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I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week
07/30/2021 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
EIPC Technical Snapshot: Thinking Differently in a Post-Pandemic World
07/22/2021 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Anaya Vardya Discusses ASC’s Move into Additive Processes
07/20/2021 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Feeling the Supply Chain Squeeze
07/19/2021 | Nolan Johnson, PCB007
Catching Up With Archer Circuits’ Echo Yang
07/06/2021 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
PCB :: Fabrication Process
Eagle Electronics: Success through 'Building Everything'
During a recent visit to Chicago, Editors Andy Shaughnessy and Patty Goldman stopped by Eagle Electronics just outside of Chicago. Chief Operating Officer Brett McCoy gave them a tour of the facility, and spoke about the company’s plans for the future, and why Eagle is bucking the niche market trend and manufacturing a wide variety of PCBs.
The Power of Three: A Solder Mask Solution for North America
Technology and process developments in mature industries like the printed wiring board industry are not always easy. Many new products are evolutionary enhancements of existing processes. Often, these developments enhance the process and improve overall process control.
Schmoll Talks Technology
Schmoll’s Thomas Kunz and I had a chat recently at the HKPCA show. In our short discussion, we covered several topics, including Schmoll’s approach to the U.S. market, their work in direct imaging, and the nature of their relationship with ink suppliers.
Weiner’s World—February 2017
IPC APEX EXPO 2017 was the best in five or more years. The 60th annual meeting drew a crowd. The meetings were good. The mood was upbeat. There were reports of new orders from Asia as well as the Americas, and news of increasing business from the show floor. IPC membership was up in all its regions to more than 4,000.
Vertical Conductive Structures–a New Dimension in High-Density Printed Circuit Interconnect
From our previous conversations, I knew that Joan Tourné was working on a novel high-density interconnection concept. Having eagerly awaited the chance to discuss the technology in detail, I was delighted when he contacted me to confirm that his IP had been secured and that he could now talk openly about VeCS, the Vertical Conductive Structure designed to provide a cost-effective alternative for complex fan-out from fine-pitch grid array components.
Patty's Perspective: New Technology Heading our Way— Faster than Ever!
As an excellent introduction to this issue, IPC’s John Mitchell gives us a wonderful overview of what emerging technology is and what we need to do to keep up. One thing he emphasizes is a trained and competitive workforce. Indeed, in our recent hiring survey we learned that an overwhelming percentage of you are concerned about a shortage of skilled and qualified people. John’s column is a great call to action.
Ladle on Manufacturing: Drilling Deep
Whether you stack high or drill thick panels, the dynamics of drilling are similar. When you overlay the outer-layer artworks you may notice that the holes on the exit side of the panel or stack have a much higher level of positional variation than the entry side holes.
Catching up with…Prototron Tucson’s General Manager Kim O’Neil
Prototron’s Tucson Division serves as the company’s military defense division as well. They focus on mil-spec and aerospace work as well as special technology PCBs such as RF, microwave and flex circuits. During the past few months Kim 0’Neil and his team have been working on updating their mil-spec qualification from MIL-PRF-55110 to MIL-PRF-31032. Since Prototron is one of the first companies to make this transition, I wanted to talk to Kim about this accomplishment.
EIPC 2017 Winter Conference Review of Day 2
Almost everyone made it back to the conference room for the start of the second day of the EIPC Winter Conference in Salzburg, even those who had enjoyed the late networking session into the early hours!
Electroplated Copper Filling of Through-holes: Influence on Hole Geometry
The process consists of a two-step acid copper plating cycle. The first step utilizes periodic pulse reverse (PPR) electroplating to form a conductive copper bridge across the middle of a through-hole and is followed by direct current electroplating to fill the resultant vias formed in the bridge cycle.
Trouble in Your Tank: Acid Copper Plating
Electroplating a printed circuit board is by no means a trivial task. Higher layer counts, smaller-diameter vias (through-hole and blind) as well as higher-performance material sets contribute to the greater degree of difficulty with today’s technology.
