Article Highlights
Show & Tell Magazine Now Available on Demand
05/04/2021 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
04/30/2021 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
EIPC Technical Snapshot: Supply Chain and Material Price Pressures
04/26/2021 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Isola Releases IS550H Material
04/26/2021 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
04/23/2021 | Andy Shaughnessy, I-Connect007

Latest Articles

Photonics Systems Looks to Expand Its PCB Capabilities

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

Quality by Design

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

Stitching Capacitor: Crosstalk Mitigation for Return Path Discontinuity

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

ICT 45th Annual Symposium Review

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

What Electronics Companies Need to Know About Environmental Product Requirements

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

IPC’s PCB Tech Trends Study Highlights Issues Impacting Fabricators

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

DuPont on Materials Challenges and New Opportunities

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

Words of Advice: Planning a New Design

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What do you think is the most important thing a designer should remember when planning a new PCB design? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.

Creating Stability in Materials Chaos

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

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

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


Laminate Suppliers Face Increasing Demands From Customers

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

The GraftWorx Fluid Management Patch Story

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

Orbotech Celebrates Success of Orbotech Diamond and Discusses Future Trends

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

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

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

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

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

Isola on Adapting Processes to Meet Customer Needs

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

Collaboratively Creating Wearable Medical Products

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

Electrolytic Plating: Filling Vias and Through-holes

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

FlexFactor Program Informs, Inspires, Attracts, and Recruits Talent

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

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

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


Barbara Bracken Discusses ICAPE's New Facility

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

Growing Opportunities with 3D Printed Electronics

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

DuPont on New Beginnings and Empowering the Industry

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

Making Materials Succeed: Past, Present, and Future Trends

Tony Senese, manager for the business development group at Panasonic EMBD, gives Nolan Johnson an overview of materials and components as well as changing business models and methods to make materials succeed and how to stay profitable.

XNC Format: Gerber Takes Data Into the Future

The problem is that so many NC files are of deplorable quality because the NC format was never designed as a data transfer format. It has always been a machine driver and contains all sorts of information that a drilling machine needs, but that is irrelevant and confusing for data exchange.

Technically Appropriate Material Choices are Key to Design Success

Materials are no longer a passive part of the design; they play an active role in the manufacturability, reliability, and speed of a PCB. I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson and Mike Creeden, founder of San Diego PCB Design, discuss several key characteristics that designers should consider in their material selection process.

Alun Morgan on the Future of PCB Materials

The I-Connect007 editorial team asked Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group, to discuss materials at a high level. Our conversation delivered a detailed overview of the current state of the electronics industry.

Words of Advice: Your Company’s Design Process

In a recent survey, we asked PCB designers to describe their company’s design process: Is it a rigid workflow they follow to the letter, or a process that allows for their individual techniques? Of course, the comments were illustrative. Only one respondent said, "We just wing it."

New Technical Director and Upcoming 2019 EIPC Summer Conference

Tarja Rapala-Virtanen is the newest technical director for the EIPC. I-Connect007's Nolan Johnson and long-time EIPC conference attendee Pete Starkey discuss her new role, the upcoming summer conference in Leoben, Austria, and the program in place for the June conference.

Learning to Be More Flexible: Case Studies on Improving FPC Design

As miniaturization requirements force manufacturers to pack more functionality into ever-smaller packages, it becomes more difficult to conform to IPC construction recommendations. Achieving robust FPCs requires frequent, iterative interaction internally among the mechanical, electrical, and PCB design teams, as well as with the fabricators and assemblers. The sooner in the design cycle you can engage the supplier and assembler, the better.


Vertical Conductive Structures, Part 1: Rethinking Sequential Lamination

Sequential lamination, as it is used today in high density interconnect (HDI) and derivative technologies, is constrained by the fact that one cannot plate a blind hole deeper than the diameter of the hole. A larger hole allows processes to plate deeper. In fact, this manufacturing constraint has made it a challenge even to reliably plate and process blind holes up to a 1:1 aspect ratio.

Averatek on the Future of Additive and Semi-additive Processing

Averatek’s President and COO Mike Vinson talks with Barry Matties about the benefits semi-additive and additive processing can bring to the shop floor as well as some of the current challenges and limitations that continue to leave many manufacturers hesitant to implement the technology.

