiova, Romania, and how Whelen’s Alex Stepinski influenced the design.

FTG: Focus to Expand

Firan Technology Group (FTG) is a Canadian circuit board and cockpit product manufacturer. With a newly established global footprint, they look now to grow within that footprint, particularly by way of acquisition. I-Connect007’s Judy Warner and Barry Matties met CEO Brad Bourne at FTG’s Chatsworth, California facility to learn more about the acquisitions, their success in China, and the overall challenge of working in the aerospace and defense market.


Happy’s Essential Skills: Roadmapping Essentials

Many industries recognize value and benefits in technical roadmapping. However, misuse leads to abundant dangers and can render a technology roadmap useless, or worse. Good roadmaps embrace uncertainty, exploiting apparent weakness to derive maximum insight and understanding. The Technology Roadmapping Handbook from the University of Leipzig is a useful roadmapping reference.

Trouble in Your Tank: Building Reliability into the PCB, Part 2

In Part 1 of this column on reliability, I presented the common PTH failures encountered when reliability is less than robust. PTH reliability is influenced by several factors including the quality of the PTH after drilling, plating thickness and plating distribution in the PTH. In this column, I will present additional factors, including the Coffin-Manson model in the context of understanding reliability failures.

Catching up with Artnet Pro’s Meir Polack

Interested in all aspects of our industry, I have lately been especially focused on our suppliers, because more and more of my board shop clients are concerned about their vendor support chain as more of them are either reducing their presence in North America or leaving altogether. I am also keenly interested in companies whose mission it is to help the PCB industry survive, especially a company that does not abandon the “little guys,” but rather is focused on helping those smaller companies to compete with the giants whose goal is to run them over.

Event Review: 7th Electronic Materials and Processes for Space Workshop

This year's Electronic Materials and Processes for Space Workshop discussed a wide range of technology issues and developments when it comes to PCB fabrication and assembly for space applications. From addressing reliability issues to dealing with cracks that may form during thermal cycling, to REACH regulations and their impact on space hardware, and tin whisker growths. Barrie Dunn provides the highlights.

Speak Up!

If you have paid any attention at all to our newsletters and other publications, you should have been aware of this month’s topic long before opening this magazine. We tried to reach… everybody, so we could get their thoughts on the industry for this issue.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Engineering Economics (ROI)

Engineering economics is fundamental in engineering, especially for manufacturing support. For simplicity, I am using the term here as a process engineer for printed circuit equipment and automation of production.

A Day with Pete (Starkey)

Usually the one conducting the interviews, I-Connect007’s own Pete Starkey recently found himself on the other side of the microphone when I spent time with him in his hometown of Market Bosworth, England. There, between hiking and gardening, we found time to discuss Pete’s rich history in the PCB industry and the many changes and surprises he’s seen in the manufacturing process over the years.

Shane Whiteside and Summit Interconnect: Aspiring to New Heights

A few weeks ago I was privileged to meet with Shane Whiteside in Anaheim, California, at KCA Electronics. Whiteside, former COO of TTM, has helped launch a new company—Summit Interconnect— which encompasses the recent acquisition of KCA Electronics and Marcel Electronics International. Once again assuming an executive role, this time as CEO and president, Whiteside shared his story, strategy and vision for this new chapter.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a process that measures how a company is performing against those industry leaders. It is used to better understand how outstanding companies perform, and then helps your company develop plans to improve or adapt specific best practices.

Weiner’s World

This month's column has a higher percentage of IC coverage than normal for several reasons. The end of Moore's Law regarding transistor scaling will be dead by 2021 as will be replaced by 3D integration according to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS).


All About Flex: Creating Via Holes in Flexible Laminates

Almost all double-sided and multilayer flexible circuits require through-holes or vias to enable an electrical connection between conductive layers. Creating a reliable plated via requires several critical steps. The first one is creating the through-hole.

Inside Spirit Circuits

I was recently treated to a factory tour with Spirit Circuits’ Managing Director Martin Randall, to learn more about their process line and how it has evolved over time. In the discussion following, I learned about Spirit’s involvement in the China market and how they’ve structured their business to handle quick turn prototypes locally and high volume abroad.

High-Throw Electroless Copper– New Opportunities for IC Substrates and HDI Manufacturing

The one constant in electronics manufacturing is change. Moore’s Law, which successfully predicted a rate of change at which transistor counts doubled on integrated circuits (ICs) at lower cost for decades, is ceding to be an appropriate prediction tool.

Using the Type 1 Gauge Study to Assess Measurement Capability

Measurement capability is a critical aspect of ensuring product quality, therefore a measurement system must be assessed before being used on products. Understanding how to assess measurement capability becomes critical. The Type 1 Gauge study is typically the first step in a measurement system analysis program. Type 1 Gauge parameters are explained, and a worked example using electroless nickel immersion gold (ENIG) is provided.