True DFM: Taking Control of Your EDA Tool
We PCB designers are doing some truly great things with our layout tools. But we must remember that these tools are so powerful that they will sometimes allow us to design things that can’t be manufactured! We must collaborate with our fabricator and assembly brethren and embrace the best DFM practices, or face the consequences downstream.
Study of Immersion Gold Processes Used for Both ENIG & ENEPIG
The use of electroless nickel/electroless palladium/immersion gold (ENEPIG) has been steadily increasing the past several years and benefits of the finish have now become well-known throughout the industry. The finish provides both reliable solder joints and wire bonds
Catching up with…Nessis Inc. President Kathleen Niles
When I checked in on one of my old PCB sales associates recently, he told me that he had a new gig selling the latest and greatest new productivity software tools. He spoke so highly about Nessis Inc. and what their tools could do for companies, especially PCB shops, that I decided to learn more. I arranged to talk with Kathleen Niles, the co-founder and president of Nessis Inc. Here is a portion of that conversation.
Patty’s Perspective: Everything Old is New Again
This month’s issue is all about plating and surface finishes; long ago, that was pretty much my start in the world of printed circuits—wet processing. So this is kind of my home turf—and not, since I haven’t worked in wet processing for some…well, for many years. I’ve always expected that I could hop right back onto the plating room floor and pick right up where I left off all those years ago. Or could I? Have things changed much? Time to read on and see.
WKK and Schmoll Join Forces in China
Tom Burkhardt of Schmoll Maschinen and Hamed El-Abd of WKK spoke with Publisher Barry Matties about the recently formed distribution partnership between the two companies and specifically how each company stands to benefit from this pairing.
Ladle on Manufacturing: Material Matters
Have you considered whether or not you could improve your multilayer yields by better use of your base materials? Perhaps the following could give you a few ideas of how this could help you.
Catching up with...Coast to Coast Circuits CEO Walt Stender
Coast to Coast is an independent American circuit board manufacturing company. Yes, the key word here is “independent.” After many mergers and acquisitions that have diminished the mil/aero PCB vendor base, there are only a handful of independent companies for our country’s defense and aerospace contractors to choose from.
CES 2017: Press Day, LaunchIt and Showstoppers
Before the show opens, CES provides two days and evenings not open to the general attendees, to enable companies, large and small, an opportunity to present their new offerings to the press. These opportunities range from small meetings with individual members of the trade press to huge events such as those presented by Samsung, Asus, Sony, Intel, Panasonic and others, with literally several hundred in attendance.
Emmy Ross Discusses the New I-Connect007 E-Book Series
One thing that is long overdue in our industry is a series of guidebooks focused on helping companies with all their needs, from qualifications like AS9100 and Mil-P-31032 to various technologies, heavy copper, rigid-flex and microvias. I-Connect007 is now providing our industry with an entire series of these guidebooks, starting with the first book, "The Printed Circuits Buyers Guide to… AS9100 Certification." Authored by Imagineering Inc., this book educates readers about the AS9100 quality standard, and explains how to earn this certification.
Catching up with...M&A Expert Tom Kastner
If you want to know what is going on in our industry when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, there is no better person to turn to than Tom Kastner. Whenever I want to verify a rumor of a company being bought or sold, Tom is the first person I call, and unless he is under an NDA, he will fill me in. In this, our latest discussion, we talked about the PCB industry’s M&A activity in 2016 and what Tom expects to see in 2017.
Catching up with…Dr. Anthony Caputo
I met Dr. Anthony Caputo last year while helping one of my clients secure some strong engineering talent. Anthony had been reading my columns and reached out to me since he was looking for a new opportunity in a high-tech printed circuit board facility. Once I read his CV and saw his credentials, I jumped at that chance to help this talented young man.
