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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
Carrying the Flag
The September 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine concludes our month-long look at industry standards. We wrap up by "waving the standard" in celebration. Of course, that phrase immediately piques the interest of us wordsmiths. Why, after all, do English speakers use "standard" as a synonym for a flag?
Leo Lambert on Training the Next Generation of Technologists
I sat down for an interview with Leo Lambert, VP of technical director for EPTAC Corporation, during the IPC Summer Meetings in Raleigh, North Carolina. We discussed the company’s growth, including plans to have training centers across different regions of the country to help cut down on students’ travel times, and why training methods must constantly evolve to remain effective.
Insulectro and DuPont Experts Talk Flex Design
I recently spoke with Insulectro’s Chris Hunrath and DuPont’s Steven Bowles at the DuPont Technology and Innovation Center in Sunnyvale, California. We discussed a variety of topics related to flex design, including the support structure that’s needed in flex design, the everchanging world of flex materials, and the need for working with a flex fabricator as early as possible in the flex design cycle.
Meet Dana Korf, I-Connect007 Columnist
Meet Dana Korf, one of our newest I-Connect007 columnists! Dana’s columns will focus on IPC-2581 as well as PCB front-end tooling, data quality, DFM processes, etc.
Joe Grand Brings a Hacker Outlook to PCB Design
From designing his own mischievous gadgets to testifying on Capitol Hill and starring in his own Discovery TV show “Prototype This!” Joe Grand has lived a hacker’s life. I spoke with Joe about his upcoming keynote at AltiumLive in San Diego, “When Hacking and Engineering Collide,” which will focus on the lighter side of engineering and the benefits of thinking like a hacker. Can Joe convince PCB designers to adopt a hacker’s outlook?
Additive Electronics Conference Set for October 2019
Tara Dunn, president of Omni PCB and I-Connect007 columnist, and Lenora Clark, director of autonomous driving and safety technology at MacDermid Alpha Automotive, discuss what can be expected from the upcoming Additive Electronics Conference in San Jose, California, the impetus and motivation behind the conference, and who can benefit the most from attending.
Weaving Advocacy into E-Textiles
Electronic textiles (e-textiles) – fabrics that have electronics embedded in them to achieve certain functions – are of growing interest in the electronics manufacturing industry, and thus they are of growing interest to the IPC Government Relations team as well.
The Use of Insoluble Anodes in Acid Copper Plating
Soluble anodes have been the staple of the industry for decades, but they require extensive maintenance and generate waste in both copper metal and electrolyte. As plated copper thickness uniformity requirements become more stringent, more and more time will be needed for anode maintenance to ensure the uniformity of the anodic setup.
Robert Feranec: A Lifetime of PCB Design
Robert Feranec, a popular YouTuber and founder of the FEDEVEL Academy, discusses with Andy Shaughnessy the upcoming keynote he’ll be giving at AltiumLive in San Diego, California, and how he's helping people around the world understand and optimize their PCB design processes.
Robert Feranec: A Lifetime of PCB Design
I recently spoke with Robert Feranec about the upcoming keynote he’ll be giving at AltiumLive in San Diego, California. Robert is a YouTube star and founder of the FEDEVEL Academy. In our interview, he discusses his keynote presentation as well as how he’s helping designers and engineers around the world understand and optimize their PCB design processes.
EIPC Summer Conference 2019, Day 2
In this article, EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan provides the highlights of the second day of the EIPC 2019 Summer Conference, which was held in the beautiful city of Leoben in central Austria. He also talks about key points of the numerous technical presentation at the conference.
EIPC Summer Conference 2019, Day 1
The beautiful city of Leoben in central Austria provided the setting for the EIPC 2019 Summer Conference. In this article, EIPC Chairman Alun Morgan provides the highlights of the first day of the event, including a recap of the technical presentations.
NCAB 2019 Market Report: Competition Is Heating Up
Chris Nuttall, chief operations officer and VP of technology of NCAB Group, talks about the company's most recently released market report. Nolan Johnson and Nuttall discuss some of the market drivers and conditions the industry can expect to close out in 2019 as well as what to prepare for in 2020.
Selecting the Proper Flex Coverlayer Material
Coverlayers are polymer materials used to cover and protect the copper traces of the flex circuit product. There are a number of different options available for protecting the circuits, and they serve different design requirements in terms of cost, performance, and flexural endurance optimization. When specifying the choice, it is critical to call out not just the type of coverlayer material but also the thickness requirement. This can be very important in certain types of constructions, especially when a flex circuit will experience dynamic flexing during use.
