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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.

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.

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.

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.

GP Ventures: Facilitating ‘Multi-layered’ M&A Deals

One of our newer I-Connect007 columnists is Tom Kastner of GP Ventures, an M&A advisory company. I spent a few minutes with Tom at SMTAI recently, and he filled me in on his background in the electronics industry, which includes specializing in buying, selling or merging businesses; his columns deal with many of the requirements and issues on all sides of those changes.

Let's Talk Testing: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel—Find an Expert!

Back in the day when I was an engineer fresh out of college, I quickly learned that experience is the solution to many problems. Now that being said, experience comes in many forms…it could be knowledge learned from a textbook, it could be an observatory comment jotted down in a notebook, it could be a conversation with a co-worker or colleague, or it could be an Internet search that finds a scholarly technical article, etc.

One World, One Industry: Voting—A Civic Duty and Industry Opportunity

On Tuesday, November 8, more than 240 million people in the United States will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote, make their voices heard in government, and influence the direction of public policy for years to come. Much of the world is closely watching with interest in this major U.S. election.

Real Time with... SMTAI: Alex Stepinski is Presented with I-Connect007's First 'Good for the Industry' Award

I-Connect007’s Barry Matties and Patty Goldman present the first “Good for the Industry” award to Alex Stepinski of Whelen Engineering for his unique design approach to a fully automated PCB factory.

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.

Isola CEO Jeff Waters Shares Insights and Reflections

It’s been eight months since Isola’s Jeff Waters was appointed CEO, marking his transition from the semiconductor space to the PCB industry. At PCB West, Jeff reflected on his first impressions of the PCB industry and how Isola continues to adopt changes in its manufacturing strategy and product development with a plan to become the industry leader with a global, competitive presence.


Geek-A- Palooza: Get Your Geek On in Minnesota!

If you haven’t been to Geek-A-Palooza yet, you may just get a chance, because the social networking event could be coming to your city in the near future. Barry Matties met with founder Tara Dunn following the most recent Boston event, to learn more about Geek-A-Palooza and why the laid-back atmosphere is beneficial for both the sponsors and the attendees.

2016 Election Forecast

Throughout this election cycle, candidates have offered many promises to boost the U.S. and global economy, as well as address other national priorities. As we inch closer to the finish line, it’s worth examining how the presidential and several congressional races could shape the future of policies affecting the manufacturing industry.

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.

Flex Talk: Troubleshooting Flex Circuit Applications for Mil/Aero Projects

I imagine that everyone has been in this position at one time or another: Despite everyone’s best attempt at creating the perfect design, PCB fabrication and assembly, something goes wrong and the troubleshooting begins.

Weiner’s World

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

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

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

All About Flex: Flex Circuit Specifications for Commercial and Military Applications

Applications across the various markets for printed circuit boards can have significantly different specifications and performance requirements. Circuits for toys and games logically have lower performance requirements than those used in medical devices. IPC-6013 is an industry-driven specification that defines the performance requirements and acceptance features for flexible printed circuit boards.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Recruiting and Interviewing

Hopefully, your career has progressed to the point that you are empowered to recruit your own team or a key person for your team. There are always technical people looking for better jobs, but many times, the most talented are busy doing their work and not looking for a new opportunity.

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.

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.


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.

Weiner’s World

People in the printed circuit and electronic packaging industries often ask me about re-shoring. My response generally is that re-shoring is a myth. It seems that whenever I try to contact someone by email I get an automated response stating, "I am currently in China and will return to my office on…" Many of the facilities and much of the equipment that would be needed to re-shore have been auctioned off or sent to the scrap heap.

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.

Flex is Where It’s At

At the recent SMTA-Ohio Expo event, Jack Baculik of Circuits LLC speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about the latest developments driving demand for flex and rigid-flex circuits.

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.

All About Flex: Considerations for Impedance Control in Flexible Circuits

Impedance can be thought of as a system’s opposition to alternating or pulsing electronic current. The unit of measurement is ohms, the same unit of measurement in a direct current system. However, the components for calculating impedance are much more complex than DC resistance.

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.

