The PCB Norsemen: Can Better Guidelines on Cosmetic Failures ‘Save’ Functioning PCBs?

Jan Pedersen.JPGSitting in my home office, writing this month’s column due to social distancing caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, I realized it was March 18: Global Recycling Day. April’s topic could not be more suitable. Should we go green, recycle more PCBs, or save working ones from being scrapped?

Green manufacturing has been on everyone’s lips for a long time. However, it feels like one of those buzzwords that just doesn’t get the buzz it deserves. In Norway—particularly in Oslo—over the last years, we have seen “the green wave” hit us. The world experienced the leadership and “young green enthusiasm” of Swedish Greta Thunberg. The green wave is sweeping the world, but are we missing an easy and quick fix in the industry to be even greener?

RoHS and REACH teach us that substances and chemicals used in electronics are not to be thrown away and can be toxic to nature. We create laws and standards that restrict us from using metals from restricted mines and smelters and substances that can infect nature when disposed of. At the end of the life of any electronic product, we have rules on how to separate the most toxic elements. Home appliance electronics are taken back by the shops and manufacturers, and we dismantle and recycle them. The process goes on.

Why Do We Reject Good Products?
Why does the electronics industry reject good products when it’s not always needed? Every year, fully functional PCBs are scrapped due to cosmetic “failures” that are not approved. Is this right, or do we need to make an even more precise set of rules on how to handle this not only to avoid unnecessary claims but also to save the environment? Can a more conscious approach and education on what to be considered as failures help make the industry to be greener?

Form, Fit, and Function: Not Functioning?
The defects I’m addressing in this column can be small scratches, solder mask discolorations, minor copper residues, inclusions, and other defects. All of these are minor and accepted by IPC-A-600 and IPC-610 or not mentioned. Why are such issues not in the standard?

If you look at IPC-A-600, it focuses on issues that affect form, fit and function. A rule that is repeated in almost every chapter is acceptability—unless it reduces the spacing, hole diameter, or line width below the limits specified in the procurement documentation. This means that the designer should give restrictions for minimum insulation distances allowed on the finished PCB.

My experience is that very few designers provide this information, which means we should follow default rules according to IPC standards. But that also brings us to all the open questions IPC calls AABUS, or “as agreed between user and supplier.” IPC requires these questions to be discussed between the user and the supplier, which is worth a separate column itself. In addition to these documented issues, we have a cosmetic “gray zone.”

To read this entire column, which appeared in the April 2020 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.

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2020

The PCB Norsemen: Can Better Guidelines on Cosmetic Failures ‘Save’ Functioning PCBs?

05-05-2020

Every year, fully functional PCBs are scrapped due to cosmetic “failures” that are not approved. Is this right, or do we need to make an even more precise set of rules on how to handle this? Jan Pedersen shares his thoughts on the issue.

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The PCB Norsemen: What Are the True Benefits of Going Digital?

04-06-2020

2019 might have been the year when the trend word digitalization really kicked off and transitioned from being a buzzword to aligning with keywords and concepts as AI and IoT. Didrick Bech explores the future of digitization, which is already here.

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The PCB Norsemen: New Trends in the PCB Industry at productronica 2019

01-02-2020

Working with PCB technology and standardization as I do, it is always interesting to see the new trends and where the PCB industry is moving. Changes tend to happen at a slow pace; still, I visited productronica this year for dedicated meetings and expected to learn about new processes and production equipment. What hit me was the different manufacturing focus between Asia and Europe. 5G applications and smartphones—both making an impact in the news as a high focus in Asia, where most of the production is placed—were hardly mentioned at productronica 2019. However, I picked up on other new trends in the PCB industry.

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2019

The Laminate Market: What Will the Future Bring?

11-04-2019

PCBs have been manufactured more or less the same way since we entered the industry in 1972, but the circumstances surrounding the boards have changed. The PCB Norsemen have addressed the copper situation several times in our columns as well as the component crisis affecting the PCB industry. Now, we’re experiencing external factors—such as Brexit and the trade restrictions between China and the U.S.—that are affecting the industry and causing delays due to raw material demand and prioritization by huge market players.

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The PCB Norsemen: Avoid Failures in PCB Production With Compliance Control

08-08-2019

Failures and reliability in the printed circuit industry are usually considered in the context of quality claims and non-conformity. This is a logical approach; however, there is a new context where these aspects are under close scrutiny, namely compliance—especially in the defense industry. Failing to understand import and export compliance for every country you deliver to and from will, at some point, result in challenges in your supply chain with potentially severe ramifications.