Words of Advice for New PCB Designers

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What do you think is the most important thing a designer should remember when planning a new PCB design? Here are a few answers, edited slightly for clarity. One favorite: "Have a good music selection."

Export Controls in Flux

U.S. export control rules have changed significantly over the last decade, and more changes are expected as policymakers tackle the treatment of new and foundational technologies and respond to geopolitical developments.

Creating Smart Surfaces with Electronic Functionality

Of all of the technical user presentations I attended at the AltiumLive design summit in Munich, the one I found most fascinating introduced an innovative technology that encouraged a bit of lateral thinking and appealed to my creative side: the IMSE, or injection-moulded structural electronics.

Words of Advice: Long Component and Laminate Lead Times

In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What advice do you have regarding the current supply chain issues? Here are just a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity. One reply really sticks out: "If the end customer is large, use their power."

XPLM: Using PLM to Integrate ECAD and MCAD Data

During AltiumLive in Munich, I met with Robert Huxel, XPLM’s director of business development for EMEA and APAC. XPLM offers data integration for some of the big EDA tool companies, and their tools can integrate ECAD and MCAD data into PLM systems. I asked Robert to tell us about the requirements of today’s PLM tools, the changing world of ECAD and MCAD integration, and whether these two types of data are ever going to converge.

Super PCB's Jessica Zhang on LEDs and Other Trending Business Areas

In an interview with I-Connect007 at the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Super PCB Program Manager Jessica Zhang provides an overview of the company and shares new business trends they're seeing, including LEDs, wearable devices, and more.

EM Modeling: The Impact of Copper Ground Pour on Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces the general purposes of copper ground pour on printed circuit boards. Subsequently, the impact of copper ground pour on PCB channel loss in terms of insertion loss and impedance in terms of time domain reflectometry (TDR) is studied with electromagnetic modeling using Mentor HyperLynx.

IPC Asia President Phil Carmichael on China Trends

At the productronica China 2019 show in Shanghai, Barry Matties joined Phil Carmichael, president of IPC Asia, to discuss the continued growth of IPC in Asia, including the increasing emphasis on training. IPC China has grown from hosting two technical conferences five years ago to 32 in the past year. Phil also addresses current trends he’s seeing as well as trade tensions between China and the U.S.


Youth in the Industry Putting Training to Work

At a job fair on campus at George Fox University, Nolan Johnson sat down with Jake Whipple, a computer engineering senior, to discuss the GFU engineering program. This is one of the few engineering programs in the U.S. that gives students experience designing PCBs before they enter the work force.

Patty's Perspective: From Start to Finish

Our goal in this month's issue of Flex007 Magazine is to provide insights into how best to accomplish the seemingly daunting task of designing flexible and rigid-flex circuits—and with a new and different design each time. A lot of it boils down to one factor: working with your supplier and customer.

Alun Morgan on Thermal Management and LEDs in Automotive

Guest Editor Judy Warner met with Alun Morgan, technology ambassador for Ventec International Group, to discuss topics addressed at the Automotive Executive Forum that took place at IPC APEX EXPO 2019. Morgan describes his presentation and findings centered around thermal management in automotive, specifically LEDs, as well as the unique set of growing thermal management challenges Tier 1 suppliers are now facing in the automotive sector.

Stacked Microvia Reliability: Ongoing Work and Upcoming IPC Conference

One year ago, Happy Holden's review of the 2018 IPC High-Reliability Forum reported the presentation of J.R. Strickland and Jerry Magera, who described research at MSI Applied Technology into overcoming the risk of stacked microvia failures escaping standard quality assurance procedures. Their report provided a basis for the IPC white paper IPC-WP-023, which addressed reliability issues associated with stacked microvias and included data collected from several other printed circuit manufacturers.

University Students Point to the Future in their Research

Cutting-edge automation, AI, machine learning, and Industry 4.0 are all part of the response to the increasing demands for printed circuit boards that are not only faster, smaller, and cheaper but also higher-frequency, lower-loss, more temperature tolerant, and higher reliability. In many cases, it will be unique and advanced research coming out of the university system that will help move the industry forward.

American Standard Circuits' Ken Moffat on Flex and Rigid-flex Business

Ken Moffat is the director of business development at American Standard Circuits, where covers a fairly broad territory from his base in Toronto throughout Canada and parts of the U.S. from east to west. In an interview with I-Connect007 at the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Ken talks about the state of the flex and rigid-flex industry.

