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.
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.
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.
IPC’s Fern Abrams: Keeping up with Regulatory Matters
Recently, I met with IPC’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, Fern Abrams. In the course of our conversation, we delved into everything from what her role entails and recent regulatory matters, to some of the group’s successes and why companies need to get involved (it matters to your representatives in Congress or Parliament).
Dave Bergman: IPC’s Technology & International Reach
I met with the IPC’s VP of Standards and Technology, Dave Bergman, while in Chicago recently. I’ve known Dave for almost 30 years, so we had quite a chat, covering a lot of ground, from the efforts of IPC China and IPC India, to the standards activities that are certainly the core activity of IPC.
A Conversation with IPC President and CEO John Mitchell
I-Connect007's Patty Goldman was able to sit down with John Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC, to discuss the organization and where we are going as an industry. We discussed IPC’s four aspirational goals—standards, education, advocacy and solutions—as well as short-term goals. We also talked a bit about going virtual and becoming paperless.
The Associations Issue
Well, it’s the end of the year. How did that happen? It really is true that every year goes by a little faster. You young whippersnappers out there won’t know what I’m talking about, but just you wait and see. We changed it up for our December issues this year. Instead of doing a year-end review, we decided to devote this month to our associations and trade organizations—at least some, because when you start poking around, you will find there are scads of them.
MacDermid’s Research Team Talks New Cyanide-free Immersion Gold at SMTAI
While at SMTAI in Chicago recently, I met with two of MacDermid’s research team, Jun Nable, research project manager, who has been with MacDermid since 2007, and Cherry Santos, associate research fellow responsible for formulation work for metal plating solutions. We talked about the posters they were presenting and why they chose SMTAI.
Catching up with Winonics’ Mark Eazell
I have always thought of Winonics as one of the hidden gems of the North American PCB industry. Their well-equipped and well-laid-out facility in Brea, California is one of the more impressive looking PCB facilities in North America today. Winonics is one of three PCB companies owned by JR Controls, the other two being Cosmotronic and Bench2Bench. I had the opportunity to talk with Mark Eazell, the general manager at Winonics, who also oversees the operation of all three JR Controls’ PCB companies.
Behind the Scenes with IPC Technical Conference Coordinator Toya Richardson
I have known and worked with IPC Technical Conference Coordinator Toya Richardson for quite a few years, but we have never had an in-depth chat about her job at IPC. In this interview, she talks about her work at IPC, their preparations for the upcoming IPC APEX EXPO 2016, and some of the latest developments at IPC.
productronica 2015: Ventec's Latest Developments in the UK
Ventec continue to invest in the pursuit of ultra-cleanliness in pre-preg fabrication and packaging in their UK distribution operation, and announce a range of complementary consumable materials - foils, drill boards and release films - as proven in their Ventec-Option laminating and drilling service, leveraging their purchasing power and sharing the cost benefits with their laminate customers.
Navigating the Global Materials Supply Chain: A Roundtable Discussion
At SMTAI recently, I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy sat down for a roundtable discussion with some key players from the materials side of the supply chain. Participants included two executives from Ventec: Mark Goodwin, COO USA and Europe for Ventec International Group; and Jack Pattie, president of Ventec USA. Also participating in the roundtable were Schoeller Electronics CEO Michael Keuthen and Bob Willis, from the National Physics Laboratory (NPL).
All About Flex: Flexible PCB: What’s in a Name?
Flexible PCB is a common term that is synonymous with flexible circuits. While the term “PCB” is generally used to describe rigid printed circuitry, “flexible PCB” is a little contradictory because “boards” aren’t really flexible. Some companies, like All Flex, design and manufactures flexible PCBs, but not rigid PCBs.
Flex Talk: Thoughts on the IPC Flexible Circuits–HDI Forum
As an attendee at the IPC Flexible Circuits–HDI Conference held October 28–30, I found myself in a room full of people, all eager for technical information, with the opportunity to reconnect with industry friends and to make new connections. The audience was diverse with young people, new to our industry, sitting alongside industry veterans willingly sharing their knowledge and passion for HDI design and flexible circuit technology.
Catching Up with Circuit Connect
When I met with Circuit Connect President Bob Lazzara and Director of Operations Paul LaLiberte, I was first struck by the passion they both have for their customers, as well as for their customers’ businesses, using the innovation they have today, as well as what they can develop together with their customers. They don’t just invite, but urge their customers to come and visit them in their very well-equipped facility in Nashua, N.H.
All About Flex: Flexible PCB: What’s in a Name?
Flexible PCB is a common term that is synonymous with flexible circuits. While the term “PCB” is generally used to describe rigid printed circuitry, “flexible PCB” is a little contradictory because “boards” aren’t really flexible. Some companies, like All Flex, design and manufactures flexible PCBs, but not rigid PCBs. There are many similarities between the two, but also significant differences.
Designs on Flex: Underwriters Laboratory and Flexible Printed Circuits
Underwriters Laboratory is a worldwide safety consulting and certification company headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois. UL certifies, validates, tests, inspects, audits, and advises on safety of electrical and electronic products.
