Article Highlights
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
08/19/2022 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Time for a Price Hike?
08/18/2022 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
Catching Up With NEXTGEN’S Ravi Kumar
08/17/2022 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
Today’s M&A: Right on Target
08/09/2022 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Challenges of the 2022 PCB Market: The Party’s Over
08/08/2022 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
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Launch Letters: Give Your Literature Some Lovin’

Collateral is such an ugly word. As the late, great Rodney Dangerfield would have put it, brochures, sell sheets, process manuals, and other sales support tools often get no respect in our digital world. Even the convenience of downloading a PDF is scoffed at by today’s millennials who rely on the “Almighty App” and the “All-Knowing Cloud” to view, digest and store information.

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.

A PCB Manufacturers’ Representative Point of View

I met with long-time PCB manufacturers’ representative David Lanagan of Mandalay Technologies at the recent Geek-A-Palooza event, to discuss the current state of the Southern California market and the challenges of doing business there.

Book Review: Sales Manager Survival Guide—Lessons from Sales’ Front Lines

Sales Manager Survival Guide is a perfect book for a new sales manager. It is also important for those of us who have been in sales for many years, because it contains everything you need to become a great sales manager. Truth be known, it is the most comprehensive book on sales management I have ever read.

Catching up with…Author David A. Brock

By far the best and most useful business book I have read this year is The Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons from Sales' Front Lines by David A. Brock. I was so impressed by this book that I’ve since recommended it to just about every sales manager I know.

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.

Next-Generation PCB Drilling

During the recent NEPCON China event in Shanghai, I spoke with Andreas Schneider, sales director for cutting and structuring laser at LPKF Laser & Electronics, about the latest developments in laser drilling, how customers can justify investments in laser drilling machines, and their outlook for the industry in Asia.

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.

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.

Against the Density Wall: Landless Vias Might be the Answer

I saw my first landless via multilayer while visiting NEC in Japan in 1985. You may not know much about landless vias. This has been a well-kept secret for the last 30 years, possibly because it is not permitted on military boards, and therefore, discouraged in all IPC standards. So when a company showed us their landless via boards, we said, "You can't do that!"

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.

Catching up with Frank Bevans—the PCB Industry’s Premier Photographer

I can tell you from first-hand experience that working with Frank Bevans has always been a pure delight. Ask anyone who Frank has worked with and they will agree. Frank is also nothing short of a magician when it comes to making even the most basic (and even a little messy) PCB facility look like a multimillion-dollar high-tech center through his photographs and videos.

Graphic PLC…Are the Rumors True?

During a visit to Europe recently, I-Connect007's Barry Matties met with Rex Rozario to get to the bottom of the rumors and speculation regarding the sale of his company, Graphic PLC.

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.

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.


Alun Morgan on the EIPC Summer Conference 2016

Each year, the EIPC puts on two conferences for their members. I recently attended their summer conference in Edinburgh and had a chance to speak with EIPC President Alun Morgan about the topics covered at the conference and the connectedness and networking that is always present at EIPC events.

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.

Launch Letters: Exceptional Service—Extra Toppings without Sacrifice

Exceptional service is often recognized by not being recognized. Exceptional—not good— service is demonstrated by actions that are assumed and relied upon by the customer to be the norm. Exceptional service is providing the extraordinary and value-added without being asked. For companies that break this trust, being “recognized” may very well result in disenfranchised customers and lost business.

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.

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.

What You Probably Don't Know About NASA

While at Maker Faire 2016 in San Mateo recently, I met with George Gorospe of NASA’s Ames Research Center to discuss his group’s recent findings and projects, NASA’s CubeSats and microsatellites, and what the commercialization of space travel means for the near future.

Laser Pointers: Automate to Innovate in Flex Processing

The growing market demand for mobile devices, wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices continues to create new challenges for suppliers and manufacturers in the electronics value chain. Along with this market demand comes a challenging set of market requirements for the underlying circuits and components that drive such devices.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: NuJay Technologies a 'Borderless' PCB Company

Nujay Technologies’ President Nesh Dholakia tells Guest Editor Steve Williams what it means to be a “borderless” and “mortarless” PCB supplier serving the global market. By carefully choosing their manufacturing partners, NuJay is able to consistently supply PCBs of any technology, from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world.