Rather than joining the annual forecast fray by attempting to provide guidance or guesses as to the outlook for the PCB and electronic assembly businesses in 2017, I thought I would provide a different year-end assessment. Here are a few thoughts for the New Year and beyond from a long-term colleague and friend of the past half century, Harvey Miller, electronics market researcher, consultant and founder of Fabfile Online.
Innovative Use of Vias for Density Improvements
In today’s fast-paced global, economic environment—which requires constant innovation, upskilling, and performance improvements— there is a need for increasing density. The classic way to increase density is to reduce the trace and spacing.
Patty’s Perspective: Everything You Want to Know about Vias but Were Afraid to Ask
Regarding our survey on vias, almost 85% of our respondents said they used blind/buried vias. And since 15% of those answering were either suppliers or consultants, it seems that approximately 100% use the B/Bs. OK then, on to a tougher question. We then asked how often, and it turns out that “use” covers everything from rarely to pretty much all the time, with a definite undercurrent of “because we have to.”
Advanced UV Lasers for Fast, High-Precision PCB Manufacturing
For more than 30 years, lasers have played a significant role in the manufacturing of PCBs. It is not a coincidence that electronic devices have, at the same time, become increasingly miniaturized. The ability to tightly focus a laser beam much smaller than a mechanical tool has been an enabler of such dense, compact circuitry; and the elimination of consumables such as drilling and routing bits has reduced manufacturing costs.
Here we go again! The winter holiday (and trade show) season is upon us! Electronica's mood was upbeat. Next, the Asia and San Diego shows. We just received word as we were preparing for our trip to next month's HKPCA/IPC event in Shenzhen China that the CPCA (China Printed Circuit Association) show suddenly changed its March 2017 date and venue. Meanwhile, the HKPCA show, now billed as our industry's largest event, will have nearly 550 exhibitors—of which 20% are new.
KCE Group: A Thailand-Based PCB Manufacturer with a Growing Global Footprint
Recently, while at electronica in Munich, Germany I-Connect007's Judy Warner met KCE America President Rick Rhodes, and Joe Yeo of KCE Group. They discuss the unique challenges and opportunities that come with the rigorous automotive market, and explain why they continue to enjoy explosive growth.
Rogers Highlights Thermally Enhanced 92ML Materials at electronica
I met with Rogers Corporation Business Development Manager John Ranieri at Electronica recently. Ranieri’s professional focus is on the 92ML series of laminate, prepregs, and IMS, which was highlighted at the Munich show. The 92ML products are geared for the power electronics marketplace where thermal management is a major concern.
Streamline Circuits: The Importance of Being a Sales-Driven Organization
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Tom Doslak, senior VP of sales and marketing for Streamline Circuits. We discussed how the company got started, technologies that seem to be driving the marketplace, critical equipment for today’s PCB fabricator, and how being a customer-centered, sales-driven organization serves as the key to their success.
Let's Talk Testing: Vias for Dummies
In simple terms, a circuit board is but a composition of things designed to be connected and not. The number of layers and number of connections make no real difference as the geometry shapes the landscape.
Catching Up (Literally) with Uyemura’s George Milad at SMTAI 2016
I managed to catch up with George Milad of Uyemura at the recent SMTA International conference, which wasn’t easy to do. But he did take a few minutes to fill me in on his schedule for the week and it sure was packed—with a tutorial, presentations and IPC committee meetings.
Standard of Excellence: Let’s Get Flexible
Although flex and rigid-flex technology has been around for many years, it is only in recent years that it has come into its own. The reason for the increased requirements for the flex and rigid-flex technology is simple: Devices are getting smaller.
Speeding up the PCB Manufacturing Process
Lino Sousa of Pluritec discusses the next generation of equipment that's speeding up drill room processes. He also explains how technologists can now coat soldermask, tack cure, and be ready for imaging in 25 minutes or less. Sousa says a three-year ROI can be found in reduced electricity consumption alone.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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