A Thermal Conductivity Measurement Method, Adapted to Composite Materials Used in the PCB Industry

Most of today’s printed circuit board base materials are anisotropic and it is not possible to use a simple method to measure thermal conductivity along the different axes, especially when a good accuracy is expected. Few base material suppliers’ datasheets show X, Y and Z thermal conductivities. In most cases, a single value is given, moreover determined with a generic methodology, and not necessarily adapted to the reality of glass-reinforced composites with a strong anisotropy.

Round Robin of High-Frequency Test Methods by IPC-D24C Task Group (Part 1)

Currently there is no industry standard test method for measuring dielectric properties of circuit board materials at frequencies greater than about 10 GHz. Various materials vendors and test labs take different approaches to determine these properties. It is common for these different approaches to yield varying values of key properties like permittivity and loss tangent.

Made in Brazil: The Evolution and Revolution of Impedance Control in PCB Production

The PCB industry in Brazil has gone through several changes over the last decade. Our customers have been demanding better quality and higher-reliability products more than ever before, but few things have changed as much as impedance control. PCBs with impedance control requirements have become the engine of the market, and finding solutions to fit the customer’s needs is extremely challenging.

Viking Test Services: Much More than Test

Recently, 007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey and I toured Viking Test’s facility in Hants, UK where we met Managing Director Jake Kelly to learn about the history of the company, their recent involvement in the Indian PCB market, and what he thought of the EIPC Summer Conference.

Testing Todd: Test & Measurement—The Case for Validation

Test and measurement (T&M) are terms that can strike fear into the most robust of minds. Many engineers create designs and products of the future with specific results predicted for performance.

Faster, More Accurate AOI is More Important than Ever

Among PCB manufacturers, there is a common perception that AOI has not changed much since it was introduced decades ago. Over the last few years, however, new advanced technologies have made AOI solutions smarter, faster and much more accurate. AOI system data have even been integrated with newly developed automatic 3D shaping tools.


Patty's Perspective: Delving into Test and Inspection

I’ve always been a wet processing person, if not always in a PCB shop, at least at heart. My undergraduate degree is in chemistry and I cut my teeth working on electroless copper processes (just a metaphor, mind you!). Testing, testing and more testing in R&D can be sooo boring and repetitive.

Catching up with Sunrise Electronics’ Ashok and Jigar Patel

I had been hearing about Sunrise Electronics for many years, so when Ashok asked me to come and see them for myself, I jumped at the chance. It was one of the most amazing plant tours that I’ve been on in a long time. I wanted to know more, so we sat down and had a chat.

Standard of Excellence: The Future is in Fine lines

The age of much finer lines and spaces is upon us. After years of slowly moving towards this technology our customers are now demanding that all of us provide them with fine lines and spaces. Our new trend in electronics is for denser and denser circuitry on smaller and smaller real estate.

The Newest Flex Shop in the U.S.

I-Connect007 sales team member Angela Alexander and I recently got a tour of Lenthor’s new Silicon Valley flex board shop and then sat down with President and CEO Mark Lencioni to discuss the new flex facility, the markets, management, and the future.

Weiner’s World

The way that I see the problem relates to overcapacity for fabricators in the consumer segment of devices with flat panel displays—mobile and otherwise—as well as a decline in notebook PCs, TVs and other household and portable electronic devices. Additional culprits include the improved packaging designs as well as more powerful chips replacing multiple ICs—both requiring less board real estate.

The 21st Century PCB Factory– Designed to Eliminate Offshore Cost Advantages

Over 15 years have passed since North America and Europe ceased being the center of worldwide PCB fabrication and were supplanted by a Chinese market with low-cost labor, lax environmental requirements, and strong government support. In just a few short years, the superior offshore cost advantages of this new dynamic put volume PCB production in the West out of business, aside from the military and specialty technology applications contained in the few shops that continue to exist today.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Design for Manufacturing and Assembly, Part 2

Advances in interconnection technologies have occurred in response to the evolution of component packages, electronic technology and increasing complex functions. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that various forms of printed wiring remains the most popular and cost effective method of interconnections.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Design for Manufacturing and Assembly, Part 1

Advances in interconnection technologies have occurred in response to the evolution of component packages, electronic technology and increasing complex functions. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that various forms of printed wiring remain the most popular and cost-effective method of interconnections.

Sensible Design: Coatings—Five Essentials for Designers

In an ideal world, PCB designs would not have an inherent weak point for corrosion; unfortunately, in the real world, they do. When a weak point is revealed, you are better equipped to deal with it. Often the spacing of components, board finish and distance to ground planes can be optimised for corrosion resistance.

All About Flex: Imaging Methods for Etch Resist, Part 3: LDI

When LDI technology was first introduced around 20 years ago, throughput was an issue. LDI was often restricted to low volume or prototype runs. Subsequent advances in equipment as well as faster acting photoresist have made it practical for high volume circuit fabrication.