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

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

All About Flex: Variability and Quality Costs

Statistics are terms used for measurements that describe groups of numbers. The most common averaging statistics are mean, median and mode. Mean and average are often used interchangeably, a statistic with all numbers added together and then divided by the quantity of numbers.


All About Flex: Taguchi Design of Experiments and Flexible Circuits

Reducing variability in a process, or a sequence of processes, can require a significant and structured amount of work and analysis. One must develop an understanding of critical variables and determine methods to control them. Statistically based experiments are often needed for proper analysis.

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.

Designers Notebook: Specifying Lead-Free Compatible Surface Finish and Coating for Solderability and Surface Protection

A majority of the components furnished for electronic assembly are designed for solder attachment to metalized land patterns specifically designed for each device type. Providing a solder process-compatible surface finish on these land patterns is vital; however, selection of the surface finish on the circuit structure, whether plated or coated, can be greatly influenced by the components’ terminal metalization and the specific alloy composition used for the assembly process.

Laser Pointers: Special Edition—Those Five Words I Didn’t Expect to Hear

I’m going to hijack the column this month for kind of a public service announcement regarding a topic that hit very close to home for me, and it may well hit home for others. On February 18, 2016, I heard the words, “Mike, you have bladder cancer.”

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.

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

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

IPC President John Mitchell Discusses IPC's Footprint in China

At the Capital Club in Beijing, IPC’s president John Mitchell met with I-Connect007’s Edy Yu to discuss the current activites of IPC China. Some of the topics covered included the growing China membership, training, trade shows and IPC China’s standards development effort.

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.

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.


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.

Graphene-based Transparent Electrodes for Highly Efficient Flexible OLEDs

The arrival of a thin and lightweight computer that even rolls up like a piece of paper will not be in the far distant future. Flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), built upon a plastic substrate, have received greater attention lately for their use in next-generation displays that can be bent or rolled while still operating.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”


Stepping up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 3: Readiness and Site Preparation

With so many processes to keep track of in a flex manufacturing line, it can be easy to get lost in the details and begin to rely on your suppliers to address any issues that might crop up. However, given that laser processing equipment and flex materials are both impacted by your facilities, your attention to and investment in clean, stable, and robust facilities and support equipment will quickly pay off in less downtime, higher yield, and—perhaps most importantly—fewer headaches!

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.

Beyond FR-4: High-Performance Materials for Advanced Designs, Part 1

In the past 40-plus years of PCB manufacturing, the primary material of choice has overwhelmingly been e-glass supported FR-4 resin laminates. This is due to the excellent dimensional stability and reasonably acceptable thermal performance (based on glass transition temperature [Tg] and decomposition temperature [Td]). In general, these materials exhibit impressive performance and excellent cost for a wide range of applications.

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.

All About Flex: Imaging Methods for Etch Resist, Part 1

Imaging is a major process step in creating a copper circuit or flexible PCB. In single-sided circuit fabrication, the imaging process creates the resist pattern that protects the copper from the etchant. It is critical that this pattern precisely define the circuit traces, as issues with imaging will transfer to the subsequent processes.

Designers Notebook: Flexible and Rigid-Flex Circuit Design Principles, Part 5

The outline profile of the flexible circuit is seldom uniform. One of the primary advantages of the flexible design is that the outline can be sculpted to fit into very oblique shapes. This month, Vern Solberg focuses on outline planning, physical reinforcement, and accommodating bends and folds in flexible and rigid-flex circuits.

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.

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).

Flex Talk: PCB Sourcing? One Size Does Not Fit All

When analyzing a set of PCBs to improve yields and maximize profits, the first place to start is with a critical review of each PCB design. Are there any attributes that are pushing your manufacturer’s standard design rules? If so, is this necessary to the design or is there another approach that could improve the manufacturer’s yields, reduce cost, and ultimately increase profit?

LPKF Launches New Laser Drilling System for Flex Printed Circuits

At Laser World of Photonics Exhibition in Shanghai recently, I had a chance to speak with Florian Roick, strategic product manager with LPKF. The company is celebrating a big anniversary this year with the launch of a laser drilling machine to support the specific requirements of the flexible circuit industry.