The Right Approach: Our IoT Lives

In March, at the 2016 IPC APEX EXPO show in Las Vegas, the next big thing everyone was talking about was the Internet of Things (IoT). Equipment manufacturers were standing in line to tout their machines as IoT-capable and just waiting for the industry to catch up. But the IoT has been at play in our personal lives for quite a while…

Punching Out! What the Heck is Adjusted EBITDA?

If you are looking to sell or buy a business, you will most likely come across the term ‘adjusted EBITDA.’ Other common terms are adjusted cash flow, owner’s discretionary earnings, earnings after add-backs, etc. What do these terms mean, and why are they important?

Impacting the Industry—Literally

Unless you have been living under a rock or in a cave for the past six months or so, you should be aware (and perhaps astounded, astonished, amazed, dumbfounded, aghast…) at the presidential campaign goings-on. Dear heaven! But without going into detail or expressing an opinion, I thought I would share some highlights of my recent visit to our nation’s capital.

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.

Global Technology Development: HDP User Group European Meeting 2016

Delighted and honoured to be invited again to attend the open session of the High Density Packaging User Group (HDPUG) European Meeting, I made my way to the picturesque Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a tiny principality bordered by Belgium, France and Germany, and ranked among the world's top-three nations in both wealth and wine consumption, to learn about the latest in collaborative research and development by member companies engaged in the manufacture of products utilising high-density electronic packages.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Learning Theory/Learning Curves

Learning is not instantaneous! Nor is progress made in a steady manner, but at a rate that is typified by one of two basic patterns. In some cases, plateaus will be seen in learning curves. These are caused by factors such as fatigue, poor motivation, loss of interest, or needing time to absorb all the material before progressing to new. This column will not go into details of how learning is achieved, but will summarize some of these theories.

Weiner’s World

Gen Consulting Company (GCC) has issued the Radiant Insights report “Global HDI Printed Circuit Board Market Forecast and Analysis 2016-2021.” The report provides a detailed analysis of worldwide markets for HDI printed circuit boards from 2011–2016, and provides market forecasts for 2016–2021 by region/country and subsectors.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuit Fabrication and Cleanroom Manufacturing

Facility cleanliness is a vital part of process control for flexible circuit fabricators. As higher density requirements continue a relentless drive toward finer traces and spaces, particles and foreign material can cause problems in a number of operations.

MACFEST—Manufacturing Advanced Coatings for Future Electronic Systems

Now in its second year, MACFEST is a collaborative research project involving partners A-Gas Electronic Materials, C-Tech Innovation, MTG Research, the Institute of Circuit Technology, the University of Leicester and Merlin Circuit Technology.

It’s Only Common Sense: Elevate the Conversation to get Closer to your Customers

So we all think we are doing a pretty good job getting to know our customers, right? We think because we know what market they are in and what they build, and have some sort of idea of what they need we are in pretty good shape, right?


Automation is the Talk of the Town at CPCA Show 2016

As Pete Starkey’s interviewees point out, the case for automation is not just about moving things faster, but also reducing handling and handling defects, improving consistency and reliability, and of course, reducing costs.

Case Study: Reducing Defects Caused by Excess Handling and Mishandling

Most folks associate quality improvement initiatives with upfront expenses and ongoing cost increases. Fortunately, when done efficiently and with enough forethought and planning, quality improvement programs can pay for themselves in the form of increased throughput, reduced labor steps, and reduction in materials consumption.

Standard of Excellence: LED and Metal-Backed Technology—Today and in the Future

Probably one of the hottest, or should I say coolest, technologies today is LED. I would also venture to say it is one of the fastest growing as well. All you have to do is look around you can see evidence of this everywhere from holiday lights in your home and Jumbotrons at sports arenas, to highway and business signage. The lighting industry is now dominated by LED technology.

Flex Talk: Inaugural West Coast Geek-A-Palooza a Fun-filled Success!

Geek-A-Palooza kicked off the 2016 schedule May 12 in Irvine, California. Historically, Geek-A-Palooza has been held in Minneapolis but is expanding this year to include Orange County and Boston as well.

BOOK REVIEW: Printed Circuits Handbook, Seventh Edition, 2016 (McGraw-Hill)

The Printed Circuits Handbook has been a classic reference to the industry for many years, and the new edition will assure its place for years to come. The 7th Edition features 71 chapters, four more than the last edition, structured in 12 parts, and authored by 38 contributors—a list of accomplished authors that could double as a who’s who in the world of circuit boards.