Mr. Laminate Tells All: Where in the Holy Halogens did 900, 900, 1500 Come From?
The 900, 900, 1500 is not a combination to an enormous safe that contains the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, nor is it the weight of three elephants at the San Diego Zoo in kilograms. The 900, 900, 1500 is the maximum parts per million (ppm) of bromine and chlorine and the total bromine and chlorine in a material that can be defined as “halogen-free” in the electronics industry today. But where did these requirements come from? Clearly, 900 ppm of bromine or chlorine is obviously not halogen-free. Some would argue that it is not even low-halogen at all.
Catching up with Cosmotronic’s Gary Abel
Cosmotronic’s history spans a number of decades, from the hot-as-hell boom days of the '60s and early '70s when Southern California was leading the world in electronics, from weaponry to avionics to apace exploration. Today, as innovation has become more focused on personal electronics, Cosmotronic has been there, leading the way and serving a customer base that is uniquely similar to the one they had back in the day.
Interim CEO Jeff McCreary Discusses Recent Changes at Isola
Isola’s Interim President and CEO Jeff McCreary explains to Barry Matties the impetus for the personnel reduction taking place at Isola, the closing of their northern California facility, and why there’s no need to panic. He also shares his view of what the industry may expect from Isola going forward and what the company is looking for in a new CEO, the name of which McCreary expects to announce in the next few months.
Testing Flexible Circuits, Part 3: The Completed Flex Circuit
Most flex houses perform a variety of tests on completed flexible circuits. The type, frequency, and complexity of these tests vary with customer and application. Test requirements are generally defined by the customer, but input is often solicited from the supplier during the quote process.
Stepping Up To Laser Processing for Flex, Part 1: Opportunities and Implications
Market demand for smaller, faster, wearable, lighter and more powerful devices continues to keep PCB manufacturers scrambling to keep up as they evolve and adapt their manufacturing capabilities to meet changing customer needs. But keeping up with the dizzying pace of change in the world of PCB manufacturing need not be a daunting task.
The Reindustrialisation of Europe
With an inquisitive mind and a head for challenges, besides the ability to think outside the box and the courage to dare to be different and strive to be first, Spirit Circuits MD Steve Driver can be relied upon to grab the attention of an audience of PCB professionals. As keynote speaker at the Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar, he lived up to his reputation with a motivational presentation, the two themes of which exemplified his latest entrepreneurial venture.
Final Surface Finishes for Automotive: No One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Regardless of whether your application is automotive, medical or military, there are many factors to consider when selecting a final surface finish. Cost, lead or lead-free requirements, end environment, shelf life, fine-pitch components, RF applications, probe-ability, thermal resistance and shock and drop resistance, to name a few. There is not a one-size-fits-all finish. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each surface finish allows the designer to select the finish that best fits each particular application.
Testing Flexible Circuits, Part I: Requirements and Procedures
In this first of a three-part series regarding tests for flexible circuits, I will examine overall requirements and procedures; the second installment will focus on raw materials, and the third and final part will focus on testing for bare flexible circuit and circuit assemblies.
Integrating with Gardien Group's Roland Valentini
Gardien Group is one of those companies that are always looking out for their customers. The company is, without a doubt, the last word when it comes to bare board quality assurance, focused on helping customers deliver the most electrically sound boards in the business. Gardien’s technologists are experts at testing and other quality assurance disciplines. For more than 30 years, Gardien has been in the business, originally as the equipment manufacturer Mania.
The Drive for Transparent Circuits
DKN Research develops many types of unique electronic circuits. Some products in our portfolio include ultra-thin conductor circuits as small as 0.2 microns, metal-free circuits, and some circuits up to 20 meters long. Our staff fields many inquiries for packaging of new electronic devices. Lately, there is a lot of interest in transparent flexible circuits. The increase in interest is driven by the recent market expansion of display and optical devices.
Eliminate Connectors with Sculptured Flex
Any time you eliminate a component, hidden costs are eliminated, such as the cost of stocking, tracking and managing the supply chain for that part number. When designing an electronic package, don’t assume that you need a component for every connection point. Sculptured flex will give some options that can make your electronic package, lighter, less costly, more reliable, and take up less space.
A Look at the High-Reliability Interconnect Market
In an interview with I-Connect007, Mark Cormier of Miraco Inc. discusses his company's activities and capabilities, the latest trends and drivers in the high-reliability segment, and their strategies when it comes to managing their assembly work as well as their audit processes to find EMS providers.
EIPC Summer Conference: Day 2
Refreshed after an excellent conference dinner, and for most, a good night’s sleep, delegates returned for the second day of the EIPC Summer Conference in Berlin, continuing the theme of improving profitability through technical leadership and innovation to meet future market requirements, with sessions on materials and processes for high performance PCBs and advanced material testing strategies to meet OEM and ODM needs.