A Salute to Process Engineers

It seems very appropriate, coming on the heels of IPC APEX EXPO 2016, that the focus of our April issue is process engineering. I believe process engineers (and process engineer types) are the worker bees of IPC (and obviously of the companies they work for).

Stepping Up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 2: Calculating and Optimizing Production

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the advantages of adding flex laser processing to gain a competitive advantage. In Part 2 we will build on that discussion, looking at the ways you can optimize your flexible circuit laser processing to get the efficiencies that drive lower cost of ownership.

All About Flex: Why Copper is Ideal for Flexible Circuitry

Copper is the second-most conductive metal (in pure form). The copper used on flexible circuits can be formed by a number of methods such as electro-deposition (ED), rolling/annealing, or a combination of the two. The conductivity of copper by volume on a flexible circuit is not exactly the same as pure copper, but it is quite close.

IPC APEX EXPO: IPC Government Relations—Your Advocate in Washington

IPC's VP of Government Relations, John Hasselman, explains IPC's "meet the policy makers" initiative (site visits by congressmen) to help build and broaden relationships with these decision makers.

The Importance of Choosing Equipment Suppliers Carefully and Investing in the Future

Burkle Process Technologies, a long-time PCB equipment supplier to high-end manufacturers in the world, is seeing their business continuing to grow despite the perceived slowdown in the industry in China. They ensure this by working closely with customers, making premium products to understand future technology needs, and offering the highest quality in laminating machines and technical support.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) is a systematic process to evaluate failure modes and causes associated with the design and manufacturing processes of a new product. It is somewhat similar to the potential problem analysis (PPA) phase of the Kepner-Tregoe program.

Weiner’s World: March 2016

Sellers of equipment at the Shanghai CPCA event complained of continued poor business. This was especially evident amongst those selling to firms building boards for phones and other portables devices as indicated below. However, not all reports were bad. Major fabricators such as Wu's in China, not dependent upon HDI or flexible products, stated that they were "satisfied" with their current business levels.

Designers Notebook: Flexible and Rigid-Flex Circuit Design Principles, Part 4

All of the design rules for the glass reinforced-portion of the board (land pattern geometry for mounting surface mount devices, solder mask and the like) are now well-established. One unique facet of fabricating the rigid-flex product is how the flexible portion of the circuit is incorporated with the rigid portion of the circuit. As a general rule for multilayer PCB design, furnish a balanced structure by building up the circuit layers in pairs (4, 6, 8 and so on).

The Supplier View: An Interview with Hamed El Abd

I sat down with WKK’s Hamed el Abd at CPCA, where we discussed the show, the growing trend toward automation, as well as a few other topics, namely world politics and economics and how they relate to the PCB industry.

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).


IPC APEX EXPO: Gardien Discusses Providing Test Solutions with an Integrated Partnership

Gardien's VP of Quality, Todd Kolmodin, tells Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu about their customer partnership program, helping to provide solutions to their customers' test and quality issues.

IPC APEX EXPO: Design Through Box-Build Strategy Works for PNC Inc.

Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu talks with PNC's production manager, Bhavesh Sangani, about PNC's "design through box-build" strategy along with their significant capital equipment purchases over the past few years for both PCB fabrication and assembly.

Patricia (Patty) Goldman Inducted into IPC Hall of Fame

We at I-Connect007 are thrilled that our own Patty Goldman has been awarded the highest level of volunteer recognition that IPC can give to an individual, the Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Award. The award is given in recognition of superior achievement, extraordinary contributions and distinguished service to IPC and the advancement of the electronics industry.

Happy’s Essential Skills: Design of Experiments

Design of experiments (DOE) is one of the most powerful and influential engineering tools for product yield improvements, new products or processes development, or for problem solving. As mentioned in my last column, process problems led me to a career in printed circuits, and quickly solving those problems led me to a bonus stock award and a great life. Even though I knew nothing about printed circuit manufacturing processes, I was able to quickly find the root causes of all the problems and fix them. My secret? Total quality control (TQC), statistics, and DOE.

Rex Rozario, Part 4: A 10,000-ft. view of his Business Ventures, the Industry, and Life

In our final installment, Rex describes the common thread woven through all of his successful business ventures and varied interests: confidence and the fortitude to follow his dreams until they are realized. Rex also takes a look back at the evolution of the global PCB industry, and explains his approach to profitability, which includes building (and rewarding) a successful team.

