Equipment Matters in Solder Paste Printing
The solder paste printing process has always been considered a major contributor to yield loss. According to many studies, solder paste printing accounts for up to 70% of all PCB assembly defects. For the December issue of SMT Magazine, we interviewed experts in the solder paste printing process to learn more about the key issues leading to this huge percentage of defects, and the technology developments that are addressing these challenges and improving yields in the process.
Video from productronica 2017: Rogers Discusses Trends Driving Growth
Dirk Lefelon, European sales manager for Rogers Corporation, discusses his group’s final 2017 results. He also explains what the new year will bring, including increased investment in capacity for the European market, especially for the automotive segment.
The PCB Norsemen: Industry 4.0, AI and CircuitData
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.
Nine Dot Connects: Good Design Instruction is a True Value-Add
Nine Dot Connects has certainly blazed an interesting trail. The company started out as an Altium reseller, but in less than a decade, Nine Dot Connects has also become a design service bureau and a provider of PCB design instruction, training, and consulting services. I recently interviewed Paul Taubman, technical services director for Nine Dot Connects. We discussed the company’s expansion from VAR to service bureau and content provider, and the changing landscape of PCB design instruction.
Leveraging Industry Shows to Create a Presence
At the recent SMTA International show in Rosemont, Illinois, I had an opportunity to meet with Mark Osborn, president and owner of Colonial Circuits, based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Colonial Circuits is a supplier of PCBs, mainly for the defense industry.
New I-Connect007 Team Members Tour American Standard Circuits
Recently, Anaya Vardya, CEO of American Standard Circuits, invited two of I-Connect007’s newest team members, IT coordinator Jonathan Zinski and Editor Kiersten Rohde, to tour his facility in West Chicago, Illinois. Happy Holden, resident PCB expert, also joined the newbies on their field trip to ASC. In the following articles, Jonathan and Kiersten describe their experience touring ASC. Special thanks to Anaya for hosting the I-Connect007 team.
Achieving the Perfect Solder Joint: The Many Perspectives on Soldering
For this month's issue of SMT Magazine, we brought several experts together to discuss the many aspects of soldering, from solder paste, to automation, inspection, and the challenges in achieving the perfect solder joint. We also talked about the strategies and parameters to consider to ensure reliable, good solder joints.
IPC Status Update: Training, Standards, and More!
At the recent IPC Fall committee meetings that are co-located with the SMTA International conference and show, IPC’s president and CEO, John Mitchell, sat down for a chat with me for an update on what’s happening at IPC.
Update on IPC’s Validation Services and Hints of What’s to Come
SMTA International is the perfect time to get updates on IPC happenings. One that I’m always curious about is the Validation Services programs. At the busy show, I managed to find a quiet spot so Randy Cherry, IPC’s director of Validation Services, could fill me in on the latest.
Patty's Perspective: (Signal) Integrity for All
Our topic this month is signal integrity, certainly a common one in our industry. Signal integrity is achieved by controlling impedance, so my advice is to do that. There, I’m done. Just kidding…of course I’m not done. But if you are in PCB manufacturing and you think this is just a design problem and doesn’t concern you, please think again.
RTW SMTAI: AIM's Dr. Mehran Maalekian Speaks on New Alloys for Harsh Environments
Dr. Mehran Maalekian, R&D Manager at AIM Solder, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about new alloys that are targeted for high-temperature and demanding applications, particularly in harsh environments, where standard lead-free alloy such as SAC will not perform as well.
Sensible Design: Thermal Management—The Heat is On
Thermal management materials are designed to prolong equipment life and reduce incidences of failure. They also maintain equipment performance parameters and reduce energy consumption by reducing operating temperatures, and minimising the risk of damage to surrounding components. Indirectly, they maintain brand reputation, as the reliability of the equipment will be very dependent upon the effectiveness of the thermal management technique used.
Hamed El-Abd: A New Beginning, Part 1
While in China recently, Barry Matties joined longtime I-Connect007 friend and contributor Hamed El-Abd of WKK to congratulate him on his upcoming retirement. They reflected on his time spent in the industry, specifically in China, how far it’s come, and where it might be headed next.