EIPC Summer Conference, Berlin: Day 1
Berlin, capital of Germany and a world city of culture, politics, media and science, was the venue for the 2015 EIPC Summer Conference, which attracted delegates from sixteen countries, including Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, Israel, USA and Canada, as well as the European Union, to experience a programme of 21 technical presentations over two days. Also included was a visit to the Berlin laboratories of Fraunhofer Institute, Europe’s largest application-oriented research organisation.
A High-Reliability, Stress-free Copper Deposit for FPC, Polyimide and Rigid-Flex
Conventional electroless copper systems often required pretreatments with hazardous chemicals or have a small process window to achieve a uniform coverage without blistering. To overcome the challenge of metallizing smooth surfaces, a new stress-free electroless copper was developed to serve this important sector of the printed circuit industry.
Flexible, Stretchable, and Wearable: If You Can Dream it, You Can Create it!
We originally intended the June issue of The PCB Magazine to be centered on flexible circuits, but it quickly became apparent that we needed to broaden the scope and include all (well, at least some) of the new and exciting things going on these days in the world of flexible everything. As such, we have garnered a trove of authors, with much information to impart on the above mentioned.
NEPCON China 2015 a Resounding Success in Shanghai
The three-day event was a complete success, bringing together nearly 22,000 trade visitors and high-quality buyers, as well as 450 leading brand names from 22 countries and regions worldwide. NEPCON China keeps up with market trends and gathers resources from all stakeholders to present a comprehensive event that covers SMT, new electronics materials, soldering, dispensing, electronics automation, measurement and other innovative technologies and products across the world.
Flexible Circuits and UAV Applications
The utility offered by flexible circuits in UAVs mimics the advantages that make it popular in other portable electronic applications: lightweight, thin, highly reliable, flexible during use, and an ability to electrically connect across multiple layers as part of a complete packaging interconnect solution.
iNEMI Managing Director: New, Disruptive Technology on the Horizon
Dr. Haley Fu, managing director of Asia Pacific for iNEMI, and Publisher Barry Matties spoke recently. Fu gave her overview of the last eight years with iNEMI along with her opinion of what the most significant changes have been, globally and for the Asia market in particular. She predicts that in the future, the PCB will probably adopt optical architectures instead of copper, because using copper for the trace means that the land space and the property will not satisfy the future high-speed data transport rate.
Being Flexible in a Rigid World
With double-digit growth in the foreseeable future, flexible printed circuits (FPC), have found a tremendous niche as an enabler for various electronic applications. This trend is expected to drive the need to increase productivity while improving performance and reducing costs. Of course, in order to sell flex, one must tackle the unenviable task of metalizing these often difficult-to-plate materials.
High-Density Interconnects: Enabling the Intelligence of Things
HDI layers and sub-composites with laser-drilled vias combined with stacked, copper-filled vias up to 16 layers have become the state-of-the-art in circuit design for the newest generation of mobile phones, wearable electronics, and IoT modules.
Insulectro Alliance with Freedom CAD
Ken Parent, Vice President of Sales at Insulectro, recently sat down with I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties for a quick chat about the strategic alliance that Insulectro is pursuing with Freedom CAD. Parent explains how this new strategic effort is working, and what it means for customers--and OEMs.
Nine New Exciting Products Introduced
Insulectro's VP of Sales, Ken Parent, discusses new products including high-speed laminate, high-temp flex materials, LDI dry film, conformal back-up material for flex-rigid,and printed electronics materials that will enable new technology in the PCB world. He also talks about their "Accomplish Change Together" program.
No Substitute for Experience: Dan Beaulieu on EXPO, the Industry and I-Connect007
Industry veteran and consultant Dan Beaulieu, owner of DB Management, and I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties, sat down at IPC APEX EXPO to reminisce on Beaulieu’s more than four decades in the business, the trend toward a more marketing savvy industry and how strategic consulting often plays out for companies in this industry.
A Conversation with Gaby Waisman, Orbotech, Ltd.
During the recent HKPCA and IPC Show, held in Shenzhen, China, I sat down with Gabby Waisman, President, Orbotech Pacific. We discussed the exciting electronics market in Asia, the market for Laser Direct Imaging (LDI), AOI and AOR among other things.
Basic Principles of Polymer Thick Film Flexible Circuits
Polymer thick film circuits are similar to their rigid and flexible counterparts; however, because of the materials and processes, they have their own very specific design rules. Because most PTF processing is most commonly based on screen printing technology, the limits of design are intrinsically linked to the printed ink's processing considerations and limitations.
Sustainability: What and Why?
Joe Fjelstad writes, "The resources of our planet are limited and thus are diminishing as we continue to unleash and ramp-up a seemingly never-ending flow of products to both serve and amuse us with output of the global electronics industry likely to be nearing the top of the list of 'offenders.' In that regard, we are becoming victims of our own success, to one degree or another."
Ventec USA Prepares for Growth
Technical Editor Pete Starkey writes, "IPC APEX EXPO 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada, gave me the opportunity to catch up with Ventec USA President Jack Pattie and to meet the recently-appointed General Manager of the Ventec Fullerton Southern California facility Ray Young. The pair also gave an update on current developments and future company plans."