Chemcut: Wet Processing Equipment for the Long Haul
Chemcut CEO and General Manager Rick Lies speaks about the growth he has seen in the marketplace over his 18 years in the industry, and how Chemcut has been able to remain competitive in the PCB and photochemical milling spaces. Jerry Reitz, Chemcut’s HES manager, also addresses the current shift towards zero-discharge facilities.
PCB Design Training: More Critical Than Ever
I interviewed Gary Ferrari of FTG at the IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore. Gary is a co-founder of the IPC Designers Council and a longtime advocate for PCB design and PCB designers. We discussed the crucial role that PCB designers play in the entire electronics development process, and how IPC and the Designers Council are helping to educate and inform the next generation of designers.
Putting Green Into a Brownfield Facility
George Milad, national accounts manager for technology at Uyemura, talks about what is driving change in the wet process marketplace and how chemistries must fit into next-generation product design while also meeting new environmental requirements.
The Advantages of Non-sludge Acid Copper Products
Mike Wood, technical director with Cerambus Asia Pacific, discusses the acid copper product from Cerambus Technology Inc. that doesn't generate sludge during the plating process and operates at higher production output by using higher current density. He talks about why this is important for the state of the vertical continuous plating (VCP) market in Asia, and the trends he’s seeing in that space.
The State of Plating
Increasingly, PCB design technology utilises buried and blind via holes and plated via fill is also becoming more and more common. The buried and blind holes mean that the loading on the plating equipment is multiplied by the number of different inner layer connections. The same technology means that equipment needs to deal with thinner and thinner materials.
Meet Mike Hill, I-Connect007 Columnist
Mike Hill has been in the PWB fabrication industry for over 40 years. Throughout his career, he has been a member of IPC and participated in specification writing for both IPC and the military. Within IPC, he has received the President's Award, General Chairmanship, Committee Chairmanship, and many other recognitions. In his columns, Mike will help you better understand the requirements and how-to's for MIL-PRF-31032 certification for PWB fabrication.
Pollution Prevention Techniques: Rinse Water Reduction
There are five general categories of common techniques for pollution prevention in a PCB fabrication facility: new processes to replace sources of pollution; extend the bath’s life; rinse water reduction; dragout reduction; and ventilation reduction. While this list is not all-inclusive, it provides an overview of the types of technologies used around the world that are important to consider. This article, examines rinse water reduction.
Words of Advice: Obstacles to Solid Data Hand-off
In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What are the biggest obstacles you face in getting your design to the fabricator? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.
SAP Utilizing Very Uniform Ultrathin Copper
The demand for miniaturization and higher density electronic products has continued steadily for years, and this trend is expected to continue, according to various semiconductor technology and applications roadmaps. The semiconductor miniaturization brings significant economic and technical benefits and the semiconductor scale factor becomes the master for the associated package and PCB design.
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.
Innovative Electroplating Processes for IC Substrates
The decreasing chip scales and smaller line/spacing distances have created unique challenges for both the PCB industry and the semiconductor industry. This paper discusses innovative additive packages for direct-current copper electroplating specifically for IC substrates, which offer better trace profile and deliver via fill and through-hole plating. It also describes two electrolytic copper plating processes, the selection of which could be based on the via size and the dimple requirements of the application.
Vertical Conductive Structures, Part 3: Design Tool Techniques
New vertical conductive structure (VeCS) technology can reduce layer count and improve signal integrity without the need for sequential technologies. VeCS is different than traditional through-hole vias, microvias, and ELIC designs, which are more expensive and require a high number of laminations, drilling, and plating cycles to build up a reasonable number of layers.
Nano Dimension Details New DragonFly LDM
Dan Feinberg talks with Nano Dimension CEO Amit Dror about the new DragonFly LDM 3D printer technology announced by the Israeli company on July 24, 2019, aimed at increasing machine uptime and moving forward from prototyping to higher production volumes.
Bill Brooks on Teaching PCB Design at Palomar College
Bill Brooks of Nordson ASYMTEK is a long-time PCB designer and one of the first people to teach PCB design courses in a college setting. He recently spoke with the I-Connect007 editorial team about his history in design and his time as a PCB design instructor, the curriculum he developed and taught, and various techniques that might be enacted today to better educate the designers of tomorrow.