Preparing to Enter the Workforce With PCB Design Experience

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Alex Burt, a computer engineering student at George Fox University, at a well-attended college career fair on the GFU campus in Newberg, Oregon. In the interview, Alex discusses his PCB classwork, challenges of design, and how it has impacted his internship experience as he prepares to enter the workforce upon graduation in the spring semester of 2019.

George Fox University: Teaching PCB Design to EE Students

Gary Spivey is director of engineering projects at George Fox University, a Christian college in the Pacific Northwest, and his students learn to design and fabricate a PCB while also giving back to the community. Not surprisingly, these graduates get snapped up quickly. In this wide-ranging interview, Spivey discusses GFU’s engineering curriculum, their cutting-edge lab facilities, and the need to teach students to think critically.

Book Review: Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell

Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell is a great book for technical people to learn the art of storytelling and anyone else who wants to tell better stories.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Orbotech West on Supporting Customer Needs

Orbotech West President Sharon Cohen speaks with Kelly Dack about Orbotech West’s restructuring to better support customer needs, their customer monitoring center, and hints at the capabilities of new products coming soon.


U.S. Tax Law Boosts Growth, But Uncertainties Loom

Monday, April 15 was the deadline for millions of Americans to file their income tax returns, so this is a good time to review the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) as well as the current tax policy landscape and how these rules are affecting the electronics industry.

SEMI’s Cristina Sandoval on Mentoring and Retaining Young Talent

Cristina Sandoval, manager of workforce development and university initiatives for the SEMI Foundation, discusses how two new programs, as well as a long-running high school STEM outreach program, are aiming to address the skills gap within the industry. Sandoval also explains SEMI’s efforts to prepare students to enter the workforce and continuing to develop talent as young professionals join the industry.

Advance Your Company Through Automation

At the recent IPC APEX EXPO 2019, Yash Sutariya discusses with Patty Goldman the labor shortage he has experienced in the Detroit area, the impact automation can have in the manufacturing process, and other strategies to advance your company.

Sunstone's Terry Heilman Discusses the Evolving Industry

For the last 14 years, CEO Terry Heilman has been one of the key leaders in driving the expansive growth at Mulino, Oregon-based Sunstone Circuits, growing from a traditional PCB manufacturer to a PCB solutions provider with online ordering and a free PCB design tool. At IPC APEX EXPO 2019, Terry discusses the importance of serving the customer, how customers are shaping companies today, and the impact this will have on companies in the future.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MivaTek Discusses Flatbed LED Direct Imaging Systems

Brendan F. Hogan, managing director for MivaTek Global, and Chris Hrusovsky, VP of business development, give Pete Starkey their outlook on the market for flatbed LED direct imaging systems, report spectacular sales success, and describe their new introductions for large-format, dual-tray and microelectronics systems.

Ventec Focuses on High-mix Manufacturing

The I-Connect007 team recently toured Ventec International Group’s Suzhou factory where a modern, flexible manufacturing concept designed for fast delivery is enhancing their established volume manufacturing of specialty, high-reliability epoxy laminates and prepregs. Read on to know more about Ventec's ongoing investment in the facility to offer flexible world-class high-mix manufacturing capabilities for polyimide, thermal management, low-loss, and signal integrity material solutions.

ITEQ’s Tarun Amla Discusses 5G Inflection Points

ITEQ Corporation Executive VP and CTO Tarun Amla discusses effects of 5G on materials and shares general observations on the 5G rollout at DesignCon. He also talks about the challenges for their customers, and how they help them address their issues.

Words of Advice: Obstacles to Getting Designs to Fab

In a recent survey, we asked, "What are the biggest obstacles you face in getting your design to the fabricator?" Here are a few of the responses, edited slightly for clarity.

Andy Johnson: EDA a Great Field for Young People

At the AltiumLive event in Munich, Germany, I sat down for an interview with Altium’s Andy Johnson. Andy is 25 and just a few years out of college, so I asked for his thoughts on working in this industry and what we can do to draw more young people into the PCB design community.

Kelly Dack at IPC APEX EXPO: The Attendees Speak!

During IPC APEX EXPO, Guest Editor Kelly Dack and the I-Connect team roamed the show floor, recorders in hand. They asked various attendees for their impressions of the show, and any new tools and technology that may have caught their attention. These are their stories.


