Patty's Perspective: (Signal) Integrity for All


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We are just back from the IPC fall meetings and the SMTA International conference and show, held jointly every September in Rosemont, Illinois. More than 75 IPC subcommittee meetings were there for the taking—and not just sessions related to assembly, as one might think. Plus, the SMTA conference   had 2–3 technical tracks on Monday and five tracks each of the next three days. The exhibition, if not huge, was solid. Each year, the show seems to get bigger and better (though it may still be called small by international standards).

So, that aside, 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. As features on a board get smaller, as speeds get faster, and as more is expected from everyone in the supply chain, you too need to know. No sense hiding from it, so read on; this issue is for you!

To start, we introduce our newest columnist group, Elmatica, with Josse Johnsen authoring a primer on SI, covering basics that are important for both the designer and PCB manufacturer to know. Next, Viking Test’s Marc Ladle uses down to earth examples to show just how complicated PCB processing can be when trying to control impedance.

We also bring you a rather detailed discussion on SI with this month’s panel of experts: Mike Steinberger, SiSoft; Mark Thompson, Prototron Circuits; Yogen and Sunny Patel of Candor Industries; and of course, Happy Holden. Learn about the challenges both designers and manufacturers face along with tips and pointers on how to deal with them. This is definitely some meaty reading.

Our next article comes from Scott Jewler of SVXR who makes a strong case for optimizing SI in the printed circuit using a new, non-destructive high-speed X-ray technology. The key words here are “non-destructive” and “highspeed.” Next, Happy Holden, known as the “father of HDI,” makes the case for using HDI when designing and manufacturing PCBs that require stringently controlled impedance. Going beyond detailing the advantages and benefits, he meticulously ties together information from the SI masters with real examples to make this  article a training course in itself.

Our regular columnists round out the lineup this month. First, we have Mike Carano, RBP Chemical Technology, with Part 2 of his series on the importance of rinsing. Next, Keith Sellers, NTS-Baltimore, exhorts our readers to become experts in their fields by taking advantage of the myriad opportunities to learn: books, magazines, training courses, technical conferences, and IPC subcommittees are all ways to do this, along with IPC’s certification programs. A great follow-up to this is Steve Williams, The Right Approach Consulting, introducing his set of skills needed to become a world-class quality manager. Don’t want to be a QM? These skills can be applied to just about any managerial position, but also to any life position. Check it out.

We wrap up with IPC’s John Mitchell, who explains a bill recently introduced in Congress to create incentives for establishing apprenticeship programs. Recognizing the skills gaps that exist in the U.S. (not just in our industry), the bill presents a multi-pronged approach that involves tax credits, military veterans and employees nearing retirement. More details in his column.

Next month, we continue in this high-tech vein with HDI as our central topic. High-density interconnect technology was more or less “invented” right here in the U.S., but largely ignored here, taking off primarily in Asia. But, again, as we continue to cram more and more into less and less, HDI is truly coming into its own.

You know the drill: If you haven’t already, subscribe now to have The PCB Magazine delivered to your inbox every month. You want to be at the front of the line when the next issue publishes. See you then!

Patricia Goldman is managing editor of The PCB Magazine. To contact Goldman, click here.

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here,

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