Focusing on Surface Sensitivity for Reliability
At the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit, Customer Applications Scientist Elizabeth Kidd and Sales Engineer Alex Bien, both of BTG Labs, discuss with Andy Shaughnessy their presentation on the challenges of working with highly sensitive surfaces, such as the risk of contamination. They also talked about the various surface characterization techniques that BTG Labs uses to identify such contaminants.
Solder Mask Curing: UV Bump Overview
Ultraviolet (UV) bump, also called UV cure, is a processing step in which the solder mask pattern is irradiated with ultraviolet and infrared light. This step is performed with special equipment that is built as a continuous flow system, which consists of a conveyor belt and tubular UV lamps mounted above and below the belt. Read on to find out more about this process.
Interconnect Reliability Correlation With System Design and Transportation Stress
Interconnect reliability is very critical to ensure product performance at predefined shipping conditions and user environments. Plating thickness of the compliant pin and the damping mechanism of electronic system design are key success factors for this purpose. This paper discusses design variables—such as pin hard gold plating thickness, motherboard locking mechanism, and damping structure design—to ensure interconnect reliability.
There’s An Art to Plating
There's definitely an art to plating. Start with a generally planar substrate, then alternately put stuff on and take things off. Continue this in subtle variations until what you have is the stuff you want, where you want.
Words of Advice: Drawbacks to Your PCB Data Format?
In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What is the biggest drawback to your current PCB data format? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.
Development of Flexible Hybrid Electronics
This article will present a hybrid manufacturing process to manufacture FHE systems with a two-layer interconnect structure utilizing screen printing of silver conductive ink, filled microvias to connect ink traces at the different layers, and use of the traditional reflow process to attach the semiconductor chips to the printed substrates.
Names to Know: Up and Comers in U.S. Congress
When major news occurs in the U.S. Congress, you usually hear the names of top congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Meet Chris Mitchell, I-Connect007 Columnist
Chris Mitchell is vice president for global government affairs at IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries—where he is responsible for development and implementation of the organization’s global advocacy efforts and public policy agenda with a focus on electronics industry business improvement, environment, health and safety, and defense initiatives.
IPC Reliability Forum Wrap-up With Brook Sandy-Smith
I attended the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland. The speakers and panelists focused on a variety of topics, but one issue that kept popping up was the failure of some microvias on military and aerospace PCBs. Fortunately, some smart technologists are focusing on determining the cause of these via failures. I asked Brook Sandy-Smith, IPC’s technical education program manager, to give us a quick wrap-up of this event.
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.
The Impact of Inductance on Impedance of Decoupling Capacitors
This article discusses the impact of interconnection inductance on the impedance of the decoupling capacitor, which influences the power integrity of the PCB. The investigation is performed with 3DEM simulation by varying the trace length and height of stitching vias that connect the decoupling capacitor across the power rail and ground.
Altium Designer 19.0 Features Printed Electronics Design Functions
The newest version of Altium Designer—revision 19.0—includes functionality for designing printed electronic circuits. We wanted to get the scoop on Altium’s PEC tools, so we asked Nikolay Ponomarenko, Altium’s director of product management, to give us a tour of the new functions.
IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part II
The Microvia Summit on May 16 was a special feature of the 2019 event in Baltimore, since microvia challenges and reliability issues have become of great concern to the PCB manufacturing industry. It provided updates on the work of members of the IPC V-TSL-MVIA Weak Interface Microvia Failures Technology Solutions Subcommittee and opportunities to learn about latest developments in methods to reveal and explain the presence of latent defects, identify causes and cures, and be able to consistently and confidently supply reliable products.
Denny Fritz: The Difference Between Quality and Reliability
I recently spoke with industry veteran (and I-Connect007 columnist) Denny Fritz about the relationship between quality and reliability—two terms that are unequal but often used interchangeably. We also discuss the current state of lead-free solders in the U.S. military and defense market as well as the microvia reliability issues Denny focused on at IPC’s High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore, Maryland.
Mentor Tools: Optimized for Flex and Rigid-flex Design
With the launch of the new Flex007 section in Design007 Magazine, we asked David Wiens, product marketing manager with Mentor, a Siemens Business, to tell us about their tools’ flex and rigid-flex design capabilities. As David explains, today’s higher-end design software tools are optimized for flex design, making workarounds a thing of the past.
How to Feed Test Data Back to Engineering for Process Improvement
Some people think of the PCB manufacturing process as a black box: design data goes to the manufacturer (fabrication house), and magically, the finished PCB is produced. While it may have been like that in the past, in actuality, fabricating PCBs today is quite a ballet of processes.