2016 Asian Consumer Electronics Show Highlights

The second annual CES Asia in Shanghai, China concluded on May 13, surpassing last year’s event by all measures and reinforcing the show as the premier platform for launching technology in the Asian marketplace.

All About Flex: Imaging Methods for Etch Resist, Part 2: Photoimaging

This is the second of three columns describing typical methods for creating an etch resist for fabrication of printed circuits. Photoresist can come in the form of a liquid that gets coated on the substrate or as a dry film that is laminated. Liquid and dry film resist can be positive-acting or negative-acting.

The Right Approach: Quick & Easy 6S to Reduce Handling Issues

Handling is often the source of many pain points for PCB fabricators, resulting in rework, scrap and customer returns. Quick & Easy 6S is a fantastic tool to minimize handling risk by reducing product travel and improving shop cleanliness.

PE on 3D objects

I recently sat down with Mike O’Reilly of Optomec to discuss 3D printing onto existing substrates and small polymer-based additive manufacturing pieces and how that impacts PCB manufacturing. Mike also discuss the benefits of printing with conductive epoxies versus the traditional solder process, and where Optomec fits in to the burgeoning 3D market, going forward.

Beyond FR-4: High Performance Materials for Advanced Designs, Part 2

In Part One we covered basic FR-4 and variants that have been used in the commercial and military market for the past few decades, but in this column we will delve into the newer materials that target a specific application and/or market segment.


Happy’s Essential Skills: Project/Product Life Cycle

The product, and or project (process) life cycle (PLC) is fundamental to a corporation intent on developing new products or processes. It sometimes is called the new product introduction (NPI) process but that is only half of the life cycle. There is product support, enhancement and eventually, obsolescence.

The Sum of All Parts: Planning for a First-Time-Right PCB Design

The development of highly integrated and high-speed, chip-based circuit boards brings several functional benefits. But at the same time, these can introduce additional challenges to the actual board itself. Therefore, developing an effective plan for designing, developing, testing and producing the final PCBs is a good business practice.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuits and Kaizen Events

All Flex uses a variety of different tools and techniques in its continuous improvement efforts. A Kaizen event or Blitz is one technique that has resulted in significant improvements in our yields, productivity and customer satisfaction.

A Conversation with Walt Custer: Market Report

In a recent conversation, Walt Custer shared current market data and industry trends, detailing those market segments and regions that are currently seeing growth and those that are in decline. Walt also offered his interpretation of the data, which he uses to forecast the upcoming month.

Long-Term Thermal Reliability of PCB Materials

This paper describes the purpose, methodology, and results to date of thermal endurance testing performed at Amphenol Printed Circuit Board Technology in Nashua, NH. The intent of this thermal aging testing is to establish longterm reliability data for PWB materials for use in applications that require 20+ years (100,000+ hours) of operational life under different thermal conditions.

Flexible Thinking: Process Engineering—PCB Manufacturing’s ‘Delta Force’

Process engineers serve a vital function on the front line of printed circuit manufacturing. They are often, if you will, the “Delta Force” that subdues and controls that which is one of the mortal enemies of manufacturing…process variation.

A Process Engineer's Guide to Effectively Troubleshooting PWB Defects

The printed wiring board fabrication process is an intricate maze of interrelated steps, both chemical and mechanical. A thorough understanding of each of the process steps is critical in minimizing or eliminating non-conforming defects—the ones that cost the fabricator money and can lead to lost customers.

Jason Chung Offers the Asian Perspective and Explains Ventec’s Aim to Differentiate

I spent a few minutes with Ventec’s Jason Chung whilst attending CPCA recently, where I had the opportunity to absorb his views on the current China market, the importance of setting yourself apart in a tight economy, and the value of bringing stability to customers.

Punching Out! The Additive Process: Tips on How to Buy a Board Shop or Assembly House

One of the quickest ways to grow a business is to acquire another business. At the same time, acquiring a business can be risky, and a really bad deal may put your original business in jeopardy. Here are some tips on how to make acquisitions.

The Future of Computer-Integrated Manufacturing in the PCB Industry

Computer-integrated manufacturing is already a proven reality in the PCB industry for those prepared to make the investment, and results in improved quality and reduced costs. The biggest barrier to its general adoption is the reluctance of some equipment manufacturers to communicate in a uniform data format.


IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2016: Industry Leaders Advocate for a Pro-Manufacturing Policy Agenda

IPC places a high priority on educating government officials about key policy issues of importance to the electronics industry. That’s why top executives from leading electronics companies gathered in Washington, D.C. recently for “IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2016.”