All About Flex: Common Flex Circuit Surface Finish Requirements

Copper is a unique metal and has been proven with the test of time in an incredible array of printed circuit and electrical wiring applications. It is highly conductive, has good flexibility properties, can withstand high temperatures and has good chemical resistance. Copper is also is in abundant supply and is fairly inexpensive.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Taiyo America Talks Inkjet Solder Masks and 3D Printing

Josh Goldberg of Taiyo America speaks with I-Connect007 guest editor Steve Williams about some of the latest innovations happening in his company, including inkjet solder masks, and how they lend to small runs and rapid prototyping type of development work, especially with the idea of doing an additive manufacturing process.

EIPC Summer Conference 2016, Day 2: Strategies to Maintain Profitability in the European PCB Industry

Delegates awoke to a gloomy Scottish morning on the second day of the EIPC Summer Conference 2016. One or two who maybe overindulged in the whisky on the previous evening had some difficulty in finding time for breakfast before the conference proceedings, but the atmosphere in the meeting room was brighter than the weather outside, as Professor Martin Goosey introduced the day’s programme.

The Sum of All Parts: The Fabricator-Assembler Connection

After discussing the relationship between PCB fabricators and those who design the boards (see my previous column ), it is imperative to do the same for the relationship between assemblers and fabricators. This brings about a whole new set of potential complications.

Ken Moffat of American Standard Circuits Talks Aerospace Accreditation, DfM, and More

At the recent SMTA West Penn Expo & Tech Forum, I had the opportunity to speak with Ken Moffat, of American Standard Circuits, based in Chicago. Among the topics we discussed was the importance of attending local chapter shows like this one, and ASC’s value-added services such as DfM, especially in the metal-backed and RF arenas.

All About Flex: Plating Process Options for Flexible Circuits

Plating copper through-holes or vias is a requirement for double-sided and multilayer circuits. In a previous column we discussed the plating process; specifically copper seed coating using electroless copper and Shadow plating, which is then followed with an electroplating process.

EIPC Summer Conference 2016, Day 1: Strategies to Maintain Profitability in the European PCB Industry

Resplendent in the kilt, EIPC chairman Alun Morgan welcomed a large and enthusiastic gathering of printed circuit professionals from all over Europe and as far afield as the USA, Canada and Russia, to the EIPC Summer Conference 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland's cosmopolitan capital city.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Producibility and Other Figures of Merit

Metrics are data and statistically backed measures. It is always expedient to base decisions on data and metrics, for example, in PCB design. These measures can be density, first-pass yield connectivity or in this context, producibility. These measures are the basis for predicting and planning a printed circuit design. But what if a metric doesn’t exist? Then you can create the next best measure, the Figure of Merit.

Book Review: Beating the Workplace Bully

There’s the woman who conned her co-worker into buying her coffee on the first day and then made it a daily event. Or the boss who was always threatening to fire his staff and telling them, “There’s blood in the water.” Or the supervisor who told her new employee on the first day that it was not her choice to hire her, because she had only worked in a small firm and “did not have the sophistication this corporate position needs. You don’t even dress properly.” This great book is full of such terrible people.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Matrix Highlights How Dry Film Laminator Addresses Fine Line Challenges

Fred Long, business development manager at Matrix USA, talks to I-Connect007 guest editor Dan Feinberg about how a new pressure system in the Hakuto Dry Film Laminator provides even heat and pressure along the entire length of the pressing cycle system to address the challenges of circuits with finer lines.


Institute of Circuit Technology Annual Symposium

On June 1, Technical Director Bill Wilkie introduced the 42nd Annual Symposium of the Institute of Circuit Technology, at the Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, UK, commenting upon the success of the recent Foundation Course and acknowledging the sterling efforts of his course tutors, although recognising that some of his longest-standing experts were now retiring.

Trouble in Your Tank: Primary Imaging for Pattern Plating, Part 2—Development

The proper development of the primary photoresist is critical to the overall success of the imaging process and in turn the processes that follow—either etching to form innerlayers or the electroplating processes on outer layers. In this step, the unexposed photoresist (after resist lamination and exposure) is washed away via the developing process.

The Shaughnessy Report: The Designer Roundtable Roundup

Every year, I attend SMTA Atlanta, just across town. You have to love a local trade show. No airlines, no jet lag, and no hotels. It’s a small show; it would fit in a school gymnasium. But for me, the highpoint of SMTA Atlanta is the Designers Roundtable. This year the roundtable had 15 attendees, up from 12 last year. Two of the new attendees were under 35, which surprised all of us "graybeards."

Multilayer's Viny Mulani on what it Takes to Survive Offshoring

As the leader of one of the surviving PCB shops in the United States, Multilayer Technology's President Viny Mulani has a unique perspective. He sat down with I-Connect007's Barry Matties recently at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to discuss what kind of machinery he’s looking to invest in to keep more business from moving offshore.

New Management and Strategies at eSurface

At the recent Geek-A-Palooza, I spoke with Alex Richardson and Rick McCann of eSurface Technologies, to learn about the condition of the company, their new semi-additive approach, and a couple of big announcements.
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