New I-Connect007 Team Members Tour American Standard Circuits


Reading time ( words)

Seeing is Believing

by Jonathan Zinski, I-Connect007

I recently had the privilege of touring American Standard Circuits’ facility in West Chicago, Illinois. CEO Anaya Vardya was very welcoming and started us off with a PowerPoint crash course on what to expect. Being the IT coordinator for I-Connect007, I’m more familiar with putting together computers and troubleshooting software than I am building a PCB. In fact, I never really put much thought into it. Even in my hobbies, playing with breadboards and hand-soldering through-hole components, I realize now that I barely even scratched the surface.

I had never considered the many aspects of creating a PCB. I have gone on only one other tour, to Whelen Engineering, and their setup was so different I can’t even compare the two. I rather expected to smell chemicals when I got there, since many are involved in PCB manufacturing, so I was really surprised when I walked in and smelled no odors at all. Each area was a controlled environment, with the most controlled being a walk-in refrigerator full of prepreg and other materials.

When we entered the wet processing area, I felt I had found the heart of the PCB shop. It looked like something out of a movie. Steaming vats of chemicals, large mechanical racks dunking boards, and areas in the room that punched you in the nostrils all made for a slightly overwhelming scene, but I loved every second of it. Out of all the areas we saw, this one was by far the most interesting to me, probably because I’m a huge fan of chemistry.

ASC_Plating.jpgFurther, it surprised me how much a board travels around a shop. With all the steps involved, I imagined there would be a good chance for error. I was really surprised at ASC's good yields, which I was told were in the high 90s. They even had some processes that other shops don’t offer, such as equipment to produce metal-backed PCBs. One machine was for sputtering copper—imagine, a gaseous form of copper inside it! Yet another piece of equipment was full of molten, lead-free solder that would dunk boards and blast them with hot air on the way out—the hot air leveler.

When I saw all the equipment, I couldn’t imagine how long this industry has been developing. It’s made me realize that we are shaping the future. ASC_03.jpgMost of my generation never considers what’s behind the screen of their smartphone, much less how it’s made. I wish my generation had more exposure to this industry, but I am trying to find ways to help.

Overall, this trip has made me more excited to be in this industry. I know that when I attend trade shows in the future, I will now understand how some of the machines function. We didn’t explore what goes on in design or assembly, but I know those are separate beasts. The trip was a lot to take in, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn; I look forward to many more.

 

 



Share


Suggested Items

Video from productronica 2017: Taiyo America Highlights Ink-Jettable Solder Mask

11/17/2017 | I-Connect007
After a long-term program of cooperative development, evaluation and qualification, Taiyo America’s solvent-free ink-jet solder mask formulation is working successfully in a technically demanding production environment. Don Monn recounts his experiences from the show floor at productronica 2017.

The PCB Norsemen: Industry 4.0, AI and CircuitData

11/14/2017 | Andreas Lydersen, ELMATICA
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.

Groundbreaking Developments at liloTree

11/09/2017 | Patty Goldman, I-Connect007
I was introduced to liloTree and Chief Scientist Kunal Shah by Joe Fjelstad. It seems this small company (with Intel as part of its pedigree) has developed a novel ENIG process that just may shake up the regular chemistry suppliers. This new process is described as cost-effective and ecofriendly while completely eliminating black pad and brittle solder joints.



Copyright © 2017 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.