The International Paris Air Show with ASC’s Anaya Vardya
The International Paris Air show is the crème de la crème of the world’s trade shows. This is the big one, where all the aircraft, airline and defense aerospace companies meet to introduce new products, discuss the future of aviation, and make deals. This year I decided to talk to my friend Anaya Vardya, ASC’s president and CEO, about the show, why he goes and what it’s like.
DARPA’s Drive to Keep the Microelectronics Revolution at Full Speed Builds Its Own Momentum
To perpetuate the pace of innovation and progress in microelectronics technology over the past half-century, it will take an enormous village rife with innovators. This week, about 100 of those innovators throughout the broader technology ecosystem, including participants from the military, commercial, and academic sectors, gathered at DARPA headquarters at the kickoff meeting for the Agency’s new CHIPS program, known in long form as the Common Heterogeneous Integration and Intellectual Property (IP) Reuse Strategies program.
New Challenges Facing Mil/Aero Segment
For this month's issue, we invited a sampling of professionals whose experience centers on the electronics industry in the military and aerospace world, including experts from design, PCB manufacturing, and the assembly arena to sit down with us for a frank discussion. Our discussion centered on the challenges associated with military work, including the new regulatory requirements for cybersecurity, dealing with leaded vs. lead-free components, and the differences and similarities with the commercial world.
Stephen V. Chavez Talks Mil/Aero PCB Design
Stephen V. Chavez, CID+, is the lead PCB designer for the Electronic Systems Center division of UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS), a military contractor that builds all manner of cutting-edge tools for the American warfigher. He’s been designing military and aerospace PCBs for decades, and he’s a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. I caught up with Steph and asked for his thoughts on designing PCBs for the military and aerospace markets.
Trilogy Circuits: Mil/Aero Demands Technological, Regulatory Expertise
In the 16 years since its founding, Trilogy Circuits has become one of the go-to companies for mil/aero PCB design and manufacturing. I spoke with Charlie Capers, president and founder of the Richardson, Texas firm, about how he keeps ahead of the game. As he explains, succeeding with mil/aero PCB work requires not only mastery of the technological side, but of the regulations and certifications as well.
IMPACT Interview: Anaya Vardya, American Standard Circuits
I-Connect007's Patty Goldman spoke with Anaya Vardya, president and CEO of American Standard Circuits, a few days after the conclusion of IMPACT, especially wanted his views as a first-timer there.
Catching up with Prototron Circuits Tucson GM Kim O’Neil
This has been an exciting year for Prototron, which has achieved Mil-PRF-31032 and gone into the flex business. Most recently, Prototron received word that they had achieved their AS9100 Rev D, which made me want to check in with Kim O'Neil and find out more.
Strategies for Compliance with DoD Regulations Including ITAR and DFARS
ITAR is usually the topic when compliance with DoD regulations is discussed. But what about DFARS? This article will examine strategies one can implement to ensure that one is compliant with all DoD regulations, by analyzing internal and external factors in relation to procurement and compliance, and by asking the vital questions: what, how, where and to whom?
IPC: Department of Labor Releases RFI to Seek Information on Overtime Regulations
This week, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a Request for Information (RFI) to gather additional feedback from the public on the overtime regulations, which define and delimit exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and other employees.
Punching Out! Mid-2017 Report on the State of the N.A. PCB M&A Market
One of the most popular questions we receive concerns the market for M&A. Here is our take on the current market for PCB shops in North America. In general, the PCB market in North America is not growing, which means that to grow, shops either must take market share from others, or grow through acquisitions.
Perspectives from a First-Timer
Brad Heath, president and CEO of EMS company VirTex, is a first-time attendee of IMPACT Washington D.C. In an interview with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman, he talks about his impressions of the recent IMPACT Washington D.C. event, and how he thinks the industry benefits from such meetings with the policy makers in the government.