Staying Current on Flex Manufacturing is Smart Business

Brendan Hogan, managing director of smart electronics manufacturer MivaTek Global, discusses how to better design for flex, and ways designers can stay current on manufacturing technology that can impact their flex boards.

Dan Gamota Discusses Flex and Alternative Substrates

As the VP of manufacturing technology and innovation for Jabil, Dan gave us his take on the current state of flex and alternative substrates and explained why modeling, automation, and process controls are likely to be key ingredients in the recipe for manufacturing non-FR-4 boards in the future.

Brexit Postponed Amid Political Gridlock; Industry Disruptions in Store

The United Kingdom’s effort to leave the European Union, known by the nickname “Brexit,” is bogged down in political uncertainty, which in turn is creating disruptions in the global economy.

EIPC Winter Conference, Day 2

After the papers from the first day of the EIPC Winter Conference in Milan on February 14–15, the delegates were hosted at a reception and plant tour of Elga Europe at their nearby production facility. Here's a recap of the events and highlights of the Day 2 of the conference.

Automation on Full Display at Recent China Exhibitions

With the rising cost of labor in China, the growing demand for automation has never been stronger. At the recent productronica China 2019, and accompanying shows, one hall was packed full of automation technology. This video gives you a glimpse into what was on display… and the new workforce.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Miraco Discusses Flexible Circuit Products and Offerings

Jason Michaud is the vice president of sales and marketing at Miraco Inc. In this interview, Michaud discusses with Joe Fjelstad the history of the company, and their flexible circuit products and offerings. He also talks about how they are helping customers improve their product designs.

SimplifyDA: Time for a New Autorouter Paradigm?

At DesignCon, I spoke with SimplifyDA CEO Zen Liao and Director of Sales and Marketing Dale Hanzelka. SimplifyDA is putting a new twist on the old autorouter by utilizing topological technology. I asked them to discuss their approach to autorouting, and how they plan to entice more PCB designers to use routers. Is it time for a paradigm shift in autorouting?

Hardware and Software in Smart Factories

As smart factories become a part of the present rather than a thing of the future, we will all need to become familiar with related concepts and components. This article is dedicated to various automation protocols, including some new ones just coming on the market, and covers hardware, such as PLCs and machine interfaces, as well as software and network protocols, such as MAPS, SECS/GEM, OML, CFX, IPC-2541, and custom software.

CPCA Show and productronica China 2019 Review

It was a busy week in China for the electronics industry. With multiple trade shows and conferences going on simultaneously in Shanghai, including the CPCA Show 2019, productronica China, SEMICON China, electronica China, and FPD China, it appears from the crowds that the market is strong in the region.

Meyer Burger on Inkjet Technology and Digital Printing Benefits

Don Veri, sales and business development manager for Meyer Berger, discusses some of the challenges fabricators face in adopting inkjet technology, the benefits they can expect once it’s deployed in their facility, and the advantages of digital printing in solving problems on the shop floor.


Bert Simonovich on Modeling Copper Roughness

I met with one of our contributors, Bert Simonovich of Lamsim Enterprises, at DesignCon 2019. Bert’s paper on interconnect modeling was nominated as a Best Paper finalist, so I asked him to discuss his paper and some of the challenges that engineers and their customers are facing right now.

IPC: Trump’s FY2020 Budget Plan Kicks Off U.S. Policy Debates

Within the last week, U.S. President Trump released his $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget plan, kicking off the annual federal budget process. IPC is watching several budget debates that could impact the electronics industry and its supply chain.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: MacDermid Alpha Discusses Recent Company Rebranding

Senior VP Joseph D’Ambrisi of MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions speaks with Steve Williams about the recent rebranding of the business, and the benefits to their customers.

3DEM Modeling: Influence of Metal Plating on PCB Channel Loss and Impedance

This article briefly introduces different types of metal plating commonly used in PCB fabrication. Subsequently, the influence of metal plating on PCB channel loss (i.e., insertion loss or S21) and impedance (i.e., time domain reflectometry or TDR) is studied with 3DEM modeling,

Smart Factories: More Than Robots

The acceptance of smart factories is a global movement across multiple industries. Even materials and chemistries are aligning with a move toward further automation, which allows equipment manufacturers to capture and store more data, and software layers to perform more detailed analysis, prediction, and optimization.
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