Avoiding CAF Failures at the IPC High-reliability Forum
Foresite CEO Terry Munson recently spoke with Andy Shaughnessy during the IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit in Baltimore about his presentation on the causes of conductive anodic filament (CAF), the dangers of resin starvation, and what advice he'd give to PCB designers to avoid those types of failures.
IPC High-reliability Forum and Microvia Summit Review, Part I
The IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit covered a broad range of topics related to reliability and provided interactive opportunities to share expert knowledge and experience in determining and understanding the causes of failure and selecting the best design rules, materials, processes, and test methods to maximise product reliability.
Crowded Congressional Calendar Affects Industry Priorities
More than five months remain in 2019, but U.S. congressional leaders are already running out of time as they face a long list of must-pass bills before year’s end. Although some of these bills do not affect the electronics industry, some of them do, and the overall agenda does affect the opportunities and risks we face.
A Guide to High-reliability PCBs from Design to Specification
Creating reliable PCBs is an outcome of considering all aspects that can affect reliability as early as possible in the design process. The further down the design process, the more expensive and risky it can be to fix. As they say, everything starts with the design. Because a good board design improves the reliability of the end product and lessens the risk of failure.
A Conversation with Karen McConnell—An Emerging Engineer Program Mentor
IPC’s Emerging Engineer program, launched in 2016, provides early career professionals an opportunity to learn from dedicated industry volunteers who participate in IPC standards development. IPC’s editorial staff had the opportunity to talk with one of those dedicated volunteers, mentor Karen McConnell, Senior Staff Engineer CAD CAM, Northrop Grumman, about why she participates as a mentor in IPC’s Emerging Engineer program.
How Changing Cleaning Technologies Affect Reliability
At the recent IPC High-Reliability Forum and Microvia Summit, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Michael Konrad, founder and president of Aqueous Technologies and a speaker and panelist at the event in Baltimore, Maryland. They discussed Konrad’s presentation and the recent proliferation of cleaning, from solely high-reliability products to Class 1 consumer products.
Nano Dimension CEO Gives Company Update
Dan Feinberg and Nolan Johnson speak with Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension, about recent company events and the company’s focus on high-mix/low-volume and agile local manufacturing.
Words of Advice: Where Do You Get Involved in the Design Process?
In a recent survey, we asked the following question: Where in the process do you typically get involved with a design project? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.
EPA, Industry Come Together in Visit to TTM Facility
IPC member TTM Technologies is proud to show off the new wastewater-treatment system at its Sterling, Virginia plant, which is helping to enhance the company’s pollution prevention and resource recovery performance.
Microvias: Links of Faith are Not Created Equally
Microvias connect adjacent copper layers to complete electrical paths. There are copper-filled microvias, which can be stacked to form connections beyond adjacent copper layers, and staggered microvias, which stitch adjacent copper layers with paths that meander on the layers between the microvias. This article discusses the various laser-drilled microvias and presents SEM photographs to begin the search for the root cause of weak copper interface.
Reliability... It All Comes Down to the Landing
Our industry is embarking on a new age of technical development to achieve much higher levels of overall reliability that will be required of the devices we fabricate. Whether in medical devices, autonomous vehicles, or in IoT, reliability will be crucial to both our success and safety.
Dissecting the IPC Regional Survey on PCB Technology Trends
Sharon Starr, Denny Fritz, and Mike Carano talk about the global 2018 IPC Technology Trends Report released early this year—the size of the survey, how it was conducted, the general findings, and regional differences. They also shared their takeaways and regional insights, and the industry outlook over the next five to 10 years.
An Examination of Glass-fiber and Epoxy Interface Degradation in Printed Circuit Boards
Multilayer organic laminates, which make up over 90% of the interconnecting substrates in electronics (standard FR-4 represents 85% of the substrates used for laminates), can develop a loss of electrical insulation resistance between two biased conductors due to conductive filament formation.
Identifying Product Board Class and Pre-quote Software
Deciding on the class of the final product will determine what files are needed for fabrication and assembly. It is critical to note that for a product to be built to any class level, it must be designed to that class level from its inception.
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.
Conventional Exposing: Direct Imaging Solder Mask
When you compare direct imaging of solder mask with contact exposure of solder mask, the positive aspects and the advantages are clear. Without a doubt, direct imaging shortens the throughput time and eliminates artwork production. It also eliminates the costly measurement of the panels and manufacturing of artwork with different scaling factors.