Performance Evaluation of Thin-Film Embedded Resistors
Thin-film microstrip circuits have been widely applied in microwave communications, electronic countermeasures (ECM), and aerospace applications, etc. When manufacturing thin-film ICs, it is very important to apply deposited thin-film resistor material to fabricate high-accuracy and highly stable thin-film embedded resistors. Thin-film ICs call for thin-film resistors that meet stringent requirements.
Using Lead-Free BGAs in a Tin/Lead Soldering Process
Several electronic market segments, such as those electronics used in harsh environments or that have life/system critical functionality, remain exempt from lead-free material restrictions such as the RoHS legislation. While these market segments can use solder containing lead, it is increasingly difficult to procure advanced components in non-ROHS compliant configurations. This article discusses several aspects of having lead-free BGA components in a tin/lead soldering process.
Mil/Aero Assembly Success
Davina McDonnell, director of marketing at Michigan-based EMS firm Saline Lectronics, discusses the latest technology and business trends driving the military and aerospace industries, the challenges in these markets—including supply chain issues such as obsolete parts and counterfeit components—and their strategies to stay ahead of the competition.
The Skills Gap – Meet People Where They Are!
A perennial concern in the U.S. electronics manufacturing industry is the lack of skilled talent in many parts of the country. According to a recent IPC member survey, most companies have a hard time recruiting qualified production workers, engineers, and other technical professionals.
Patty's Perspective: What Happens in Washington Doesn’t Stay in Washington—It Reaches All of Us
I went to my second IMPACT Washington, D.C. event this year (May 1–3) and, as much as I applauded last year’s event, this one far surpassed it—just ask anyone who was there. In this month’s issue, a special section on IMPACT backs that claim.
Mr. Laminate Tells All: PTFE is About to be Banned by IEC TC111
There, I said it. Technical Committee 111 of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is preparing to effectively ban PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) materials from electronics. As history goes, the electronics industry has focused on only two of the four halogens (bromine and chlorine) to be limited in order to be called “halogen-free” or more accurately “low-halogen.” But now, fluorine is being dragged down too, just because of its location in the periodic table.
Megasonic Acoustic Surface Treatment Process for Enhanced Copper Electrodeposition in Via Interconnects
A printed circuit board is populated with a multitude of electro-mechanical components plus various active and passive devices such as transistors, capacitors, inductors and resistors, which enable the functionality and assembly of the PCB. Increasing the density of the components on the surface of a board enables greater functionality and use.
Today’s Mil/Aero Enemies: Counterfeits, Obsolescence and Failure
The need for high-reliability electronics, components and assemblies that can perform in harsh operating conditions involving extreme temperatures, vibration, and moisture continue to challenge electronics assembly providers catering to the military and aerospace markets. These are on top of current manufacturing issues such as the miniaturization of products, shrinking component sizes, higher density board assemblies, and the obsolescence of electronic components.
The Significance of the PCB in the Value Chain of the European EMS Industry
At SMT Nuremberg, Pete Starkey meets with Dieter Weiss, who comments upon the significance of the PCB in the value chain of the European EMS industry, and looks to a future where we embrace an open-minded attitude and a willingness to work together.
Happy Holden Second Recipient of I-Connect007 'Good for the Industry' Award
Our second 'Good for the Industry' award has been presented to Happy Holden. After working with Happy for a number of years it is clear to see that he is dedicated to improving the industry. He has a long history in the PCB industry, starting off with HP in the '70s. Not only did he develop HDI, but he then wrote the HDI Handbook, which is provided to readers at no charge.
Global Impact on European PCB Fabrication: EIPC Summer Conference 2017, Day 2
The second day saw the conference room full once more, the late networking session in the bar having resulted in no significant casualties, and I was pleased to accept the invitation to moderate the first session, on processes and materials for flexible PCBs.
Global Impact on European PCB Fabrication: EIPC Summer Conference 2017, Day 1
Electronics industry professionals from 13 countries, mainly from Europe and Scandinavia, others from the USA, but some from as far away as India and Japan, gathered in Meriden, the centre of England, for the EIPC Summer Conference.