Rex Rozario, Part 3: The Future Beckons

In Part 3 of our multi-part interview with industry veteran Rex Rozario, we begin with the future. Having achieved success in China, could Rex and the Graphic team have their sights trained on the U.S.? Also in this installment, Rex weighs in on China’s future, and we discuss the value of automation. Is it for everyone?

Rex Rozario: The PCB Industry’s True Renaissance Man

In this exclusive multi-part interview that was conducted recently, I-Connect007's Barry Matties will introduce you to all of the people that Rex Rozario is, and where he, his team, and Graphic PLC are headed to next.

All About Flex: Three Emerging Trends That You Can Bet On

Flexible circuits are light weight, require minimal space, can be bent into “origami” shapes for adoption to a wide range of applications. These utilitarian features give electronic designers endless options for the new and exciting products that will soon become part of our everyday life.

Manufacturing Institutes Can Boost the Nation

In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted a remarkable trend of recent years: the turnaround in many corners of America’s manufacturing sector. Nearly 900,000 new jobs have been created by U.S. manufacturers in the last six years.

The Sum of All Parts: The Cost of Quality

Throughout the decades, irrespective of industry or sector, markets have thrived on competition. They have, however, also relied upon some semblance of unity within their respective competitors. Industries rely upon their individual member companies’ ability to work together for the greater good.


The Institute of Circuit Technology Tewkesbury Seminar, 1st March 2016

The Annual General Meeting of the Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT) was held at Puckrup Hall, near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, England, on 1st March 2016, and was followed by a well-attended evening seminar with presentations on a novel laser-induced deposition process, an analysis of the market for PCBs, and a review of three development projects in which the Institute had participated. The programme was introduced and moderated by ICT Technical Director Bill Wilkie.

Printing PCBs…In Your Office!

The days of producing a PCB prototype with a 3D printer may not be as distant as you think. I spoke with Simon Fried of Nano Dimension about how 3D printing is becoming a reality, and how this disruptive technology will change the way designers produce rapid prototypes.

Designers Notebook: Flexible and Rigid-Flex Circuit Design Principles, Part 3

This installment of "Designers Notebook" will focus on methods for specifying base materials, and also address copper foil variations and fabrication documentation. It is important to research the various products in order to choose the one that best meets the design requirements.

Stretchable Electronics that Quadruple in Length

EPFL researchers have developed conductive tracks that can be bent and stretched up to four times their original length. They could be used in artificial skin, connected clothing and on-body sensors.

The Quiet Mainstreaming of HDI Manufacturing

Advances in technology continue to push the envelope of what’s possible. And nowhere has the impact of those advances been felt more profoundly than in the evolution of the current class of mobile devices. Although design engineers have driven this evolution, primarily through addressing market demand for new form factor innovation, the push to meet the associated manufacturing challenges has been responsible for a revolution in PCB manufacturing.

Flex: Just What the Doctor Ordered for Medical Devices

Medical devices represent one of the fastest growing electronic markets in the United States. The drive for reduced space and weight, added functionality, and reduced cost has driven the adoption of a wide array of custom flexible circuits. The design freedom offered by this three-dimensional interconnect supports the packaging design requirements for a myriad of diverse applications within the medical electronic market.

Designers Notebook: Flex and Rigid-Flex Circuit Design Principles, Part 2

In this installment of "Designers Notebook," Vern Solberg discusses supplier assessment, planning of the flexible circuit outline, and various circuit routing principles. Communication between designer and fabricator is paramount, as well as an understanding of IPC-2223, which sets the specific requirements for the design of flex circuits.

The Pinless Registration System, Explained by DIS’ Bernd Gennat

I sat down at productronica recently with Bernd Gennat, VP sales Asia and Europe for Duetto Integrated Systems (DIS Inc), for an overview of the industry, including his company’s technology. Our discussion touched on trends in multilayer registration, market requirements in Europe compared with those in China, and the benefits of pinless over hard-tooled registration systems for current and future rigid, flex and flex-rigid constructions.