Design Is a Pivotal Piece of the Puzzle
As a field applications engineer at TTM Technologies, which has fabrication and manufacturing locations around the world, Julie Ellis sees a wide variety of customer design requirements. In this interview with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, Julie explains how PCB designers can influence the development of the PCB. She shares a variety of tips and tricks that designers can implement early in the design process to help optimize fabrication and assembly later on and keep small issues from becoming big problems downstream.
Kelvin Characterization to Accurately Predict Copper Thickness
A few years ago at Integrated Test Corporation, we found that the reaction plan for void fallout at electrical test was ineffective and not standardized. Like many PCB manufacturing facilities (including a Sanmina shop that I used to work at), the reaction plan consisted of cross section analysis to determine the void type.
Virtual Verification Station From CIMS Enhances AOI Capabilities
At this year’s CPCA Show, CIMS Marketing and Technical Director Vladi Kaplan spoke to Barry Matties about a number of add-ons CIMS designed to further enhance their AOI capabilities and systems. He described their Virtual Verification Station (VVS), CIMS Quality Center (CQC), and Software Development Kit (SDK) as well as trends he sees with laser via inspection.
Saying Yes to Opportunities: IPC’s Emerging Engineer Program Offers Career Growth for Electronics Industry Newcomers
What makes the IPC Emerging Engineer Program a premier networking and career enriching program? IPC staff spoke to Emerging Engineer Kate Stees, materials and process engineer, Lockheed Martin, about her experience in the program and why she recommends it to other engineers.
Albert Gaines: Design All Comes Down to Documentation
During SMTA Atlanta, I spoke with Albert Gaines of HiGain Design. We discussed Albert’s belief that everything starts with design and that too many engineers and designers focus solely on the final board at the expense of the documentation, which is a designer’s most important product. Do you consider your documentation to be a critical product?
Words of Advice: Making Life Easier for Fabrication and Assembly
In a recent survey, we asked the following question: What steps do you take to make the job easier for your fabrication and assembly providers? Here are a few of the answers, edited slightly for clarity.
Pulsonix 10.5 Development Driven by Customer Demand
I recently spoke with Bob Williams, the managing director of Pulsonix, about the release of the EDA tool’s version 10.5. Bob explained how the company had made the tool more intuitive based on user input, and he discussed some of the more cutting-edge functionality not normally found in competitively priced tools.
IPC SummerCom Highlights: A Government Relations Perspective
Last week, IPC hosted SummerCom, our semi-annual standards development committee meetings, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event brought together thousands of technical experts from around the world to shape the product, manufacturing, and supply-chain standards that guide our industry.
Technically Appropriate Material Choices Are Key to 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. Editor Nolan Johnson and Mike Creeden, founder of San Diego PCB Design, discuss several key characteristics that designers should consider in their material selection process.
Emma Hudson: From Tomboy to Tech Lead
In this interview, Emma Hudson, CTO of Gen3, and Gayle Paterson, founder of Female Leaders in Tech, Everywhere (FLITE), discuss careers and the electronics industry.
Insulectro’s OEM Program: Time to ACT!
Ken Parent, Insulectro VP of sales and product management, discusses the current dynamics in the materials marketplace and how Insulectro is developing educational resources to help design teams and fabricators better understand the capabilities and features for the emerging laminate materials.
AWE 2019: Go XR, Be Awesome
Dan Feinberg attended and covered the recent 2019 Augmented World Expo (AWE) and conference in Santa Clara, California. The event featured the latest developments and technologies in augmented (AR), mixed (MR), virtual (VR), and extended virtual reality (many just call it all XR to make it simple). Here's a wrap-up of the event.
Microtek Labs: Providing Trusted Testing in the Chinese Market
On a recent visit to Microtek Laboratories' Changzhou facility, Barry Matties, publisher, and Edy Yu from the I-Connect007 China team spoke with chairman and CTO Bob Neves about the changes he has seen living and doing business in China over the past 15 years, and the increased importance of standards and testing as China moves into manufacturing more high-reliability products.
Digital Twin Drives Design in the Smart Factory
New product realization and design for manufacturing and assembly has now started to become more visible as a program that can improve a company’s time to market and lower product costs. This is one of the main focuses of Industry 4.0 for the smart factory. Many programs are underway by numerous companies, and what is now needed is a framework to coordinate the application of these programs.
Libraries: A Must-have for Design
I-Connect007 was invited to attend a session of the Orange County Chapter of the IPC Designers Council (DC). Even though I have been an IPC member for over half a century (yes, almost since vacuum tubes dominated design), this was my first DC event.
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