Embedded Technology: It’s All Around Us
In the early ‘80s, the PCB company I worked for was testing some of the first material for buried resistors. I can’t recall what customer it was for, or how far along the project got, but over the years it seemed like the technology was slow to be adopted and perhaps ahead of its time.
HDP User Group 2017 European Meeting Highlights Technology Progress
The conference facility at the offices of Oracle, in the royal burgh of Linlithgow in West Lothian, Scotland, was the venue for the 2017 European meeting of the High Density Packaging User Group. I was delighted and privileged to be invited once again to sit in on the open session, an intense programme of technical presentations and discussions, project reviews, status updates and new project proposals.
Beyond Scaling: An Electronics Resurgence Initiative
The Department of Defense’s proposed FY 2018 budget includes a $75 million allocation for DARPA in support of a new, public-private “electronics resurgence” initiative. The initiative seeks to undergird a new era of electronics in which advances in performance will be catalyzed not just by continued component miniaturization but also by radically new microsystem materials, designs, and architectures.
Rockwell Collins’ Doug Pauls Discusses Volunteering, Mentoring and Their Road Show
I was happy to see Rockwell Collins’ Doug Pauls receive IPC’s Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame award at IPC APEX EXPO, well-deserved for him, and I wanted to chat with him about it. As with so many conversations at the conference this year, the talk quickly turned to inspiring interested young people in our “graying” industry. We also discussed the nature of volunteering and what we get out of it.
SMTA West Penn Expo: Who Says There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch!
Bill Capen of DRS Technologies, the president of the SMTA West Pennsylvania Chapter, speaks with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman about the recent West Penn Expo & Tech Forum. He also talks about the group's upcoming chapter meetings this year, and the latest developments happening in the military segment.
Executive Agent for PCB and Electronic Interconnect Technology PrCB Trust Accreditation
The DoD mandate for trust in the PrCB supply chain is mirrored in DoDI 5200.44, which states: “Employ protections that manage risk in the supply chain for components or subcomponent products and services (e.g., integrated circuits, FPGAs, PrCBs) when they are identifiable (to the supplier) as having a DoD end-use.” In response to congressional and DoD directives, the PrCB EA proposed pursuing a trust accreditation program for PrCB suppliers.
Blackfox Program Trains Vets for Manufacturing Jobs
It's harder than ever for managers in the PCB manufacturing industry to find qualified staff, with some reporting that positions are remaining open for months at a time. On the other hand, there are thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines transitioning out of the service each year and seeking good jobs. In this interview, Allen Dill, president of Blackfox, discusses their program that offers manufacturing training to veterans, even while they are still in the military.
Bruce Mahler Discusses Ohmega’s Resistive Material Technology
Bruce Mahler, vice president of Ohmega Technologies, sat down for an interview with me at DesignCon 2017. He discussed the company’s latest embedded resistive materials, as well as some of the drivers and challenges in that segment of the materials industry.
Weiner’s World—April 2017
China’s economy accelerated for a second straight quarter as investment picked up, retail sales rebounded, and factory output accelerated in March. Gross domestic product increased 6.9% in the first quarter from a year earlier, compared with a 6.8% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
Innovating in the Technology of Stretchable PCBs
Express Circuits is a long-established PCB fabricator located in Coleshill, near Birmingham in the Midlands of England, specialising in quick-turn complex prototype and small- to medium-volume microvia multilayer and rigid-flex. With the benefit of associate companies focused on design and assembly, Express is recognised for its exemplary customer service and technical support, as well as for its innovative manufacturing solutions.
Virtex on Military and Aerospace Requirements
Brad Heath, VirTex CEO, and Upinder Singh, Vice President and General Manager at VirTex MTI, discuss their company's military and aerospace business, and how they are addressing the latest demands and requirements from their customers.
TTM Shines a Light on Optical Interconnect
Are embedded optics on PCBs set to make a breakthrough in the upcoming years? According to Dr. Craig Davidson, VP of Corporate Technology at TTM, it might be closer than you’d expect. In a recent interview with the I-Connect007 team, Craig outlines TTM’s current pursuit of high-volume manufacturing lines able to deliver embedded optical interconnect, what that would mean for the PCB industry, and why he thinks there will be manufacturing production capability by 2020.