Getting a Handle on Handling Errors

When gathering info for this month’s topic on handling strategies, I knew there was much happening in the automation end of things and all that it can do for handling. But I also knew it was not something that is easy for the “little guy” to do—automation is expensive, in general, and it is not always conducive to the high mix of small lot sizes typical of the many prototypeplus facilities in North America and Europe.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Technical Writing

Technical writing is one of those topics that they don’t really talk about in college—at least not where I went. Writing and English has never been a strong like of mine compared to science and math. So I did my required time in English and wrote my lab reports the best I knew how.

Weiner’s World

3D printing, China’s SMT equipment and robotics markets, IPC’s mandate, counterfeiters, and Taiwan PCB makers’ shift to automotive electronics—Gene Weiner talks about these things and more in this new article.

Orbotech’s Latest Technology at IPC APEX EXPO

Orbotech presented their latest new technologies at IPC APEX EXPO 2016. The Nuvogo 1000 is a higher power version of their multi wavelength direct imaging machine, as well as their new automated optical shaping technology which can add copper deposition to an otherwise defective PCB. I met with Orbotech’s Micha Perlman in their booth on the show floor, to learn more.

'Can Do' in CAM Outsourcing: A Case for Outsourcing CAM Engineering

In the West, outsourcing is sometimes considered taboo and many believe it is one of the causes for shifting our manufacturing base to the East—specifically China and other lower cost Asian countries. In this series of columns, I will make a case in support of CAM outsourcing—especially for North American and Western European printed circuit board manufacturers.

Koen Hollevoet Explains Rogers' New PEEK-based Material for Extreme Temps

Rogers has been developing a new material called XT/duroid laminate, which is based on polyether ether ketone (PEEK) material and can withstand some of the harshest temperatures and environments. I met with Koen Hollevoet, Business Development Manager at Rogers Corporation, at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to further discuss this material and learn how it might benefit the PCB market.

Made in Brazil: Focusing on What Matters Most!

Every company claims to be constantly improving their business or process, but not as many grasp the core idea of continuous improvement and live it daily. This is evident when one analyzes companies competing on the same market, providing quite the same products, yet having totally different results. Improvement is often misunderstood as doing things differently, which is a huge mistake.

Ventec International Group Expands North American Focus

Ventec International Group is looking to expand their U.S. operations, and they’ve begun this process by bringing Chris Alessio on board as VP of sales and operations of Ventec USA. I met with Chris and Ventec USA President Jack Pattie at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to discuss their approach and possible opportunities for the North American laminate market.

Rex Rozario Brings IPC Board Duties to a Close

At this year’s IPC APEX EXPO, Rex Rozario’s term as an IPC Board member came to an end. At the show, I sat down with Rex, who reflected on his time with IPC and the areas on which he hopes the association will focus more in the future—namely, strengthening the relationship between the UK and the U.S., as well as continuing to encourage smaller PCB manufacturers to join IPC and contribute.


Nano System, Two Years On

Established in July 2014, Nano System Inc. focuses on the design and manufacture of laser drill systems for the PCB industry. I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias caught up with Nano System President Sam Sekine last month at IPC APEX EXPO to discuss the latest product and business developments at his company.

Rogers: 'To PIM-test Our Material, You Have to Build a Circuit'

Passive intermodulation (PIM) is a circuit anomaly that has been occurring in cellular base station antennas, causing tremendous frustration and cost to antenna OEMs. As the supplier of the materials being used by these OEMs, Rogers Corp., and more specifically, Product Manager Tony Mattingly, must come up with a solution.

All About Flex: Lean Manufacturing and NPIP for Flexible Circuits

Many companies are familiar with lean manufacturing concepts and have successfully used these techniques to improve manufacturing processes. Lean techniques, while most often used in printed circuit fabrication and assembly operations, can also be applied to nonmanufacturing processes. One such process is new part number introduction (NPIP).

Catching up with KT Technical Sales: Looking at Things from the Rep's Point of View

Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time working with reps. I like to think of myself as an advocate for reps since I have spent so much time trying to get the PCB shops to play nice with them.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Using Web Resources

The World Wide Web is a real boon to information retrieval. The key is getting to relevant information and not being overwhelmed by the sheer number of references. When confronted with a process problem, the urgency of a solution requires that you know how to use Web resources expeditiously.
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