Mr. Laminate Tells All: CEM-3 Reinvents Itself (Again)—or, Atari Game Boards on eBay?

CEM-3 was unusual as the reinforcement was a combination of woven fiber-glass fabric and fiber-glass paper. The resin system was a dicy-cured epoxy resin yielding a Tg the same as FR-4 at the time, of 110–120°C range. Because it was all epoxy and all fiberglass, the properties were electrically identical to those of FR-4.

What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been—and It’s a Long Way from Being Over

Harvey Miller has been in the PCB industry for more than 40 years, and he’s probably seen it all. I recently sat down with Harvey at a wine bar in Palo Alto to learn more about his history in the industry and where he sees it going forward. Harvey arrived wearing jogging shorts and running shoes. No surprise after what his doctor recently shared with him.


New Year, New Outlook for the Electronics Manufacturing Industry

As an advocate for the electronics manufacturing industry, my job is to educate and encourage policymakers to create a favorable legislative and regulatory environment for advanced manufacturing to grow and succeed. From that perspective, I think we should be proud of the significant progress we made in several areas in 2015.

All About Flex: Flexible Circuit Antennas

In our world of fabricating custom electronics, a circuit can generally be defined as “a path between two or more points along which an electrical current is carried.” The printed circuit board industry designs and fabricates an incredibly diverse set of rigid and flexible circuits. But it is also true this industry produces many parts that do not carry current between discreet points.

How North American Fabricators Benefit from Attending HKPCA

Two New Englanders in Shenzhen. It sounds like the title of a play, doesn’t it? Headlining the bill is Peter Bigelow of IMI, who explains to me why even small American manufacturers benefit from attending large Chinese shows like the HKPCA. He’s joined by fellow New Englander Alex Stepinski of Whelen Engineering, who discusses drill concepts and the transition to zero discharge.

In Their Words: Hong Kong Printed Circuit Association (HKPCA)

Recently, we sent a questionnaire to a number of printed circuit associations around the world, asking them to tell us a little about their organizations. With the annual HKPCA & IPC show having just ended, this information provided by HKPCA is especially interesting.

Happy’s Essential Skills: The Need for Total Quality Control (Six Sigma and Statistical Tools), Part 2

The statistical representation of Six Sigma describes quantitatively how a process is performing. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. A Six Sigma defect is defined as anything outside of customer specifications. A Six Sigma opportunity is then the total quantity of chances for a defect.

In Their Words: The IPCA–India Printed Circuit Association

To better understand the many associations serving the global electronics industry, I-Connect007 conducted many interviews for this month’s issue, as well as distributed several questionnaires, one of which was to IPCA (India Printed Circuit Association). The IPCA is not part of IPC, though the two associations do collaborate. Secretary K. S. Babu responded on behalf of IPCA President Viral Bhulani.

Designers Notebook: Flex and Rigid-Flex Circuit Design Principles, Part 1

In his new Designers Notebook column, Verb Solberg discusses primary flex circuit structures, proper design for operating environment, and base material selection. The design guidelines for flexible circuits, although similar to those for rigid circuits, have distinctive differences that are influenced by specific applications and the intended operating use environments. Communication with your fabricator is paramount when designing flex and rigid-flex circuits.

All About Flex: High-Temperature Performance Flexible Circuits

Markets requiring thermal exposure at elevated temperatures include down-hole oil drilling, semiconductor processing, medical diagnostics and a multitude of military/aerospace requirements. But a limitation of flexible circuitry has been performance at extremely high temperatures.

Happy’s Essential Skills: The Need for Total Quality Control (Six Sigma and Statistical Tools): Part 1

In this first of many columns covering my "Twenty-Five Essential Skills Every Engineer Needs to Learn," I will expand on each of those skills. To read the introduction to this series, which published in the January issue of The PCB Magazine. As a quick recap, here are the 25 skills that I will be writing about over the next 18 months or so, to publish every three weeks or so in the PCB007 Daily Newsletter.

Weiner's World

In this article, industry veteran Gene Weiner looks back at some of the industry highlights in 2015, and ponders on the challenges and opportunities to expect this year. He also highlights recent industry events, including the 2015 International Printed Circuit & APEX South China Fair and SEMICON Japan.


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