Fabricators Speak Out on High-Speed Materials
Recently, I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties and his editorial team joined with two PCB fabricators to discuss the state of advanced materials. The meeting included Gerry Partida, director of engineering at Summit Interconnect and Joe Menning, program manager at All Flex Flexible Circuits. The discussion centered on the processes, challenges, and procurement of high-speed materials, as well as need to work with customers during the design stage.
Capitol Connection: IMPACT Update—To CEOs on Why You Should Attend IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2017
Here at IPC, we place a high priority on making our presence known in the halls of government, because so many policy debates have a direct effect on the electronics manufacturing industry. IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2017 is a chance to join with fellow industry executives in advocating for better public policies for a stronger, more advanced manufacturing economy.
Mutracx Makes Green Operations Economically Viable
During IPC APEX EXPO, I sat down for an interview with with Jeroen de Groot, CEO of Mutracx. He detailed the company’s plans to install new equipment at a facility in Romania, and he explains why having a green manufacturing operation is not enough—it must also be economically feasible.
Weiner’s World – March 2017
The CPCA show held at the China International PCB And Assembly Show was moderately busy even though the new venue was not quite ready (no escalators, the "water closets" not fully finished, the heat was only on for a few hours one day). It showcased products for PCB Manufacturing, Electronic Assembly Materials and Manufacturing Services.
Capitol Connection: Drumroll, Please…Announcing the IPC Government IMPACT Awardees
Government relations are essential to our industry as many of the policy debates taking place will have long-lasting impact on our industry. Tax and regulations reform, immigration, and environmental regulations are up for debate and it is time for our industry to take a seat at the table.
Ray Pritchard Looks Back at IPC’s Beginning and His Role in Getting it Started
I have known Ray Pritchard for a long time—as long as I’ve been involved with IPC, in fact. He directed the organization for 35 years before turning over the reins. One could say he grew up with the organization—or vice versa. Ray was always a bundle of energy and still is, still joking and warm, a great people person, and I am sure he had a little something to do with the spirit of camaraderie and cooperation that is the hallmark of the IPC we know today.
Imagineering CEO Khurrum Dhanji Discusses New AS9100 Guidebook
I have had many conversations with Imagineering President and CFO Parvin Dhanji, and CEO Khurrum Dhanji, and I always come away very impressed with their dedication to their community, associates and their customers. That’s why it was no surprise to me that they teamed with I-Connect007 to publish this long overdue guide to AS9100.
Vertical Conductive Structures–a New Dimension in High-Density Printed Circuit Interconnect
From our previous conversations, I knew that Joan Tourné was working on a novel high-density interconnection concept. Having eagerly awaited the chance to discuss the technology in detail, I was delighted when he contacted me to confirm that his IP had been secured and that he could now talk openly about VeCS, the Vertical Conductive Structure designed to provide a cost-effective alternative for complex fan-out from fine-pitch grid array components.
Time-Lapse Video: The IPC APEX EXPO 2017 Show in Under Seven Minutes!
During IPC APEX EXPO 2017, we at I-Connect007 had our time-lapse camera running from setup to closing. The camera was positioned high in our studio, where we conducted our RealTimewith…IPC APEX EXPO video interviews, aimed down the main aisle.
Real Time with...IPC: IPC Market Research Update
Sharon Starr updated everyone on the Market Research services, industry forecasting and research projects her group publishes. She also mentioned a "call to action" for a meeting tomorrow with IPC members, seeking input on needed metrics for their new Pulse of the Industry program she will be rolling out this year, which will be a "Industry Health Scorecard".
Weiner’s World—January 2017
This month’s column is a bit shorter than usual as we prepare for next month’s IPC APEX EXPO and its Executive Forum for PCB fabricators and their supply chain. This month also marks the 65th anniversary of Epec LLC in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The company, founded in 1952, is the oldest printed circuit fabricator in North America. Half of its $50 million in sales is reported to be with printed circuits.