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The PCB Norsemen: From Wooden Huts to Homemade Go-karts—It All Starts With Design!

07-08-2019

Whether building the coolest go-kart or the most sophisticated electronic hardware, the story is the same: It starts with design. And for designers and manufacturers, early involvement and commitment between all the involved parties in a product development process diminish the risk for mistakes and misunderstandings.

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What Is Reliability Without Traceability?

06-27-2019

High reliability and compliance are hot topics at conferences all over the world. If you are a supplier to industries like defense, automotive, medical, and aerospace/space, high-reliability and regulatory compliance are strict demands for electronic device manufacturers. This column discusses how high-reliability demands enforce the need for traceability, and at what level the traceability should be.

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The PCB Norsemen: Merging the Best of Both Worlds—Young Superheroes and Knowledgeable Wizards!

05-29-2019

Companies that dare be true to themselves, trust their employees, and provide direction, freedom, and responsibility to their most important asset—namely, their employees—are more likely to succeed. However, we can all rattle behind these positive words and agree with these statements. The real question is, “How do you actually create and sustain an environment that motivates and attracts people—especially millennials—in the wave of Industry 4.0?"

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The PCB Norsemen: My Flexible Story—Flex Circuit Development Through the Decades

04-30-2019

Senior Technical Advisor Jan Pedersen is celebrating 26 years at Elmatica. In this column, he shares his thoughts from his long experience in this exciting industry, and talks about those things that have changed a lot in the past few decades, and the others that haven't.

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A PCB Broker’s Guide Through the Galaxy of Automation

04-05-2019

A smart factory is defined by its ability to harness manufacturing data flowing throughout the enterprise and then convert that data into intelligent information that can be used to create improvements in productivity, efficiency, savings, yields, automation, enabled traceability, compliance, and reduced risk of errors and rework. All of these items are crucial factors when manufacturing printed circuits.

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The PCB Norsemen: Technology’s Future Comes Together—A Great Slogan for Us All!

02-13-2019

“Technology’s Future Comes Together” was the theme of this year's IPC APEX EXPO, which is quite suitable during these changing times. I guess we all need to come together, especially the automotive industry.

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The PCB Norsemen: PCB Standards for Medical Device Applications—A Hard Nut to Crack!

02-04-2019

With digitalization, AI, and IoT, the traceability and transparency to how a PCB is produced will be even more important. We must rule out the PCBs that follow the standards to the ones that do not. The day will come when you or someone you know might need a medical device, and you want to make sure it does its job correctly.

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2018

Digital Specs for Automated Manufacturing: Find the Missing Link!

11-29-2018

Automation and connected smart factories are the new manufacturing trend. Industry 4.0 and the Internet of things (IoT) continue to enter PCB manufacturing. However, if we continue down the same path with specifications and requirements written on electronic papers and unintelligent production files, human interpretation is still crucial to avoid mistakes. CircuitData could solve this problem because having one language for automated smart factories is the future!

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PCB Norsemen: The Solution to the UL Challenge—Industrial Awareness

08-28-2018

Writes Jan Pedersen: The solder-limit subject has been a "hot potato" for a quite some time, with many discussions around the new requirement from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that UL’s Emma Hudson brought to attention in early 2018.

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The PCB Norsemen: Lean Challenges—Standard vs. Non-Standard Products

08-06-2018

Writes Didrick Bech: People tend to treat standard and non-standard products in the same way; however, they represent two parallel product segments and consequently different challenges for your Lean manufacturing process, especially in relation to production and logistical operations. When you fail to differentiate the processing of standard and non-standard products, not only is the Lean manufacturing process disrupted, but you also introduce a variety of production, financial and logistical challenges.

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The Velocity of Technology— What Does It Really Mean?

07-02-2018

PCB Norseman, Jan Pedersen: Driving a car is probably one of the areas where the user comes in direct touch with the technology development. And we understand the speed when we see how fast we get new versions of smartphones and other gadgets. But in what direction are we going?

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2017

Industry 4.0, AI and CircuitData

11-14-2017

PCB Norseman, Andreas Lydersen: As automation works its way onto the shop floors, it still struggles to replace humans in the supporting roles, such as designers, purchasers, brokers, and back-office staff. Where automation on the shop floor replaces humans in doing repetitive manual tasks, the supporting roles (at least some of them) require intelligence to understand and utilise information.

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